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KeyBank and College of Computing and Information Partner to Bring Junior FIRST Lego League Expo to UAlbany

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KeyBank donates $15,000 to help introduce young people to high tech in the real world

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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A Junior FIRST Lego League (JFLL) team examines its model

KeyBank and the College of Computing and Information host a Lego-inspired expo designed to help youngsters make connections between technology and the real world.

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 14, 2008) -- KeyBank has partnered with the University at Albany's College of Computing and Information (CCI) to host a Lego-inspired expo designed to help youngsters make connections between technology and the real world. KeyBank's partnership will support CCI's goal of involving more women in computing and information fields through its Women in Technology (CCIWIT) program.

The College will host the Junior FIRST Lego League (JFLL) Expo on Saturday, November 22, 2008, 1- 4:15 p.m. at the University at Albany's Campus Center Ballroom. Faculty, staff, and students from CCI and KeyBank volunteers will participate with teams of 6 to 9 year-old girls and boys from local schools to develop Lego-based projects around the theme of Climate Connections.

This year's Expo features 13 teams of as many as six children per team, plus a team coach and mentors who are elementary school teachers, CCI students, and parents. Through the project, the grade schoolers will exhibit projects and posters to demonstrate how Lego technology can be used to problem-solve and describe climate issues, while CCI undergraduate and graduate students gain a broader view of computing and information. Reviewers, including local weatherman Noah Francis, will discuss the models and posters with the grade-schoolers, and the teams will participate in an award ceremony.

"I am grateful for KeyBank's support and shared vision for the Lego League Expo and for the future of technology," said CCI Dean Peter Bloniarz. "It represents a first and early step in providing students with a practical experience that blends technology and how it will be used."

High-fives all around at the Junior FIRST Lego League (JFLL) Expo

Student teams get high-fives for their Legos projects, designed to answer real world questions through technology.

"Providing today's kids with opportunities to gain confidence and build knowledge is an investment in developing tomorrows leaders," said Jeffrey Stone, president, Capital Region, KeyBank N.A. "It is with great pride that Key supports FIRST and the Junior Lego League. In addition to introducing kids to technology, the experience of teamwork and accomplishment will motivate them to strive for even greater achievements in their lives."

CCI’s Women in Technology program is dedicated to encouraging girls and women to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies in the fields related to computer science, informatics, and information science. Nationally, women represent 59 percent of undergraduate degree recipients, while women comprise just 21 percent of computer sciences graduates.  Research shows that more than one million new computer and information-related jobs will be added to the U.S. job market by 2014, yet the nation's universities will only graduate enough computer science students to fill about half of these positions.

"New courses emphasizing today’s reality in the computer sciences -- multimedia, robotics, virtual worlds -- are increasingly being used to add zip to introductory computing classes," said CCI Dean Bloniarz. "Students are responding well. But the future of computing lies in recruiting and educating a diverse pool of students -- we need to gain the acceptance and interest of girls at an early age so that by the time they come to university they are energized about computer science and all it has to offer, including solid employment."

The JFLL program is designed by the company FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and LEGO for children 6 to 9 years old to introduce children to basic design skills and a hands-on approach to science and technology through the familiarity and fun of LEGO building.

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Distinguished Professor James Acker, Collins Fellow
UAlbany Faculty

Nearly 30 years ago, James Acker left a thriving law practice in North Carolina to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in academia at the University at Albany.

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