N.C.A&T Among HBCUs Welcomed to Silicon Valley

N.C.A&T Among HBCUs Welcomed to Silicon Valley

Several North Carolina A&T State University computer science students and one professor spent Nov. 16 – 19 visiting nearly a dozen Silicon Valley/Bay Area corporations as the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) hosted its fourth annual HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (I.C.E.) Summit. 

Of the 200 HBCU students that applied, six A&T students were selected for 53 open spots. Jean Oivier Beya, senior; Yenny Dominguez, senior; Ashana Evans, senior; Paul Hammond, senor; Kaleb Holley, senior; and Brandon Long, junior; along with Dr. Gerry Dozier, N.C. A&T professor and chairman of the Department of Computer Science, were among other students and faculty representing more than 30 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

“We participated in the 2016 UNCF HBCU I.C.E. Summit because its focus on helping Silicon Valley companies develop stronger relationships with faculty and student leaders from our nation's finest HBCUs aligned well with our goals at N.C. A&T,” said Dozier. “I am so proud of the accomplishments of A&T's students and graduates in the tech space, like Black Valley, and I look forward to the post-Summit next steps.”

Students traveled across Silicon Valley and the Bay Area on an “HBCU Tech Trek” visiting Adobe, eBay, Google, NetApp, PureStorage, Salesforce, Symantec, Visa, and Veritas, which were all event sponsors.

During a summit competition, students pitched their startup businesses to leaders in the tech industry at the Kapor Center for Social Impact, which works primarily with underrepresented groups to pursue creative strategies that leverage information technology for positive social impact.

On the final day of the summit, A&T student Paul Hammond, one of two 2016 HBCU Innovation Summit scholars and the co-creator of “Black Valley,” a community comprised of more than 500 African American interns working in Silicon Valley technology companies, addressed other summit attendees.

The goal of the four-day summit was to empower African American students to chart their career paths within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

In addition, computer science faculty members attended professional development workshops and developed innovative approaches to computer science curriculum and pedagogy.

The students who attended were competitively selected based on their GPAs, personal statements, internships, computer science skills and demonstrated leadership. More than 100 HBCU faculty applied for nearly 20 spots, and were chosen based on their background in computer science education, leadership, and willingness to serve as change agents on their respective campuses to align computer science curriculum with industry workforce needs and demands.

“We believe that HBCUs, the students they serve, and faculty they employ, have the ability to drive innovation and meet the high standards of the highly competitive job market. However, without increased public and private support, the divide will continue,” said UNCF’s National STEM Director, Dr. Chad Womack, a graduate of UNCF-member institution Morehouse College and Morehouse School of Medicine. “Many of the nation’s HBCUs are producing top-tier talent in the innovation economy, and UNCF wants to establish a consistent presence in Silicon Valley so that employers first look to HBCU students as qualified employees for recruiting.”

Full I.C.E. Summit sponsors included Adobe, Airbnb, Chevron, eBay, Fund II Foundation, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Kapor Center for Social Impact, Lowe’s Companies, Inc., NetApp, Pacific Gas & Electric, Pure Storage, Salesforce, SpaceX, Symantec, Visa and Veritas.

UNCF is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students' education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness.