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Commonwealth Alliance for Information Technology Education (CAITE)


CAITE designs and carrys out comprehensive programs that address under-representation in information technology (IT).

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CAITE Highlight

Circuits and Beats

circuits and beatsWorking collaboratively and with undergraduate student mentors, middle school youth from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke learned digital circuits and programming concepts as they built working “beat machines.” Middle school students were exposed to the possibilities of pursuing college degrees in computer science and engineering fields and had the satisfaction of building a working machine as a team.

As part of its mission is to broaden participation in computing, CAITE supports activities that expose students to academic and career opportunities in computer science.  The Circuits & Beats program, developed by UMass Amherst engineering alum Sean Klaiber and piloted in the summer of 2010, exposed Springfield and Holyoke youth to the possibilities of college and potential fields of study in engineering and computer science disciplines. Over the course of two weeks at two different community center sites, the youth learned about each component of a circuit board, how to interact with them, and most importantly, how to use them to create a working machine—which they were able to present to peers and parents at the end of the program.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson participants took home with them is that they have the opportunity to go to college. Klaiber and five fellow undergraduate students led the group on a field trip to the UMass Amherst campus, where they toured the engineering and computing labs, met with students, and participated in “CS Unplugged” activities with a current computer science senior. Victor Rojas, IT Director of the Boys & Girls Club, said that “more than the opportunity to learn about electronics and programming, this program is about giving students the knowledge that the door is open for them to go to college.” Rojas indicated that many students came to the program from families that lacked the understanding and support around pursuing higher education, and that the Circuits & Beats program provided a gateway to inspire students to continue learning.