Merrillville High School senior Jerry Walker got more support than he bargained for to remotely complete his AP computer science exam.
When his personal laptop crashed days prior to taking the test, Walker reached out to his MHS teacher Andrew Niksich for help and came away with a new personal computer, compliments of the Amazon Future Engineer Program.
“He’s a great student,” Niksich said. “I’m glad it worked out.”
According to Niksich, this is the first year MHS has been associated with Amazon’s Program.
In order to participate, schools must go through an application and interview process.
“Along with scholarships and other opportunities, Amazon is making laptops available free of charge for students to keep,” said Niksich.
The goal of the program is to increase awareness and participation in computer science classes in schools like Merrillville High School, he said.
“It’s also a way for Amazon to give back,” Niksich added.
According to Walker, the computer arrived quickly, and as his mom Parmella added, “in the nick of time.”
“It happened really fast,” said Walker. “As soon as I contacted them, I got it in like two days.”
“I was going to get him one as a graduation gift,” his mom said. But he couldn’t wait.
“It’s not a reflection of our Technology Department, as they did a phenomenal job getting devices out to kids,” said Mr. Niksich. “In this situation, I think Jerry felt he didn’t need one through school.”
Walker is planning to go into computer science and run track and field for Indiana Tech, where he was awarded a scholarship. His goal is to learn more about web design, graphic design and software development.
Merrillville High School offers a well-rounded and diverse computer science curriculum, according to Niksich, including an introductory computer science class that includes programming in Python, more advanced classes in Java, databases, and IC3 certification.
“In 2021, we hope to add a cyber security class and another AP class, computer science principles,” he said.
They also hope to tour one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, another perk of the Amazon Future Engineer Program.
“Students will get to see what the real world looks like,” he added.