Vanderbilt Students Tackle the Lack of Computer Science Education


Naveen Krishnan

This is the first edition of VPR’s Organization Spotlight, which will feature a new campus organization each week. 

While many undergraduates face the dilemma of finding employment after graduation, computer science is currently the fastest-growing field in the country as there will be over “a million unfulfilled CS jobs” by 2020 according to the US bureau of Labor Statistics. A team of Vanderbilt Students is combating the absence of computer science in secondary education by inspiring the next generation of coders and thinkers to fill this gap through an innovative service based organization: Code Ignite.

Code Ignite is similar to other Vanderbilt volunteering educational services serving surrounding Nashville schools but distinguishes itself through a specified focus on computer science education, a subject hardly found and if not completely absent in the education of the majority of American students. The organization provides programs in “computer animation, game development, and software design” for both middle and high school students in order to foster confidence, creativity, and problem solving skills for Nashville’s youth.

The program’s versatility is continuing to grow annually as it even offers the possibility for customized programs with various schools, with a newly announced AP Computer Science based program at the RePublic school. Code Ignite, since it’s foundation by Vanderbilt junior Sami Chiang, has grown to establish dozens of teams which make weekly trips to Nashville schools to spread the joy of coding and computer design. While it continues to gain a larger presence securing grants from companies including Google, Code Ignite uses a variety of techniques to accommodate various students, utilizing drag and drop programs which allow younger students to develop a sense of a broader scope of computer science while teaching detailed syntax and programming languages for more advanced students.

Outreach Chair Arunabh Singh told VPR that he “think[s] it’s amazing to introduce kids to subjects they’ve never even heard of before, and it’s even better to see that many of them find that they love to code.” Over the weeks that they visit schools, the passion of students who would otherwise never be exposed to computer science leaves a lasting impact on the Vanderbilt volunteers. Eric Zhuang, recruitment and retention chair of Code Ignite stated that:

In the last class of my last semester, we had a kid who was going to be moving to Chicago. He was really sad to be leaving all of his friends, but asked if we could come with him so that he could keep taking classes with CodeIgnite. It was a bit of a sad moment, but also sweet because you could see how excited he was to create something through CS. Because of CI [Computer Science] he will now be pursuing and learning about computer science at a much younger age, and fostering that sort of excitement is what the program is all about.”

Code Ignite continues to create a lasting impact on the Nashville community, one line of code at a time.