As part of this year's Black Engineer of the Year Awards conference on February 9, Corning, among several other companies, sponsored and judged the first Advanced Minorities' Interest in Engineering (AMIE) Design Challenge. AMIE is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to expand corporate, government, and academic alliances to implement and support programs to attract, educate, graduate, and place underrepresented minority students in engineering careers.
The event featured teams of students from 9 different universities with Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited engineering programs. The teams had three weeks to design application solutions to a job search. The final solution had to demonstrate an understanding of design principles and the successful incorporation of cognitive services such as text to speech, speech to text, and conversation. The task was purposefully left open-ended for the students, forcing them to think of creative, out-of-the-box solutions. Teams were judged based on design, prototype, and presentation.
As a corporate sponsor, Corning identified two technical advisors to guide separate teams throughout the Design Challenge: Brandon Diggs, IT applications developer and support analyst, and Cullen Vaughn, IT operations analyst. As technical advisors, Brandon and Cullen were to help the students understand the IBM technology that was to be utilized and facilitate the brainstorming process – ultimately enabling the students to develop a prototype.
Brandon served as the corporate mentor for the Hampton University team, which coincidentally is his alma mater. This team developed an application "app" program called ColorSphere that promoted and assisted students in a search for employment. The app provided an optimal match through adaptive logic for student applicants and potential employers. The Hampton University team and ColorSphere were awarded first place in the design challenge.
"The AMIE Design Challenge was a great learning experience for both the students and myself. This was a good opportunity for students to learn and gain exposure with industry-leading companies like Corning. By interacting with and learning from someone who works in their aspirational career field, students were able to get hands-on experience and recognition for their hard work," said Brandon.
Cullen served as the corporate mentor for Tennessee State University. This team was able to develop an innovative technical proposal and presentation, but unfortunately was not able to produce a final prototype.
"It wasn't that long ago that I graduated from college, so this was an awesome opportunity to help students showcase themselves. Through the Design Challenge, the students were able to get an inside look into how a corporation works with their own clients and end-users and it showed them how to prepare for success. While the team I advised did not place in the competition, there were a lot of valuable lessons learned for everyone involved," said Cullen.
Brandon and Cullen were recognized by AMIE for their participation and leadership.