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Google, Howard expand computer science initiative into full-year program

10 schools added to include more black and Latino students

Google’s partnership with Howard University just got a lot bigger.

Google and Howard created a joint West Campus earlier this year, bringing 26 students to Google’s California location for advanced computer science training. The three-month initiative has led to a joint effort between Google and 10 other colleges and universities to provide a yearlong computer science program for black and Latino students.

The new program will include students from the University of Texas, El Paso; Spelman College; North Carolina A&T; Dillard; Florida A&M; Morgan State; California State;, Dominguez Hills; Prairie View A&M; and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.

Google chose the schools to increase the number of black and Latino students in computer science.

“We’re committed to building a more diverse Google that reflects the people who use our products. That’s why, as part of our strategy to do so, we are continuing to hire and invest in young black and Latino talent,” said Danielle Brown, Google vice president of employee engagement and chief diversity officer.

Google and Howard’s West Campus have already accepted the first group of full-year students.

Michael McDonald, a Morgan State student who is currently part of this year’s one-year program at the Google West Campus, is looking forward to all that the experience has to offer, from training to networking opportunities.

“This internship goes beyond the books — students will get to know other Googlers from different product areas to get a glimpse of what their futures could hold. And that all started at our kickoff ceremony this week, during which Howard alum and Google VP of global partnerships Bonita Stewart expressed her thrill for the program, saying, ‘It’s so exciting for us to create a space for everyone, as we build products for everyone.’ ”

A senior computer science major at Howard, Brittany Ohalete is proud of the work Howard and Google are doing. “I feel like the program is a great addition to the engineering department. It’s another opportunity to further the success of the students here and also provides an upper hand to those who failed to receive one before.”

James Walker, another computer science major at Howard, likes how Google is going beyond employing African-Americans and training them to work at a superior level.

“I think it’s pretty monumental what Google is doing, the whole wave of recruiting black techs, black engineers, it’s obviously become more popular because companies are being chastised for the lack of diversity. It’s one thing to just hire black people to be the quota, it’s another thing to be training the next generation of black engineers and essentially that’s what Howard West is,” Walker said.

Tashambra Williams, among the original 26 students in the pilot program from Howard, enjoyed her time at the West Campus and also stressed the importance of this training compared with everyday university training.

“I feel like there are more resources there than on [the] actual campus. Being there and being around real software engineers who knew what they were doing was refreshing. Teachers don’t really go into depth here [Howard] when they are teaching, but there I felt like it was more hands-on because coding was being done every single day. I learned more there in three months than I did here in four years,” Williams said.

Howard president Wayne A.I. Frederick is excited about the growth of the program and growth of the students who have gone through it.

“The Tech Exchange program has a lot of opportunity to increase the number of black leaders in tech,” he said. “I can already see a difference even in the first set of students who went through Howard West last summer. As I interacted with them, the confidence that they gained from that experience was incredible. I think that in and of itself is going to be a huge calling card for these students in the future. They’ve learned how to lead and how to take risks that will put them in leadership positions. This program is going to have a huge impact in terms of how we groom leaders, recognizing that getting them in the professional setting early, reducing their apprehensions, is going to be crucial.”

Tiffany Hoyd is a senior media journalism and film communications major from Murrieta, California. She serves as Howard's football manager and color commentator, and enjoys playing spades and listening to R&B.