Teaching Tuesday: Unsung Black Technology Educational Innovators

By Tracy Vasquez and Marjaneh Gilpatrick, faculty

parents helping young child with online education

Have you ever wondered how you can help inspire students of color to pursue a career in technology? Biographies of technology innovators is one way you can help encourage your students to explore pathways to technology innovation. Here we share the stories of three Black technology innovators and how they have improved and influenced the field for future generations.

Robin Petgrave

Founder of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, Robin Petgrave leads initiatives where underserved children and youth learn about mathematics, science and the field of aviation. Several children who are alumni of the program have already broken world records. For example, Isiah Cooper was the youngest Black pilot to fly across the U.S at age 17. In addition, at age 15, Kimberly Anyadike was the youngest African American female to fly solo across the U.S.

Kimberly Bryant

The skills of computer coding and programming have become more accessible to young students in recent years. This can be attributed and in part to the work of Kimberly Bryant, an African American electrical engineer and founder of Black Girls Code, a nonprofit organization which teaches young girls of color computer coding. Through this effort, over 3,000 girls in chapters across the U.S. have been trained. One of the participants of this program became skilled in mobile app development and was asked to help teach programming at her middle school during summer school.

Kennedy Reed

The leadership of Kennedy Reed, theoretical atomic physicist and former professor of physics, has led to increased participation of minority and female students in the physical sciences. He founded the National Physical Science Consortium to support women and minorities who pursue professions in STEM related fields. Not surprisingly, Kennedy Reed received the John Wheatley Award in 2003 for promoting physics research and education in Africa and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2007.

As teachers you have tremendous power to guide your students in exploring careers in technology and related fields. Exposing your students to stories of individuals similar to their backgrounds who have made influential contributions can be inspiring. You as an educator, as well as these individuals, can serve as role models who, through perseverance and dedication, have changed their communities for the better.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.