Photo by Brenda Lin

On Feb. 2, Google announced that Tech was one of the recipients of the Google Rise Award in recognition of the Institute’s work with Project Rise Up.

“Project Rise UP is an initiative to help more high school students pass the AP Computer Science AP Test,” said Barbara Ericson, Director of Computing Outreach and Senior Research Scientist at the College of Computing.

This is the third year that Ericson will be leading this initiative. According to Ericson, the main goal of the program last year was to increase the number of African American students who passed the AP test.

This year, Ericson will be expanding the project to also try to increase the number of women who pass the test through the initiative “Sisters Rise UP.”

“We will be running these programs here as well as at Bowie State University in Maryland, Florida International University, University of South Carolina and Columbus State University,” Ericson said.

Last year, Google awarded a grant of $32,000 to Tech for this project.

The current project consists of undergraduate students who run help sessions through the form of one hour webinars twice a week as well as 3 hour in-person sessions once a month at Tech.

“We also provide the students with an e-book where we have compiled a lot of learning resources as well as practice problems” Ericson said.

The first year of the initiative, there were a record number of African American students who passed the exam in both Georgia and Maryland.

“We provide a financial incentive of a $100 to students who pass the exam as well as another $100 to students who attend at least 4 in-person sessions,” Ericson said.

By having these webinars and in-person sessions, students will also be able to get more individualized attention. Often, the classes are too big for every student to be able to get help with the subject.

“We give the students pretests and then look at their final result to see how the progressed,” Ericson said.

Ericson started this initiative with the goal to increase the number of students who pass the AP CS test. Since 2012, AP CS was considered a science which led to a lot of schools offering the course.

“We went from 44 schools offering this course in Georgia to 101 schools,” Ericson said. “As a result, sometimes the schools would hire teachers who might not fully know the material and so could not properly teach the students.”