Lenovo, NAF Team to Train Next-Gen Mobile App Devs

Lenovo announced a new partnership with the National Academy Foundation to help train the next generation of mobile app developers.

Mobile app dev

Lenovo is doing its part to help train the next generation of programmers by launching the Lenovo Scholar Network.

Lenovo announced a new agreement with the National Academy Foundation (NAF) to bring a mobile app development curriculum and delivery program to NAF academies in the United States. The two organizations will provide curriculum and technology to encourage interest among high school students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The Lenovo Scholar Network program builds on a successful 2012 pilot where high school students from five NAF IT academies across the United States created and launched apps, some of which are now available to the public on Google Play.

"Lenovo is helping students succeed in the 21st century workplace by nurturing their innate digital skills," said Karen Ondrick, chief connector at Lenovo, in a statement. "Participants in the Lenovo Scholar Network will be stimulated by a creative and challenging curriculum, and teachers will have Lenovo tools necessary to be mentors and encourage students' interest in pursuing a career in STEM."

Using the MIT App Inventor service developed by the Center for Mobile Learning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a joint project of the MIT Media Lab and MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Lenovo and NAF's mobile app development program is aimed at reaching students from urban, underrepresented communities, including students of the military. The Lenovo Scholar Network is specially designed to enable the next generation of developers and entrepreneurs from these communities, a primary constituency group of all NAF students.

"The Lenovo Scholar Network mobile app development program gives high school students a real-world learning opportunity that closely aligns with the responsibilities expected from both colleges and universities, and future employers," said Josh Sheldon, director of strategic programs for MIT App Inventor. "By using MIT App Inventor, along with curriculum and training from Lenovo and NAF, these students will emerge as ideal candidates when they enter college and the workforce."

As part of the program, NAF students from 10 IT academies across the United States will participate in mobile app and entrepreneurship courses. Academies will be selected by NAF through an application process, and selected institutions will be announced in September 2014. The competition tasks students to design and develop a mobile app and business plan for taking the app to market, which measures college and career readiness skills.

"With the success of our 2012 pilot program, we saw the excitement and motivation students experience when they have access to professional development support and innovative technology," said JD Hoye, president of the NAF, in a statement. "Projects like the Lenovo Scholar Network are essential to NAF's mission and programming, and with the support of Lenovo and MIT's faculty and technology developers, we look forward to cultivating the next generation of scientists, developers and innovators."

Students who successfully meet the criteria of the Lenovo Scholar Network will receive a "Lenovo App Scholar" badge of distinction, recognizing their accomplishments in technology, business management, entrepreneurship and product development. In addition, a select number of students will be recognized as the mobile app development competition winners for most innovative app at NAF Next!, NAF's annual conference.

Lenovo will provide PC and tablet devices to each of the 10 participating schools to aid the students and teachers in implementing the curriculum. The products include PCs for student development and coding collaboration, and Lenovo tablet devices for the testing and viability of the mobile app. These Lenovo devices will also enable the students to develop their marketing plan and strategies to bring the app to market.

Lenovo, NAF and MIT plan to create a year-round recognition program that will feature launch events along with local and regional competitions, with the inaugural launch taking place this week at NAF Next! 2014 in Washington, D.C. NAF Next! is a professional development conference attended by 1,300 academy leaders, district administrators and partners.