Amazon Future Engineer funding allows students to access an online course that teaches Python, among other coding languages.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on October 22, 2019

It’s not often the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, walks into a high school classroom.

It’s also not often that Jeff Bezos, who makes US$149,353 a minute, is largely ignored.

That’s what happened when Jeff Bezos walked into a busy classroom at Dunbar High School in Washington DC on Monday (US time).

There were 15 students in Ramona Hutchins‘ Computer Applications 1 class, a course made possible in part by the Amazon Future Engineer scheme. The class was holding a public event as Amazon.com was making an announcement about its scheme and three Amazon.com computer programmers had taken the day off work to mentor the students and answer any questions.

Then, as Washingtonian reported, there was a knock on a classroom window.

“I was like, who else is here?” Hutchins said. Bezos walked briskly into the classroom grinning.

“We all stopped,” Hutchins said. “We froze.”

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Even the The appearance by Bezos was a surprise, according to the Amazon employees who organised the event.

The students didn’t immediately react to being in the presence of the world’s richest man.

Hutchins estimated only about three of her students recognised Bezos. Then she cried out with excitement.

“I know I screamed,” Hutchins said, laughing. “A thousand questions went through my mind. Should I shake his hand? Should I hug him? I told him, ‘I’m from New Orleans—I’m going in for the hug!’”

Bezos conversed with the students for about five minutes. At one point, he made a joke about a student’s vague answer, Hutchins said, relaying a story about his own daughter and calling teenagers masters of vagueness. Bezos listened patiently while another student spoke about his project, then Bezos praised the young teenager for a compelling presentation.

“I was very proud as his teacher,” Hutchins laughed. “I was like, ‘Yes! Larry!‘” In class, Bezos called Hutchins “a champion.”

Hutchins said Bezos was “down to earth and so personable.”

She hoped the publicity would encourage more interest in the Amazon Future Engineering, and the school’s engineering course. Amazon’s funding allows the students to access an online course that teaches Python, among other coding languages. She also noted the disparities in access to computer science education, and that her class were “100 percent minority students.”

Bezos tweeted: “We’re committed to bringing more resources to kids from underserved communities, and I’m proud to say we’re now funding computer science in more than 2,000 high schools across the U.S.”