By Megan Alley
Tata Consultancy Services in Milford recently held its ninth annual goIT camp, and with 167 students from some 40 different schools across the region attending, this year was its most popular ever.
TCS, an international IT service company, started the free camp – there’s a two-day camp for middle schoolers and a three-day camp for high schoolers – as a way to give students a chance to explore applied science, technology, engineering and math skills while working in teams and under pressure.
“Ultimately, it’s about STEM, and getting them excited for STEM-related careers,” Brian Purvis, TCS goIT camp leader and blockchain program manager, said.
During the camp, students learn how to design and program robots, and they’re also tasked with problem solving.
“We don’t give them any help or any tips,” Purvis said.
This year marks the seventh that Purvis has been in charge of the camp; he said that what brings him back each year is the camp’s accessibility.
“Being able to provide something like this to the region at no cost, that anybody can attend, is really a big factor for me,” he said.
Purvis, who also helps with employee recruitment at TCS, said that the camp also increases the STEM talent pool.
“The younger and younger you introduce them to technology, the more likely they are to go into that career path,” he said, adding, “Just seeing the excitement that they have is important.”
Notably, some goIT campers have gone on to work for TCS.
“It’s really cool to see that they’re actually going through with it,” Purvis said.
First-time goIT camper Anna Heisbrod, 16, is going into the 11th grade.
Heisbrod lives in Indiana, where she is currently being homeschooled.
She explained that she attended the camp to learn more about programming, and to see if it’s something she might like to pursue as a career.
“I think it’s very enjoyable,” Heisbrod said of the camp. “It’s fun to meet new people, and there’s a lot of camaraderie in working together; the teamwork is very enjoyable.”
Camper Michael Kaufman, 16, is going into the 12th grade at Gregory The Great Academy in Pennsylvania, which is about 2 and a half hours north of Philadelphia.
Kaufman, who is in his fourth year of attending the camp, explained why he keeps coming back each year after year.
“I really enjoy programming … I’m thinking about pursuing a career in some computer science division, and so I was coming here to see how it would feel to work in a team environment, since I’ve done a lot of programming on my own, and how I’d react under the stress of an intensive three-day camp,” he said. “I really like it because I feel like it gives you good practice for what you would actually be doing; you’re building something, designing something and seeing how that would work, and then implementing that in the real world.”
Tim Huff, a 2018 graduate of Clermont Northeastern High School, attended the camp for his sixth year. He’s going on to study computer engineering at Ohio Northern University beginning this fall.
“The experience is enjoyable,” Huff said of the camp. “Even the high stress – you have to work with all these malfunctioning things, but you have to make it work – that is a realistic situation that you frequently face in the work environment, and I appreciate the experience to have that knowledge.”