National Computer Science School awarded for educational excellence

22 September 2010

Dr James Curran (centre) with students from the National Computer Science School.
Dr James Curran (centre) with students from the National Computer Science School.

The National Computer Science School has received the Engineers Australia's Excellence Award for Education and Training (Sydney Division).

NCSS Director Dr James Curran said, "Winning an Engineering Excellence Award shows that industry acknowledges the importance and impact of our work in attracting talented high school students from around Australia to IT and engineering more broadly."

NCSS was developed by the School of Information Technologies in 1996 to address the significant problem of low secondary student interest in information and communications technology related tertiary study and careers.

Since 2009, the School of IT in the Faculty of Engineering and IT has collaborated with National Information and Communications Technology Australia (NICTA) to develop the embedded systems stream of NCSS and the NCSS Challenge.

The school offers online training and gives senior high school students the opportunity to spend 10 days on the University's Camperdown Campus in January to receive expert tuition in programming for web applications and embedded systems for robotics.

NCSS has filled a gap in the secondary school curriculum for the teaching of computer programming. By providing quality educational opportunities, NCSS provided students with an opportunity to visualise a path to interesting programming-related careers in engineering and computer science.

"The field of IT is an exciting and challenging one to work in," said Dr Curran. "But computing studies in schools rarely gives that impression.

"NCSS is about giving students a realistic experience of the computer science you learn at university and what it's like to work in the IT industry, which is excellent motivation to start a career in IT."

In January this year, year 11 and 12 students in the summer school were also given the opportunity to meet representatives of NCSS sponsors including Altium, Atlassian, CargoWise, Google, and Macquarie Group.

Participation in the NCSS Summer School is a qualification increasingly recognised by students, high schools and employers.

Dr Tara Murphy and Dr Michael Cahill from the Faculty of Engineering and IT were also crucial participants in the development and implementation of the program, Dr Curran said.

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