Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Engineering and Computing Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Science (KFSCIS) has partnered with Break Through Tech to develop programs that will propel women and underrepresented communities into technology degrees, careers and leadership positions. Part of the Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities Initiative, this partnership also will help expand the talent pipeline that is infusing South Florida’s burgeoning tech ecosystem.

“With more than 650 FIU undergraduate students earning degrees in computing annually and 75 percent of our female computing students representing minority groups, FIU is the ideal host of the fourth Break Through Tech city in the nation,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “Break Through Tech’s pioneering mission is well-aligned with our commitment to increase diversity and gender equality among students of one of the fastest growing computing programs in the country, advantageously located in a city that is rapidly becoming a tech epicenter.”

Through a strong collaboration with Break Through Tech and partners, FIU aims to more than triple the number of female students graduating with an FIU computing degree by 2026. Launched in 2016 at Cornell Tech with the support of academic and corporate partners, Break Through Tech’s goal is to increase the number of women graduating with degrees in computer science and related tech disciplines, particularly Black and Latina, low-income and first-generation students attending large public universities.

“The growing number of women and minorities pursuing undergraduate degrees represents one of the most important trends in higher education over the past half-century, but yet continues to encounter insurmountable systemic barriers in achieving social and economic parity,” said Mark Weiss, project lead and distinguished university professor, Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Science and associate dean for undergraduate education. “FIU is already known as the university that is making positive strides to change this, and we look forward to significantly amplifying our efforts with Break Through Tech in South Florida.”

FIU’s Break Through Tech program will include:

  • A summer program for students new to computer science, designed to ignite interest in tech by teaching them how to code real-world, mission-driven applications.
  • A paid, three-week mini-internship (called a Sprinternship) program, which gives first- and second-year students a resume credential and real-world experience to make them more competitive when applying for a paid summer tech internship
  • Innovations to the introductory course sequences and academic pathways to broaden access to computing.
  • Encouraging a growing community of women in tech in South Florida to support, engage and motivate one another.

“As we continue to expand our national footprint, we are thrilled to be bringing Break Through Tech’s innovative programming to FIU. Together we will help make real the promise of Miami as one of the nation’s most diverse and thriving tech ecosystems.  The future of innovation depends on all of us and our partnership with FIU will help fuel a future in which women are technology creators and not just consumers,” said Judith Spitz, founder and executive director at Break Through Tech.

Break Through Tech already is established in three other tech hub cities – New York City, Chicago and D.C. It’s expansion into South Florida was made possible through the Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities, an initiative supported by a $50 million investment from Pivotal Ventures, a Melinda French Gates company, as well as an additional $7 million investment from the Cognizant Foundation and Verizon. GET Cities is led by both Break Through Tech and SecondMuse Foundation, in partnership with Pivotal Ventures – and together they seek to drive systemic change in the ecosystem to support gender equity in tech from the time a young woman begins their educational journey to when they launch their tech career and ultimately strive to become leaders in both industry and as entrepreneurs.

“The college is proud to be a top national producer of minority computing graduates and has long been dedicated to recruiting, retaining and graduating historically marginalized students and serving South Florida’s ethnically diverse community,” said John L. Volakis, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “The Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences is a top computing school and will strongly partner with Break Through Tech to make the computing pipeline more representative of our South Florida’s dynamic female talent pool.”

“As community demand for careers in technology rapidly grows in Miami, the Knight Foundation School of Computing, in collaboration with Break Through Tech and GET Cities, will continue to provide the tools Miamians need to succeed in the local and global tech economy,” said Raul Moas, director of Knight Foundation’s Miami program. “This partnership is key to achieving the kind of systems change that will lead to a more engaged, participatory and representative community among tech practitioners in Miami.”

To learn more about Break Through Tech Miami at FIU please visit: cis.fiu.edu. To learn more about GET Miami and GET Cities and to get involved, please visit: https://www.getcities.org/

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