Electronic Design

IBM Creates Mentorship Program For African University Students

IBM launched a mentoring program between 250 of its top scientists and university students in Africa. "Makocha Minds" — named for the Swahili word for teacher — will connect students studying computer science, engineering and mathematics with IBM Fellows, Distinguished Engineers, and Academy of Technology members. "African students need to be trained in entrepreneurship so that they get out there and not just make jobs for themselves but create opportunities to employ others as well," said Athman Fadhili, an MBA student of management information systems at the University of Nairobi — one of the participating universities. "We need access to role models who can show us how information and communications technologies are being used to enable business operations." Students and mentors in the program currently use phone, e-mail, chat and text messaging to conduct mentoring sessions in which students pitch ideas for projects and receive professional advice. In-person meetings are planned for the future, according to IBM. More than a dozen African universities are participating in the program, which was inspired by a meeting earlier this year between students from seven East African universities and IBM Fellow Mark Dean. "\[The students\] are smart, they are motivated and they want to contribute to the economic development of their cities, their countries and their continent, but they lack role models and exposure to the inner workings of business and technology in today's global economy," Dean said. "We're going to help close that gap by sharing our time and experience as they get ready to launch their careers."

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