Howard University’s Microsoft Tech Fellows are changing their communities for the better

Afeeni Phillips and Joanna Klekowicz at the 2018 Microsoft Tech Fellows dinner

Microsoft Tech Fellows at Howard University were honored by Howard University and Microsoft at a special dinner last month. The four tech fellows, who are sophomores and juniors studying computing at Howard, have achieved academic success and demonstrated an interest in making a difference in society at large.

We saw tremendous potential to strengthen computing education at Howard University, so we worked with the university to establish Microsoft’s first university-based Microsoft Tech Fellows program. The program aims to enable professors and students to enhance Howard’s reputation and provide new ways for Microsoft and Howard to work together and increase the university’s national standing in the field of computing. We decided to take the long view, to create a program that benefits the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and advances the careers of its students right there in Washington D.C. Everyone benefits.

The tech fellows program provides mentored fellowships, financial support, an opportunity to develop application experience and a chance to practice written and verbal communications skills. The hope is that the fellowship will accelerate the tech fellow’s careers, whether they choose to pursue a graduate degree, move to industry or pursue a broader social purpose.

The tech fellow projects provide ample opportunity to provide community benefit:

  • Skylar Grammas is working with advisor Mugizi Robert Rwebangira to analyze data collected by Washington D.C. on its homeless problem to uncover trends and gain insight into the dimensions of the crisis.
  • Afeeni Phillips, a tech fellow from the School of Business, is providing support to help ramp up a new charter school in Washington, D.C. to develop the next generation of innovators.
  • Fleurevca Francois, working with her advisor Michaela Amoo, will begin by developing an understanding of cybersecurity issues and technologies. She will learn how to use tools such as Wireshark and standard methods for detection and prevention of malicious attacks.
  • Kyle Frederick, working with his advisor Danda Rawat, is applying machine learning to visualize data without violating the privacy of individual users. This work will have applications in a range of emerging wireless applications such as cyber-physical systems and internet of things.

The Microsoft Tech Fellows are helping their communities while developing computing skills that will help them thrive in the 21st century economy. David Bennett, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at Howard University, says “Howard University is committed to making sure our students are prepared for today’s dynamic workforce.  We are grateful for the opportunity Microsoft provides these outstanding tech fellows, both financially and in developing 21st century skills.”

We’re excited to see what they’ll accomplish.