BDPA’s 35th national technology conference: “opportunities in the age of convergence”
Health IT, cybersecurity, big data and mobile computing were hot topics
Black Data Processing Associates staged its thirty-fifth national technology conference this past August in Washington, DC. The conference included, as it has for the last several years, the Epsilon awards for top companies and individuals, recognizing companies that have shown exceptional support for BDPA and its activities.
The 2013 Top Company for Blacks in Technology Epsilon award went to Health Care Service Company, the parent of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. “You get it,” declared BDPA founder Earl Pace as he presented the award. The company was praised for its ability to retain, develop and promote African American tech pros, as well as its supplier diversity and community outreach programs. The company also took the top award in 2011.
Ten other companies were named top companies for 2013: BCBS of Michigan, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Monsanto, State Farm, Walmart, WellPoint and Wells Fargo. Most had appeared on the list at least once since 2010.
Hot topics and the first Hall of Fame
The conference theme was “diverse opportunities in the age of convergence.” Workshops focused on hot areas like health IT, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity and the challenges of mobile data access. Additional panels looked at career topics like corporate culture and job search techniques.
This year, BDPA launched its Hall of Fame, intended to celebrate members who have made lasting contributions. The first honorees were Dr Jesse Bemley, founder of the High School Computer Competition (HSCC); Diane Davis, a long-time BDPA member and volunteer, former head of the Detroit chapter and former national president; and Earl Pace and the late David Wimberly, co-founders of BDPA.
Spotlight on youth
Nurturing the next generation of IT professionals is serious work at BDPA. The Youth Technology Camp exposes a group of high-achieving high school students to elements of IT in several intense workshops.
The High School Computer Competition, a mainstay of the conference for more than twenty-five years, included teams from seventeen BDPA chapters and involved seventy-two students. The Southern Minnesota team took top honors this year, the team’s sixth win in the last seven competitions.
An IT Showcase was introduced in 2003 to provide an opportunity for HSCC alumni and other promising high school and college students to make oral and poster presentations to a panel of BDPA member judges. The proceedings are published, and students get valuable experience for future conference participation. The presentations are judged; this year’s top collegiate first-place award went to Jazzmine Bess of Florida A&M;, a fourth-year computer information systems student.
Scholarships and support
The winning HSCC team receives scholarships and often technology prizes as well. At this year’s gala banquet, high-tech giant Oracle announced that it would award an additional dozen scholarships to students who have been involved with BDPA. Lockheed Martin awarded a scholarship to a rising high school senior, Bernard Bampoh, who participated in the Youth Technology Camp.
The BDPA Education Technology Foundation, run by longtime active BDPA member and past president Wayne Hicks, accepts contributions and administers many of these scholarship awards.
Honoring the chapters
The BDPA chapters are the organization’s boots on the ground, where the work of outreach to local businesses and youth gets done. Awards for the chapters are a feature of each national conference.
The 2013 chapter of the year is Chicago, which has staged a renaissance in membership, funding and activities over the last few years. Pamela Sexton, an HSBC Bank IT pro, heads the chapter, and also chaired the 2013 national conference committee. Sexton was profiled in the February/March issue of Diversity/Careers.
Chicago was also recognized for improvements in its membership. The Detroit chapter was cited for member services, the Philadelphia chapter for community service and the New York Metro chapter for improvement in its management.
Read into the Congressional Record
At the opening of the conference’s career fair, Wayne Hicks shared a statement on BDPA that was read into the Congressional Record by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, (D-DC) on the opening day of the conference. The statement said, in part: “Mr Speaker, I rise today to ask the House of Representatives to join me in congratulating the National Black Data Processing Associates on its 35th anniversary. BDPA was formed out of a concern…that minorities were not adequately represented in the information technology industry.”
Today’s BDPA continues to address that concern with skill and energy.
The 2018 national technology conference will be in Indianapolis, IN from August 5 to 9.
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