Posted on January 18, 2019

Thousands of students in Qatar are learning about computing through the partnership between Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) and Jassim and Hamad Bin Jassim Charitable Foundation to promote computer science education in Qatar.

Last year, the two organizations joined forces to create the Hamad bin Jassim Center for K-12 Computer Science Education with a mandate to help Qatar’s school children learn the fundamentals of computational thinking. The center is running two programs to achieve this goal: Alice Middle East and Mindcraft. Saeed Mathkar Al-Hajri, Board Member and CEO of Jassim and Hamad Bin Jassim Charitable Foundation, says: “The center’s goal is essential for the future of Qatar: to foster students’ computing skills and raise awareness of the importance of computer science to progress and development.”

Michael Trick, dean of CMU-Q, acknowledged the support of Jassim and Hamad Bin Jassim Charitable Foundation: “The foundation’s support has been very important to our efforts to help educate Qatar’s students in the area of computer science. This partnership ensures we can continue to reach out and share our passion for computing with the next generation.” Al-Hajri made his remarks during a visit to CMU-Q, where he met with the dean, as well as the faculty and staff members who run the Alice and Mindcraft programs.

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Alice Middle East was designed to help students learn the basics of computer programming in an entertaining and interactive 3D world. The original Alice software was developed at Carnegie Mellon University and adapted for Qatar by CMU-Q, with support from a National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) grant from QNRF. With the support of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Alice Middle East is now part of the curriculum at all Qatar government schools that teach information communication technology.

Mindcraft is a workshop program for high school students that introduces the many facets of computer science. Over the last two years, more than 2,200 high school students have attended Mindcraft workshops at CMU-Q. The workshops include a conceptual activity that introduces students to computational thinking, as well as artificial intelligence challenge where students learn to program a robot. 

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