Engineering solutions are most effective when they reflect the diversity of the world they aim to serve, underscoring the critical need for varied perspectives in problem-solving. 

The launch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Black Issues in Computing Education (BICE) Symposium in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, during the first three days of Black History Month in 2024 signified a significant move toward fostering inclusivity in computing education.

“It was a joy hosting so many inspiring presenters and brilliant young scholars from across the US to share strategies for making a difference for Black scholars in computing," said Laura Sam Haynes, who co-chaired BICE and is the director of outreach in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering(ECE).

BICE Positioned for Change 

The inaugural event highlighted the essential role of diversity in fostering innovative solutions by bringing together Black scholars, researchers, and professionals in computing. This year’s symposium, themed "Navigating through a Sea of Change," gathered over a hundred attendees and provided a platform for discussion, networking, and empowerment, particularly focusing on addressing the educational and opportunity challenges experienced by Black students in the computing field.

Haynes and Kinnis Gosha, executive director at the Morehouse College Center for Broadening Participation (CBPC), co-chaired the symposium. Esteemed speakers, including James L. Moore III from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Erin Lynch of Quality Education for Minorities QEM Network, and Renee Jordan from CBPC, led plenary sessions. They highlighted the importance of innovation, challenges, and best practices in the education of Black students in computing. 

Blank Space (small)
(text and background only visible when logged in)
ECE Creating Opportunity for Diversity for Black Students

ECE students Alana Burrell (seeking her master’s degree), Lindsey Lubin (seeking her master’s degree), Courtney Young (seeking her master’s degree), and Amanda West (seeking her Ph.D. degree) attended the symposium. 

“From my experience at BICE, I gleaned the most critical steps to achieving societal representation of diversity within computing are relating computing curricula to the interest of students and creating a culture-based community to provide a nurturing environment for diverse students,” said West who is advised by Professor Santiago Grijalva.

During the symposium, West connected with Deborah Kariuki, the graduate program director and clinical faculty at the University of Maryland Baltimore City of Computer Science Education (UMBC), who has spent her career working to create opportunities for Black students, specifically women. 

“Meeting Dr. Kariuki opened my eyes to taking immediate action to increase computing education in the Black community,” said West.

The BICE Symposium not only illuminated the challenges faced by Black engineers, but also charted strategic pathways for mentorship, sponsorship, and community building. 

Lubin, the president of Women in ECE and the student relations chair of the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization, was inspired by the sense of unity and purpose experienced at the event. 

“I feel a great sense of pride in knowing how many of us are working, not just to excel in the computing field, but also to make room for more of us,” said Lubin. 

She hopes to adapt lessons from her experience in her leadership style moving forward.

Students at BICE

(L to R) Courtney Young, Amanda West, Alana Burrell, Dalain Williams (From Google) , Lindsey Lubin

Blank Space (small)
(text and background only visible when logged in)

"I think institutions should focus on retaining Black students through not only academic support, but also through social, emotional, and mental support networks with an emphasis on the struggles for black students." 

Allana Burrell, ECE Master's Student

"My experience at BICE helped me realize how importance of inclusivity in education and technology."

Courtney Young, ECE Master's Student