UTICA, NY – Jan. 3, 2019 – On Saturday, February 2 kids as young as 8 years old are invited to bring their laptops, imagination, and teamwork to the first ever youth hackathon in the Mohawk region – known as AT&T Mohawk Valley Youth Hack. The free youth hackathon for students between 8 and 17 will take place at the thINCubator, 326 Broad St, Uticafrom 10am-6pm. The hackathon is a collaboration between AT&T, Tech4Kidz, thINCubator and was born out of a desire to expand coding opportunities for Mohawk Valley youth. Coding and computer science related skills are quickly becoming one of the most desired job skills to process in today’s global economy. Programs like the AT&T Mohawk Valley Youth Hack will continue to expose youth to future career opportunities that are available in the fields of information technology and coding. The event is free to participate in but is limited to 50 students, who must fill out an application, no prior coding experience is necessary for the participants. To eliminate economic barriers and promote an all-inclusive experience, laptops donated by the Utica Academy of Science and development resources will be made available for students without their own resources as well as meals at no cost. Parents may register their children at https://tech4kidz.net/events/.

 

AT&T Mohawk Valley Youth Hack will be run in a similar fashion to other hackathons held locally – in which computer programmers and others involved in software and hardware development collaborate intensively on projects to solve challenges with technology. This time around, the event will be geared towards younger participants and focus on different types of issues within the digital world that impact them.  The young participants will build apps, games, websites, animations and interactive stories related to cyberbullying and internet safety while being judged on their teamwork, imagination, code, and design skills. The hackathon will feature mentors from area colleges, tech companies and local developers assisting the participants.

“AT&T is proud to collaborate with Tech4Kidz, thINCubator and Hack Upstate to provide this innovative experience for local students as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM and coding-related educational programming in the Mohawk Valley and throughout the State,” said Amy Hines-Kramer, president, AT&T New York. “Our economy continues to transform at a robust pace – requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and digital literacy – and STEM and coding opportunities like this one are vital to ensure that the students of today are prepared for the global economy of tomorrow. I am excited to see the creativity and innovation from the young minds that participate in this unique hackathon.”

Final projects at AT&T Mohawk Valley Youth Hack will be judged by a panel of judges made up of local tech experts, community leaders, education experts, and elected officials. Each submission will be scored on its potential impact on the category entered, the quality of execution, and creativity or novelty within the work.  The hackathon will challenge participants to come up with technological solutions and tools to address the growing problem of cyberbullying and internet safety while awarding for best design skills, code skills, and teamwork.

“Our goal in this hackathon is to engage young minds in the area of technology and help them become confident and critical thinkers,” said Pam Puri, founder, Tech4Kidz. “Early introduction to programming teaches kids to think in a logical and systematic way, develops skills they can apply in all aspects of school, and introduces them to computer science principles.  We want to thank AT&T for partnering with us and supporting STEM education in Upstate NY.  We also want to thank the Thincubator HackUpstate for their support and contribution to this innovative event.”

“Supporting an event like this to expose Mohawk Valley youth to coding is a no brainer for us,” said Stacey Smith, assistant director, thINCubator. “Yes, it’s the fastest growing profession in the world, but it also gets our kids digging into the creative process, problem-solving, and thinking about feasibility and impact. We strive to breed these kinds of thINCers in our community.”

 

Coding is quickly becoming the new literacy, with technology powering every electronic device kids and adults interact with. The appetite among students for coding is growing in popularity as the discipline is a main driver of innovation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, much of the growth in the demotic and global economy will come from STEM-related jobs – a highly lucrative and competitive field. While jobs overall are expected to grow by 10 percent in 2018, STEM jobs are predicted to grow by 17 percent, and it is estimated by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs in the US. More than half of this growth will be made up of computer careers, underscoring the importance of providing the youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy. AT&T Mohawk Valley Youth Hack will help to create a future of smart, innovative applicants to help fill these jobs someday.

 

“Hack Upstate is thrilled to have the opportunity to support CNY’s youth in their efforts to learn the fundamentals of code. One of Hack Upstate’s goals is to reduce CNY’s STEM talent churn rate. We educate the best and brightest STEM talent in the country and we’re determined to keep them in Upstate NY. We hope events like this will spark the youth’s interest in technology and ultimately keep them here after they graduate” said Jesse Peplinski, partner, Hack Upstate. “We thank AT&T, Tech4Kidz, and the thINCubator for the opportunity to empower young technologists that will advance the CNY tech community for years to come.”

 

AT&T’s support for the region’s first youth hackathon is part of the company’s legacy of supporting educational programs focused on STEM disciplines in New York State through AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature $450 million philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism and mentoring. Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on school success and workforce readiness by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems to help students succeed and prepare them to take on 21st-century careers. AT&T has given more than $103 million to support STEM initiatives since 1987. Projects supported by AT&T contributions range from after-school programs and camps for students at risk of dropping out to hands-on technology labs and elite robotics competitions.

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