Native Village
Youth and Education news
 APRIL 1, 2010 Volume 2

American Indian high school students build own computers
Condensed by Native Village

North Dakota: Ian Pays joined 15 other high school students to learn how to built computers. Pays' class was held at the University of North Dakota's engineering school.  The class was part of a program to encourage American Indians to become engineers. The program is sponsored by National Science Foundation.

This is the third year UND has offered the workshop. It is taught by Ralph Johnson, a UND engineering professor. When session begins, Johnson will ask students if they feel comfortable taking apart a computer. Usually, only a few hands go up. But when he asks the same question at the end of class, all hands go up.

The point of building their own computer is to become comfortable with things that engineers do, he said.

Indians are underrepresented in the engineering field.  In 2002, only 3.5% of the bachelorís degrees that Indians earned were in engineering. The national average is 4.5%.

Pays, a senior at Belcourt High School, wants to major in mechanical engineering at UND or Minot State University. It sounds like a fun profession, and it pays well, he said.

Some other students werenít as interested in engineering but still had a knack for the sciences. 

Jon Malaterre, a junior at Northern Cass High School, finds chemistry an enjoyable challenge. Malaterre marvels at how heat can turn a spoonful of sand turns into different colors. Jon said he may teach high school someday. 

Professor Johnson has kept track of several former attendees. Many are now in college.

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