Giving back with the National Society of Black Engineers

  • Posted on November 27, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 2 minutes

On October 27th, Avanade African American employees from the affinity group Blacks@Avanade, partnered with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and a local chapter of Blacks@Microsoft (BAM) to host its first-ever Hackathon for pre-collegiate students at a mini-conference in Dallas, Tex. The inaugural event was open to local students from 1st-through 12th grade as means of promoting STEM education in communities of color; as well as inspiring minority youth to consider careers in STEM-related occupations and professions.

The Hackathon, which enables students to learn leading-edge design concepts by working to solve problems through innovative technology, attracted some 60-plus middle and high school students from across Dallas. Avanade’s Michael Harris, an Avanade delivery management lead, and a member of Blacks@Avanade served as Master of Ceremonies. He was assisted by Chrystal Tyler from Avanade’s Technical Training team, who served as a coding instructor for participating students by providing one-on-one coaching in basic coding principles.

After teaching them coding fundamentals, the students were challenged to build one of three games in the language of “Scratch,” that included beginner, intermediate, and advanced challenges to be built within a four-hour timeframe. At the end, each team of 2-3 students presented their game to a panel of judges, with first and second place awards given to the winning teams in each category. All other participating students received gift bags.

“This event was truly inspiring. It was refreshing to see so many bright and engaged young People of Color excited about the prospect of learning to code. Careers in technology begin with exposure. Once that happens, the creative possibilities are limitless. With STEM as a cornerstone, these kids will have tremendous career opportunities in engineering, science, math and technology available to them,” said Harris.

Harris added, “This milestone was the first of many in an ongoing effort to impact the communities at large through the Power of Three,” a reference to the collective efforts of Avanade, Microsoft and Accenture, as they work toward a more diverse and inclusive tech and engineering sector globally.

Contestants and winners at the Hackathon were members of NSBE Junior chapters; including South Houston, Five Girls Rock, Harmon Ranch, and SEM Lighthouse.

Other event collaborators and contributors included:

Avanade – B@A

  • Business Analysts - RJ Haynes, Romneka Guion
  • Security Consultant - Jason Jackson


Microsoft – BAM

  • Supportability Program Manager - Jenae Butler
  • Project Manager - Marquis Washington
  • Premier Field Engineer - Chelsea Coullette
  • Premier Field Engineer - Christian Johnson
  • Consultant - Richard Ervin Jr.
  • Support Escalations Engineer - Paula McCall
  • Support Engineer - Morya Breland


NSBE is a non-profit organization, founded in 1975, to promote technical and engineering careers among Blacks and People of Color, while joined us in. This will help to further leverage the Power of Three from a broader vantage point, creating a community synergy effort across; Avanade, Microsoft, and Accenture Affinity/Employee Resource Groups.

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