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Estudiantes trabajando en un salón de clase de NextFab en el sur de Filadelfia, en la Avenida Washington. Foto cortesía de NextFab. 
Students work in a classroom at NextFab's South Philly location on Washington Ave. Photo courtesy of NextFab

Tech's dire need for diversity

Philadelphia is a “minority majority” and our leaders must unleash the potential inherent in our youngest residents.

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If we believe the existing narrative that only people who look like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates can go on to be the next innovators, Philadelphia would be dead in the water, even as we start playing with such nice combination of words such as “Pennovation Center”, “Phillycon Valley”, the “Silicon Valley of Health,” or Drexel and Brandywine’s new experiment, the “Schuylkill Yards”.

This city, like many others across the nation, has become a “minority majority” urban center where Latino American, African Americans, and Asian Americans are now making up the bulk of the residents of the city.

However, those who access higher education are still the selected few, especially when it comes to the top schools in the campuses of the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Villanova University, and others.

The few Latino and/or students of multicultural backgrounds are simply token representations there, confused sometimes with the many more who are coming from far away places such as China to get their education in the Ivy League-type centers of knowledge we have the fortune of hosting in Philadelphia.

As our cover article suggests, we need to reimagine how we teach the youngest residents of Philadelphia in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, for our city to unleash the extraordinary potential for tech innovation latent in our neighborhoods.

We should be considering the tech industry's dire need for diversity and the many alternative ways young people can be engaged with technology education.

By changing the narrative, and the ways we teach technology to young people, educators such as Dr. Youngmoo Kim and Dr. Jamie Bracey are redefining the perception of Philadelphia as a city that is rife with potential to disrupt and transform the industry.

Please enjoy this original story on pages 11 to 17.

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