Atlanta/ Science, Tech & Medicine
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Published on May 25, 2024
Google's Tech Exchange Program Champions Diversity with HBCUs and Hispanic Institutions in AtlantaSource: Google Street View

Google's Tech Exchange program is making strides by including students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic-serving institutions, aiming to diversify the tech industry. The initiative welcomed over 150 students for a semester-long virtual academic program – an immersive educational experience, ending last Friday.

Howard University's Ife Martin, clothed in a Tech Exchange varsity jacket, told WABE, "I’m really happy that we ended up in Atlanta. The Google offices have so much color here," and added, "And then, like, we bring some color because we got the energy of the youth." The program, earlier this month, not only allowed students to convene in Google's colorful Atlanta office, but also gave them a chance to network with tech leaders and attend AI-focused workshops.

Drawing from data provided by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, roughly a third of tech industry workers are non-white, emphasizing the sector's diversity. Google's education equity team leader, Jessica Hill, underscored the significance of representation within the program. "Being able to hear talks from engineering directors that are black women … we know that diversity is here," she explained to WABE. She noted the transformative effect this has on students, as they see leaders who look like them.

Tech enthusiasts like Shilah Watson, a junior computer science major at Spelman College, also experienced a surge in passion and inspiration for the field, expressing excitement for future projects. "Being surrounded by people who share that same love for code and love for technology has made my passion and inspiration flourish," Watson conveyed in an interview. Meanwhile, Atlanta native Will Walton III from North Carolina A&T State University, embraces the idea that technologists shape their innovations, adding, "At the end of the day, we are human; we create the AI," he stated, with a vision to elevate the black community in the tech sphere.

As these students gear up to join the workforce, increasing diversity is pegged as a key factor in the creation of more equitable AI tools, a sentiment echoed by many – including standouts like Skylar Fletcher, a Spelman College student. Fletcher praised the inspirational impact of seeing black women in high-tech roles, saying, "Just seeing somebody in a position that I really didn’t know was attainable when I was in high school. It’s just incredible to me," in conversations with WABE. The Tech Exchange program is shaping up as an incubator of not only technical skills but also of empowerment for students from diverse backgrounds.

Atlanta-Science, Tech & Medicine