Long Beach Partners with Microsoft to Bring Digi Camps to Middle School Students


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The City of Long Beach, in partnership with Microsoft Corp., provided 91 Washington Middle School students with technical training and exposure to professional careers in the technology sector earlier this week. The two sessions were the first Digi Camps to take place in the city and catered to 43 girls on Monday and 48 boys on Tuesday, according to the release issued Wednesday.

“Long Beach is a world class city, and we are committed to supporting our local technology and innovation leaders of all ages,” stated Mayor Robert Garcia. “It is especially important to nurture young leaders today, so we are proud to partner with Microsoft, a global leader in innovation, technology, and education, to help students build the skills necessary to pursue modern jobs.”

“Microsoft is excited to support the City of Long Beach,” said Celeste Alleyne, director of Microsoft Citizenship & Public Affairs, in a statement. “We believe that the power of technology helps individuals and communities do more and achieve more, so they can ultimately realize their full potential.”

77 percent of jobs within the next 10 years will require tech skills, according to Microsoft, yet only a small number of young women are pursuing computer science education, stated the release. During the sessions at the Long Beach Main Library, the students were taught to create programs using their phones and tablets with Mindcraft and TouchDevelop software.

“We continue to see that when students have access to foundational coding and computation skills at an early age, and are encouraged throughout their education and at home, they will continue to pursue science technology engineering and math (STEM) fields,” said Alleyne.

Dwaine Streater, executive director of Paramount Property Operations, spoke about what it takes to oversee the studio’s day-to-day operations and Daniel Meza, senior art director for Change Agent, a social enterprise, spoke about his professional career as a digital media artist.

Founder of Wonder Women Tech, Lisa Mae Brunson, also inspired young listeners about the upcoming Wonder Women Tech international conference, set to take place in Long Beach this summer, while Dr. Birgit Penzenstadler, of the Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) Engineering Department, gave insight into her research on environmental sustainability in software engineering.

Some of Microsoft’s top professionals, such as Chandler Bootchk, Director of Risk, Security and Compliance; Andy Gottlieb, a University Recruiter; and Lena Gonzalez, Microsoft Community Development Specialist and City of Long Beach Councilwoman, also spoke to the students during the career panels.

“I am very proud to work for a corporation like Microsoft and represent a city such as Long Beach that sees the value in bringing resources directly to both young men and women,” said Gonzalez in a statement. “Washington Middle School students are amazing young men and women, and I hope one day they see themselves working in STEM-related careers.”

The Digi Camps support the city’s goal to enhance innovation and technology access to youth. The city formed the Digital Alliance with Microsoft in June 2015.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.