NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Thirteen-year-old Carlile Burgess wants to one day be a technician at Verizon, and he thinks a summer program at Tennessee State University has opened the door for him.
“I love technology in general especially with Verizon because I like working with their equipment,” said the 8th grader from Nashville’s East Middle School. “I want to work with them; if they have a crash or something, I can fix it.”
Burgess has big dreams and he is not alone. On Tuesday, he and about 80 other students in grades 6-8 from the Nashville Metro Public Schools got a chance to show Nashville Mayor David Briley new technology they are learning on the TSU campus as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program.
The VIL, a partnership between TSU and several HBCUs, gives the students a first-hand experience in “the vital role technology plays in today’s world, empowering them to become creators and makers,” a Verizon release said.
Mayor Briley’s visit allowed him to get a firsthand look at students participating in hands-on coursework in virtual reality, augmented reality, 3-D printing, robotics and electronics. He said it was very encouraging to get the students interested early in technology.
“This is clearly a part of the economy that is growing and we need to make sure our young folks are ready to compete,” Briley said. “So, having a partnership between Tennessee State and Verizon and Metro Schools is a great thing to be doing this summer for these young men.”
Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, who welcomed the mayor on behalf of TSU President Glenda Glover, said the university was excited to be a part of the training program for the students, he described as future leaders who could one day become TSU Tigers.
“We are excited that the mayor can come out to see some of the many great things that are taking place here on our campus with youth from the community who are being developed for future leaders here at Tennessee State,” Johnson said.
Also, on hand to greet the mayor was Dulaney L. O’Roark III, from Verizon Government Affairs. He said Verizon is very proud to sponsor the program.
“It means a lot to bring these young men to really experience cutting-edge technology to be able to envision themselves on a college campus learning about virtual reality, computing and all of the newest innovations,” O’Roark said. “We are really honored that the mayor would come and be a part of the program and express to the young men how supportive he is of them being part of this learning experience.”
According to Verizon, the three-week program for minority male students is intended to prepare them for future tech careers through intensive coursework in design and product development while being mentored by relatable professional STEM role models. The program helps participants acquire technical and soft skills to reach a higher level of academic achievement. After summer courses are completed, students will make monthly visits to TSU for STEM education courses and individual mentoring with undergraduate and graduate students.
Thomas Francis, a STEM instructor, is a coordinator of the VIL program at TSU. He said the students are also developing friendships and learning to work together.
“The students are leaning with other students who are like-minded like them and that’s important in learning technology and in putting math and science together,” Thomas said.
For more information on Verizon Innovative Learning program, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/computer_science/documents/VerizonTSUCampFlyer.pdf
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.