Ruskin High School students could be next generation of Cerner employees

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Administrators and students at Ruskin High School in the Hickman Mills School District have high hopes that one day some of their students might become Cerner employees.

This is the second semester of the new "Computer Science and Software Engineering" class at Ruskin. The curriculum was designed by Cerner in hopes of training its future workforce. Fourteens tudents are enrolled in the program.

Assistant Principal John Miller explained that students are getting real world business training.

"This is an example of one of our career-focused courses that challenges students with real life problems," he said. "This course gives our students a unique opportunity to not only gain the technical skills needed to be employed by Cerner, but also those important soft skills required to succeed not only at Cerner but any business."

Daniel Anderson, a 16-year-old junior at Ruskin, smiled as he talked about computer programming and the class.

"I really do love it and I love that it teaches me business skills and people skills too," he said.

Michelle Hernandez, 17, is equally thrilled with the class.

"At first I did not think I would like computer programming and once I got in the class I really do like creating things and programs," Hernandez said. "I hope that one day I can convince other girls to get involved in computer programming and software design because there are not many women in this field."

The instructor Louis McKenzie went to school over the summer and was trained by Cerner's team to teach the class. 

"We are teaching students languages of the computer programming world," McKenzie said.  "We don't throw them into the deep end and ask them to swim. We get in there with them and help them troubleshoot to find solutions."

After one semester of instruction, students created an Android app for a classroom project that allows users to draw on a notepad using red, green and blue colors.

That's the kind of creativity Cerner is looking for in its future employees.

Some students in the class are hoping they will land an internship with Cerner and possibly a future high-paying job with the company.

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