In a quest to address the racial divide in STEM education and careers, Jackson State University is among HBCUs convening with major corporations this month at the inaugural HBCU Technology Conference.
HP will join Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel and Microsoft for presentations and high-level concerted efforts to add more qualified Black candidates into the pipeline for tech positions.
Speakers will include JSU President Thomas K. Hudson and Dr. Joseph A. Whittaker, associate provost and vice president for Research and Development at JSU.
Dr. Almesha L. Campbell, assistant vice-president for the Division of Research and Economic Development at JSU, is on the planning committee for the student track of the conference along with colleague Dr. Deborah Dent, chief information officer. Dr. Tangelia Kelly, assistant marketing director at JSU, is working with the conference marketing team.
Dent, who will present on Day 5, said, “I am excited about the conference and believe it will be informative to students, faculty and staff. I will be participating as a panel member in the session titled ’The Role Of Technology in Digital Transformation.’ ”
The tech discussion will be at 10 a.m. CDT on Thursday, Sept. 30. It will be led by HP’s chief transformation officer, Greg Baxter, and will include several CIOs.
Meanwhile, Campbell said the upcoming event has piqued the interest of students at JSU.
To date, of the 11 HBCU Technology Conference founding member institutions, 40 percent of the registrants for the upcoming event are from JSU. Faculty, staff, administrators, and students are urged to register on the conference website. The virtual conference sessions are Sept. 14, 16, 22, 28 and 30.
In an interview with TriplePundit, a global media platform that advocates social justice and fair economic opportunities for everyone, Campbell said, “Students are excited to build their résumés. I see their hunger for learning – a hunger to know new things and interact with new technology.”
With TriplePundit calling for corporate responsibility and sustainability, Campbell said JSU is ready to further revolutionize the tech industry by expanding STEM education and helping organizations provide job training in Black communities.
“Imagine how freshmen can transform their next three years of education and the classroom experience if they attend this conference — they will have a whole new network of connections.” she added.
According to data, Black Americans make up only 7 percent of tech industry job, despite being 12 percent of the U.S. population. Even more dismal, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that only four percent of tech managers and less than 2 percent of C-suite tech executives are Black.
One sobering point is that 25 percent of all STEM degrees are produced by the nation’s 100 HBCUs. Jackson State ranks seventh nationwide in developing African American engineering graduates.
In fact, the urban HBCU in Mississippi collaborates with major corporations and organizations to launch student careers. These include Lockheed Martin, Ford Motor Co., Toyota, Nissan, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Entergy, C-Spire, and many others.