Professor awarded research grant for foundational computer science education

Dr. Dennis Brylow, professor and vice chair of the Computer Science Department, is a part of a research team that has been awarded an Education Innovation and Research Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education for “Project {FUTURE} Fundamentals Teachers Unit Research Exemplars, Innovations in Embedded Computer Science for Elementary Curricula.” The grant could exceed $5 million over five years thanks in part to matching funds from the nonprofit

Project {FUTURE} addresses the urgent need for computer science instruction in public schools at the elementary school level by providing initial professional learning to 750 teachers at 30 partner schools, potentially impacting an estimated 19,600 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The project will also equip teachers and administrators the tools to develop a curriculum that works for their institution’s needs.

Marquette will partner with Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, on the project that will connect the universities with public schools in Milwaukee, as well as Bridgeport and New Haven in Connecticut.

“The importance of computer science in schools is paramount as young people hope to develop the skills to succeed in technology fields,” Brylow said. “Our recent grants are addressing some of those issues while Project {FUTURE} will deepen those efforts by empowering educators to determine what curriculum works for them and allow us to bring specialized curriculum to public schools.”

Brylow continues to make significant inroads in expanding Wisconsin’s computer science professional development opportunities for teachers. He was awarded a $2 million collaborative research grant from the National Science Foundation last September to promote computer science education among teachers in public schools. He and Dr. Marta Magiera, associate professor of mathematical and statistical sciences, previously utilized multiple million-dollar NSF grants to train over 1,850 K-5 teachers, impacting more than 67,000 school children in a five-year span.

“Dr. Brylow’s commitment to the advancement of computer science education in Milwaukee Public Schools is a great representation of the advancement of knowledge that is a hallmark of Marquette’s Catholic, Jesuit values,” said Dr. Iqbal Ahamed, chair and professor of computer science at Marquette. “He and his colleagues have worked tirelessly to develop research and curricula to make CS education viable for public schools. Their work will have a longstanding impact on current students and will create a sustainable model that allows public schools to offer comprehensive CS education that evolves with the technology.”

Marquette will receive approximately $1.1 million from the DOE, as well as $651,000 in funding and resources from over five years.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research Program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges and to support the expansion of effective solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students. is a nonprofit dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Its vision is that every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science, just like biology, chemistry or algebra. provides the leading curriculum for K-12 computer science in the largest school districts in the United States and also organizes the annual Hour of Code campaign which has engaged 15% of all students in the world.