Training the Technologists of Tomorrow

Capital One Coders aims to teach middle school students the basics of software development

What’s the best age to learn to code? One recent analysis found that nearly half of jobs in the top salary quartile require some coding skills, so it’s never too early. And yet fewer than half of all K-12 schools in the U.S. teach coding, leaving today’s learners unprepared to join tomorrow’s workforce.

That’s why Capital One launched Coders, an initiative that teaches middle school students about problem solving, teamwork and the basic principles of software development, with the goal of inspiring more children to someday choose careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Tenth grader Alexandra Wright attended several Capital One Coders events while still in middle school. This experience kindled her passion for math, science and technology, and influenced her decision to attend CodeRVA Regional High School, a tech focused magnet school in the Richmond area that partners with Capital One.

Wright, who is pursuing a computer engineering program at CodeRVA, recently secured a mentorship opportunity within Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In the VCU lab, Wright has applied her engineering skills in exploring the development of sensory devices for monitoring the temperatures of sick babies. She also continues to pay it forward, attending Coders events as a booster for the next generation of program participants.

“Over the past two years, I have really enjoyed speaking at Capital One Coders events on behalf of my school,” said Wright. “Looking at the younger kids’ eager faces reminds me of myself.”

Since the program’s inception, more than 4,000 Capital One associates have volunteered their time to teach over 11,000 middle school students about coding and technology. Rachel Partridge, a software engineer at Capital One and a regular Coders volunteer, enjoys showing students how coding can be applied in the real world: “I show them that coding is just a tool to be creative and collaborate with others.”