Carlos Vasquez is clear about what inspired his love for all things tech– Mrs. Williams, his science teacher. Without her, the South Bronx native might not have pursued computer science.
“We didn’t have the means to buy tech or play around with any of that stuff, so school for me was where I had access to those things,” remembers the 37-year old Vasquez. “Mrs. Williams would bring things from home that we didn’t have in the school. She showed us all this stuff and she was just so committed that it sparked something in me.”
Now, more than 20 years later, Vasquez is paying it forward. The Puerto Rican/Dominican former teacher started Miami Ed Tech, a technology education non-profit. It has just launched the second cohort of EdTXperts. They run a program that provides professional development to computer science and technology teachers who work with low income students.
“The teacher is the gatekeeper for the student’s access and interest in tech,” said Vasquez of the program which recently got a $125,000 boost from the Microsoft Foundation to expand the “train the trainer” program. “We are working to demystify this world so that they can go back in with a new found love for tech; or at least an understanding of how things work and translate that into a learning path to their students.”
Run in conjunction with Florida International University’s School of Computing & Information Sciences, EdTXpert is one of three programs that Miami Ed Tech spearheads. Their mission is to disrupt, diversify and innovate in the technology education sector. Specifically they ” believe in increasing the number of computer science educators who are of color, increasing access to computer science for students of color, and advancing ed-tech initiatives to support founders of color.”