Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar held its fifth annual CS4Qatar workshop for high school students on Saturday, aiming to inspire Qatar's youth to join the field of computer science and become creators of innovations that will change the world. Facing stiff competition for selection into this year's workshop, only 80 high school students from 20 schools around the country participated.
"Our goal with CS4Qatar is to introduce Qatar's secondary school population to the exciting field of computer science," said Khaled Harras, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon Qatar (CMU-Q). Elaborating on the workshop's initiatives, Harras stated: "We aim to debase many of the misconceptions surrounding the practice of computer science. We do so by exposing students to the basics of technology and computer science in both programming and robotics workshops, which are informative as well as incredibly fun and hands-on."
Forecasting on the future landscape of Qatar, Harras added, "Computer scientists will play an integral part in Qatar's knowledge-based economy. Since technology and technologically-related industries will be the main drivers of growth in the economy, establishing an expert talent bench of computer scientist practitioners will leave Qatar well-placed to compete in the 21st century marketplace. Carnegie Mellon Qatar's necessary outreach and expertise in this field is a key element in encouraging Qatar's youth to not only enter this field, and embrace the Qatar's National Vision 2030 (QNV2030), but also to be a part of the field's exciting creations."
This year's participants were exposed to a variety of subjects, whilst engaging in lectures on practical applications of the field here in Qatar, such as cloud computing projects at CMU-Q, complex problem-solving, natural language processing initiatives between Arabic and English, and industrial inspection of liquefied natural gas refineries.
Students began the workshop with a course on computer science puzzles that introduced them to programming, after which they took a course on Greenfoot, an interactive Java environment used for the development of interactive 2D games. The program then concluded with a workshop on robotics, which provided students with a hands-on experience, allowing them to create and operate robotic intelligence.
Kimya Dhade, a year 12 student at the DPS Modern Indian School, applied after watching a video about the program.
"After seeing a You Tube video about last year's workshop on CMU-Q's website, I got really excited about this year's CS4Qatar. Originally, I did not have much interest in computer science, as I thought it was a boring and difficult subject, but after attending this workshop, I have realized how promising it is. I advise all those who share my initial views to attend a CS4Qatar workshop – it is extremely informative," he said.
"The professors at Carnegie Mellon Qatar are incredible; they used very practical methods to teach us how to apply basic programming skills in future careers. I definitely have learned a lot and had fun at the same time," Dhade added.
Manager for pre-college programs and director of community outreach, Damian Dourado also commented on this year's CS4Qatar workshop: "With each year we see more and more high-school students in Qatar interested in attending our outreach programs. This year alone we received over 200 applications, unfortunately, we could not accommodate everyone. But, the demand alone is testament to the growing interest around the world and specifically in Qatar in the field of computer science. Computer science will be the de facto force behind economic and technological advancement in the future, we are glad to aid in QNV2030 through our outreach initiatives, such as CS4Qatar."
CS4Qatar is a series of computer science workshops for secondary school students and their teachers. The programs are run by the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. These workshops are designed for students in Qatar who want to broaden their horizons in the ever-expanding and broad-reaching field of computer science.
Participating schools in CS4Qatar included Academic Bridge Program, Al Khor International School, Al Wakra Independent School, Al Bayan School , Amna Bint Wahab Secondary Independent School for Girls, the American School of Doha, Cambridge International School, Doha Academy, Doha College, DPS Modern Indian School, Dukhan English School, English Modern School, Global Academy International, International School of Choueifat, LSQ-Lebanese school of Qatar, M.E.S Indian School, Newton International School, Qatar Academy, Qatar International School and Umm Hakim Independent Secondary School for Girls.