General Meeting - Diversity in Technology

  • 14 Mar 2015
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • CSU Student Center Third Floor Meeting Rooms, 2121 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio 44115

For good and bad, technology drives today's world. Knowing how to code is an important skill to have. Mel McGee, CEO of We Can Code IT, will talk about how we can increase diversity in technology. We Can Code IT bridges the gap for those underrepresented in tech, the same groups susceptible to low to moderate incomes, through education via computer workshops and coding bootcamps.
We will also have a second speaker, Jacinda Walker, discussing diversity in graphic design (see below).

We Can Code IT provides education and mentorship to those underrepresented in Technology and Engineering. Their focus in on empowering women, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans, in technology. These happen to be the same groups who find themselves in low to moderate income levels. They have computer and engineering workshops for kids and adults, and a coding bootcamp for adults looking to join the lucrative IT industry.

Three of the top five most in-demand occupations are in computer programming. Programming pays extremely well. Women in STEM fields like computer science earn 28% more than their non-STEM counterparts. Likewise, African Americans and Hispanic Americans in STEM earn 29% more than their counterparts. Programming fields have a very low unemployment rate. There’s a problem though, employers can’t find enough programmers. On top of that, they crave diversity in their IT departments. Great companies know that multiple perspectives help their teams perform better, yet less than 18% of IT teams are comprised of women, African American, and Hispanic populations.

Our Speaker, Mel McGee, is the founder and CEO of We Can Code IT, Crain's Cleveland 2014 Woman of Note, author, and is a software engineer with nearly 20 years of professional experience, she has worked with clients like Tyco International, DeLorean Motor company, and hundreds of others to develop software. Her programming experience translated to the classroom nearly as soon as she began coding.

An experienced educator, McGee has taught computer science and engineering subjects to kids, teens, and adults at We Can Code IT, Colleges, and even overseas. Lead educator and curriculum developer of We Can Code IT, she brings creativity into the STEM classroom through unique workshops for kids and adults. Mel's knowledge of full-stack development and over 20 programming languages allows her to adapt curriculum to students in a variety of ways. Her main objectives are to add fun and increase diversity in computer science.

McGee's love for sharing her creative computing techniques has not gone unnoticed. Her innovative early wearable computer was featured in Howard Rheingold's book Smart Mobs. Her web development expertise was featured in books like Curt Harler's Beyond the Browser. She has been featured on NPR, publications like Motor World, Crain's Cleveland Business, as well as the front page of Cleveland's Plain Dealer as an early Google Glass explorer. Her artificial intelligence bots, Zoe-bot and Skeletor-bot, have been entertaining the masses online and at community events since the early 2000s. She continues to break barriers in innovation with explorations in augmented reality. Her latest contribution, a book about engineering using redstone in Minecraft, is due out on bookstore shelves by mid 2015.

Diversity is also an issue in the field of graphic design as well. Jacinda Walker of Inerge Impacts and a graduate student at The Ohio State University has been focusing on the lack of diversity in the design disciplines and how to expose African-American and Latino youth to design-related careers. She loves working for the advancement of young people. Jacinda is a proud mentor and volunteer with many non-profit and young professional organizations, including the AIGA Diversity Task force.

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