Code Black Partners with Google to Create Community, Networking Opportunities for Black Students in Computer Science
Code Black, a student organization for Black students in the NC State Department of Computer Science (CSC), partnered with the Black Googlers Network at Google to hold Code Black-a-thon, a hack-a-thon in honor of Black History Month. Students in attendance had the opportunity to network with Google employees and hear from speakers about subjects such as User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX).
Students were tasked with creating a program focused on serving the community. The first-place team, composed of Sharonda Daniels, David Ezeude, Ifeoluwa Aderemi, Alphonzo Dixon III and Jaela Simms, created an app called BallotBox, which aims to simplify the process of researching political candidates. The first-place team was rewarded with a $500 prize.
Code Black was established at the end of the fall 2022 semester, and Tim MacNeil, the staff sponsor for the group and an undergraduate lab coordinator in CSC, said Code Black-a-thon allowed Code Black to facilitate connections to help the organization grow.
“We actually had some people come up from NC Central and from Chapel Hill and they participated, which was cool,” MacNeil said. “What was really cool is that one of the people from Chapel Hill actually got us in contact with their equivalent group from Chapel Hill, which is a group called Black in Technology, and we're hoping in the future to collaborate with them for more events. So, it's the start of a really good relationship between colleges.”
Joshua Samuel-Ojo, a software engineer at Google, said Google employees enjoyed talking with students in attendance.
“The volunteers had a good time,” Samuel-Ojo said. “I know the individuals who presented about UI/UX were able to connect with some of the students afterwards, so that's a win in our book. We’re excited for more campus outreach-related activities.”
Samuel-Ojo said events that promote networking between students and individuals in computer science can provide guidance for students when developing their career.
“I think a lot of times with computer science, there's a lot of different paths to get to where you need to go or where you want to go, and you might not be aware of that,” Samuel-Ojo said. “So at different opportunities to network like this hack-a-thon, we're able to interact with students and talk about our experiences, talk about our day-to-day, in hopes that somebody finds the answer that they're looking for, or at least becomes aware of a potential opportunity that they could then use.”
Alexandra Jones, a sophomore in computer science and president of Code Black, said she is excited about the great potential for Code Black.
“We're really passionate about the longevity of this club,” Jones said. “I’m only a sophomore now, but I really hope that once I've graduated and gone, this is something that can still be here, and it'll have an even bigger audience than it does now. I’m really excited to help bring this community together.”
MacNeil said he was encouraged by the success of Code Black-a-thon and hopes to organize more events with Code Black in the future.
“One thing I'm happy about is the amount of engagement we had from Code Black and from the students who were there, which was really exciting,” MacNeil said. “I think even though this was our first time and the first time is always rough, it's only going to get better. And it's going to be a yearly part of NC State computer science moving forward, which I think is awesome.”
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