Skip to main content

Computer science opportunities continue to flourish in Westmoreland County through Saint Vincent College through grant

Computer science opportunities continue to flourish in Westmoreland County through Saint Vincent College through grant

by Public Relations | July 18, 2023

LATROBE, PA – Saint Vincent College was one of 42 educational institutions awarded a PAsmart Advancing K-12 Computer Science & STEM Educationgrant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in the summer of 2022. Since then, the world of computer science has been flourishing with educational opportunities for women, girls and all those who wish to enhance their education in the field.

The PA Smart Grant involves collaborations between Saint Vincent College, the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Academy (CMUCS Academy), K-12 schools and teachers, the Westmoreland-Fayette Workforce Investment Board, Young Men and Women in Charge (YMWIC) and business representatives at Kennametal and Applied Training Solutions.

Spearheaded by Br. Norman Hipps, president emeritus and professor of mathematics in the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, this initiative is building a Computer Science Ecosystem based in Westmoreland County that expands educational access and opportunity for students and teachers throughout southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond and builds a pipeline of skilled talent to meet critical workforce needs.

Numerous computer science-focused projects have been developed under the grant, including a cybersecurity dual enrollment course led by Dr. Anthony Serapiglia, Associate Professor of Computing. Professional development training led largely by Wendy Lint, a teacher from Greater Latrobe School District who teaches in the CMUCS Academy, has been made available for K-12 teachers in an effort to strengthen the network of computer science in Westmoreland County.


“The general notion was to provide a program for high school teachers of computer science or those who might have an interest in teaching comp sci,” said Hipps.

With many high school teachers being siloed in their work and teaching of computer science, Saint Vincent aims to create an environment where they feel supported and have opportunities to share experiences.

Under the grant, Saint Vincent also offers Praxis prep workshops led by Wendy Lint and Mr. Matthew Very, a teacher at Greensburg Central Catholic, for those interested in taking the computer science exam, which became available in 2020.

In addition to providing offerings to current teachers, the delivers opportunities to those among underrepresented populations in the computer science world, specifically women and minority students.

As part of this year’s Challenge Program, a summer program offered through the Education Department at Saint Vincent College, the grant funded computer science sessions made available to middle school girls. This year, the computer science session was titled “Animation with ALICE,” a programming environment built to make it easy to create animations and create digital narratives.

While the programs primarily take place on the campus in Latrobe, the impact of quality education in computer science and beyond stretches to the other side of the state to West Chester. Saint Vincent College has a unique partnership with YMWIC, an initiative to empower and prepare economically disadvantaged and historically underrepresented youth to excel and become leaders in STEM-related careers. Saint Vincent welcomed the group of students to campus at the end of June where they participated in computer science sessions thanks in large part to the grant.