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By Nikki Cabus

Two South Florida locations chosen for Mark Cuban’s AI Bootcamp for high school students

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Two South Florida counties have been chosen for Mark Cuban’s Artificial Intelligence Bootcamp for high school students: Miami-Dade and Palm Beach county. They are two of the 30 camps being held across the United States this Fall season attracting over 600 high school students grades 9th – 12th.

Florida Power and Light will host the no cost AI bootcamp in Palm Beach County at the beautiful FPL Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach which is an FPL Eco-Discovery Center. The program will be targeted at high school students and introduce underserved students in grades 9 through 12 to basic AI concepts and skills. The Miami location will be hosted by Argo AI at Miami Dade College’s AI Center located in North Campus. Both bootcamps will be held over four consecutive Saturdays starting on October 22nd and ending on November 12th.

“‘FPL is proud to serve as the host company for Mark Cuban’s AI Boot Camp for students who would otherwise not have exposure to programs in STEM. Our corporate culture is focused on giving back to the communities where we live and work. We are intentional about supporting and building thriving communities for the next generation. We hope students will be inspired to pursue careers in STEM right here in South Florida,” said Grace Kurian, Executive Director of Information Technology- Nuclear at NextEra Energy, Inc. NextEra Energy owns FPL, which is the largest vertically integrated rate-regulated electric utility in the United States.

Founded by Mark Cuban in 2019, the AI Bootcamp initiative has hosted free AI bootcamps for students across several US cities, including Dallas, Pasadena, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Atlantic City to name a few. The Mark Cuban Foundation has impacted 450+ students to date and has a goal to have 1,000 students graduate from AI Bootcamps Program in 2023. These two South Florida bootcamps are the first in the region.

A Wall Street Journal article read, “Mr. Cuban’s focus on AI comes as technologists and academics attempt to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion issues within AI and the technology industry. Women and minorities are underrepresented in artificial intelligence, and experts say that’s a problem that could contribute to algorithmic bias.”

“I saw the impact of PCs. Then I saw the impact of local area networks. Then I saw the impact of wide area networks. Then I saw the impact of the Internet. Then I saw the impact of mobile. Then I saw the impact of wireless. Now I’m seeing the impact of artificial intelligence. And it dwarfs any of those things,” says Mark Cuban. “One of my goals is to really go out and find the superstars. There are so many there that are under-appreciated and don’t have access to resources.”

Aimed to increase AI literacy and understanding in students from underserved communities, the high schools students do not need any prior experience with computer science, programming, or robotics to apply and attend.

Throughout the AI Bootcamp, students will learn what artificial intelligence is and is not, where they already interact with AI in their own lives, and the ethical implications of AI systems including but not limited to TikTok recommendations, smart home assistants, facial recognition, and self-driving cars to name a few. Students will benefit from volunteer mentor instructors who are knowledgeable about data science and able to help students quickly understand material normally taught at a collegiate level.

As part of the 5-hour curriculum, students also get to work in Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, each day to build their own AI applications related to Chatbots, Computer Vision, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing.

The Mark Cuban Foundation provides the bootcamp’s curriculum materials, trains volunteer mentors, and recruits
and selects local students to attend camp. In addition, the Mark Cuban Foundation and each host company, Florida Power & Light and Argo, work together to provide food, transportation, and access to laptops for students at no cost throughout the duration of Bootcamp.

Applications are now open at markcubanai.org/apply22. The deadline to apply is Thursday, September 1st, 2022.

By Nikki Cabus

FPL/NextEra Energy surprises students with some new tech as they head off to college

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We are now in graduation season for our high school seniors and the Nuclear Division of Florida Power & Light/NextEra Energy is helping out some of them out by partnering with a local South Florida nonprofit called Path To College. FPL is making sure they are equipped with some new tech as they head off to college.

This past week during Path To College’s “Senior Success Send-Off” at the Boynton Beach City Hall, 30 seniors from underserved communities were given a special gift  – their own iPad!

For students like these, this extraordinary gift is a significant barrier removed. The simple tools and technology necessary that we often take for granted are necessary for leveling the playing field for so many others. Every single one of those 30 students is now off to college and has the tech to stay on top of their school work.

“It’s taking away a very real stress that they are not going to be able to afford an iPad or a computer that they are going to need to keep up,” says Path To College’s Founder and Executive Director, Christine Sylvain. “Plus, it’s a really cool gift!”

Path To College was founded in 2017 to “fearlessly clear the path for overlooked students to get into the best colleges” through higher SAT scores, creating a positive community, increased amount of applications to higher education institutions, and connected neighborhoods with a strong focus on education. And they are doing just that.

Graduates from the Path To College flagship program, a 3-year academic fellowship, have achieved the following successes:

  • 100% acceptance into 4-year universities
  • 75% accepted to top-tier institutions
  • 70% achieve full-ride scholarships

Christine and the students would like to thank the Nuclear Division of Florida Power & Light/NextEra Energy and to Dr. Ayodele Ishola-Salawu and Damon Hobson for making this fantastic contribution happen!

Want to see a video of the students immediate reaction? Watch below. It’s worth it!

 

By Nikki Cabus

FPL Pledges nearly $1 Million to Support Black Students in Tech with Degree Completion

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Florida Power & Light (FPL) announced an $800,000 investment in scholarships for black students to facilitate the completion of baccalaureate degrees at Miami Dade College (MDC) in the technology field. The funds from FPL will be used to cover tuition, fees, books and transportation costs for eligible black students facing a financial need over the next 4 years. This support will allow students to focus on their education, accelerating completion and entry into the tech workforce in South Florida.

FPL has had a long standing relationship with MDC. “We recognize the value in the contemporary programs, degrees and curriculum that they have developed. In some cases, we’ve partnered with them to ensure that the students are getting skills that will enable them to be competitive in technology careers,” said Michael Fowler, VP of IT and Business Unit CIO for FPL and Co-Chair of the South Florida Tech Hub Board of Directors. “I’ve personally been impressed with the nimbleness of the college to stay ahead of the technology curve.”

“It is extremely satisfying to have partners such as FPL who are raising the bar of good corporate citizenship, investing in our students and, in turn, in our community,” said MDC President Madeline Pumariega. “We must be intentional and strategic in our efforts to bridge the opportunity divide. I am especially grateful with this initiative because it is in line with and expands many things we are already doing with our groundbreaking Rising Black Scholars Program, our MOSAIC Initiative, Data Science 4 All and others.”

Last year, NextEra Energy was again named to Forbes magazine’s list of “America’s Best Employers for Diversity. “We highly value diversity of thought, style, technical and functional abilities, and leadership. Our company identified specific actions our company could take to make transformational impact in race equity,” said Grace Kurian, Senior Director, Information Technology- Nuclear. “Our focus for Black Girls Code (BGC) falls in three main areas: 1) BGC alumni engagement to strengthen the pipeline of BGC alumni, 2) upscaling BGC curriculum for students 7-17 years old interested in robotics, coding, artificial intelligence, & data analysis, and 3) scholarship endowment funds to ensure current & future BGC students have scholarships to fund for college.”

According to research, low-income working college students are less likely than their higher-income peers to get good grades or obtain bachelor’s degrees. These working learners are disproportionately black. These grant funds from FPL will potentially enable students who work full-time or part-time to work fewer hours or to stop working to concentrate on their studies without the burden of financial distractions.

“At FPL, we believe in breaking down barriers to opportunity for underserved communities, and we are always looking for ways to help empower our next generation of leaders,” said Pamela Rauch, Vice President of External Affairs and Economic Development for FPL. “FPL has long supported Miami Dade College’s technology programs and students, and we are honored to be able to expand opportunities for eligible black students to help them build an even stronger foundation for in demand technology jobs.”

As part of the Black Students in Tech grant, the School of Engineering and Technology (EnTec) lead by Manny Perez, Dean of Engineering, Technology and Design, will lead the recruitment, selection and retention of 30 students per academic year on a pathway to baccalaureate degree programs such as in Information Systems Technology, Cybersecurity, or Data Analytics. Eligible students will begin qualifying for the grants this summer term. For more information and to apply to the scholarship visit here.

MDC and FPL will host an event with students accepted into the program this coming August and ahead of the fall term to provide an update on progress and celebrate student achievement.

 

Two South Florida locations chosen for Mark Cuban’s AI Bootcamp for high school students
FPL/NextEra Energy surprises students with some new tech as they head off to college
FPL Pledges nearly $1 Million to Support Black Students in Tech with Degree Completion