Want a career in tech? Start here.

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group of diverse co-workers gathered around conference table with laptops

Technological advancements continue to transform the media industry, rapidly changing how media is created, distributed and consumed. This transformation requires new ways of thinking and doing. The Emma Bowen Foundation (EBF) is uniquely suited to provide a pipeline of talent to those companies at the forefront of digital innovation and connectivity.

For example, Njuguna Thande, a Princeton grad who majored in electrical engineering, took an internship at Discovery, Inc., learning software and hardware design at the media company. Here, Njuguna shares what he learned during his four summers immersed at Discovery.

EBF: You interned at Discovery for four summers. How did your role change over time there?

Njuguna Thande: Discovery was open to me shifting departments, so my role changed to fill in gaps in my general engineering knowledge. First, I worked in system design with media engineering for two years, then software design with the IT department, and finally hardware design with facilities engineering. My diverse roles gave me a fuller understanding of an industry-level engineering operation.

EBF: Tell us about a particular challenge or key takeaway.

headshot of Njuguna Thande
Njuguna Thande

NT: The biggest thing I took away from working at Discovery was a much more thorough understanding of engineering as a whole. It gave me a much better picture of how all these teams had some connection to what I was studying. One of the biggest moments was when the company completed the “Cloud Playout” project. This was a multi-year project that involved nearly every engineering team during its various phases. As an EBF intern, I was able to contribute to it from multiple angles through different teams. So, I felt a real sense of camaraderie when the company finally brought it to its conclusion.

EBF: How did EBF prepare you for a career in media?

NT: Joining EBF has been the best decision I’ve made. I wouldn’t have understood so many aspects of media and media technology if I hadn’t decided to become a fellow. Knowing I can lean on them has kept me on track and stopped me from losing focus when things got tough. I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of EBF. Career-wise, EBF allowed me to take a deep dive into how a media company works. Working at Discovery year after year helped me nail down what I liked about engineering. It created a feedback loop that helped me chart out my path forward.

EBF: What advice do you have for students working toward a career in media?

NT: Your first internship isn’t your last internship. Your first job isn’t your last job. Don’t give up and try to get the most you can out of it. The work you do is meaningful, but it’s more important to understand the people that you work with and how they work with you. With support from more than 75 corporate and nonprofit partners, the Emma Bowen Foundation recruits promising students of color and places them in multi-year paid internships at some of the nation’s leading media and technology companies.

Learn more at emmabowenfoundation.com.

Who Said Woman Was Not Meant to Fly?

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Bronwyn Morgan pictured smiling sitting at a table

By Laurie Dowling, National Utilities Diversity Council

What do you get when a serial innovator merges her vocation and her avocation? You get Bronwyn Morgan, founder of Xeo Air, an outsourced AI-based drone services and data analytics company, and Airversity Drone Academy & Consulting.

Founded in 2019, Xeo Air is the next step in a management and entrepreneurial journey that has taken Bronwyn from strategic visioning at Fortune 100 companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, to media, academia and now aerospace futuring.

For those of us whose knowledge of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV – drones) has mostly been garnered from adventure movies, it may come as a surprise that in the next two years the commercial drone industry in the US is expected to reach $100 billion. In the four years since the Federal Aviation Administration granted more operations exemptions and flight regulations for professional drone services, they have increasingly become a part of business and civilian life, even if we aren’t always aware of them. They do and will perform functions ranging from mapping and data collection to delivery, crop fertilizing and facility disinfecting.

Xeo Air focuses on business to business solutions with inspection and mapping services with high definition video, thermography, LIDAR and infrared, for industries including civil infrastructure, oil and gas, wind, solar, utilities, construction, telecommunications, disaster response and government. Xeo Air is a young startup with an administrative team of four and 20 FAA part 107 certified pilots, and Bronwyn and her backers see it poised for growth as companies continue to embrace this game-changing geospatial data collection tool that saves businesses time and money so they can make decisions more quickly.

Additionally, to serve the growing need in public safety and corporations that need in-house capacity in unmanned aerial vehicles, a year ago, Bronwyn created a training company – Airversity Drone Academy and Consulting – which fields a team of FAA 107 certified instructors (pilots) based around the US who provide FAA exam prep and flight training.

A few questions for Bronwyn:

Are there a lot of drone companies owned by women?

I am part of a small but growing segment of the industry owned by women. Less than 10 percent of drone companies are owned by women, but the numbers are increasing, and there are more women in senior positions in larger companies as well.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced with your company so far?

Scaling up. It takes resources and time to grow your client base and to source talent, and you must sharpen your business model as the environment changes in this young industry. We also have limitations based on regulations and equipment innovation, but that is changing rapidly.

Have you had to educate potential customers on drone services because of misperceptions?

Absolutely. What most people know of drones is primarily their military usage. Our UAVs are very different and our business is different. We have to educate our potential clients about how drones can help their businesses and how we can help them make decisions faster, safer and at a lower price point than traditional services. And when you put it together with machine learning and artificial intelligence, the data becomes more actualized. There are so many uses for our services. Example: We’re able to get up and down a tower for routine inspection within an hour and capture significant data critical to immediate maintenance requirements. We can also assess damage to critical infrastructure after disasters, which can mean life and death in emergency response. Additionally, our capabilities can provide streaming information that allows customers to see real time the status of any asset. The use cases are endless.

What do you think is your competitive advantage?

We’re building an end-to-end product. We can collect data; keep you informed digitally through the processes and analyze the information for immediate use. We’re able to take care of customers end to end. And we can do it securely, with a high level of customer service. We treat our clients’ business as if it were our own.

What is in your future?

I’m working on solutions with flying passenger vehicles, to be announced soon. This is the future of aeronautics. It’s a dream job. When I was in high school, I wanted to fly fighter planes, which they didn’t allow women to do. I think my job is better!

We agree. In fact, please forgive the pun, but we think Bronwyn is soaring.

For more information on Xeo Air click here.

For more information on Airversity, click here.

For more information on NUDC and its free programs to advance diversity, click here.

How TikTok is Helping Students Heal

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tik tok logo black background white text and a musical note symbol at top

Popular social media app TikTok has become a viral success in the past two years of its existence. A platform that encourages original content and creativity, TikTok has become the home to aspiring comedians, dancers and musicians, giving them a space and an audience to gain popularity and to build their careers. But the potential success of young aspiring artists doesn’t stop there, as TikTok has announced its newest project, The Summer Songwriting Academy, which launched on June 24.

Partnering with the After-School All Stars program and Syracuse University’s Bandier Program, TikTok’s newest program serves to provide a space for students of lower incomes and fewer resources to have all the tools they need to express themselves through music.  The Bandier Program’s curriculum of the classes will not only include tools to better shape the aspiring musicians but will also offer classes in the music industry, music theory, and technology.

Many of the students who participate in the After-School All Stars program come from areas that have been especially affected by the impacts of the COVID-19, the death of George Floyd, and the injustices that have been brought to the black community. This being the case, Carlos Santini, the Executive Vice President of the programs, believes that their newest partnership with TikTok will allow for students to have a proper way to heal and express themselves.

“Music has a rich history in speaking out against injustice and speaking up for the rights and freedoms of all people,” Santini stated. “Our collective voice will be heard in a bigger way because of this amazing collaboration.”

In correspondence with the program, TikTok is also inviting some of their most popular musical influencers to share their experiences via livestream over the next four weeks. Artists featured in these segments will include Melanie Martinez, Timbaland, Tiagz, Jack Harlow, Mikey Keenan and many others. Any musician wishing to share their experiences can do so through TikTok’s featured hashtag, #BehindTheSong, where creators can post their songs.

To learn more about the program and to participate in its events, viewers can tap the TikTok Summer Songwriting Academy banner on the app’s homepage or visit After-School All Stars’ TikTok page, @afterschoolallstars.

LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital

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LA-pride-2019

On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World

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Nurse's hand holding a syringe giving a vaccination to a patient

By McKinley Corbley

It seems that your news feed has been flooded with nerve-wracking updates on the COVID-19 outbreaks, have no fear—there are also plenty of positive updates on the pandemic as well.

So without any further ado, here is a list of 10 hopeful headlines on the coronavirus response from around the world.

 

1) U.S. Researchers Deliver First COVID-19 Vaccine to Volunteers in Experimental Test Program

Scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle delivered the first rounds of a potential coronavirus vaccine to several dozen optimistic volunteers earlier this week.

43-year-old vaccine recipient Jennifer Haller, who is also a mother to two teenagers, was all smiles after she told AP reporters she was “feeling great” as she was leaving the clinic. “This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” she added.

2) Distilleries Across the United States Are Making Their Own Free Hand Sanitizers to Give Away for Free

Amidst national shortages of hand sanitizers, alcohol distilleries in Atlanta, Portland, rural Georgia, and North Carolina have begun using their facilities to make their own sanitation products.

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) says that cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based rub can help to kill viruses on your hands, many of the distilleries say they hope to continue producing their bootleg sanitizers until the virus has been properly contained.

3) Air Pollution Plummets in Cities With High Rates of Quarantine

Satellite readings of air pollution levels over China and Italy show that the regions hit hardest by the COVID-19 have also caused air pollution levels to decline dramatically.

Some reports estimate that China’s quarantine has saved more than 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere—which is about the equivalent of what Chile produces in a year.

Not only have similar effects been reported across Italy, the canals and waterways of Venice are reportedly cleaner than ever with the waters shining crystal clear in the absence of diesel-powered boats and gondoliers.

4) Johns Hopkins Researcher Says That Antibodies From Recovered COVID Patients Could Help Protect People At Risk

The vaccine developers in Seattle aren’t the only ones working on potential treatments and cures for the disease—an immunologist from Johns Hopkins University is reviving a century-old blood-derived treatment for use in the United States in hopes of slowing the spread of the disease.

The technique uses antibodies from the blood plasma or serum of people who have recovered from COVID-19 infection to boost the immunity of newly-infected patients and those at risk of contracting the disease.

5) South Korean Outbreak Finally Abating as Recoveries Outnumber New Infections for Three Days in a Row

According to Reuters, South Korea recorded more COVID-19 recovery cases on March 6th than new infections for the first time since the nation experienced the largest Asian outbreak outside of China.

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak was first reported in South Korea back in January, the nation reached a peak of 909 new infections on February 29th.

Now, however, Reuters reports that the declining rate of infection has continued to fall with less than 100 new cases reported for several days in a row.

6) China Celebrates Several Milestones of Recovery After Temporary Hospitals Close and Parks Reopen

Crowds of medical staffers and discharged patients were filmed celebrating the closure of all 14 temporary hospitals that opened in Wuhan to treat COVID-19 patients during the worst of the outbreak.

Authorities told the South China Morning Post this week that the virus had finally passed its peak as the nation’s mainland experienced only 11 new cases on March 13th, most of which were from international travelers.

As the outbreak is finally brought under control, parks and tourist attractions are slowly beginning to reopen to the public under careful moderation.

7) Australian Researchers Testing Two Drugs as Potential ‘Cures’ for the Virus

At the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, scientists have found that two different medications—both of which are registered and available in Australia—have completely wiped out traces of the disease in test tubes.

Not only that, the drugs were given to some of the nation’s first COVID-19 patients, which resulted in “disappearance of the virus and complete recovery from the infection,” researchers told News.com.au.

The university is now looking to conduct a nationwide trial with the drugs to evaluate the efficacy and tolerance of each drug administered separately and together.

8) Uber Eats is Supporting the North American Restaurant Industry By Waiving Delivery Fees for 100,000 Restaurants

As restaurants across Canada and the United States are forced to temporarily shut down amidst COVID-19 outbreaks, Uber Eats has announced that they will be waiving delivery fees for independent restaurants.

“We know the success of every restaurant depends on customer demand,” the company said in a statement. “That’s why we’re working urgently to drive orders towards independent restaurants on Eats, to help make up for the significant slowdown of in-restaurant dining.

“As more customers are choosing to stay indoors, we’ve waived the Delivery Fee for the more than 100,000 independent restaurants across US and Canada on Uber Eats. We will also launch daily dedicated, targeted marketing campaigns—both in-app and via email—to promote delivery from local restaurants, especially those that are new to the app.”

9) Dutch and Canadian Researchers Are Reporting Additional Breakthrough Research on Treating the Virus

Scientists from Canada and the Netherlands have also made medical breakthroughs of their own. In Toronto, a team of researchers managed to isolate the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, which will help researchers around the world develop better diagnostic testing, treatments, and vaccines.

“Researchers from these world-class institutions came together in a grassroots way to successfully isolate the virus in just a few short weeks,” said Dr. Rob Kozak, clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook University. “It demonstrates the amazing things that can happen when we collaborate.”

Meanwhile, Dutch researchers have submitted a scientific paper for publishing on how they have identified an anti-body for the virus—and it could be a world-first.

10) Here Are a Bunch of Other Ways That People and Businesses Are Supporting Each Other Throughout the US Outbreak

Dollar General has announced that they will be devoting their opening hour of shopping time to elderly customers. Athletes and sports teams are pledging to pay the wages of arena employees during the shutdown. Utility companies, landlords, automakers, and internet providers are waiving a number of late fees and payments to ease the financial burden of the shutdown. School districts across the country are still opening their doors to serve meals to kids and families.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Meet the 20-Year Old Entrepreneur Behind the Most Innovative Drone Technology

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David Opateyibo pictured in front of his drones on the floor

David Opateyibo is only 20-years old, but is already making international headlines for his ability to create and develop his very own drones.

Born and raised in Nigeria, as a young person, David was always passionate about technology and more specifically aircrafts. He started out creating airplanes from paper, cardboard, and other readily available materials. This led him to enroll in the International College of Aeronautics, Lagos Nigeria for aircraft building technology (ABT) in the year 2015.

He was so advanced that he was invited to also become an instructor while still studying.

In the year 2017, David was recognized for building a drone from scratch and presenting it to the State governor at that time.

Later, he obtained his remote pilot license (RPL) at the age of 19 in the United States of America under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and became an active member of the Nigeria Unmanned Systems and Robotics Association (NUSA).

In 2018, after completing a 2 year diploma in Applied Aviation Science, he led a team of 5 students of the International College of Aeronautics in building an all metal 2 seat airplane: the Zenith CH 750 Short Takeoff and Landing (STOL) at the Zenith Aircraft Building Company in Missouri.

A real entrepreneur.

Nowadays, David is works as a freelancer for various organizations to provide top notch drone services and products.

He believes that drone technology is where the future lies because drones are being used to carry out tasks that previously only manned aircrafts where known to do – ranging from military to civilian uses.

He comments, “We are in the era of data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IOT), and with these, we cannot but fathom what the future will bring drones are not going anywhere any time soon.”

Continue on to Black Business to read the complete article.

How Black Girls Code transformed from basement experiment to international movement

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Kimberly Bryant stands behind a podium wearing a shirt that read Phenomenal Woman

By Halley Bondy

Throughout her biotech engineering career, Kimberly Bryant was the only black female in the room most of the time. And as Bryant rose the ranks to become manager at companies like DuPont, Phillip Morris and Genentech, she yearned for a more inclusive world for her daughter Kai.

Kai had developed a knack for gaming and coding, which is a very male, white and Asian-dominated business.

“It happened that I stumbled into this issue of diversity of inclusion and tech,” said Bryant in an interview with Know Your Value. “My daughter was about to go to middle school and was interested in tech and video gaming and gaming in general…I found that there wasn’t a strong program that would focus on girls of color and getting them prepared in the skills they’d need to move into this career field.”

Women of color earn less than 10 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computing, according to the Kapor Center. And black women make up less than 0.5 percent of leadership roles in tech. Even in women-led small tech businesses, women of color only comprise 4 percent of the workforce.

With Kai’s help, Bryant called upon colleagues at Genentech to put together a six-week coding curriculum for girls of color in 2011. She conducted the first educational series in a basement of a college prep institution in San Francisco, which was loaned to Bryant for free. Bryant expected about six students, but the class attracted about a dozen girls, including of course, Kai.

Bryant’s small community effort attracted the attention of ThoughtWorks, a global tech consultancy company. ThoughtWorks invested in Bryant in January 2012 and gave her access to space and resources across the country, as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa. In a few years, the operation transformed from a basement experiment into a global non-profit with 15 chapters. They called themselves Black Girls Code.

The more mature chapters might boast up to 1,000 students a year, according to Bryant, who runs the organization full-time.

“I didn’t know it would be a nonprofit,” said Bryant. “This was us just trying to test the waters and make something locally where I could bring my daughter, so she could find a tribe of girls interested in the same thing, but it took off from humble beginnings.”

The Black Girls Code curriculum teaches everything from web development to robotics to Artificial Intelligence. Many of the first-year students are now in college, including Kai, who is in her sophomore year studying computer science.

Bryant wants to expand Black Girls Code into a life-long support network to help retention rates in tech.

“One of the things that I’m really excited about is building out this alumni network that we’ve grown over the last eight years,” said Bryant. “Many of the girls…are about to go to college, and they have a need for support as they continue their career and collegiate journeys.”

Bryant said she was never interested in coding — that was all her daughter. Instead, Bryant studied engineering at Vanderbilt University. She said she met only one other African American female engineering student in her four years there, and that none of her professors were even female, let alone black.

“I didn’t have any role models,” said Bryant.

Still, she excelled. Bryant was only 25 when she became a manager at DuPont in Tennessee. She said her manager there—whom she otherwise adored—jokingly introduced her to the team as a “twofer,” because she was black and a woman.

The Black Girls Code curriculum teaches everything from web development to robotics to Artificial IntelligenceCourtesy of Black Girls Code.

“I’m positive those men had never worked for a black woman as their manager,” she said. “It was a learning experience. I spent most of my career in these types of positions. There were always these implicit and explicit biases that I had to deal with as I tried to establish authority as a black woman.”

Continue on to NBC News read the complete article.

He Was Abandoned Near A Dumpster As A Baby. Now He’s The CEO Of A Company Valued Over $62 Million

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CEO Freddie Figgers is pictured wearing a dark blue suit and tie leaning against a wall in a confident pose

Freddie Figgers, 30, was abandoned near a dumpster at birth and was adopted when he was just two days old by two loving parents. He is now the CEO of a telecommunications company valued over $62 million.

Figgers got his first computer when he was 9-years old. It was broken when he received it, but he quickly figured out how to make it fully operational.

That was the start of his innovative future.

Later as a child, after learning that his Dad had Alzheimer’s, he invented a shoe for him that had a GPS tracker and a two-way communicator that he sold for millions.

He got his first job at the age of 12 as a computer technician, and by age 15, he had already started his own cloud computing services.

He kept developing and inventing, and before the age of 30, he had his own telecommunications company, Figgers Communications.

“He is now the founder and CEO of Figgers Wireless, a black owned telecommunications firm valued at over $62.3 million dollars, that you may have never heard of,” the caption of one of his YouTube videos read.

Now he’s creating devices that will help people with diabetes.

“Diabetes is a major public health problem that is approaching epidemic proportions globally,” Figgers wrote on Facebook in August. “The prevalence of diabetes is rising at an alarming rate. Nationwide, 1 in 12 adults has diabetes, and type 2 diabetes has become a commonplace childhood disease as well.

For far too long, large diabetic medical supply corporations has made billions of dollars profiting from this horrible disease by taking advantage of consumers with outrageous cost. We could have easily sold our invention to any Medical supply company, but that would only be adding to the problem.

We have a solution that’s all in one and it remotely manages diabetics 24/7. But best of all affordability for all patients. WE PUT PEOPLE OVER PROFIT.”

Continue on to Sunnyskyz.com to read the complete article.

From Science Class to the Stock Exchange

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Stephon Henry-Rerrie headshot

By Gina Vitale | MIT News correspondent

Stephon Henry-Rerrie grew up in Brooklyn as the oldest of five siblings. He loved math puzzles from a young age and chose a premed track in his specialized high school. He never thought he’d study at MIT, but after being accepted to MIT’s Weekend Immersion in Science and Engineering (WISE), a program for high school seniors from underrepresented communities to learn about the MIT experience, he changed his mind.

Before visiting MIT, “I could never see myself here, because it was just this ivory-tower looking place,” he says. “Whereas when I was here, and I was talking with people, I was like, ‘Oh, wow I can hang.’ Maybe I do belong here.”

Henry-Rerrie, now a senior, has discovered many passions during his time at the Institute. He realized early on that he didn’t want to pursue medicine, and chose to major in chemical engineering. Then, after realizing how versatile physics could be, he picked that up as a second major. In four years, he has helped create particle simulations, worked on a trading floor, conducted research in the chemical engineering industry, and mentored younger MIT students. He would never have predicted ending up where he is now—but he wouldn’t trade it.

“I have a very weird, nonlinear trajectory that I’ve taken,” he says. “But along the way I’ve learned lots of things about myself and about the world.”

In the market for growth

When Henry-Rerrie accepted an internship at Morgan Stanley the summer after his first year, he had no idea that he’d be working on the trading floor. Some similarities to the movie Wall Street were uncanny, he says—he was surrounded by bond traders, and his mentor underwrote municipal bonds. He says the experience of working in finance fundamentally changed his life. Not only did he learn to speak up among many powerful voices, he also realized that science and engineering are directly tied into economics. Research doesn’t happen in a vacuum—when scientists make discoveries, that impacts the economy.

“I think I needed that exposure,” he says. “Because if I hadn’t, I feel like I wouldn’t have the perspective that I have now on, what does this all mean? What is going on? What’s this larger system that we exist in?”

He really enjoyed working within the financial sector. And, after meeting a number of former physicists (and chemical engineers) now working in financial roles at Morgan Stanley, he realized that studying physics rather than economics wouldn’t hurt his chances of getting a job in finance—so he took on a double major and was thrilled to study another area he’s always been fascinated by.

In his sophomore year, he worked in the lab of Assistant Professor James Swan, creating particle simulations with PhD student Zachary Sherman. The pair looked at how varying two different kinds of interactions between nanoparticles in solution affected those nanoparticles. Henry-Rerrie likens it to having a bunch of people (representing the particles) in a room where temperature and wind are controlled by two knobs. As you turn up the temperature knob, or the wind knob, or both knobs in varying amounts, the people will react.

“What will those people be feeling? What will they do? … I can turn those knobs and record, what did those people do at each specific value? And then after that, can we see a trend in how people will react?”

The following summer, Henry-Rerrie took an internship at chemical engineering company Praxair. The people there were great, he says, but as he considered his options for the future, he found his heart was with financial markets. The following summer, he took a job at investment management company BlackRock.

“I also found that finance touches everything, everybody’s life, in a very real way that you can’t get away from, at least now,” he says.

For him, BlackRock was the perfect compromise between chemical engineering and finance. As much of his role involved risk and quantitative analysis, he was able to practice many of the techniques he learned in engineering, as well as do real work in the finance sector.

“At my internship at BlackRock, I was able to apply everything that I learned,” he says. “Not necessarily the technical stuff, but the way of problem solving, of thinking.”

Chocolate City

When Henry-Rerrie was first visiting MIT, he was introduced to a living group called Chocolate City, in New House. The group consisted of black and Latino men supporting each other socially, academically, and professionally.

“When I saw that, that was the signal to me that MIT is just a special place,” he says.

He was accepted to live in Chocolate City his first year and has been there ever since. He has served in a variety of roles, including athletics chair, social chair, co-chair, and now resident peer mentor. He describes himself as the big brother of the house, working to get people to socialize and bond with each other. Living in the group has had its challenges, as its members come from diverse backgrounds and often have conflicting opinions. But that’s all part of the learning experience that makes it so valuable, he says.

“Being in that ecosystem has, I think, developed me into the person I am now, and helped me to feel like I can take on, I can take on anything after I graduate here.”

Henry-Rerrie loves being part of Chocolate City, and is grateful for how much it has developed him as a person. That’s why he’s chosen to give back to the other residents this year as the resident peer mentor, and why he plans to continue to help out as an alumnus. To him, Chocolate City is much more than a place to sleep and study.

“I feel like I’m home,” he says of being a part of the living group. “I don’t feel like I’m at a dorm; I feel like I’m home.”

Science in context

Henry-Rerrie is grateful for the context that his humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS) classes have given him in his scientific pursuits. He recalls one class, STS.042 / 8.225 (Physics in the Twentieth Century), that introduced him to an entire world of physics history. He learned everything from the politics underlying physics to the fact that Erwin Schrödinger himself was skeptical of quantum theory—he only made the cat analogy to show how crazy it was.

“A lot of ways that we evaluate people and what they’ve done can be super muddled if we don’t understand the history of how things came about,” he says.

It’s that kind of learning, bridging concepts that he never assumed were related, that Henry-Rerrie really enjoys. The applications to engineering and broader society are what drew him to finance; his research and economic work at BlackRock was so fulfilling that he’s accepted an offer to return after graduation full time.

Longer term, Henry-Rerrie isn’t sure where exactly he’ll end up. He’s considering business school in his five-year plan and would love to end up back at MIT for that. His broader goal, at least right now, is to figure out where his skills can be put to the greatest use.

“I’m all about finding connections. Between, I guess, very weird things. Things that don’t seem that related,” he says.

Photo: Stephon Henry-Rerrie/JAKE BELCHER

Source: Reprinted with permission of MIT News (http://news.mit.edu/2019/student-stephon-henry-rerrie-0501)

Jackson State University Student Invents Straw That Filters Lead From Drinking Water

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Lamonte Pierce dressed in a suit holding his straw invention

Lamonte Pierce must’ve been taught not to complain about problems if he didn’t offer solutions. According to Jackson Free Press, the 36-year-old Jackson State University (JSU) graduate student got tired of receiving boil-water alerts in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. He decided to do something about it.

He invented the “Cleanstraww,” a reusable straw that is actually a water filtration system. Originally believing the product to be so simple someone had likely already created it, Pierce had the opportunity to execute his idea in a 3D Printing challenge during a cyber learning summit in 2016.

According to its website, “Cleanstraww is powered by a 3-step filtering process using special patented FDA compliant material that helps separate particles and sediment from water on demand using the force of your mouth.”

Pierce said using water filtration systems is healthier than drinking water from plastic bottles because there are still lots of impurities in the water and it’s not as clean as some people think.

Once word of his product got out, Pierce was offered a vendor contract to supply 4,000 Walmart stores with his filtration straws, reported WAPT 16. He is being celebrated for his ingenuity.

“I want to make this straw readily available everywhere and for it to become a household product that can surpass bottled water, which can also have a lot of impurities and often isn’t as filtered as a lot of people may think,” Pierce said.

Continue on to Mogeldom to read the complete article.

Looking for a STEM Job? Head to These States

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woman shaking mans hand in a room withdiverse co-workers

Milken Institute’s 2018 State Technology and Science Index, a biennial assessment of states’ capabilities and competitiveness in a tech-focused economy, ranked the top ten states to pursue a STEM career. “The success stories of states profiled in this year’s index reflect sustained efforts to not only build but to maintain their ecosystem,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics.

“Making the changes that are necessary to perform well on the State Technology and Science Index can contribute to stronger long-term economic performance.”

 

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Colorado
  3. Maryland
  4. California
  5. Utah
  6. Washington
  7. Delaware
  8. Minnesota
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Oregon

Massachusetts benefitted from the presence of major research universities, the availability of venture capital, entrepreneurial expertise, and a tech-oriented workforce, according to the report. The state was first in three of the index’s five composite indexes and finished third in another. Massachusetts continues to strengthen its position in tech and science by increasing public funding of neuroscience research, cybersecurity innovation, and startup development.

Utah’s move to fifth was driven by tech-sector employment growth – the fastest in the nation – averaging 4.3 percent annually. The state also had the most university graduates with degrees in science and engineering – 15.4 per 1,000 students. Utah stood out for the success of its universities in spinning research into commercial ventures.

Delaware rose to seventh from tenth, strengthened by an increase in venture capital invested in technology companies. The Legislature authorized a 25 percent tax credit for small companies (those with fewer than 25 employees) engaged in research and development in specific high-tech fields. The state ranks fifth in the number of business startups with 53.4 per 1,000 residents.

The State Technology and Science Index provides a benchmark for policymakers to evaluate their state’s capabilities and formulate strategies for improving STEM education, attracting businesses, and creating jobs in the tech sector. Indices considered in the report include the number of patents issued and doctoral degrees granted in each state.

“Investing in human capital and developing a STEM workforce is crucial for regional economies that want to attract large technology companies and the jobs they bring,” explains Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken Institute’s director of regional economics research.

In addition to the index, the report offers case studies that examine issues such as non-compete contracts that limit employee mobility, along with access to higher education in building a vibrant, adaptable workforce.

Drawing on this data, the report recommends four steps policymakers can take to improve their state’s competitiveness:

Increase scholarships and other financial aid to lower the cost of higher education for in-state students who plan STEM careers.

Better align STEM curriculums to make it easier for students to transfer credits from lower-cost two-year colleges to four-year institutions.

Encourage partnerships between higher-education institutions and private companies to provide students with work experience to improve workforce readiness and job placement.

Make employee noncompete laws less restrictive to encourage a freer exchange of ideas and talent among tech companies.

The index draws on data from government and private sources dating from 2015 to 2017, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the American Community Survey, and Moody’s Analytics.

Source: milkeninstitute.org

Tech with a twist: Innovative youth program combines coding and dance

LinkedIn
group of diverse girls dancing in the danceLogic studio

Numbers, stats and creativity are all integral parts of choreography — but they’re vital for coding, too. That’s the idea behind danceLogic, a program in Philadelphia that integrates dance and computer programming for 13 to 17-year-old girls.

“With dancing, you have to look at the steps and figure out how do they fit into one another. Same with coding,” said 14-year-old Nailah Shabazz, adding “basically, if I see myself coding and helping others, I think I can also bring in other people who look like me, to also want to pursue that field.”

For 14-year-old Lauryn Dorsett, the dancing part came easy – the coding, not so much. “The coding part is sorta hard at first when you think about it,” Dorsett said. “But once you really grow into it, and stay with it for a while, it starts to get easier.”

When she realized how much money she could potentially make with the skills, Dorsett said, she was even more intrigued. “Not all fields offer the same type of opportunities,” she said. “You can get far with this.”

Franklyn Athias believes that opportunity is everything. While working as a senior vice president at Comcast, Athias started danceLogic in 2018.

Originally, Athias only planned to focus on coding – but “he had trouble getting [kids] to participate,” according to his friend and co-founder Betty Lindley.

Lindley, who runs a cultural center, suggested he incorporate dance.

Athias wants people who might be intimidated by the math and science behind coding to understand that it’s like any other skill. “It’s always hard in the beginning,” he said. “This is why the dance part is so important, because a lot of young ladies came in and could not dance. But they practice.”

That’s what happened with Shabazz, who said she “inherited two left feet” from her father. “If I have the confidence to dance in front of a bunch of people and not be afraid of making mistakes, then I have the confidence to accomplish whatever goals I have in life,” she said.

“Something they thought was hard now became easy, right?” Athias said. “And it was all because of practice. It wasn’t anything else besides, ‘let’s try it, let’s get it wrong, let’s try it again and then boom.’ The smile comes on your face and say, ‘I got it, Mr. Franklyn.’ When that happens, he said, “the world is theirs.”

Athias wants danceLogic to help give back to the community. “I came from a very rough neighborhood, and someone introduced me to something that kept me out of trouble,” he said. “If I can help motivate some other person to do the same thing that’s the reward I get outta this.

When the girls finish the 14-week program, they’re rewarded too. Athias gives them iPads, so they can keep coding – he has no doubt they’ll keep dancing.

DanceLogic costs $50 total for the 14 weeks. The West Park Cultural Center, which runs the program, says it will never turn away anyone who can’t afford the cost. The center offers scholarships, too.

Continue on the CBS News to read the complete article.

UNC grad student develops app for African American youth mental health

LinkedIn

Everyone feels anxious or stressed out at times, but people can often overlook their overall mental health. Some UNC grad students think this is especially the case for African Americans.

Technology has become a necessity for many people today, and the App Store is flooded with resources that can help or improve someone’s life. Henry Willis, fourth-year doctoral candidate of psychology and neuroscience in the clinical psychology program, is leading the development of a mental health app that will target African-American young adults. He believes African Americans’ mental health is important but is often overlooked.

“The reason I’m targeting toward young Black adults is mostly because this is one of the groups within African Americans that are less likely to receive access to effective mental health treatment,” Willis said. “And it’s also the time period where just a lot of negative mental health symptoms start or get worse for a lot of people.”

This mental health app will cover a broad scope of things, but it is currently in the development stage. The first version will be on a website, but it will function like the final product, which will be a mobile app. Once they have enough data, Willis and the people helping him develop the app plan to do a pilot test and then export it to the Apple Store.

Since many apps and other products on the market aim to help people improve aspects of their lives, including weight management apps, Fitbits and Apple Watches, Willis thought a mental health app for Black people could be useful to many people who may not have thought about their mental health before. Within the app, Willis hopes to help people get a basic understanding of mental health and some of the things they can do to cope with negative mental health symptoms.

For the complete article, continue on to Daily Tar Heel.

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  1. National Society of Black Engineers 46th Annual Convention
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    August 24, 2020 - August 27, 2020
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