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Right to left: Capstone volunteers Andres Altamirano, Diana Hernandez (foreground), Camilo Marulanda, Kristen Juan, Shail Sheth and Dr. Osama Eljabiri Right to left: Capstone volunteers Andres Altamirano, Diana Hernandez (foreground), Camilo Marulanda, Kristen Juan, Shail Sheth and Dr. Osama Eljabiri

New Jersey Institute of Technology Teams-up with Medellin IT-Student Aspirants

Published in Volunteering Written by  April 13 2016 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) announced April 12 the debut of a "Capstone” project to link its information technology (IT) students with Medellin and Envigado middle-school and high-school students interested in pursuing IT careers.

Three students at NJIT’s College of Computing Sciences’ (CCS) and two students from the New Jersey School of Architecture debuted the project in Medellin last month, aiming to help “low-income kindergarten-through-12th-grade students [learn] about computer construction, app development, game development and more,” according to NJIT.

The “Capstone” project is part of the “Real World Connections” (RWC) program founded by NJIT senior lecturer Osama Eljabiri, Ph.D.

The program “offers college students and alumni the opportunity to develop tracks for and coach various areas of knowledge using real-world project scenarios to middle and high school students that enable them to apply their knowledge in technology, business and arts fields for the good of a community,” according to NJIT.

NJIT CCS students Andres Altamirano, Diana Hernandez and Camilo Marulanda – all Spanish (as well as English) speakers -- and NJIT’s New Jersey School of Architecture students Kristen Juan and Shail Sheth (conversant but not fluent in Spanish) were the first participants in the Medellin project, along with NJIT professor Eljabiri (also knowledgeable in Spanish).

“For eight days, they devoted their mornings to teaching children from the Angeles de Medellin Foundation, which provides educational and recreational resources to more than 12,000 families" unfortunately displaced by Colombia’s long-running guerrilla and drug-gang wars, NJIT explained.

Following the morning workshops, the “Capstone” volunteers in the afternoons “served as coaches for hands-on computer-science projects in the neighboring city of Envigado, where RWC has partnered with the secretary of education and regional director of innovation,” according to NJIT.

Envigado “provided RWC with state-of-the-art computer labs and facilities and requested that the program be administered frequently over at least the next four years. Top officials along with teachers, parents and community members from Medellin and Envigado attended a student showcase, presented in English and Spanish, at the end of the week,” according to NJIT.

“RWC established its first seasonal, global satellite location in Colombia, which is expected to extend unique educational opportunities over spring break to NJIT students, as well as inspire and empower hundreds of students who live under difficult economic circumstances in Medellin and Envigado.

“The satellite has created a sustainable model that expands the horizons of NJIT students and teaches them a second language, while also allowing them to express their knowledge and creativity in ways that promote peace and friendship, and experience the reward of changing lives. More opportunities will be available during the summer months.”

“This new seasonal RWC satellite location brought tears and smiles to students and their families in these poor towns, who feel that it could be their bridge to a promising future they thought would never come,” said Dr. Eljabiri.

“The program also has recruited an outstanding team of Colombian volunteers, college students, industry experts and university alumni who are very committed to supporting the program year-round. We are happy that we became an agent of change in this transformation, which is not only changing lives over there, but changing ours as well, thanks to the wonderful support of the leadership of the computer science department,” he added.

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