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The Orlando Science Center Partners with Black Orlando Tech for Otronicon Networking Event Featuring NASA, EA Sports

Photo: Christina @wocintechchat
Photo: Christina @wocintechchat

The networking event at Otronicon called Otronicon Tech Connect: A Day in the Life will be held on the second day of the conference.

WMFE spoke with the Science Center’s Jeff Stanford and Black Orlando Tech’s Rose Lejiste about why a more diverse workforce is the future of STEM.

Read the full interview below. 

Danielle: So we'll just start with you Rose. Tell me a little bit about what Black Orlando Tech is?

Rose: Awesome. Black Orlando Tech is a nonprofit organization. We're focused on increasing the awareness, activities, network resources for local minorities, who would like to pursue careers, or even have a tech startup in the technology space.

Danielle: And one of the ways you're doing that is by holding this panel at Otronicon. Can you tell me whose going to be on the panel and how you're hoping that engages more people to pursue STEM careers?

Rose: We're going to have six panelists. They consist of just different folks from different areas in STEM and technology.

We'll have Ayesha Benjamin. She is with EA Sports. Bill Little with NASA. We'll have Dr. Maya Byfield, she is a biology professor at Seminole Community College. Have your updated resume, have your cover letter, and basically be prepared to pitch yourself. And, you know, look at the different companies that will be there, those different representatives and panelists that are there representing their companies, and just be prepared to speak and ask them those questions of, 'hey, how can I be, number one be in a better position to be hirable by your company? And what steps do I need to take? What are you looking for? And you know, are we even going to be a good fit?' "

Danielle: Jeff, I want to kind of have you join us now to0. Tell us why it was important for Black Orlando Tech to be part of Otronicon this year, especially.

Jeff: Orlando Science Center is dedicated to being an inclusive organization, we want to reach out to everyone. Our mission is inspiring science learning for life. And that means the entire community. So we really wanted to connect to every aspect of the community. And also, Otronicon is at its best when it is giving people access. And so that is access to professionals, that's access to resources, that's access to cool technology they can't see elsewhere.

Danielle: Tell me about some of the success stories Rose of folks that have participated in Black Orlando Tech.

Rose: Yes. So one of our flagship initiatives are our tech cohorts, where we basically bring in experts from the local area to teach a technical skill that we've identified, that's being highly sought after by the local companies, the tech companies. Those skill sets vary from data analytics to AWS, back end development, salesforce. We do three cycles, starting with an introductory course. And then at the end, the end goal is to get a certification in that skill and the success stories we've had in different areas. We've had again, Gabe, who started off with cybersecurity back end development, and was able to go from not having a job to now working as a tech specialist at Orlando Health and that was less than nine months of working, you know through the different cohorts.
Listen to the full conversation by clicking on the clip at the top of the page.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.