MSU nets $80k grant for coding education


Mississippi State University’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering was recently on the receiving end of an $80,000 grant that will be used to support the teaching of computer coding skills to recent high school graduates in the Golden Triangle area.

The university said in a release that the grant, which comes from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, will help fund the Columbus-based campus of the Mississippi Coding Academies.

The 11-month program is tuition-free, and helps selected participants develop into coders and web developers. Participants also learn business skills such as giving presentations, understanding entrepreneurship and communicating effectively.

Associate clinical professor in computer science Sara Lee in the Bagley College of Engineering says there are more than 1,000 unfilled coding jobs in Mississippi and the number of computer and technology jobs is expected to grow by 13 percent across the state over the next eight to 10 years.

This raises the premium put on developing the local workforce to then stay in their specific fields without leaving the state. 

“The Mississippi Coding Academies teach skills that not only help fill these open positions but also increase earning power for the participants,” Lee said. “This, in turn, represents a new pathway for economic development in the state and helps to foster homegrown innovation.”

Bagley College Dean Jason Keith praised Lee’s leadership in the computer science education field and through different outreach activities. 

“I am excited about her role in this collaborative project that will have a positive impact on our state economy and will help fill high-demand jobs in our state,” he said. 

Some classroom learning is involved in the program, and participants will “learn by doing.” This will include writing actual code in a simulated workplace environment. 

The program is intended for recent high school graduates who are not college-bound but who demonstrate aptitude and an interest in learning coding and in pursuing a career in IT.

The statewide initiative is part of a non-profit economic development and educational initiative sponsored by MSU, Innovate Mississippi, the Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Works program, and include partnerships with Hinds Community College, East Mississippi Community College and the Mississippi Community College Board.

More information about the Mississippi Coding Academies can be found at