Programming camp helps area youth learn valuable skills

Aug 24, 2017 – In August, Middlesex Community College hosted a two-week, Mobile Application Development (MAD) Programming Camp organized by the STEAM Train pilot initiative, in partnership with the CT Urban Technology Collaborative. With funding from Middlesex Community College and the MxCC Foundation, 20 participants from the area attended the camp free of charge, receiving certificates of completion at a special ceremony on August 18.

Offered by MxCC Computer Information Technology professor Donna Hylton as part of her sabbatical project, the participants were from diverse backgrounds, and the majority had never programmed before. The students learned the basics of programming, how to build gaming apps and were introduced to Swift, a programming language developed by Apple. They also experienced important lessons in teamwork by conducting a “marshmallow challenge,” where teams built a structure out of spaghetti. By the end of the camp, the innovative students created functional mobile applications.

“This special program was developed to infuse the community, especially young girls and underrepresented minorities, with the knowledge of STEM careers,” said Professor Hylton. “The students learned a lot and their minds are being opened to the world of programming—this is very exciting to see.”

One of the adult students, Camille Smith of Middletown, attended with her son, Rhaquan.

“I had no idea what I was getting into, but my son was super excited,” exclaimed Smith. “We learned from each other’s mistakes, and I was able to spend quality time with my son at the same time.”

Middlesex student Malachi Caldwell-Andrews of Middlefield, who is studying Computer Engineering Technology, volunteered his time at the camp. “The class offered local kids the exposure to coding projects they may not get to experience elsewhere,” he said.

At the ceremony, MxCC Dean of Academic Affairs Steve Minkler, who also serves as the College’s lead campus administrator, congratulated the students and their families, “You’ve experienced a piece of what college life is like, so you can say, ‘Hey, I can do this’ and become important members of the community.”

The STEAM Train’s mission is to strategically train, educate, assist and mentor the next generation of innovators. For more information on how to support and help bring about this positive impact to the local community, please contact Professor Hylton at


August 2017