University hosts Hour of Code for Washoe County students

Industry partners help support computer science education as part of international event

University hosts Hour of Code for Washoe County students

Industry partners help support computer science education as part of international event

Designing 3D models and computer games, guiding robots or building computer systems that can see, talk and understand are just a few of the innumerable tasks people can accomplish with computer coding - and it's easier to learn than most people think.

Hour of Code is held to help celebrate National Computer Science Week Dec. 9-15. It's a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify "code" and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator or an innovator. So far, 33,688 organizers plan to host Hour of Code for 4,543,138 students across 167 countries.

The computer coding event at the University is hosted by the Computer Science and Engineering Department, supported by Marketing Evolution and generously sponsored by Bally Technologies, a valued University partner in computer science and engineering education, development, and outreach.

"This is actually very complementary to our efforts and outreach to K-12 and it contributes to our vision to create a pipeline of a technologically advanced workforce," Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering, said.

"University of Nevada, Reno's ongoing mission is to provide tangible benefits to the local community and the State of Nevada," David Feil-Seifer, assistant professor of Computer Science and Engineering, said. "By helping children learn critical skills such as programming at young ages, we hope to inspire them to see computers as tools they can use to turn their dreams into reality."

In addition to the Hour of Code, the computer science and engineering department is working with CodeReno, a new Reno-based website for kids to learn to code. It is combined with online and in-person mentoring from University of Nevada, Reno professors and students, culminating in a computer programming contest awarding thousands of dollars in cash prizes for Reno area elementary through high school age students.

CodeReno kicks off this week to coincide with the nationwide Computer Science Education Week. Their website is available as a resource to students in our community to learn to code and to see inspirational videos of athletes, artist, and titans of industry who believe every child should learn to code.

" has the potential to reach hundreds of children in the Reno, Sparks area alone. We intend to make this a long-term investment in the future of this community," Feil-Seifer said.

"We want to bring more opportunities to Reno," Rex Briggs, CEO of Marketing Evolution and creator of the CodeReno computer programming contest for kids, said. "There is a meaningful influx of technology companies to the Reno area, such as mine, and I want to help build future opportunities for kids in our community. One great way to do that is to encourage them to learn to code. The Hour of Code and CodeReno make it easy for kids to get started."

The contest is organized in partnership with the University's College of Engineering and the Association for Computing Machinery student club. "Most of the students in computer sciences got into programming as kids. This is our opportunity to give something back to the community," Feil-Seifer, faculty advisor for the club, said.

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