Stepping up to the plate amidst the ongoing debate about the lack of diversity at tech companies, AT&T is bringing a group of students from Howard University and Hampton Univeristy to Silicon Valley to attend The TechConneXt Summit, Black Enterprise’s first annual tech conference.
Taking place October 12-13 at the Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, California, TechConneXt is designed to help develop a talent pipeline for tech companies in Silicon Valley that are serious about addressing their “diversity problem.”
“These are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students whom we want to give more exposure to what is going on in Silicon Valley,” says Jennifer Jones, AT&T vice president for diversity marketing and home solution services. Â “Hopefully, we will help them to make some connections that will serve them well post-graduation.” AT&T is also a presenting sponsor of TechConneXt.
All college students attending the TechConneXt Summit will meet with recruiters, go on tours, meet mentors, and hear inspiring speakers who have succeeded in the tech space. What’s more, five HBCU teams made up of juniors and seniors who are majoring in engineering or computer science but haven’t yet made a commitment to an employer post-graduation will compete in the BE Smart Hackathon hosted by Capital One. Fittingly, the teams will design a personal finance app that targets college students and young professionals.
“We hope to bring more attention to the lack of the percentage of minorities, particularly African Americans, in technology,” adds Jones, speaking about AT&T’s support of TechConneXt. “So, we want to spur that and we want other companies to be as aggressive as we have been in filling the pipeline–recruiting, hiring, developing and ultimately promoting as part of our culture, minority and African Americans in the tech space.”
Students attending TechConneXt will also go on tours to Google and the AT&T Foundry. AT&T has foundry facilities across the country that serve as a launching pad for new ideas and new companies that are capable of quickly going to market and addressing pressing needs in a handful of focus areas. AT&T design, technology, and business specialists work directly with participants on-site.
“Technology and innovation is at the core of what we do. This is not a new area for us at all. We have been engaged in this space throughout our history, but even moreso now with developers to ensure that our platform is open. In the past five years we have deployed foundries with the specific task of creating innovation and to enhance life globally,” says Jones.
The AT&T Foundry in Silicon Valley that will be part of the TechConneXt college tour recently announced a couple of innovations. “One enhancement is really important to everyone, but especially to one of the segments that I support, which is disabilities,” Jones explains, referring to a connected wheelchair technology component that will provide monitoring of any patient in a wheelchair.
“So for example, we have someone who has a mobility issue or [is] wheelchair bound. That chair will actually indicate where pressure points start happening before the patient becomes too uncomfortable or if the person may have numbness issues that they may not be aware of,” says Jones. “This will help to improve circulation and prevent body sores. It will enhance the quality of life for the individual and their caregiver.”
“It is innovation like that that will move everybody forward in terms of improving our quality of life. Those are the types of things we do at our foundry, starting with what can the network do to enhance mankind.”
Foundry services are available at:
Palo Alto, California, USA: Emphasis on developing applications and enablers for the consumer segment.
Plano, Texas, USA: Tools and staffing specialized for developing innovations for a business customer.
Tel Aviv, Israel,: The Foundry hub for international outreach, as well as for incubating back-office solutions.
Virtual Innovation Center: A remote access environment for innovator interaction, as well as access to development resources and communication tools.
Jones Â hopes that the HBCU students will be so excited about what they see at TechConneXt that they will want to join AT&T. Members of AT&T’s human resources staffing and recruitment department will be at the event.
For more information on the TechConneXt Summit visit http://dev.blackenterprise.com/events/techconnext/. Â Follow @blackenterprise on Twitter for updates and tech news.