Central government named HBCU technology hub

Central State University is launching a technology education program and will serve as a regional hub for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Midwest.

CSU becomes one of 11 HBCU C2 initiative centers created with funding from Apple as part of its community education initiative to develop skills in coding, creativity and workforce development, especially in communities of color.

“We are a historically black institution and when we look at the disparities in the workforce as well as higher education when it comes to the STEM field, we need more people of color to enter the STEM field. says Jack Thomas, PhD, president of Central State University. “In terms of the number of women in STEM, we want to increase that number (too).”

In fact, Robbie Melton, Ph.D., dean of graduate and professional studies at Tennessee State University where the HBCU C2 initiative started, has big goals for HBCUs and women.

“In two years, I want all HBCUs to code and create,” she said in a statement. “In two years, you’ll see many more people of color entering the STEM workforce – and in two years we’ll double the number of black women in tech thanks to this program.”

The hub will offer students, staff and faculty from all disciplines and majors the opportunity to learn to code using a program created by Apple using its Swift programming language. The hub extends beyond college to alumni, the community and surrounding HBCUs in the Midwest.

The program will begin by offering coding lessons to staff and faculty before expanding into workshops for up to 30 students in a class. COVID-19 is affecting plans and causing limits on class size. Marvin L. Reid, Jr., DBA, aims to start offering courses for college credits in the spring.

Reid, a self-proclaimed “tech geek”, is Department Chairman of the College of Business, Associate Professor of Management Information Systems and Project Leader for HBCU C2 initiative. It was his efforts with the program and training at Tennessee State University’s flagship center that led to the selection of CSU.

“Our three main goals as HBCU C2 hubs are: focusing on faculty development and creating opportunities for students to learn to code; deepen student engagement and perseverance for STEM education through creative expressions with video, photography, music and drawing; and create a pipeline of new IT talent for HBCUs and inspire individuals to create career support technologies and solutions through Apple. ”

Reid says it’s important to offer coding workshops and credit and non-credit courses to students of all majors.

“We want to include every major campus-wide, because we want to provide students with the resources, tools and knowledge – as well as our faculty and staff – on how to code and create and, from a teaching perspective, how to use technology to improve student learning.

For example, he says, a student can use their coding skills to create a tech-based project on William Shakespeare rather than just writing a traditional paper assignment.

CSU, which has around 2,100 registrants, is building a dedicated tech lab that is slated to open in September. Apple says its goal “is to eventually extend coding and creative programming to every HBCU.”

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