Students of six Broward County public schools got a taste of what it takes to have a successful career in technology in South Florida on Wednesday when members of Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and the South Florida TechGateway program hosted a "TechGateway Day."
The event was part of National Computer Science Education Week and brought technologists from companies headquartered in Broward County to local middle and high schools to discuss their professional paths.
One class in particular, at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, got college and internship tips from John Machado, vice president of development at Ultimate Software, a human resources software company in Weston and member of the board for the TechGateway program.
“I had to use a cassette - well, actually, do you even know what a cassette is?” Machado asked. The whole class erupted in laughter.
He came to Cypress Bay High to talk with students in one of Tiffani Slutsky’s advanced computer science classes.
“It makes the students more aware of different opportunities and different things to think about,” Slutsky said. “And for me as a teacher? I’m gonna ask some more questions so I can figure out a little bit more of my direction as to what I want to teach.”
Slutsky teaches coding and programming, and right now her students are learning how to use the programs Java and Python. One of her students, junior Kian Bagherlee, says he wants to work with artificial intelligence some day.
“I even looked at some papers scientists have released of theories of how A.I. works,” Bagherlee said. “I just want to know what the next step is, so when I get in the job market, I’m like, much more prepared.”
Machado encouraged him to keep up his grades and referred a book to him called Data Science from Scratch. It’s by author Joel Grus.
Laurie Rich Levinson, the school board member for District 6 in Broward, also came to watch Machado’s presentation. She said it’s great to see a local initiative show students that what they learn in class matters for the jobs they want in the coming years.
“It’s so important that our kids get the real life application and the relevancy to what they’re learning,” Levinson said. “And that’s what he brought. Even his last [Powerpoint] slide talked about their futures, and that’s what it’s all about.”