On November 17th, Victor Glover became the first African-American astronaut to begin a full six-month stay in the orbiting lab.
Victor is making history, joining the list of the Firsts Black Astronauts from NASA. The first-ever African-American man to join the NASA astronaut program was an Air Force test pilot Ed Dwight in 1961. He became the first astronaut candidate but never went to space. Guion S. Bluford Jr. was the first African-American in space in 1983, and Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman in 1992. In the past 20 years of people living on the International Space Station, the extended crew never included a black astronaut.
Along with other astronauts on SpaceX Crew Dragon, Victor Glover will be staying on the I.S.S. for the next six months. Out of the 300 NASA astronauts to reach the International Space Station, he is not the first Black astronaut to visit the Station, 15th, to be exact. But he is the first one to stay on I.S.S. longer than a few weeks. In 2021 Victor is likely to be followed by Jeanette Epps, who would be the first Black woman to become a member of the extended I.S.S. crew. Victor Glover is now the pilot and second-in-command on the capsule, named Resilience. In the next six months, he will be fulfilling the duties of the Flight Engineer.
When you think of the history of Black education in the United States, you might think of Brown vs. Board of Education and the fight to integrate public schools. But there’s a parallel history too, of Black people pooling their resources to educate and empower themselves independently.
Enslaved people learned to read and write whenever and wherever they could, often in secret and against the law. “In accomplishing this, I was compelled to resort to various stratagems,” like convincing white children to help him, wrote Frederick Douglass. “I had no regular teacher.”
After the Civil War, says educator Kaya Henderson, Black people started “freedmen’s schools” to teach former slaves literacy and the other skills they would need to participate as citizens. “In the 12-year period that is Reconstruction,” she adds, “we started 5,000 community schools. We started 37 historically black colleges and universities.”
A century later, during the civil rights movement, educators founded “freedom schools” combining basic literacy with civic skills, like how to register to vote.
And in 1969, the Black Panther Party started a free breakfast program for schoolchildren. Eventually it fed tens of thousands of hungry kids oranges, eggs and chocolate milk at 45 sites around the country. J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, reportedly got the Chicago police to try to sabotage the program, because he considered it to be such powerful positive messaging for the radical movement he was determined to destroy. Instead, the federal government joined the effort; President Richard M. Nixon increased funding to guarantee all qualifying children a right to free lunch at school.
“We have a tradition of educating ourselves and we’ve forgotten that,” Henderson says.
Now, she’s started her own effort, dubbed Reconstruction.us, as a way of continuing that tradition.
Henderson led the Washington, D.C., public school system from 2010 to 2016. There, she worked to diversify the curriculum to ensure that students had both “windows” on the broader world, but also “mirrors” that reflected themselves. The result? “When those kids saw themselves in the curriculum, they came alive. They felt validated. They saw their communities as worthy and they just operated differently.”
Astronaut Jeanette Epps will make history as the first black woman to live and work with a crew in space.
By Monica Luhar
It was always her dream to one day go up in space.
Little did astronaut Jeanette Jo Epps know she’d be making history while doing it.
In August, NASA named Epps, who turned 50 on November 3, to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, which marks the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).
The mission, expected to launch in 2021, will mark Epps’ first space expedition while also making her the first African-American female astronaut to live and work onboard the ISS in a crewed flight for a six-month duration.
“I think many people dream of becoming an astronaut, most, however, never pursue it. My life has been geared toward it indirectly with the hope of becoming a viable candidate. However, it wasn’t until Spring ’08 that, because of the encouragement of a close friend, I realized that I would be a viable candidate and that I should apply,” Epps said in a NASA interview.
Epps will be joining NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada on a six-month long mission to the ISS. The flight will follow strict protocol and NASA certification after a successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 and Crew Flight Test with astronauts.
Shortly after the flight announcement, Epps tweeted out her excitement for joining the expedition with her NASA colleagues:
“I’m super excited to join Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada on the first operational Boeing crew mission to the International Space Station. I’ve flown in helicopters with Sunita flying and I’ve flown in the backseat of a T-38 with Josh flying, and they are both wonderful people to work with. So, I’m looking forward to the mission,” she tweeted.
Former NASA astronaut Mae Carol Jemison became the first black woman to travel in space after being selected to NASA’s astronaut program in June 1987. She was followed by astronaut Stephanie Wilson, while Joan Higginbotham was the third black woman to venture into space.
While this will be Epps’ first space expedition, it is not her first mission. In 2017, NASA assigned Epps to be a flight engineer to the International Space Station in mid-2018 for Expeditions 56 and 57.
She would have become the first African-American space station crew member, the first African American to launch aboard the Russian Soyuz vehicle, and the 15th African American to fly in space. But in January 2018, NASA ended up backtracking on its decision for reasons unknown.
But now Epps is back in action and is slated to make history through her first spaceflight to the International Space Station.
The Path to Space
The inspiration for a career in space exploration was embedded in Epps as a child. She was born in Syracuse, New York, as one of seven children to Henry and Luberta (née Jackson) Epps, Mississippians who moved to Syracuse as part of the Great Migration.
She and her twin sister, Janet, both excelled in math and science, and when Epps was 9-years-old, it was her brother who inspired her to pursue a career in space.
“My older brother came home from school at Rochester Institute of Technology when I was 9 and he took a look at my sister’s and my grades. He said, ‘Wow, you guys are doing great. You can be anything you want to be, an astronaut, whatever,’” she told a group of students, as reported by The Star Telegram.
But the journey to getting there wasn’t always a linear path; Epps dabbled in several different careers before becoming an astronaut for NASA.
She previously worked for Ford Motor Company, where she was responsible for research surrounding automobile collision detection and other systems that led to the success of a provisional patent and a U.S. Patent for her research. She also worked at the Central Intelligence Agency for seven years as a Technical Intelligence Officer before becoming an astronaut with NASA and working in the ISS Operations Branch to troubleshoot issues to support space station crews.
She received her Bachelor of Science in Physics at LeMoyne College, and her Master of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.
In 2008, Epps had a conversation with a friend who encouraged her to apply to the Astronaut Corps. In an interview with Parentology, Epps said, “I never thought that they’d actually select me, but they did.”
In 2009, Epps was selected as one of 9 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class.
“I was truly shocked because of the caliber of people I met during the interview process,” she said upon hearing that she was chosen. “I met some of the most amazing inspirational people. It is a huge honor to have been selected!
During her graduate school career, Epps served as a NASA fellow and wrote many journal and conference articles discussing her research.
“Her graduate research involved extensive testing of composite swept‐tip beams, comparative analysis of analytical models and experimental data for shape memory alloys and the application of shape memory alloy actuators for tracking helicopter rotor blades,” according to NASA.
Inspiring Future Astronauts
Epps knows all too well the importance of encouraging students who are interested in STEM and other career avenues to follow their dreams, no matter the hurdles.
She was recently invited to speak to youth at Weatherford High School about her experience as an astronaut and her excitement about the upcoming NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman on the moon by 2024.
Epps told students about the training she received at NASA, as well as her previous career path. She also shared her excitement as one of 13 female astronaut candidates that could be the first woman to land on the moon.
“You never know, as long as you’re in the program. That would be fantastic…It would be otherworldly,” Epps told students, as reported by The Star Telegram.
She explained that a historic trip to the moon could help uncover more answers about the Earth and the solar system. “It can be a way point to getting to Mars. We can stop there and we refuel and go on to Mars,” Epps told Business Insider in an interview.
When she’s not researching or thinking about space, Epps’s earthly hobbies include scuba diving and reading. “Other hobbies that I have, when I am not working, include traveling, reading, and trying as many new things as I can!”
NASA has had many interesting developments and upcoming projects like Asthros and Euclid, and others underway. For astronauts currently in space, many were able to safely cast their vote from the ISS in time for the 2020 presidential election. Astronaut Kate Rubins tweeted, “From the International Space Station: I voted today — Kate Rubins.”
In 2016, the film, Hidden Figures, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, shed light on the importance of STEAM as well as workplace discrimination, segregation, and other barriers that faced African-American female mathematicians and engineers. Many African Americans in STEM played an important role in the space program at NASA and helped shape the future of space exploration.
Representation and diverse leadership in STEM are key. The UPS recently posted a report discussing the need for more black women in STEM leadership: “Without a stronger commitment globally to diversity and inclusion in STEM, companies will continue to miss out on—or lose—talent that could bolster their business performance, and ultimately, their bottom lines.”
According to Catalyst, in 2017, 11.5 percent of science and engineering employees in the US were women of color. Currently, only 17 African-American astronauts represent NASA.
While women of color have been historically underrepresented in STEM, Epps is committed to moving the needle.
“The NASA mission has always inspired me because I have a great desire to help further our understanding of the world we live in and the universe,” she said in a NASA interview. “I pursued a career in science and technology in an effort to contribute. I also have a desire to encourage young students to pursue careers in science and help contribute because I believe everyone can help and has a part to play!”
With Epps sets to make history on the International Space Station in 2021, as well as potentially becoming the first woman to set foot on the moon, the sky’s the limit for African-American innovations in STEM from earth and beyond.
This year has been a huge year for Zoom, as families and friends around the world have turned to the video chat service to stay in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microsoft Teams just barreled into the room to make Zoom look a little silly by comparison.
According to The Verge, Microsoft’s primarily business-focused video call app is getting a free tier with a 24-hour time limit on calls just in time for the holidays.
As many as 300 people can jam into one room, with a gallery view that can display up to 49 of them on one screen. (Zoom has a max of 100 participants for Basic and Pro users.) There’s also a feature called Together Mode that will arrange everyone’s video feeds so it looks like they’re sitting together in a theater or coffee shop. If your family is that big, feel free to go nuts with Microsoft Teams — and good luck following the conversation.
Calls can be started and joined from a web browser so you don’t need to download an app. Whoever starts the call will need a Microsoft account, which you should have on hand if you’ve ever used Office or an Xbox but is pretty easy to set up if you haven’t. Crucially, folks who don’t have Microsoft accounts can join calls.
Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.
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.
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.
As businesses prepare to open their doors again, the hiring process has begun. Nearly forty million Americans lost their jobs from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of those people will be searching for work and participating in job interviews.
But, as we are still adhering to some social distancing rules, many of these interviews are likely to occur via video call.
Interviewing virtually is an unfamiliar territory, but having a successful, meaningful virtual interview is definitely possible.
Here are the best tips for having the most successful interview on a virtual platform.
As you would for an in-person interview, you want to look presentable. While this means wearing an interview-appropriate outfit, you want to make sure that your background and camera angle are also presentable. Make sure your background is clean, containing as little distractions as possible, and that your computer’s camera is catching the best angle of yourself. This will allow the interviewer to see the best version of yourself while bringing their full attention to what you are saying and not to what else is happening in your environment.
Make Eye Contact
As you would in a physical job interview, you want to make eye contact with the interviewer. It can be difficult not to look at your own reflection in the video call and worry about how you look to the other party, but remember to look into the computer’s camera to show the interviewer that you are paying attention to what they are saying and are really listening.
Remember the Lag
Unfortunately, video calls are known to lag and glitch. Neither party is at fault, but be aware of these inconveniences. Talking over the interviewer, accidentally interrupting, audio cutouts, and temporary freezes are bound to happen, so speak slowly and talk only when necessary to avoid these possible interview mishaps.
Use Your Resources
Virtual interviews allow for better access to virtual resources. Keeping interview notes on your screen and using screen share to give examples of your work will help you to remember your best selling points and show your interviewer what you are capable of.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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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.”