Happening today: CenterPoint Energy will join lawmakers in presenting Jackson State University with $30,000 grant for coding academy

(JACKSON, Miss.) — CenterPoint Energy, along with state legislators and a representative for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, will present Jackson State University’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) with a $30,000 grant to help launch a coding academy targeting incoming freshmen. The presentation will be at 3 p.m. today in the H.P. Jacobs Administration Tower.

The three-year initiative is being spearheaded by Dr. Jacqueline Jackson, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science.

Jackson said, “The CSET Coding Academy will be designed to help incoming freshmen develop coding skills, especially since many of them have a difficult time gaining internships.” Jackson expects the program would help students build skills for future employment opportunities. The initiative will commence during this upcoming academic year before subsequently becoming a summer-engagement program. 

Jackson said the academy will teach students computational thinking and strategies for problem-solving. It also will help them develop soft skills in communications and résumé-preparation; provide interview tips; and cover topics related to integrity and ethics.

CenterPoint Energy’s community relations representative Theresa Sauls said the utility company is heavily involved in community and business engagement. Sauls said the company often partners with elected officials focused on educational enrichment. She worked alongside JSU alum Kimberly Blasingame, who is CenterPoint’s HR Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Talent Acquisition.

CenterPoint has invited various state officials and lawmakers in Mississippi to appear at the check presentation:

  • Rickey Cotton, director of Pipeline Safety
  • George Butler, a JSU alum, Public Service Commission
  • Christopher Bell, a JSU alum, Mississippi House of Representatives 
  • Derrick Simmons, a JSU alum, Mississippi Senate 
  • Brad Ferguson, field representative for central Mississippi, representing Wicker