Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

April 19, 2023

Now downtown, DAE seeks to engage teens in technology education

PHOTOS | Liese Klein DAE Senior Educator Kay Detome shows New Haven eighth-graders how to interact with AI chatbot ChatGPT on April 19, 2023.

“It can do anything,” Kay Detome told a group of eighth-graders, speaking of AI chatbot ChatGPT on Wednesday at DAE, a nonprofit tech program in downtown New Haven.

The kids jumped right in – quizzing ChatGPT via keyboard about the future of virtual reality, interacting with the ground-breaking chatbot like artificial intelligence pros. 

“We want them to be able to be critical thinkers, and ChatGPT is a companion for that,” Detome said. “[We] encourage them to use it the right way, to use it as a learning companion versus like, ‘Hey, do my homework.’” 

New Haven students sketch out ideas during a technology education session at DAE on April 19, 2023.

Bringing the latest technology to people often shut out of conventional educational opportunities is the goal at New Haven-based DAE, which is expanding across the state. The nonprofit hosted its first event for eighth-graders on Wednesday with the intent of getting teens interested early in technology careers.

Once they enter high school, teens can apply to join DAE’s youth program in software engineering, which currently serves 43 kids in New Haven. The nonprofit has partnered with New Haven Public Schools and CareerConneCT to provide many students with full scholarships.

In its second year of operation, DAE’s yearlong program has a 94% retention rate, which attracts attention as technology education programs usually top out at 65% in retention, according to DAE Founder and CEO A.M. Bhatt. 

A graduate of DAE’s Stamford program recently came in second place in a field of 15,000 students in a contest run by MIT, Bhatt said.  

A.M. Bhatt

DAE engages young people by setting high expectations at the same time emphasizing that there is room to play and explore, Bhatt said. Kids are asked: “Who could you be beyond your expectations of who you can be?” and “How do you expect to achieve that?”, he said.

The program’s scope is limited by funding in New Haven, Bhatt said, while DAE’s corporate partnerships in Stamford have allowed it to expand to 250 kids in that city by September. Stamford’s program also offers tracks in digital video and music production. 

DAE’s New Haven software engineering program for adults has 10 people currently enrolled, with 62 on the waiting list. Once again, the limitation is funding, Bhatt said. 

“The school district loves us, the city loves us – everybody loves us, but we can’t quite get the financial support,” Bhatt said. Based on interest and community support, he added, “we could do 500 kids here.”

DAE’s current space, on the fourth floor of the old City Hall building at 770 Chapel St., is set up with long tables and instructional nodes spread across 7,000 square feet. 

“It is designed to be not a classroom but more like what a modern workplace is like,” Bhatt said. 

Founded as District Arts and Education, DAE moved out of the District co-working and startup center on James Street late last year, seeking a more central and accessible location. Now the acronym stands alone and the nonprofit is seeking to set up new programs across the state.

ChatGPT and artificial intelligence entered DAE’s technology curriculum as of earlier this year, when the chatbot debuted online, Bhatt said

“We’re shifting our curriculum to learn how to code with AI versus simply learning how to code, because by the time they’re working, that’s what it will be,” Bhatt said, gesturing at the eighth-graders.

Contact Liese Klein at

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF