Students, governor talk code to underscore importance of expanding computer science education

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb took a shot at coding Tuesday, surrounded by dozens of Hooiser students, for the third annual Hour of Coding event at the Indiana Statehouse.

“Whenever you get older, a lot of the jobs will have coding and you need to know how to do it,” Haley Winderlich said, a fourth grader attending the event.

The event was hosted by the Indianapolis-based nonprofit Nextech, which aims to expand computer science classes statewide while working to train Indiana educators.

“To see this happening today, it’s a great message to the community,” Karen Jung said, Nextech president. “There’s a challenge between workforce development, and the jobs we need to fill today, and then thinking about students preparing them for whatever path.”

Indiana lawmakers are also working on ways to expand access to computer science courses as well.

“If you want to pretty much guarantee full employment for the rest of your life, learn coding,” Gov. Eric Holcomb told the group of students.

Some like the Indiana Chamber are pushing lawmakers to make computer science classes a new requirement for graduation to address a growing employment crisis for skilled workers.

“You know what, I’m not sold on the requirement piece,” Jennifer McCormick said, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “I do agree that it needs to be offered. It’s systemic, though. When we hear requirement, we think high school, but I’m talking about K-12 as far as a systemic approach to make sure it’s offered.”

Lawmakers are expected to address the issue during the upcoming session.