Amazon funds engineering programs in Canada
Aim will be to inspire and propel students from underserved communities to build careers in computer science
Amazon announced the Canadian launch of Amazon Future Engineer, a comprehensive program designed to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to pursue computer science. As part of Amazon’s commitment to strengthening the communities it is proud to call home, the company will invest $3 million (CAD) over three years to fund unique computer science learning opportunities for an anticipated 1 million students and teachers across the country.
“At Amazon, we are committed to helping more children and young adults, especially those from underrepresented and underserved communities,” said Susan Ibach, Head of Amazon Future Engineer Canada. “Amazon Future Engineer is dedicated to helping students develop their computer science skills throughout their educational journeys, from kindergarten to high school, while also funding in-demand professional development opportunities for teachers. Virtual learning has underscored the need for more students to have a strong computer science foundation, and we look forward to creating new opportunities to make that a reality.”
New data from research firm Maru/Blue shows that 63% of Canadian parents of elementary and high school students agree that children did not have the computer skills to succeed at virtual learning*. Computer science and STEM education will be increasingly important for future career prospects both in the technology sector and beyond: according to the Information and Communications Technology Council, the Canadian digital economy will have demand for 147,000 additional workers by 2022. However, not all Canadians face equal odds: according to the TD Economics Women and STEM report, women earn only 1 in 5 engineering and 1 in 4 computer science undergraduate degrees. The ICTC Digital Talent Dividend Report shows that only 0.3% of information and communications technology roles in Canada are held by Indigenous peoples.
Coding skills, including algorithms, sequences and debugging
To reach students of all ages across Canada, Amazon Future Engineer is partnering with leading Canadian charities dedicated to computer science and STEM education, including Canada Learning Code, Kids Code Jeunesse and TakingITGlobal. Amazon will fund their curated lesson plans, tutorials, online resources and workshops designed to inspire students from all backgrounds to pursue computer science.
For elementary school students and teachers, Amazon Future Engineer will fund free, in-class workshops organized by Canada Learning Code. Lesson plans will focus on basic coding skills, including algorithms, sequences and debugging. Amazon Future Engineer already provides a variety of free, online educational activities open to all elementary school students, including interactive coding tutorials like the Cyber Robotics Challenge and the Hour of Code: Dance Party.
Middle and high school students and teachers will have access to workshops and materials that focus on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and ethics, delivered in partnership with Kids Code Jeunesse. This curriculum will guide students through the application of current AI technology, the framework for ethical AI, and the effect of AI systems on future careers and the work environment. These will encourage young people to think about the intersection between their digital lives and in-person experiences.
AP Computer Science principles curriculum
In addition, working with TakingITGlobal’s Connected North Program, Amazon will fund computer science workshops for teachers working across the program’s network of 100 schools in remote Indigenous communities, and support the charity’s self-serve platform for teachers to access training and lesson plans. Amazon will also support TakingITGlobal’s development of an online course and community for Canadian educators using the AP Computer Science principles curriculum. TakingITGlobal will also deliver the Your Voice is Power program in Canada, which features a competition for students to remix Pharrell’s new song “Entrepreneur” using computer code on the learn-to-code-through-music platform, EarSketch.
“I’m excited for the official Canadian launch of Amazon Future Engineer and the continued commitment to computer science education in Canada. Amazon has supported Canada Learning Code in many ways over the years, from enabling projects to ensure we’re delivering experiences to those who need them most, to providing hundreds of volunteer hours, to working with us to navigate the shift from in-person learning experiences to virtual due to COVID-19. We are thrilled to have Amazon Future Engineer’s partnership for our Teachers Learning Code program and with their support, we’ll continue to build out relevant and necessary tools and resources for educators across Canada,” said Melissa Sariffodeen, CEO and co-founder of Canada Learning Code.
Your Voice is Power program
“The next decade is a critical one for our planet and our people, and we will only be able to build a fair and just future if we equip the next generation with the skills they need to thrive in a digital world. With Amazon Future Engineer’s support, we will be engaging students not just to think about how AI works – but how decisions are made, and how technology can help solve real-world problems,” said Kate Arthur, CEO and Founder, Kids Code Jeunesse.
“TakingITGlobal is thrilled to collaborate with Amazon to strengthen educators’ access to professional learning so they can bring computer science to life for students of all ages in the remote communities we serve,” says Michael Furdyk, Co-founder and Director of Innovation at TakingITGlobal. “We’re particularly excited to bring the Your Voice is Power program to Canada, leveraging music as a pathway to engage students in coding.”
Schools, administrators, and teachers interested in participating in Amazon Future Engineer can learn more by visiting AmazonFutureEngineer.ca.