Pa. operates Governor's School for IT

Pennsylvania became the first state in the nation to operate a Governor's School for information technology when classes began at Drexel University and Penn State University earlier this week.The latest Governor's School is an intensive five-week residential program for gifted and talented high school juniors who are interested in information technology. There are 128 students -- 64 at each campus -- this year. All participants received full scholarships and were assigned a computer for the program.

The first two days served as an introduction to IT for the students, with each student required to take six core courses, including human computer interaction, and system analysis and design. After that, students began classes in one of five special tracks: electronic commerce, information security, systems analysis, competitive intelligence and computer-supported cooperative work.

"First, we want to try and educate the students about what the whole IT field is about and to be aware that IT is almost ubiquitous at this point, and no matter what IT knowledge they have, it's going to help them," said Scott Overmyer, program director at Drexel University's campus.

The students are studying all aspects of information technology, including networking, multimedia development, computer training and programming, and technical communications. They are being instructed by industry experts and educators in classrooms and laboratories, looking at current events, possible careers, problem solving and critical thinking.

"We want to make sure that Pennsylvania's students have the opportunity to receive this high-tech training and education," said Michelle Biddle, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Education.

The Governor's Schools of Excellence were established 25 years ago to prepare talented high school students to be tomorrow's leaders. The new program joins six established Governor's Schools in the arts, agricultural sciences, health care, international studies, sciences and teaching. "There are many tech-driven careers in Pennsylvania, and we want these students to take over these careers and be Pennsylvania's future leaders," Biddle said.

Teodora Niculce, a student at Daniel Boone High School in Birdsboro, Pa., is one of the students learning about IT and computers for the first time at the Drexel Governor's School. A native of Romania, she was interested in pursuing math in college and as a career, but now she considers computers part of the equation.

"Everything is new for me, but the courses will be good for us," Niculce said. "I hope that the classes will help me in the future, and I want to decide by the end of the program what to do [in the future]."

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