Lenovo, the National Academy Foundation and MIT Launch Mobile App Development Program for High School Students

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24 Jan 2012

Schools Pilot Premier Curriculum Using Latest Technology Devices to Strengthen 21st Century STEM Skills

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – JANUARY 24, 2012: Lenovo, along with the National Academy Foundation (NAF) and in close coordination with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today launched an innovative program to teach mobile app development to high school students across the United States. Five schools from NAF’s network of career academies are piloting the program as part of Lenovo’s corporate social responsibility initiative to encourage greater student interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects and to strengthen 21st century skills, as well as NAF’s mission to prepare students for college and career success. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue and members of Lenovo and NAF’s executive leadership made the announcement today at Apex High School’s Academy of Information Technology in Apex, North Carolina, one of the participating schools. 

“Technology is a critical skill to cultivate for North Carolina’s pipeline of future workers,” said Gov Perdue. “Unique partnerships like this one not only give high school students real-world, real-time learning opportunities, but they align with the broader goals of business, education and government to create North Carolina’s next generation of technologists.”  

To aid the students and teachers implement the curriculum, Lenovo provided a package of technology products to each school, including Android-based ThinkPad Tablets and large format ThinkCentre HD All-in-One desktops, among other items.

“To succeed in tomorrow’s workforce, American students need a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with fluency in the technologies that will power the global economy,” said Michael Schmedlen, worldwide director of education, Lenovo. “This exciting program engages students via the technology and apps they use every day, and by partnering with the National Academy Foundation and MIT, we’re delivering a rigorous and relevant curriculum that will help create our next generation of developers and entrepreneurs.” 

The other schools that will teach the app development course are also part of the National Academy Foundation’s Academy of Information Technology: Grover Cleveland High School in New York City, Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, Pathways to Technology Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., and A.J. Moore Academy of Information and Technology in Waco, Texas. The program aims to ultimately make the curriculum available to NAF’s 100 Academies of Information Technology.  

The course is designed as a 12-week after-school or “out of school time” activity to supplement the NAF-developed IT courses students take during the school day.  Student teams will develop an idea for a new mobile app and a plan to bring it to market. Each school will select one idea to be judged by a panel of experts, and Lenovo will then work with the winning school to possibly bring their app to life.   


As the curriculum pilot program reaches its midway point of this year, Lenovo, NAF and numerous experts from MIT and Harvard University will convene at MIT to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum, discuss future enhancements and explore ways to bring it to scale moving forward.

“The partnership between NAF, Lenovo and MIT is a real example of how business and higher education can play a pivotal role in changing high school education to ensure college and career success.  We are pleased to be working with such innovative thinkers to inspire and equip tomorrow’s leaders,” said JD Hoye, President of the National Academy Foundation. 

New Research Shows Kids Want to Learn App Development but Lack Tech Confidence

New research from Lenovo also supports creation of the mobile app development curriculum. The research shows that while students have a strong interest in mobile apps – which many of them use on a daily basis – and see app development as a valuable skill, they don’t have confidence that they will have the technology background needed for tomorrow’s workforce. The Omnibus survey of American teenagers, conducted in December of 2011, found that:

  • 80 percent of American teens would be interested in learning how to create their own mobile app.
  • Almost a quarter (22 percent) think that mobile app development will be the most important technology skill to have when entering the workforce in a few years.
  • 63 percent are only somewhat confident, at best, that the technology know-how they have now is enough to secure a good job upon entering the workforce.


About Lenovo

Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) is a $US21 billion personal technology company serving customers in more than 160 countries, and the world’s second-largest PC vendor. Dedicated to building exceptionally engineered PCs and mobile internet devices, Lenovo’s business is built on product innovation, a highly-efficient global supply chain and strong strategic execution. Formed by Lenovo Group’s acquisition of the former IBM Personal Computing Division, the company develops, manufactures and markets reliable, high-quality, secure and easy-to-use technology products and services. Its product lines include legendary Think-branded commercial PCs and Idea-branded consumer PCs, as well as servers, workstations, and a family of mobile internet devices, including tablets and smart phones. Lenovo has major research centers in Yamato, Japan; Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China; and Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information see www.lenovo.com.


About NAF

The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is a leader in the movement to prepare young people for college and career success. For nearly 30 years, NAF has refined a proven educational model which includes industry-focused curricula, work-based learning experiences, and business partner expertise from five themes: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences. Employees of more than 2,500 companies volunteer in classrooms, act as mentors, engage NAF students in paid internships and serve on local advisory boards. During the 2011-12 school year, 60,000 students attended 500 NAF academies across 40 states, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NAF’s national graduation rate of 90% testifies to the effectiveness this effort.