Because of CODE2040…I am hacking to improve diversity in tech


Episode 11 of our blog series featuring our Fellows, alumni, staff, company hosts and other supporters. They will tell a little about themselves and finish the statement, “Because of CODE2040…”. Perry Ogwuche is a  2013 Fellow working at Redbeacon

I can vividly remember sitting on the 5th floor of the Albin O. Kuhn library at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) – where I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Mathematics. I was solving math problems when I got an email from the career service department at my school about CODE2040. I took a minute break to read about the program and the next thing I knew I was sending in an application. I think the best way to describe my feeling at the time would be “Love at first read”. After reading the mission and vision of CODE2040, I couldn’t help having an interest and wanting to be part of such a great program.

Growing up in Nigeria I had limited access to quality computer infrastructure. Computer programming was something that I could only admire from a distance while having little practical knowledge of what it meant to actually “write code”. My experience at UMBC and in my internships have dramatically increased my programming skills and helped give me an in-depth understanding of what it actually means to be a computer scientist.

With all the insight and experience I thought I had accumulated as a developer, being a CODE2040 Fellow showed me two critical things I was missing in my journey – experiencing Silicon Valley and participating in a hack-a-thon. Before applying to be a Fellow I had never heard of those terms, both of which I believe should be in the story of every software developer.

First, everyone in the tech scene should experience Silicon Valley, the region that arguably “runs” the tech industry. This is a place with countless opportunities and a lot of people who have a common interest. “I can walk into a bar, throw a stone and be rest assured that it will hit at least three or four people who know java or python”, said Marc Hedlund VP of Engineering at Etsy during CODE2040’s Speaker Series.

Most people you work with or interact with inspire you in one way or the other and Marc’s talk was full of inspiration and this summer there have been plenty of others! Some advice given to the CODE2040 Fellows by the founder of DropBox, Drew Houston, was to always surround ourselves with people who inspire us. I can happily say that the Valley has helped me in accomplishing that.

Then there are hackathons, events I consider to be opportunities for developers to be creative, time conscious and competitive. While in school or at work, developers do not typically have time to work on personal projects. These hackathons create an avenue for developers to make any idea they have into a product and even into a company.

As a CODE2040 Fellow,  last night at 7 PM to 7 PM today, I participating in a hackathon and working on ideas that will help improve diversity in the tech industry. I plan to follow up on promising ideas, and use that as an opportunity to help diversify the tech scene, not only in the valley but also all over the world. I look forward to going back to school in the fall and collaborating with a few others to bring awareness of Silicon Valley to my campus and host the first UMBC hackathon ever.

Perry Ogwuche

2013 CODE2040 Fellow

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