Nenana school district teacher Eric Filardi participates in the Alaska Tech Learners program

by Vicki Heisser and Steve Johnson  |   

This spring Prince William Sound College offered three online technology courses for teachers and dual enrollment students across Alaska.  These career-tech oriented computer science courses helped Alaskan high school students build their skill base, preparing them for high-paying jobs in Alaska’s digital industries. 

Seeing a need for such courses, while understanding the financial issues potential students might face, particularly those who live in remote parts of Alaska, PWSC computer and technology professor Steve Johnson applied for and received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Alaska Tech Learners grant, which covered all expenses for the course. Without financial burden, students had remote access to STEM, computer science, and accelerated courses, which increased students’ morale and confidence in their abilities.

Eric Filardi, a teacher who participated in the the Alaska Tech Learners grant program, teaches at a resident school in Nenana, Alaska.  His school has nearly 200 students, half of whom are from Alaskan villages across the state.  Eric valued the importance of the program.

“Nearly two-thirds of Alaska’s cities, towns, and villages are accessible only by plane or boat, which makes having careers that can be pursued remotely critical to having a strong state economy. Qualified and experienced employees in the computer science industry are in high demand throughout the state, especially in rural communities. My desire is to work to address this demand by preparing youth living in rural Alaska for this crucial industry. A computer science program expands our school’s educational offerings by providing targeted career-tech programs, and opportunities for building self-confidence and leadership skills, preparing high school students for high-paying jobs in Alaska’s digital industries. Additionally, many of our students work quite hard to preserve what is their Alaskan culture, and computer science really allows our students to develop new programs using outside-of-the-box approaches.”

Please contact Steve Johnson (907) 834-1633 or for further information on facilitated technology learning.