Presented by HP in partnership with Intel and Microsoft, the 2022 HBCU Technology Conference began since September 13th and ended Friday, September 16th. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the dynamics of digital media and transformation. It also uplifted and supported students and faculty in their career journeys.
The successful second year was built on the strengths of year one. HP added additional elements such as an HBCU Leadership Track in order to have a more holistic engagement. They created a student symposium focused on technical learning and career readiness and increased the capacity of innovation incubator competitions.
With over 1500 registrants and 130+ presenters across 90+ sessions, HP focused on themes of digital transformation, emerging technology, and future work trends. General sessions focused on conference themes with panel discussions between HBCU leaders and leaders from HP and sponsor Intel. Conference topics included:
- Cybersecurity & HBCUs: Securing Your Campus, Leading through Threats, and Elevating Your Curriculum
- Digital Transformation: Is Your Campus Prepared for the Student of the Future?
- Emerging Technologies and the Accelerating Change of the Enterprise Landscape. Are Your Students Future-Ready?
- Digital Transformation at HBCUs: Transformation Journey Insights
- The closing keynote from Dr. Dennis Kimbro, professor, entrepreneur, and author on Digital Transformation: The Only Choice for Financial Freedom in the Black Community and how HBCUs Can Lead the Way
The conference aimed to discuss the dynamics of digital media and transformation, as well as uplift and support students and faculty in their career journeys.
Attendees were split across tracks – the faculty & Staff track, the HBCU Executive Leaders track, the IT Track, and the Student track – in order to address relevant topics for all.
ABOUT THE SESSIONS
There was a mixture of sessions from guest experts from the industry and government, guest presenters from other universities and the industry, and HBCU leaders covering a range of topics. Topics such as Enriching Excellence through Engaged Instruction, Cognitive Load Awareness, The Legal Implications of Using AI and Facial Recognition Technologies, Creating or Elevating Your Data Science Curriculum, NIST and Cybersecurity, Current and Future Challenges (NIST), Pathways to Professional Development for IT Professionals (CompTIA), Enhancing Email Security at Tennessee State University, CIO Conversations: Inspiring Aspiring Leaders, Creating Economic Mobility through STEAM Programs at HBCUs, Sustainability and the Future of Work & Entrepreneurship for the Underserved, and more.
There was also an esports incubator focused on the career pathways and activities of gaming design, marketing, event planning, production, and the tournament ecosystem, which culminated in a Call of Duty mini esports tournament showcase. Student engagement included the Career Accelerator program with content focused around preparing for interviews and professional development and opportunities for HBCU students to apply for internships and jobs. There were also 4 Innovation Incubator student competitions. Competitions focused on solving a real-world problem in competitions for things such as Bot-A-Thon, Health IT, and Marketing.
Day one was all about kicking off the conference and warming the students up to a multitude of topics. The focus was on The Digital Transformation at HBCUs: Seizing the opportunity to transform for the 21st century. The conference opening presentation was a fireside chat with Dr. Robert F. Smith. Robert F. Smith is the founder chairman and CEO of VISTA Equity Partners. In 2017, Smith was named by Forbes as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds. Robert has also been named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year.
In 2019, Mr. Smith received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College. He made headlines by announcing that he would cover the student loans of nearly 400 Morehouse College 2019 graduates and the commencement address. After his Morehouse College pledge, Smith founded the Student Freedom Initiative to relieve the crushing burden of student debt for STEM students. At all HBCUs, Smith has also been a strong advocate for what he has named the 2% Solution calling on large corporations to commit 2% of their annual net income for the next decade to empower minority communities. Moderating the discussion with Mr. Smith is Danielle Belton, Editor in Chief of the HuffPost – a Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization that publishes original online reporting on politics, lifestyle, entertainment, and more.
WHY THE CONFERENCE IS IMPORTANT FOR HBCUs
Mr. Smith touched on the importance of HBCUs in communities and how vital the conference is. His goal for the conference was to have as many HBCU faculty students and IT staff to be engaged in the conference; not just show up for their portion of the conference but to engage with others as well. He also mentioned the importance of acquiring knowledge on complex issues and sharing it with your community. He also said that he believes that everyone can come together more frequently and have many more conversations and actually make some progress on a lot of issues.
“This conference is very important to all HBCUs because it allows us an opportunity not only to collaborate with other schools, it also increases our students’ opportunity to network and engage with cutting edge companies for future growth and job opportunity”.– Mr Smith
The second day of the conference focused on Cyber Security. With the topic being Cyber Security: Securing your campus, Leading through thoughts.
Thursday’s sessions began with a Digital Transformation session titled “Is Your Campus Prepared for the Student of the Future?”. During this session, changemakers who interact with students at every phase of their careers spoke about their strides to make the workplace better for incoming students.
This sentiment is echoed throughout the conference. Inviting big tech execs, college professors, and even high school principals to provide insight into what students and faculty need and want — more hands-on professional development, further financial support, on-campus job preparation, etc. Speaking directly to the students and their mentors allows companies such as HP, and so on to curate diverse and inclusive work environments that allow prospects to thrive and innovate.
THE PLACE YOU WANT TO BE, EVEN WITHOUT A TECH BACKGROUND
The other segment of this session was more motivation-focused and was led by Michael Campbell. He is a Senior Director & GM Manager at EdTech Innovation & Transform. Campbell shared his life journey and also what it took for him to get ahead in his career. He mentioned how stretching yourself can be a good and powerful thing for your career. His outlook on life and careers is from a more objective and practical standpoint. He advised the students to take care of their careers like it’s the best possession they own. He also advised them to take their time to acclimate to a new role, until they can master their craft.
“It’s good to have a plan but be mindful and prepared to pivot when you have to. Be prepared to pivot before you have to, so when the change happens, you’re ready”.
MICHAEL CAMPBELL ON GETTING HIS FOOT IN TECH
Campbell says he knew in his heart that he wanted to work for a multinational global company. And that’s when he decided to go back to school and got his MBA. He then got an internship at Intel, in Chandler Arizona, doing supply chain types of functions, and really got enamored with the company’s culture.
Michael continued to mention that technology is where he wanted to be and Intel was that place for him. He pushed hard to get an official full-time offer at Intel following his graduation and was fortunate to secure an offer to work as a Planning Analyst. It wasn’t the job of his dreams but he had the mindset that he just wanted to get in the door. He had the willingness and knew that if he could get in the door that he could create opportunities.
Michael and his team are working on a goal. The concept of connectivity; ensuring a working dynamic with their partners to effectively accelerate integrated connectivity on PC platforms. He says that they’re working with partners to bring students LTE or long-term 5G. This is to ensure that all students have Wi-Fi access, and they can work towards eradicating the disorder of disconnectivity.
HP THRIVES IN ADVANCING DIGITAL INCLUSION
The annual HP HBCU CONFERENCE is sure to set the stage for lasting connections between HBCUs and tech companies globally. In such a competitive industry, Black and Brown students are typically at a disadvantage due to various systemic issues and barriers across academia. With HP’s recent advancements in DEI, it’s no wonder HP is ranked within the top ten organizations globally for companies advancing digital inclusion. HP aims to enrich the HBCU community by providing development, education, and access to career planning far after college. HP and others are doing the work to elevate HBCU students to further levels of opportunity.
The conference might be over, but sessions are still available on-demand for HBCU Faculty & Staff, HBCU IT, HBCU Executive Leaders, and HBCU Students. Stay tuned for the annual conference announcements as well as other outreach initiatives.