Google engineer provides coding opportunity for students of all majors
Donors make interdisciplinary learning possible
Learning to code — it’s not just for aspiring engineers anymore. James B. Bankoski ’91 and his wife, Heather, are making sure of that.
Their gift to establish the Binghamton Codes! Program will give undergraduate students the opportunity to learn coding skills even if they are not majoring in computer science.
Bankoski, a distinguished engineer at Google who graduated with two degrees in computer science (his bachelor’s is from Binghamton University and master’s is from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), said anyone can benefit from learning how to code. Students may not even know they enjoy it or have an aptitude for it unless they try.
“My intention is to give everyone exposure to it, where students can explore it and succeed without having a ton of experience prior,” Bankoski said. “Career wise, there are very few situations where having coding skills wouldn’t be helpful.”
For instance, a video game company could employ a conceptual artist who works on digital animation, which requires some level of coding, he said. In the legal field, such as patent law, there are opportunities for people who are technically adept and have coding experience.
“Because computers, the internet, apps and big data are critical to art, science, business, finance, public policy, education and social services, a basic understanding of the coding techniques that drive these systems is critical,” said Donald G. Nieman, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “It will give students from any major a competitive advantage in the job market by helping them better understand and use technology and enabling them to communicate and collaborate with those who design and program systems that are critical tools in almost every industry.”
For Bankoski, the thrill of coding is in the creating and building something many people will use: “I like that I can write code, affect billions of users and have a giant impact on the world.”
Jim and Heather’s gift is truly transformational, allowing Binghamton to offer all students — and not just computer science students — what few other universities can: basic fluency in coding techniques that are fundamental to so many aspects of our lives.
— Donald G. Nieman, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost
- The program will feature a two-course sequence, with the first pilot course expected to launch in spring 2020. The second pilot course would follow in fall 2020.
- Students who successfully complete the two courses will receive a digital badge to indicate the accomplishment and their newly acquired skills.