Camps prepare kids for tech jobs

Published 12:33 pm Friday, June 26, 2009

For students, it’s the chance to learn about new technologies and career fields.

And for employers, it’s the chance to prepare their future workforce.

The Southeastern Virginia Partnership for Regional Transformation (SEVA-PORT) and Tidewater Community College are offering four summer technology camps this summer from July 13 to Aug. 17 at the Tri-Cities Higher Education Center.

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“We’re getting into the high schools — mostly juniors and seniors,” said Megan Robinson, SEVA-PORT manager. “What we’re trying to do is spark their interests in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. We’re trying to spark those interests in those fields so we have a talented pool to pick from later down the road.”

Last year was the first year of the camps, and Robinson said they were a huge success for students who had previously never considered careers in technology.

“These are great opportunities to really get them interested,” she said. “It’s a fun atmosphere. The students are all engaged and learning. Some of them had never thought of being a game designer or designing roller coasters, so they have an opportunity to learn about these careers.”

This year, organizers have added another camp session to accommodate more campers. Once registered, campers can choose from four focus areas: basic gaming, advanced gaming, web design or computer networking. Then they will spend a week working side-by-side professionals in the field.

The camps are just one step to SEVA-PORT’s ultimate plan to provide more educational opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in technology.

Thanks to a $5 million grant from the Department of Labor, SEVA-PORT is also partnering with Old Dominion University to provide a free modeling and simulation camp for students 16 and older at the Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach July 6-10 and again July 13-17.

Additionally, staff members from the partnership are developing curriculum guides for Tidewater Community College, as well as the high schools, to prepare graduates for work in the technology fields.

“(Technology fields) are definitely growing, and these initiatives are preparing (students) more for it growing. Probably 10 years ago, no, they would not have been prepared,” Robinson said. “Five years ago, maybe a little. But all of these initiatives are the building blocks for the students. All of these initiatives together are preparing students more. “We’re helping young people develop these skills, develop their interest so they can be even more competitive than they are now.”

For more information on the camps, or to register, call 314-2370.