Back-to-School Bus Tour Concludes in Pittsburgh

The ‘Burgh. Steel City. City of Bridges. As the bus pulled in to our final stop, we were greeted by the cheers of students from Pittsburgh’s public schools, and the rousing sounds of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Kiltie Band.

Four days ago, we launched this tour with an event showcasing strategies to kick off kids’ educational journeys right: with the inclusive, high-quality early learning that’s a pre-requisite for success. Today, we ended the tour with an event focused on the other end of the continuum: the college education that’s a necessity in our global economy and digital age.

Here in Pittsburgh, the university, school system, employers and community are helping students of all ages to take each step successfully and grow into 21st century leaders – especially in the science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – fields that do so much to shape our country and world.

After the pep rally the Secretary, joined by NASA’s Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, joined university, city, business and school leaders in a computer science demonstration with the “Girls of Steel” – an award-winning competitive robotics team, made up of girls from local area schools, and supported and mentored with help from Carnegie Mellon and other partners and sponsors.

After the demonstration, the Secretary and the other dignitaries held a town hall meeting with students and community leaders.

The Secretary praised CMU’s vision, continued commitment, and positive partnerships with the City of Pittsburgh and regional and national organizations to promote STEM education – and applauded the university’s progress in implementing commitments made during the White House College Opportunity Summit last year. At that time, CMU announced the launch of a Computer Science for All initiative, with a goal of increasing participation in computing by women and other underrepresented groups, locally and across the nation.

CMU has also committed to a campus-wide program to achieve the goal of having all Pell eligible students retained and graduated at the same levels as all CMU students. Progress is encouraging: The Computer Science for All initiative has been fully launched. 40% of the 2014 freshman class in the School of Computer Science are women—the largest percentage in the school’s history. The University has also recruited an Associate Director of Admissions for Ethnic/Minority Recruitment to help increase the enrollment and completion rates of low-income and first generation college students.

Watch Secretary Duncan wrap up the final day of the Ready for Success bus tour: