Bring on the RIOT

IT Essentials is a must-take course for any student interested in computer science


Taylor Ruiz

Hannah Shows

Information Technology Essentials is not just another computer science course at RHS; it’s a RIOT! The Rocklin Institute of Technology (RIOT) is the student-directed business developed and housed within IT Essentials.

The idea behind IT Essentials was a long time coming. There was a push for a “student organization to help out on campus with the technology” a few years ago, attests Mr. Paul Werner, the teacher behind the class. With the rising demand of computer science, coupled with firsthand experience of the phenomenal results by GBIT (Granite Bay Information Technology) students, the time was right for IT Essentials to make its way to RHS.

Today, IT Essentials is run essentially “like a business,” claims Matthew Jaojoco, a senior in the course. The class is divided into five groups (Web Development, Programming, Cyber Security, Robotics and Education, and Management and Development) each led by an experienced senior. While each group has its own distinctive purpose, they collaborate on student-led projects to reach their respective goals. Web Development and Programming are teaming up to create an improved RHS app, and Cyber Security is building a local area network server upon which Programming will test its app development capabilities.

The class is designed for students to define their own learning objectives, and are regularly kept on-task with group meetings. The course focuses on strengthening the soft skills critical to thriving in the workplace: collaboration, communication, responsibility, flexibility, and interpersonal skills.

This year, IT Essentials boasts 34 students, but only one female student.

“I wish I wasn’t the only girls, that’s my only complaint,” laments Phoebe Senjaya, a freshman.

Mr. Werner advocates that it’s important for both genders to represented in IT Essentials, as both bring different perspectives, backgrounds, and skill sets to the table. In fact, A 2011 study of diversity in the top technology firms in Standard & Poor’s Composite 1500 list revealed that,  “female representation in top management leads to an increase of $42 million in firm value.”

But, even though the class is only in its first quarter at RHS, many students already enjoy it.

“It’s a first year class, [and] I wanted to help shape the curriculum,” claims Ryan DiGrande, a senior. John Steinke, also a senior, affirms that IT Essentials is the “closest thing to real world experience” students can find at RHS. Zack Heredia adds that Mr. Werner is a “great fit for this class” as he’s open and engaging with the students.

Even if you’re not a hard-core programmer or master of cyber security, IT Essentials equips students with the necessary tools for a career in our technology-steeped society.  It’s a brilliant course that arms students with the technological know-how and imperative soft skills that will be driving American innovation for years to come.