The Road to 50: Podcast: African Americans on the role of Higher Education in Innovation

By Ayori S. 0 Comments

How many times in your life have you heard someone say “go to college so you can get a good job”? Sadly I’ve heard this statement so many times I can’t even count it. I’ve heard it said by educators, the media, even bums at the liquor store, nearly every message and reason I’ve ever heard someone offer for going to College or University was “to get a good job”. This messaging has been consistent for at least the last 20 years however the college graduation rates for African Americans (especially in STEM fields) have only increased marginally which begs the question, are we sending the right message to African Americans about higher education? Is the proper role of college and universities to help graduates attain work or is it something greater? Have we missed the mark on sending the right message about the value of a higher education all along? Is there a “higher” calling to higher education that could better hook, commit, and aid African American graduation rates? To begin answering these questions #BITTechTalk will engage experts across the nation in a critical dialog around Higher Education, African Americans and STEM during CSEdWeek (Computer Science Education Week).  Click to Listen to the Replay.

As CS Ed Week (Computer Science Education Week) comes to a close the nation has made it a point to engage the youth on the topic of Computer Science education and teaching kids everywhere some basics about coding and developing computer programs, but where to next? Are we teaching our youth to code so that they can simply find jobs? Is learning python, ruby, java and html enough to drive an innovative economy in our nation? I doubt it. As the power of the internet moves the national dialog to answer the trendy question of “how do we create more computer programmers?” a better question arises, “why, how and who did the research to create these programming languages”? Many of the technologies we use today were developed inside universities such as MIT and UC Berkeley as a part of research experiments. Google for example began as a research project at Stanford by Larry Page, i.e. PageRank. Suffice to say an hour of code will not create the next Larry Page, so what will? To add further fuel we also know that the often ignored brains behind Apple, Steve Wozniak spent merely a single year at the University of California at Berkeley before dropping out to build the first Apple computer. He has since been decorated with a bunch of honorary degrees and doctorates for his contributions to research and technological innovation. What did Larry Page and Steve Wozniak have in common? In my opinion what they have in common is the deep commitment to research, understanding, experimentation and problems solving.

In seeking to understand the dynamics and importance of research- not degrees, problem solving- not adoption, BIT has assembled an all star panel of educators to discuss the “Role of Higher Education in Innovation” during a special LIVE #BITTechTalk Podcast. During the Live talk we’ll be taking questions from the audience via Twitter. Please use with the hashtag #BITTechTalk when submitting your questions. RSVP for the event on Facebook and tune in live on Friday, December 13th at 5PM Pacific / 8 PM Eastern for this incredible discussion that we hope will move the needle on African American success in higher education.

The Road to 50: Blacks in Technology celebrates it’s 4 year Anniversary throughout the month of December and in conjunction with our anniversary we are on the path to record our 50th #BITTechTalk Podcast! We’re so excited about the journey and we want to you to join in the celebration by learning something new, sharing information with your community, and straight up make a loud display with us of “Stomping the Digital Divide”!

We started on our Road to 50 series countdown when we hosted Maurice Cherry the founder of Revision Path (the largest online database of African American designers) and the next installment on the road to 50 will be the Live broadcast of How to Raise a Coder.

Event Title: #BITTechTalk: University Edition – African Americans on the role of Higher Education in Innovation
Listen to the Replay: #BITTechTalk Channel on Spreaker
Listen to the replay of the LIVE Webcast Panel & Podcast where we are joined by educators and speakers from across the country to talk about the role Higher Education plays in STEM education, and the value that research has on our economy, entrepreneurship and disruptive and emerging technology.

Guests include:

  • Dr. Maya Beasley (sociology professor at UConn)
  • Omoju Miller (PhD Student UC Berkeley. Software Technologist. Start-up Advisor. Educator)
  • Kai Dupé (Computer scientist, consultant, trainer, speaker)
  • Mike Green (Award winning journalist – CoFounder of The America 21 Project)
  • Reginald C. Farrow, Research Professor in Physics at NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
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About the Author

Ayori S.

Ayori is an Oakland, CA native, a mother, entrepreneur and tech professional. She is a self taught software developer since age 11 and first founder at age 16. Currently she is a Senior Solution Engineer at where she's also held roles in Product Management, Business Analysis, and Technical Engineering. Prior to Ayori held engineering roles at large global outfits such as ABB Inc and Schneider Electric. Ayori's list of social contributions include organizing the first ever Hackathon on Black Male Achievement (Startup Weekend Oakland Black Male Achievement), founding Pitch Mixer Entrepreneur Forum (a pre-incubator for entrepreneurs in undeveloped regions), founding the Black Employee Network affinity group at, serving on the Communities Board at the Anita Borg Institute, mentoring Emerging Leaders in the Middle East and Africa for TechWomen (U.S. Department of State initiative started by Secretary of State Hilary R. Clinton), mentoring young African American males for The Hidden Genius Project (which provides black boys with knowledge, skills and support to create technical jobs in the 21st century), Producing/Designing Sid's Day of Discovery (science education android based tablet video game for pre-schoolers) for the Jim Henson Company featuring Sid the Science Kid and helping a long list of Fortune 500 enterprise businesses maintain their competitive differentiation by adopting cloud strategies. Ayori's latest venture, Hugging Yuri focuses on coaching and mentoring women from around the world on leadership and nurturing their lives to build healthy loving families and communities. Hugging Yuri advocates for families to raise their children with an abundant exposure to diverse cultures, science, technology, engineering, math, art and music against all odds. Follow her personal Twitter account @iayori