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The tech industry has come under an avalanche of criticism in recent years over its lack of racial and gender diversity.

To help bring more African-American computer scientists into its workforce, Google announced on Thursday plans to open “Howard West” on it Mountain View, California campus to train Howard University students, USA Today reports.

This summer, between 25 to 30 of the historically Black university’s junior and senior computer science majors will surround themselves in technology training and culture at Google. Senior Google engineers and Howard faculty will instruct the students in coding and other advanced technology for course credit.

A statement from Google explained that Howard West is an outgrowth of the company’s strategy to recruit more software engineers from HBCUs. African-American computer scientists account for about 1 percent of its workforce.

The tech giant already has a hand in training Howard University students at the school’s campus in the District of Columbia through its Google in Residence (GIR) program, in which Google engineers are embedded as Howard University faculty.

“Through GIR we’ve learned a lot about the hurdles Black students face in acquiring full-time work in the tech industry,” said Bonita Stewart, a Google vice president and Howard graduate. She added that Howard West answers many of the challenges the students face, including a lack of exposure and mentors.

Howard University President Wayne Frederick said he looks forward to seeing more Howard and other HBCU students, as well as underrepresented minorities working in the tech industry and launching tech start-ups, according to USA Today. He added: “Exposure to that environment early will pay dividends on the back end.”

Ultimately, the company plans to expand its reach to other HBCUs, which together account for more than a third of Black students earning computer science degrees.

SOURCE:  USA Today

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