hands on a laptop

Free Online Class by Fowler Engineering Will Give HS Students a Leg Up on College Success As students study from home, 125 sign up to learn computing fundamentals.

Two professors in Fowler School of Engineering have launched a free five-week online course that will teach the fundamentals of computing and computer programming to high school seniors intending to enroll in the Chapman University engineering program this fall.

The class, developed by professors Elizabeth Stevens and Erik Linstead, almost immediately attracted more than 80 signups. By April 8, that number was up to 125.

The class shows “how incredibly student-centered we are here in Fowler Engineering,” says Andrew Lyon, dean of the engineering school. “Elizabeth and Erik recognized the uncertainty and stress that many of our admitted students face as they complete their high school studies from home, and they wanted to offer something that will help them transition to college more easily. Now, when our students arrive on campus in the fall, they will absolutely be ready to go, and will have already formed strong relationships with our faculty.”

Python Programming Language Is a Key Part of the Course

Through a combination of online lectures and lab exercises, students will learn the key hardware and software concepts that drive current models of computing. For students who have not yet been exposed to computer programming, the course will provide a foundation for further study. For students who have practical experience in programming (AP Computer Science, for example) this course will help them learn the Python programming language while interacting with Chapman University faculty members.

In addition to free tuition for the course, students will receive free access to an interactive textbook, thanks to the generosity of Zybooks. What’s more, the classes will be joined by industry guests from companies such as Google, Microsoft and Boeing.

“My mom likes to make the joke that she has a son who is a doctor, but not the kind of doctor who helps people. But in talking with Dr. Stevens, it occurred to us that perhaps we could still do something meaningful during the current situation by putting our abilities as teachers to good use,” said Linstead, Ph.D., associate dean of academic programs and faculty development for Fowler Engineering. “Our hope is that, if nothing else, this course will allow students whose senior years of high school have been disrupted to have a chance to learn something new that will pay dividends when they start their university studies. It probably still won’t stop by mom from giving me a hard time, though.”