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Computer science for less privileged children - a conversation with Vandana Sikka, Infosys Foundation USA

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy February 8, 2016
The Infosys Foundation USA is lending a hand to help less privileged children get access to computer science education.

vandana tikka
Vandana Sikka, chairperson Infosys Foundation USA

Once in a while I get to meet someone who is using their position in the technology industry to bring change to the world. Last week was one of those occasions when I sat down with Vandana Sikka, chairperson of the Infosys Foundation USA. We recorded a short conversation during which she talked about the recent pledge from US president Obama for the establishment of a $4 billion fund to bring computer science to schools.

Our conversation ranged from the work the Foundation does through to some of the recent initiatives in endeavoring to bring computer science and coding to children who are less privileged or coming from difficult backgrounds. Sikka talks with authority about this topic because she knows from personal experience the benefits to be gained from the pursuit of a career in computer science.

In a couple of month's time. Infosys holds its annual customer conference in San Francisco during which Sikka tells me there will be a showcase demonstrating some of the Foundation's achievements and outcomes. I'm told we will be able to meet with some of the children that are being helped.

Earlier in the day I met with Kaustav Mitra who works for the foundation. We discussed a range of issues that impact children who come from difficult backgrounds. How for example can you inspire and maintain a child's confidence when they may be the only person in the family who gets a grounding in computer science? How do you safely get children into a teaching environment? It's not just a matter of setting up shop, opening the doors and hoping for the best. There are many issues surrounding delivery.

My interest is perhaps a little further along. As I have said before, there is a real need for apprenticeship style educations in the technology industry. Right now, people are going through the education system and learning something of computer science but when they come out the other side, there is little on offer, even though internships are common in Silicon Valley. It is a tough nut to crack and there is a lot to do. Even so, it is good to see organizations that recognize the need for inclusion at the earliest possible age. I am looking forward to meeting some of those children in a few months' time.

Bonus points: Vandana Sikka can write code. How cool is that?

Image credits - post image via @dahowlett, featured image via Infosys Foundation
Disclosure - Infosys is a premier partner at time of writing

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