Purdue offers free online computer programming course to Indiana high school students

November 13, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University is offering a popular introductory computer science and programming course for free to high school students in Indiana.

The online course, "Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming," offers an introduction to computer science and the Java programming language. The course will not be graded or count toward credit requirements, but it covers material similar to the computer science Advanced Placement course and could prepare a student to test out of Purdue's or another institution's freshman programming class.

The course is available to any high school student in Indiana, including those who are home schooled. Enrollment for the spring semester is open now through Dec. 1. The self-paced course does not have a completion deadline, but the online support and teaching assistants will only be available through the end of each semester. Students interested in enrolling should contact Despoina "Debbie" Perouli, visiting assistant professor of computer science, at depe@purdue.edu.

The course is an extension of the Department of Computer Science's Bridge Program that helps students with an interest in computer science, but who have little or no programming experience, succeed in their first year at the university. The program introduces students to basic computer science and programming concepts at a comfortable pace.

The online course grew out of a successful bricks-and-mortar summer class that was first offered in 2012, said Sunil Prabhakar, professor and head of the Department of Computer Science.

 "The class has been instrumental to the success and retention of students at Purdue, and we wanted to extend it to any Indiana high school student, whether they intend to attend this university or not," Prabhakar said. "As a land-grant institution, we feel it is our responsibility to step in and bridge the gap so that no student who desires a future in computer science is left behind due to a lack of resources or availability of classes."

Many high schools in Indiana do not offer courses in computer science and programming, and only 1.1 percent of the Advanced Placement tests taken in the state last year were computer science exams, said Phil Sands, the K-12 outreach coordinator for the department.

"We have about 75,000 high school seniors in this state and only 500 are taking the college preparatory exam in computer science," he said. "That is something that needs to change, and with this online course we are taking a major step toward making a difference for young people in Indiana."

Those with advanced computing skills are already in demand, and employment of computer and information research scientists is expected to grow by 15 percent from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Graduates of Purdue's computer science program have close to a 100 percent job placement rate and earn among the highest starting salaries of all graduates, Prabhakar said.

Strengthening computer science and educating more students in the field is part of Purdue Moves, a range of university initiatives designed to broaden Purdue's global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students. 

Writer: Elizabeth K. Gardner, 765-494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu 

Sources: Sunil Prabhakar, 765-494-6010, sunil@cs.purdue.edu

Phil Sands, 765-494-7802, psands@purdue.edu 

Related news release: 

Purdue plans to strengthen computer science program, educate more students 

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