This May, the techies of tomorrow assembled in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, or SCAI, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, for a one-day, interactive code camp created by faculty members.

Assistant Professor Adil Ahmad and Assistant Professor Hasti Seifi hosted Desert CodeSprouts, a computer science outreach workshop for middle-school students. Along with ASU student volunteers, the pair conducted workshops on user interface design, web programming and cybersecurity.

Students attend code camp

In one fun activity, the students designed their own iOS application for a fictional pet shelter using the tool Figma. They made wireframe diagrams of their projects, discussing how to best help users connect with pets, and then chose the color schemes and photos they felt would best communicate their design ideas.

The SCAI faculty members were inspired to create Desert CodeSprouts by a desire to make computer science spaces more inclusive. Ahmad notes that similar programs at the University of British Columbia have been highly effective at providing girls and historically underserved student populations with access to engineering activities. Their efforts have worked to increase enthusiasm for computer science in middle school students, connecting kids with opportunities in robotics, programming and application development. Similar programs have received financial support from companies such as Microsoft.

“These kinds of community outreach efforts are designed to increase the number of underrepresented students in STEM fields,” Seifi says. “The success of similar programs suggests that early positive exposure to computer science activities can improve student confidence and stimulate interest in pursuing careers in technology in the future.”

Professor Seifi assists a middle school student

Ahmad and Seifi expect the camp to be an annual event and hope to expand into multiple workshop days to accommodate more students. The next camp will likely be held in April or May of 2025.

Future dates will be posted on the camp website.