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SAUSD Students Take Part in Computer Science Boot Camp Organized by Santa Ana High School Graduate


This summer students across the Santa Ana Unified School District had the opportunity to learn about computer science at the Computer Science Boot Camp hosted at Santa Ana High School through Career Technical Education of SAUSD.

The class was the brainchild of Christopher Camacho, a Santa Ana High School graduate who has just completed his first year of college at Tufts University, where he is studying computer engineering.

The program taught students the fundamentals of computer science through unplugged activities and programming for the physical world by blending hardware such as Raspberry Pi and electronic sensors.

Camacho had attended a summer program at MIT where he first learned about coding with Python using a Raspberry Pi and wanted to share this wonderful opportunity with his community in Santa Ana.

High school and intermediate students learned many things, including how to program in Python, how to create an App and how to build a webpage. They also learned how to integrate sensors and electrical components such as LEDs. Students all had to create a final project, which was showcased at the SAUSD Back-to-School Bash on August 5, 2017.

Student groups created posters and demonstrated their creations to members of the community and parents who stopped by the Career Technical Education booth.

The last week of the program, students learned about cyber security by attending a week-long program at Coastline College, which is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity for two year institutions by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The last day of the program at Coastline College, students learned about computer hardware by taking apart a computer and then rebuilding it. Students all got to take home the computer they worked on including the monitor, keyboard and the Microsoft Office software installed on it. Materials were donated by Heroes Deserve Help, which also assisted with the training.

Another unique part of this program was that it was developed by first-year college students with the support of high school mentor instructors. The college students’ curriculum focused on computer and coding skills they had learned in their first year in college and wanted to bring back to the students in SAUSD.

Besides Camacho who graduated from Santa Ana High School in 2016, other former graduates of Santa Ana Unified School District who were daily mentors included Erika Rodriguez, who currently attends Cal Poly Pomona and is majoring in civil engineering and Brian Chairez, who currently attends Cal State University Fullerton and is majoring in computer science.

Luis Terrones, who graduated in 2015 from SAUSD and currently attends MIT, volunteered and participated in the field trips and activities. The college students gained valuable experience and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to inspire others.

Besides learning about computer programming, students were able to learn about the wide range of careers in computer science through field trips and guest speakers like Ryan Smolar, a web designer and consultant for the Business Improvement District (BID) of Santa Ana.

Students also went on a field trip to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena where Terrones interned while a high school senior. On another outing, students were able to tour the game development company Blizzard in Irvine.

To expose students to more career opportunities, a career roundtable was held one afternoon where computer science professionals were able to speak to students in small groups about their jobs to help students understand how computer science is a growing part of our world.

- By Ruth Abatzoglou