Navajo Technical University to expand computer science program

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo Technical University will develop a bachelor's degree program in computer science using a four-year grant from the American Indian College Fund.

The university was one of four tribal colleges and universities to receive the grant this month from the College Fund.

A press release from the College Fund stated its Tribal College and University Computer Science Initiative was launched to create new or expand existing computer science programs at higher education institutions that serve Native American and Alaska Native students.

The purpose of the initiative is "to meet the community and workforce needs of Indigenous communities and to provide career opportunities for Native students in computer science fields."

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The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, Bay Mills Community College in Brimley, Michigan and Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana were named grant recipients as well.

NTU offers a certificate and an associate degree in computer science at its campus in Crownpoint.

A press release from NTU states the amount it will receive over the next four years totals approximately $390,000.

Frank Stomp, associate professor of computer science at NTU, said in a telephone interview that the grant will be used to hire an additional faculty member and to bring computer science industry professionals to work with staff and students.

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Additionally, the amount will help boost outreach by the university to high school students across the tribal land, he said.

"The Navajo Nation reservation is very spread out – over several states – so it will allow us to visit some high schools and give a presentation and make them aware of this program," Stomp said.

He has started work on developing the bachelor's degree program, which would undergo review then accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.

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If all goes according to plan, Stomp said the degree program will be offered in 2022.

NTU President Elmer Guy thanked the College Fund for the grant in the university's press release.

"We are committed to creating valuable educational opportunities and experiences for our students that lead to professions and areas to advance the Navajo Nation," Guy said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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