Twenty-six area high school students are learning about computers this summer through The University of Texas-Pan American's first Computer Science Microsoft Scholars program.
UTPA is one of 11 universities to receive a $40,000 stipend from the Microsoft Company and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities to fund the program.
"This program will provide excellent opportunities for students who are seeking careers in computer science," Dr. Pearl Brazier, chair of the Department of Computer Science. "It also gives Valley students the opportunity to experience what UTPA is all about."
Students are enrolled in courses for five weeks during the summer to learn the basics of computer science, including the computer programming language JAVA, the latest language used to develop software and Internet applications.
"The students are very active, enthusiastic, and there is lots of interaction in class," said Dr. Zhixiang Chen, computer instructor. "They are eager to accept the challenge of the computer assignments."
Participating students are from Edinburg, McAllen, Mission, La Joya, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Weslaco, Harlingen, Brownsville, Sharyland, South Texas Med-High and South Texas Science Academy.
"I've been interested in computers since I was in fourth grade," said Ray Mendoza, 17, from La Joya High School. "I came to the program to get more exposure to computers and to the University."
To participate, students were required to submit a scholarship application, be eligible for concurrent enrollment and taken a programming course in high school. Tuition, books and materials are provided, and they will receive three hours of college credit upon course completion.