The University of Rhode Island’s Computer Science department is making a strong effort to build a more computer literate future by creating courses at the grade school level.

The URI’s Cyber Security program, consisting of Professors Victor Fay-Wolfe, Lisa DiPippo and Yan Sun, is moving to introduce computer programming to students at an earlier age. According to the Head of the Computer Science Department Joan Peckham, the Collaborative for Explorations in Mathematics and Sciences (CEMS) has created a curriculum for an online course that they hope to implement in high schools across Rhode Island next year.

“We are looking to reach out to students K-12 to create computer science courses that students can take and earn credit at URI, should they decide to come here,” Peckham said. “We realize now that more students in the state need to start this training even in elementary school. But, right now, were working with the high schools.”

This will give more students entering the university a much more complete background in regards to computer and technical skills. “It is a good complement for any major and can greatly increase your chances of getting an interesting job when you graduate,” Peckham added.

This is part of an ongoing effort to retain more students in the Computer Science and Engineering fields, especially women.

“We’re sending a group of female students in the (Computer Science) department to the Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing,” Peckham said. “It’s a national problem there are few women in computing, so we have between 10 and 20 percent women in the major. So if you entered the classes you’d only see a few women in the class.”

Through introducing computing to children at younger ages, Peckham is hoping to diversify the computer science community . “It’s a national problem there are few women in computing, so we have between 10 and 20 percent women in the major. So if you entered the classes you’d only see a few women in the class.”