On the other hand the presence in Washington of Howard University, the nation's preeminent HBCU, should facilitate the emergence of a thriving community of Black educational technologists and analysts.
Indeed, the idea of Washington DC becoming a major center for Blacks in any kind of technology without Howard University playing a central role is as inconceivable to me as Silicon Valley becoming Silicon Valley without Stanford. So why isn't Howard living up to its fullest potential?
Based on my personal experience as a member of Howard's tenured faculty and its senior staff for over forty years, I can assure the reader that the university has enough highly talented faculty, staff, and students. The fault lies in its C-Suite, in its top-level positions that have been occupied for decades by incumbents who, with a few notable exceptions, failed to appreciate the magnitude of the returns that would have been generated by appropriate investments in STEM. So Howard University and Washington's community of Blacks in technology remain poised on a threshold to greatness.
Update Saturday 3/5/16
I first posted this note back in September 2015. About a week ago, Aaron Saunders posted a reply (at bottom of the page): "Hopefully we can see a change this year here in Washington DC" ... Who is Aaron Saunders? Why is he so hopeful? And why do I share his optimism? I will address each of these questions in turn:
- Aaron K. Saunders is the founder/CEO of two organizations: Clearly Innovative and Luma Lab. Clearly Innovative is a successful developer of cross-platform apps for prestigious clients in Washington and New York City; Luma Lab, the education arm of Clearly Innovative, recently won a $100,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase to extend its STEM education programs to more neighborhoods in DC and to nearby Howard County, MD. Mr. Saunders is also the author of an acclaimed textbook, "Building Cross-Platform Apps using Titanium, Alloy, and Appcelerator Cloud Services" (2014). And for the last two years he has been an adjunct professor in HU's College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Science where he teaches Howard's students how to develop cross-platform apps.
- In the October 2015, Washington's new mayor and Howard University 's new president announced their initiation of a competitive search for a manager of a Silicon Valley style technology and innovation incubator that would be jointly sponsored by the city and the university. On February16, 2016, the Mayor and the President announced their selection of Luma Lab as the manager of the new incubator.
- In my opinion, the selection of Mr. Saunders and his team at Luma Lab was brilliant. Incubators are complex combinations of training operations and business ventures that must navigate high tech's swift and unpredictable currents. I applaud the courage and the vision of the Mayor and the President to make this bold investment in the future of DC's Black tech community. And I applaud their recognition that Mr. Saunders has an ideal combination of skills as a developer, as an educator, and as a manager/administrator. Their continued support should enable him to provide the leadership required to transform Washington, DC into one of the nation's most important centers for Blacks in technology.
Update Tuesday 3/8/16 ... Tweets from opening of HU/DC incubator ... This event was also covered by DC Government press release, HU press release and DCInno
Below find links to DLL Storyfies of some #DiversityInTech events in Washington DC during the last 15 months:
- Education hackathon -- ATT Hackathon at Howard University -- Day 1 (Friday 10/10/14), Day 2 (Saturday 10/11/14)
- Civic Meetup -- DLL Storify of First White House Tech Meetup -- Friday 4/17/15
- Entrepreneur/tech conference -- DLL Storify of White House Demo Day 2015 ... Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 -- Tuesday 8/4/15
- Major Centers for Blacks in Technology ... February 2016