CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- With an increasing number of software and technology companies moving into the Charleston area, the Lowcountry is slowly becoming known as Silicon Harbor.
One software giant is making sure current middle school students will be equipped with the skills needed to fill future tech jobs.
When Monica Washington entered the computer science club, she wanted to be a veterinarian. A few months later, this eighth grader's goals have changed.
"I want to be a computer scientist," Monica said.
Monica and about 40 of her C.E. Williams Middle School classmates learn computer programming through a Google after-school club called CS First. Google officials said they currently operate the free program at more than 20 Lowcountry schools in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.
Officials hope they will work to fill future jobs as Charleston's software and technology industries grow.
"There aren't a lot of computer science jobs out there but there are going to be tons in the next 10 years. If we don't feed the curriculum to students now, we're going to miss a big opportunity for students to participate," said Kamar Galloway, a CS First fellow at Google Berkeley County.
"When you have a sixth grader, an 11-year-old, in there saying, 'I love this. This is awesome.' They carry that on to seventh and eighth grade, it sets the trajectory of what they want to do and gives them an opportunity to do something they love for the rest of their life," C.E. Williams Principal Kevin Smith said.
The students start off easy, making games.
"We're trying to spread computer science to every student in South Carolina. Give basic knowledge," Galloway said.
And it has made an impact on students like Monica and Damon Otero.
"This summer I'm going to have a paid internship with a company. They do internships for programming and engineering," Damon Otero said.
The fact that Google runs the program doesn't hurt, either.
"It kind of makes it seem more cool," Damon Otero said.
Click by click, Google sets them up to fill Lowcountry jobs in the future.
Google officials say they are seeking more schools who want to host the free CS First after-school program, as well as more volunteers who can facilitate. If you're interested, visit www.CS-First.com.
C.E. Williams Middle School also works with Boeing and SPAWAR on technology programs.