NORFOLK, Va. — For decades, Dr. Patricia Mead at Norfolk State University has seen an alarming trend in the tech industry.
“The underrepresentation of minorities and people of color dates back to well before now," said Mead, a professor and chair with the school's department of engineering.
"When I was in high school, there was a big push: ‘We need to get people of color into STEM disciplines,'" she said.
Now, streaming giant Netflix is looking to change that narrative, starting with Norfolk State University.
This upcoming spring, a new partnership between Netflix, Norfolk State and tech company 2U will bring new courses to the school's curriculum.
Three boot camps will be sponsored by Netflix: advanced Java, Applied Data Science and UX/UI design.
The three, 16-week courses will be free for NSU students, and will also be open to recent alumni.
The programs can seat up to 130 people total. It's a way to bring HBCU students more experience with the tech and programming industry.
“Current data says about 7 percent of work force in Silicon Valley is African-American, so we're still underrepresented," Mead said.
Mead also said several Netflix employees will serve as instructors alongside Norfolk State faculty, and provide a first-hand look at the industry (and a leg up in the job market).
“It's just the type of program that I’ve been thinking, ‘You know, I wish there was more we could do between the two sectors...’ and this is an opportunity to actually see it work," Mead said.