“Computer science is something like I didn’t really know about so it made more interested in like how things work,” Velva High School senior Isabella Rowland said.
Rowland is a student involved in the TEALS Program, a computer science course sponsored by Microsoft at the school that provides a more in-depth look at the field — directly from professionals.
The class is led by math and computer science teacher Brett Engebretson.
He says those teaching the course are from across the country.
“Over the last couple years we’ve had a number of teachers from Seattle remotely sign in and teach the class, and one from Fargo and the neat part about the Fargo one is he’s a Velva graduate working for Microsoft out of Fargo,” Engebretson said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, computer and information technology occupations are expected to add over 500,000 jobs in the next five years.
And one student in the program knows he wants his future career to combine his knowledge of technology with his North Dakota farming roots.
“I’d like to major in computer science but my dream job would be tying in the agriculture field along with computer science so I’d be like working through AI-based programs that could identify harmful weeds and other objects like that,” TEALS student Wyatt Hanson said.
Engebretson is also excited for the potential students will have after ramping up their knowledge of computer science.
“We wanna be able to have our students bring that back after getting their degree and help back in the farms or in whatever industry they choose,” Engebretson said.
Hanson says he has learned quite a bit over only two years of being in the program, specifically about computer coding.
“I found out, ‘Oh that’s code which makes a computer run,’ compared to just saying, ‘Hey it works, don’t worry about it’ so that’s what really got me interested was finding out why it works,” Hanson said.
No matter what path the students follow, both teachers and students agree the skills they have learned in the course will help them in the future.
“It’s gonna be something that this generation of students is probably gonna have to have just like when we started and they told us we’re gonna have to have computer skills while we’re hacking away on our typewriters and we’re going yeah right. It’s something — it’s going to be there and we just wanted to expose as many as we could to that,” Engebretson said.