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Pet Sins July 2007

African American High Flyers in Technology

Black America does not lack role models among the high flyers of the high tech industry, as demonstrated by eAccess Corp's annual award "The 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology", created in 1999 following an exhibition on black technology innovators at San Jose's Tech Museum of Innovation. Past awardees include Dr Mark Dean, the IBM vice president who holds three of the original nine IBM computer patents on which all PCs are based. Dean is on the 2001 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology list, as is former Oracle President Michael Fields, CEO of the Fields Group.

Other awardees include Dr. Lydia Thomas, President and CEO of Mitretek, who was honored on the 2004 list, and Dr. Dhyana Ziegler, Assistant Vice President for Instructional Technology and Academic Affairs at Florida A&M University (FAMU), who was on the list for 2002-2004. The 2004 award list for 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology is available on blackengineer.com. Blackengineer.com has also released the list The 2006 Top Black Technology Entrepreneurs: Helping America Lead the Way.

Although a career in the high tech field is not the only way to success, the mental discipline and self-confidence gained from rigorous science/engineering education as well as the life skills and financial security built up from years of working in the technology sector can pave the way for individuals to pursue their dreams outside of the science/engineering fields when they so choose. Two examples being Lalita Tademy, the Sun Microsystems VP who left Sun to become a best-selling novelist, and Lisa Whaley, a computer programmer who achieved corporate success as an IBM VP for many years before changing direction to launch a new career as a motivational speaker and successful writer.