Program seeks to empower young STEM students
The Santa Clara
April 18, 2019
This quarter, SWE++, a program
dedicated to introducing computer
science and coding to middle school
girls, began its inaugural run at Santa Clara.
For the first nine Saturdays of
spring quarter, Santa Clara student
members of the SWE++ organizing committee will host a group
of middle schoolers to teach them
computer science concepts.
The students come from nearby
schools including Buchser Middle
School, Downtown College Prep and
Dartmouth Middle School.
The hope is that SWE++ will help
reduce the gender gap in computer
By introducing these students to
coding now, they may be more interested in STEM once they reach high
school and more likely to pursue a
career in tech.
“My goal was to help middle
schoolers get a first experience with
coding,” junior Story DeWeese said,
a computer science and engineering
major and co-chair of the SWE++
committee. “I wanted to provide a
program for middle schoolers that
didn’t have the opportunity to learn
SWE++ began as a program last
year at the University of California,
This winter, it was established at
Santa Clara by DeWeese and junior
Mariah Manzano, a web design major, developed in partnership with
the Society of Women Engineers
(SWE), Association for Computing Machinery-Women’s Chapter
(ACM-W) and Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
DeWeese and Manzano currently serve as the co-chairs of the
SWE++ committee, which includes
eight other members who rotate
as the coding instructors for the
Sophomore Arianne Soriano, a
computer science and engineering
major, joined SWE++ to give back to
Her coding career began through
a similar program and she also wants
to help close the gender gap.
“I’ve had many computing classes with barely any girls,” Soriano
said. “I want the next generation
to have equal opportunities inside
and outside the classroom. SWE++
provides a safe place with empowering women.”
According to the National Science Foundation, women account
for half of the United States’ college
educated workforce, but only make
up 29 percent of the science and
At Santa Clara, SWE++ is a new
program of its kind.
While SWE++ has a significant
outreach program that works with
elementary and high school students to explore different engineering disciplines, the university does
not currently have a program that
is built to teach middle schoolers
how to code.
Looking ahead, DeWeese and
Manzano believe that SWE++ can
have a significant impact. This quarter was the first run of the program,
and the number of students had to
be capped by that amount of computer lab space available.
For the future, multiple curriculums are being developed so that
the program can be grown to teach
students of different levels and experiences.
“I did want to leave some sustainable program here that SWE,
ACM-W and the school of engineering could be known for. And I think
SWE++ will be that,” Manzano said.
Contact Emma Pollans at
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