LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced the details of an agreement with Facebook, Inc. to launch the company’s Techstart program in Arkansas high schools. The Arkansas & Facebook Techstart Partnership is a first-of-its-kind partnership with the social media giant. Under the agreement, Facebook will donate 500 Virtual Reality (VR) classroom kits, including computers, cameras and the Oculus Rift equipment necessary to administer the Techstart program.
Techstart is a program developed by Facebook, Inc. that aims to give students access to high quality computer science and virtual reality education in order to generate interest in computer science careers and provide instruction for students. Techstart uses a combination of virtual reality instruction, curriculum support and professional development for educators, access to computer science events and connections to engineering mentors to provide a powerful tool for students.
Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:
“Arkansas continues to lead the nation in computer science education and this partnership with Facebook’s Techstart program will make us even stronger in that regard. Facebook’s generous donation will both excite and empower Arkansas students to sharpen their computer science skills and to explore STEM careers. Students who utilize this incredible platform will be positioned to succeed in our increasingly technology driven economy.”
According to the agreement, Facebook will donate 500 VR kits to the state that will be distributed to approximately 250 schools, educational co-ops and STEM education centers. These donations will primarily target high schools that contain a high percentage of low-income students. Under the agreement, distribution and facilitation of these resources would be administered through the Arkansas Department of Education Computer Science Division and the Arkansas Public Resource Center.
Erin Egan, Facebook’s Vice President of U.S. Public Policy, issued the following statement:
“Facebook aims to inspire the next generation to be involved in and excited about computer science. With 500,000 open computing jobs in this country and just 50,000 computer science graduates every year, the opportunity is clear. Given Governor Hutchinson’s commitment to computer science education and establishing coding opportunities to Arkansas classrooms, bringing Techstart to the Natural State just made sense. We are thrilled to launch this first-of-its-kind partnership and look forward to seeing all the exciting projects students here will build.”
This Facebook Computer Science Education program will give students the opportunity to learn about careers in technology, connect with engineering professionals, participate in coding and other technology-minded workshops and gain exposure to virtual reality using the Facebook- provided Oculus VR kits.