According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer science is one of the country's fastest growing occupational fields. By 2020, the BLS estimates there will be 4.2 million computing and IT jobs in the United States alone. A recent talent strategy report from Microsoft seems to corroborate the BLS' survey results; the report states that in 2012, Microsoft was left with 3,400 unfilled research, development and engineering positions — a 34 percent increase in empty chairs from the year prior.
Despite the exploding demand for workers skilled in computing, American high school students often graduate with minimal exposure to the near-limitless potential of the art and science of computing. Though the demand for computer-savvy workers is tremendous and steadily increasing, less than 10 percent of the high schools in the United States actually offer students an AP computer science course. The increase in computing jobs is not limited to the U.S., however; nor is the U.S. the furthest behind in computing education. Young students all over the world could benefit from greater exposure to computer science and technology.
Since 2003, the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Pioneers group, the ACM SIGGRAPH Education Committee, and various sponsors have been working to introduce high school juniors and seniors to the scientific, artistic and career possibilities offered by the field of computer graphics. The program, dubbed "Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH," provides a limited number of high school students — aged 16 or over, who live in or near the city that hosts SIGGRAPH — unrestricted access to the conference; a full week of immersion in cutting-edge computer graphics technology, art and research.
Without exception, each year of the program has proven a resounding success. In thank-you letters to mentors, student after student has repeated the words "overwhelming," "life-changing" and "amazing." There's little doubt that the "Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH" program has touched the lives of hundreds of young people, opened their eyes to new career paths and, perhaps, even changed the trajectory of their lives.
ACM SIGGRAPH is currently seeking mentors and students for this year's program.
Volunteer as a SIGGRAPH mentor: Mentors spend an average of 30 minutes per day with their student, providing on-site schedule guidance and advice. If you are planning on attending the 2014 SIGGRAPH conference in Vancouver, Canada, and would like to volunteer to serve as a mentor, please contact the chief student mentor by email.
Nominate a student: If you are a high school educator in the Vancouver area who would like to nominate one or more students for this program, please contact the chief student mentor for more information.
Apply to attend SIGGRAPH: If you are a high school student in the Vancouver area (aged 16 or older) and would like to participate in the program, please contact the chief student mentor for further information and details on how to apply.
Watch the video below for interviews with participants in the 2011 "Spend a Week at SIGGRAPH" in Vancouver, Canada.