Xtreme IT! gives students glimpse into information systems field

High school students Neal Metcalf, from McCluer North High School; Bryce Panjwani, from Riverview Gardens High School; and Barry Thames, from Hazelwood West High School, presented an art project they made from computer parts during the Xtreme IT! camp at UMSL. Vicki Sauter, professor information systems at UMSL, looks on from the podium. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Soldan International Studies High School (St. Louis) student Alexia Miller enjoys computers, coding and the technical part of software applications. The rising high school senior envisions herself someday working in computer securities for a corporation or medical organization. When a teacher told her about Xtreme IT!, a summer academy offered by the University of Missouri–St. Louis, she was ready to sign up.

Xtreme IT!, which ran June 23-28, allows high school students to live in the UMSL residence halls for a week while attending workshops and visiting local businesses to learn about information technology. At the end of the camp, students present video games, art projects and proposed apps they developed based on the techniques and skills they learned during camp.

“This is an amazing experience,” Miller said about the Xtreme IT! academy. “I got to meet a lot of great people and tour some really cool companies, and learn how they handle IT in their areas. Since this will hopefully be my future career, I’m excited to see how IT is really used at companies.”

Throughout the week, participants toured and spent time at various St. Louis companies including IBM, Express Scripts, Boeing, Mercy and Centene. Vicki Sauter, professor of information systems at UMSL, and Ray Creely, UMSL alumnus and former IBM executive, developed the weeklong camp at UMSL in 2008 to introduce the field of IT to a younger generation.

“This year’s group was diverse,” Sauter said. “They represented 16 different high schools, there were almost as many girls as boys and we had students who were from all four years in high school. Yet despite the age, gender and location diversity, the group was, mostly, cohesive right from the beginning of camp. They were energetic and eager to learn more about UMSL and more about the IT field. The group was attentive during the presentations and had fun with our various activities.”

Campers consisted of 13 girls and 17 boys from Christian Brothers College High School, Cleveland High School, Clyde C. Miller High School, Confluence Preparatory Academy, Eureka High School, Hazelwood High School, Mapelwood Richmond Heights High School, McCluer North High School, Normandy High School, Soldan International Studies High School, Riverview Gardens High School, University City High School, Vashon High School and Whitfield High High School. One student traveled from Glenwood High School in Chatham, Ill., to attend.


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