The Brooks Crossing Innovation Lab, iLab in Newport News, last week kicked off a collaboration education program for students. The SAP Young Thinkers from the An Achievable Dream Academy is a program teaching STEM-related skills to young thinkers.
iLab is located in the Brooks Crossing Innovation and Opportunity Center, in Downtown Newport News, a predominately minority-based area on the Peninsula. The community of BCIOC collaborates with shipyard employers and STEM innovators supported by Newport News Shipbuilding, Old Dominion University and the City of Newport News.
Dr. Morris Foster, Vice President of Research at Old Dominion University said, “Brooks Crossing iLab is here to try to interest students from K-12 in having careers later in STEM disciplines to try to get them into college or community college that can lead them to a job in the shipyard or some of the industries in the region that really need STEM workers.”
The kickoff event included a workshop on SNAP developmental programming language. Students gained confidence in their coding skills by creating designs that could then be fabricated.
The partnership with the iLab is based around the Young Thinkers Program, a global program sponsored by software firm SAP, that works with innovation labs like Brooks Crossing and universities like Old Dominion University to help create employees of the future.
Eleven-year-old student A. Brookhouse said he loves what he is learning, for his future career as a coder, astronaut or a comic book author. “The game SNAP is helping me in the stem field to become a coder by teaching me how to make the code and create new blocks, I love what I’m doing,” he said.
Scott Thatcher, Chief Operating Officer, of SAP said bringing a program like this to the Southeast community is important. “We feel like there are communities that do not have the opportunity to be exposed to this, we as parents, as professionals are trying to give back to the community to make a difference in someone’s career and their life. I was fortunate to get a few breaks early and I got into technology, that has led to a wonderful career, I feel strongly if you understand how to write software and code then you’ll always have job opportunity which is a tremendous amount of opportunity for you over your lifetime to continue to learn and grow and make a difference.”
Joanna Garner, Executive Director of the Center for Educational and Partnerships emphasized that the possibilities are endless. iLab gives students a sneak peak of the things they can do in the future and have them be excited to come back and do it over again.