First‐ever Tech Conference for HBCUs to Expand Access to Tech Careers

by Savoy Staff

HP Expands Partnership with HBCUs by Launching Virtual HBCU Technology Conference with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel and Microsoft

News Highlights:  

  • More than 100 HBCUs across the U.S. can gain latest insights in digital transformation to help meet their needs for the future of education.
  • As part of a ‘Bot A Thon’ competition for HBCU students, top finalists will have the opportunity to interview for internship positions at HP and Microsoft. Students can also learn about emerging tech skills (automation, machine learning, chatbot, etc.) to prepare for the future of work.
  • Notable speakers include Dallas Martin of Asylum Records and executive vice president of Atlantic Records; Lanre Gaba, general manager and senior vice president of Urban A&R at Atlantic Records who have advanced women in music including Cardi B and Lizzo; and Congresswoman Alma Adams.
  • Dedicated tracks for students, IT staff and faculty/administration starting on September 14.
  • Launches 5th annual HP-HBCU Business Challenge to continue driving a diverse pipeline in tech. Previous challenges attracted over 380 students from 46 HBCUs and select participants later became full-time employees or interns at HP.

HP Inc. has announced an inaugural technology conference for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with support from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Intel and Microsoft. The virtual conference will promote learning, networking and lasting connections to inspire digital transformation and accelerate digital equity. [1]

COVID-19 reinforced the new reality that organizations must learn to pivot to a virtual environment in days, not years. For HBCUs, which are engines of social mobility for many Black and African Americans, forming the right partnerships to accelerate digital transformation is key to being successful in this new world. As part of HP’s ambition to become the world’s most sustainable and just tech company, it is stepping up to empower HBCUs to meet 21st century student needs through the HBCU Technology Conference.

“The diverse talent that HBCUs foster are integral to driving innovation not just in the tech industry but across all sectors. Diversity is a business imperative; when we attract and nurture people from diverse backgrounds and increase their representation in the workplace, we can strengthen the company’s long-term growth,” said Lesley Slaton Brown, chief diversity officer at HP Inc. “We look forward to building on our existing partnerships with HBCUs to raise the bar and put together this one-of-a-kind initiative that can help build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive society where HBCU students have equal access to opportunity and their institutions are armed with the knowledge needed to unlock transformational growth.”

HP has been partnering closely with HBCUs of different sizes and from various states to obtain their strategic guidance in order to create an inclusive and impactful experience for HBCU students, IT staff and faculty/administration. The conference has dedicated tracks for these groups because accelerating digital transformation requires a cultural shift among all higher education stakeholders.

“The HBCU Technology Conference will open and expand opportunities for teaching, learning, collaborating, mentoring and internships not only for our students, faculty and staff, but for all HBCUs,” said Kimberly Ballard-Washington, president of Savannah State University. “This event is a wonderful collaboration between HP and HBCUs, helping to prepare the students to have a career in various technology sectors and providing the digital transformation needed now and in the future.”

Preparing HBCU Students with Tech Skills of the Future  

The conference’s student track has a Future of Work Academy to help students gain competitive tech skillsets and demonstrate how students with different academic backgrounds can build meaningful careers in tech. Students can participate in a ‘Bot A Thon’ during the conference and select finalists will have the opportunity to interview at HP and Microsoft next year. Students can also access online learning programs such as HP LIFE and the Microsoft Learn and Future of Work Academy Cloud Skills Challenge to continue building their skillsets after the conference. These comprehensive and dynamic offerings focused on helping students build digital literacy are aligned with HP’s goal to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people by 2030.

A Committed Partner for Long-term Success 

In 2017, HP joined the HBCU Business Deans Roundtable as a founding member. Since then, HP has partnered with HBCUs to launch the annual HP-HBCU Business Challenge. The challenge provides HBCU students with access to executive leaders, real-world business knowledge and, ultimately, career opportunities in tech. Going on its fifth year, this year’s theme is immersive technologies and students are asked to use virtual reality technology to create a new service or solution. Since the challenge started, more than 380 students across 46 HBCUs have participated, and select finalists later became interns or full-time employees at HP.

In addition to the HBCU Business Challenge, HP launched an innovative 3D printing learning pilot program at North Carolina A&T State University last year. To drive a more diverse pipeline in cybersecurity, HP partnered with Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) and presented the school with an endowment to establish the HP Cybersecurity Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded each year to a student pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Cybersecurity. HP’s growing investments in HBCUs demonstrate its commitment to reflect the diverse markets and customers that the company serves.

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