Upgrade, a computer sciences program at Laney College is poised to change the face of technology. Housed on the campus of Laney College, Upgrade prepares both high school and college students for careers in tech. While introducing students to higher education and skills for success, the program’s faculty is focused on creating a diverse, economical and sustainable technology and training pipeline for the tech workforce through a variety of computer courses.
Upgrade’s courses work in computer science, hardware, software, navigation, web design, programming and various classes, are designed to create well rounded and prepared professionals. Field trips to tech companies in Silicon Valley combined with guest speakers also supportsUpgrade curriculum.
According to Upgrade’s 2017 report, 46 of 47 students completed their summer session representing over 23 local high schools including Alameda High School, Bishop O’Dowd High School, Castro Valley High School, Envision Academy, Oakland Technical High School, Piedmont High School, Saint Mary’s College High School, San Leandro High School, and Skyline High School, among others.
Upgrade surveyed 45 students and found that 60% of students enrolled for college credits, over 50% have in interest in computer science and many favored the website building class.
“The tech field is not diverse enough and we want to help prepare students from underrepresented groups learn about careers in a variety of IT fields,” said Douglas Cobb, a Laney College counselor and assistant director of Upgrade.
Kim Bridges, Laney College Computer Information Systems Instructor and Department Chair also serves as an assistant director of Upgrade.
Developed by Johnnie Williams, a computer information systems instructor and director of the program, Upgrade is his answer to diversifying the world of tech.
“It’s our mission to prepare a diverse population of students prepared for the many opportunities in computer technology by giving them an introduction and the tools necessary to strive,” said Williams.
Upgrade also provides partnership activities, volunteer opportunities, and apprenticeships.
“We had 35 different guest speakers from different technology companies give presentations and talks to the students in the program,” said Williams. During Upgrade’s six week summer session, students visited Ebay, Google, NERSC Berkeley Lawrence Lab and Autodesk. Students were also provided students with complimentary breakfast and lunch.
“The summer of 2016 we had 41 students complete the course, so we are on an upward trajectory as far as serving the next generation of tech professionals,” said Williams.
To date, Upgrade has served 118 students in 3 years with participants earning a total of 739 college units and 2,217 high school units.
“Through our activities, we have had the opportunity to connect students with internships, future professions and job opportunities, said Williams.