Miss Cipher Coding Camp

June 28, 2018

Public Information Officer


The coding education sector of the nation's second-largest cybersecurity cluster after Washington, D.C., becomes more accessible at an earlier juncture in the lives of select software development students this summer due to St. Philip's College's first-ever coding enrichment program for grades 8-12.

Unique about the two-week St. Philip's College Miss Cipher coding program where online registration is underway through July 30 and organizers are sharing details today as they prepare labs and training aids to support this activity is that Miss Cipher is for a population long underrepresented in the industry---females.

For a generation of persons who are more than capable of thriving in the nontraditional occupation for women known as coding, the Miss Cipher camp experience demystifies yet another high-demand profession where women are currently a minority. Organizers say what's in store for the Miss Cipher participants is a chance to work as junior software developers in a series of interactive exploratory modules that develop their basic coding and robotics skill sets July 10-24 on Monday's through Thursday's from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the labs of the college's Bowden Building at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive in the city's Denver Heights neighborhood.

A St. Philip's College computer science instructor with a diverse background in federal government computer operations, Caroline Mora is the primary instructor at the college's first all-coding camp.

"We're combining tech with what they are learning in school as an introduction to the skills they need now for later workforce and career success. The girls will create 3-D games and use storytelling as they code. Their predecessors used to build big robots in camps. But in this camp, the robots are small. It's exciting because it's going to be all girls, and it's going to all be focused on visually-based and object-oriented learning---from open source materials upgraded by M.I.T.," Mora said as she handled one of the training aids for Miss Cipher--a robot internally glowing blue and measuring twice the size of an adult's thumb.

"When I've taught robotics and programming, students have tended to want to build more than code. We will focus more on programming during Miss Cipher, because in 2020 we will have two million coding jobs unfilled that these students could educate themselves for, and that's not even counting cybersecurity," Mora said.

The Miss Cipher students will study coding at an institution with outstanding cyber jobs programs that have been developing and producing alumni since around the time those students began attending elementary school. Miss Cipher participants are enjoying some of the same classrooms and faculty as this college's other students and alumni, but their coding focus is new in local academia, among the local prospective female college student population, in the city and within the industry that is an economic driver in San Antonio. 

Maria Rodriguez is both the director of the Center of Excellence for Mathematics at St. Philip's College, and the organizer for the new camp.

"Our center team is collaborating with our business information solutions department and faculty to present this exciting new summer program," said Rodriguez. "Our college's business department is renown as one of the city's first National Security Agency-approved two-year college cybersecurity programs where last month, high school students earned federal certifications of training and preparation for entry-level jobs. Miss Cipher is a new coding program for grades 8-12, and participants will get an introduction to computer programming while building an interactive game using Scratch visual language. They will learn fundamentals of object oriented programming while creating a virtual world using the 3D Alice computer software. As a junior software developer, each participant will have an opportunity to show their creative side through the use of color and visual Ozoblockly programming. Additionally, participants will test their electronic and computing understanding using Raspberry Pi," said Rodriguez.

Find details online on Miss Cipher and all college camps listed below.

  • June 11- Aug. 10 | KIDS' CAMP with Microsociety | 10 weeks of fun and educational programs for ages 4-13 | The program is largely full and application inquiries are still encouraged | KIDS' Camp
  • June 11-28 | Motivating and Engaging with STEM Activities (MESA) | Math and Engineering project-based learning for grades 9-12 - Applications are still being accepted | Center of Excellence for Math
  • June 11-Aug. 3 | Student Leadership and Academic Movement (SLAM) | For Eastside Promise Zone residents, STEM project-based learning for ages 11-15 | http://ellaaustin.org/programs-services/youth-services/ | Inquire directly with Ella Austin Community Center Youth Development Director Stephen Lucke, 210-224-2351 ext. 127
  • July 9 - July 27 | Ms. Cipher | Computer Science program for females grades 8-12 - Apply before June 30 | Center of Excellence for Math
  • July 9 -26 | Science and Math Summer Academy (SAMSA) | STEM project based learning, field trips and guest speakers for ages 11-15 - Applications are still being accepted - Apply before June 30 | Center of Excellence for Science
  • July 31-Aug. 3 | Robotics Summer Program | Design, construction and programming of Lego EV3 robots for grades 6-8 - Applications are still being accepted - Apply before July 7 | Center of Excellence for Science