Marquette U. to expand computer science access for local K-12 district

A $2 million federal grant will be used to improve access to computer science education in Milwaukee Public Schools.
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Researchers at Marquette University, a private institution in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will work to promote computer science education among public school teachers after receiving a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the university announced Monday.

The research effort, led by Marquette computer science professor Dennis Brylow, will expand computer science curriculum in Milwaukee Public Schools with the goal of improving access to computer science education in the region.

“This new effort aims to strengthen the existing computer science coursework we’ve helped launch in MPS over the past five years into clear K-12 curriculum pathways,” Brylow said in a press release. “[The new effort also scales] out to many more of the schools that still have no access to this important subject area.”

Access to computer science classes in K-12 classes is critical for students who may want to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics fields. However, only 42 percent of public high schools in Wisconsin teach computer science, according to


“[Computer science] education is vital for students that want to take a path towards a STEM career, a choice that should available regardless of class,” Iqbal Ahamed, the chair of Marquette’s computer science department, said in a press release. “Marquette, as a university, is dedicated to contributing to the advancement of knowledge. This grant continues to carry that mission outside the university in service to the community.”

Under the grant, Brylow will lead a team of researchers on an effort that will examine some of the key obstacles to computer science equity and explore questions about how exposure to computer science can affect students. The researchers will look at when students were exposed to computer science, why execution of initiatives are so unevenly effective in different parts of the city and how to strengthen computer science education in an urban school system.

The latest $2 million grant from NSF is not Brylow’s first experience at increasing computer science exposure. The professor previously worked on a $1 million NSF grant that aimed to offer computer science professional development opportunities to more than 1,850 K-5 teachers. That effort affected more than 67,000 students over five years.

“Dr. Brylow has done a tremendous job expanding access to computer science education, and this grant will only further those efforts,” Ahamed said in a press release.

The grant starts Oct. 1 and will fund the project for four years.

Betsy Foresman

Written by Betsy Foresman

Betsy Foresman was an education reporter for EdScoop from 2018 through early 2021, where she wrote about the virtues and challenges of innovative technology solutions used in higher education and K-12 spaces. Foresman also covered local government IT for StateScoop, on occasion. Foresman graduated from Texas Christian University in 2018 — go Frogs! — with a BA in journalism and psychology. During her senior year, she worked as an intern at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and moved back to the capital after completing her degree because, like Shrek, she feels most at home in the swamp. Foresman previously worked at Scoop News Group as an editorial fellow.

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