Tag: Science & Technology

Young Professionals Choose Delaware

Not many people are lucky enough to say that where they live has all the ideal factors, but when it comes to the citizens of Delaware, they can proudly boast about a place that is perfect for all aspects of life. Delaware has been experiencing an influx of young professionals who choose to live somewhere they know will provide them with job opportunities along with a welcoming community.

Over the years, while the size of the state has remained the same, the business and residential communities have grown. Residents of Delaware feel connected to each other, and this allows them to make meaningful connections. As interviewee Jason James points out, more people seek out diversity when it comes to their work and home lives. The younger workforce wants to become involved with people unlike themselves—they want to engage with others so that they can learn and become more in tune with their communities.

Because of these reasons, young professionals choose Delaware as it is a state whose diversity is growing each and every year. The range of diversity allows people to pursue a variety of interests, showing that Delaware is truly a place where anyone can come and thrive.

Kyle Gay: Delaware is a place to live, work, and play, for millennials and for people of all ages.

Kyle Barkins: Really easy to meet people here. I think it’s very easy to establish strong relationships. And it’s easy to get things done.

Charles Vincent: If you can’t get ahold of the person, you have somebody who can, and you’re able to just get things done faster. Instead of talking out stuff, we’re able to do stuff.

Nicole Magnusson: I love the community in Delaware. It’s small enough to know your neighbors, but also big enough to explore and learn new things, and find new places to eat, and shop, and have fun.

Jason James: This generation that’s coming up is really interested in living and working in diverse spaces. Research studies support that over and over again, when millennials are asked, what attracts them to being in a certain place, it is diversity. It’s multiple people, multiple people with different backgrounds, and multiple things to get involved in. So this is really an opportune area for millennials to really move into and work in.

Daniel Walker: We’re flexible as a small state, so we’re able to find what interests a person, and really capitalize on that. And I think that’s what makes the networking so great.

Kyle Gay: We chose Wilmington because we knew that this was a great opportunity for us; both in our careers and finance, and in law, and for the family that we wanted to have, and we finally do have now. It’s a great place to raise children. A great opportunity for people and families to be ingrained into the community.

Jennifer Saienni: And you don’t have to wait years to see the difference of what your work is doing. You are able to come to Wilmington, come to Delaware, and make an impact!

Young Professionals Living the Good Life in Delaware

Young professionals like these agree that Delaware is an ideal location for work and life. You can find great fulfillment and success in your career through the ever-growing job market. More businesses are discovering that Delaware is a great state to locate in, and this allows for job opportunities of all kinds.

And work isn’t the only positive Delaware has to boast. From restaurants to shops to parks to beaches, Delaware has everything that makes a home state worthwhile. Residents of the state take advantage of its many amenities while also making meaningful connections with their fellow neighbors. The community of Delaware, in both the business and residential life sense, provides endless support for all those looking to make the First State their home.

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Georgette Lang On Why She Chose Delaware

Georgette Lang had the opportunity to travel to and live in various states across the country: Louisiana is where she was raised and received her undergraduate degree, and she traveled to Texas to receive her doctorate in chemistry. But even after her time spent in these states, she chose to move to Delaware. In 2018, Lang was approached by the chemical company Adesis with a job offer. The opportunity to work for a company dedicated to helping other businesses solve issues through chemical solutions was an offer Lang could not refuse, as she would be working in Delaware with some of the country’s best chemists. Her move to Delaware was largely prompted by this opportunity, but there were more factors at play influencing Lang’s choice to settle in the First State.

“My name is Georgette, and I’m a chemist at Adesis. I was born in Louisiana, and I did grad school at Texas A&M. I was there for about eight years.

I talked to a recruiter, and he said, “What do you think about moving to Delaware?” And I said, “Awesome, that’s great! Let’s try that out.” And so I’ve been here since April of 2018.

Living here is great. We really like to go to historic New Castle and, you know, throw the ball with our dog and take her for walks. One of the best things has been the seasons. We get to experience outside in all different weather. In the south, it’s very hot in the summer. You can have like 100 days of 100 degree weather. So in the winter, you can just suit up and go out and play. In the summer, you can go to the beach, you can go out by the river, you can do lots of stuff like that.

My fiance is a chemist as well. Luckily he was able to come work at Adesis. But, if not, there was plenty of other opportunities for him here or even in Philly. We have a few people who commute. But being a chemist there’s lots of opportunities here.

There’s always something really cool and interesting going on.”

Delaware Is a Great Place to Build a Home

Not only is Delaware home to some of the most highly regarded and successful businesses in the country, but it is a great place to build a home. Lang’s time at Adesis has been rewarding, but that is only the icing on the cake. She expresses immense love for the state, particularly the community that she is now a member of. Not only does she enjoy the changing of the seasons and the ability to visit beaches and parks, but she has a community of individuals who make her feel welcomed. Delaware has everything Lang could ask for in a home, and she looks forward to many more years living in this state.

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Stephanie Eldridge

CEO, Code Differently

Stephanie Eldridge loves Delaware

Stephanie Eldridge

Just two years ago, CEO Stephanie Eldridge and CIO Tariq Hook launched the learning center Code Differently, and their impact since cannot be overstated. Delaware Prosperity Partnership caught up with Eldridge remotely as she and their team are driving their business remotely with no loss in impact.

Code Differently aims to increase diversity and technology directly into the workplace. Students are primarily in college as computer science or engineering majors. The makeup of Code Differently’s classes are 98% black and latino, and within that 40% female. Women represent 25% of the technology base, but black females represent only 3% and hispanic females 1%.

“Diversity and inclusion have not only been a part of our mission from the beginning, it’s frankly been a part of our lives,” Eldridge says. Eldridge grew up in Aliquippa, a small town in Western Pennsylvania that she describes as “a tech desert.” Aliquippa is a blue-collar town that was once booming with steel mills. Once the steel mills declined, the economy declined and the educational system started breaking down. Her time in Aliquippa became the foundation that motivated her into creating a different possibility.

Eldridge attended Morgan State University, an Historically Black College and University (HBCU), who at the time were graduating the most black engineers in the nation. “Both Tariq and I worked as engineers in the industry in Delaware. I was at JP Morgan Chase at the Delaware Tech Center and Tariq was at Zip Code Wilmington.”

Eldridge arrived in Delaware based on geographic convenience. “My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, was living in Philadelphia and I was working in the Baltimore/D.C. area, and we decided Delaware was the perfect mid-point.”

Code Differently is now on the Wilmington Riverfront, in the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce building’s Emerging Enterprise Center. “The great thing about Wilmington is, if you need to catch a train, you are right there downtown. You can be in Philly, Baltimore, D.C. and New York faster than you could drive.”

In Code Differently’s 2020 cohort, there are 43 students, of which ten are from Delaware State University. “Our intention was to have all 43 students here in Delaware for the summer to see all of the great things about Wilmington and Delaware itself.” Unfortunately COVID made this impossible.

Seven of the 23 Code Differently’s students from last year ended up relocating to Delaware after recognizing the opportunities and resources here. “We are great creators of technology here in Delaware, but we’re also great importers of technology.”

Seven of the 23 Code Differently’s students from last year ended up relocating to Delaware after recognizing the opportunities and resources here. “We are great creators of technology here in Delaware, but we’re also great importers of technology.”

Eldridge is reminded constantly about the benefits Delaware has provided for their business. “I don’t know another location where you are one person, one degree of separation, away from any need. When we look outside of our windows we see the backdrop of the companies that we serve most,” Eldridge says. “When I look to the left, I see JP Morgan Chase and Capital One building that helps support our HBCU program, HBCU CSC, who also support our high school students. It is really helpful that the decision makers from these companies are actually located in Delaware.”

The most powerful piece of Code Differently is their network. “We are able to provide people who are already in HBCU industry, and that network has increased tenfold over the last year. So you have this family of corporations willing to help guide each student in ways that were not traditionally available.”

The amount of small businesses that are downtown has also been a win-win. “It gives us a vision for where people started and where they can go, the importance of supporting people in your network.”

Why ‘Differently’? Having been challenged in fitting people into boxes where they may not fit, Code Different decided to build programs that remove these barriers. 80% of the people in Code Differently programs are working 30 hours or more each week while they are in college. The consequences of that are often lower GPAs and less access to the technology needed to excel in those classes.

“Imagine you are a computer science major, COVID hits and you are at home, and now you have no access to the computer lab in your university. We try to remove those barriers. We provide a stipend so they don’t have to work, we provide them with equipment and internet access, and we focus on their professional development,” Eldridge says. The majority of students at Code Differently are first-generation college students. Most of them “come from families that don’t have the life experience for coaching on how to operate in corporate America.”

Code Differently looks are themselves holistically within the tech field. “We don’t want to be all things to all people. If there are programs already out there that we could partner with, we do.”

For example, Code Differently partnered with the New Castle County Summer Youth Program. They came up with the idea that, instead of just having the students work in the brick and mortar location, they could create a software development shop that could teach high school students how to create websites and mobile apps as a work-based learning experience.

“There are very few internships and apprenticeship opportunities for high school students in tech. So right now we have 40 students working with us, virtually now, from 12-5 p.m. every day. And we are able to work with our partner companies — the JP Morgan Chases, Barclaycards, and CSCs we have in our network provide real projects for our kids so they are getting real work experience. And by bringing in real engineers and developers to talk to the students, real relationships and experiences are occurring organically at the high school level.”

In addition to corporate partnerships, the Department of Labor, New Castle County school districts and Rodel Foundation are contributors to this effort. “It’s a great example of a private/public partnership that benefits the future career choices and development of teens.”  

The results speak for themselves, and Code Differently has begun shifting the statistics that go back to the beginning of technology. “Out of the last group of high school students that have since graduated, every one of them are going on to high learning and 80% going into computer science or IT. And this becomes a pipeline for colleges that we partner with, like Delaware State University, who are now providing us with mentors in our program.”

When asked what single change she would like to see in the Delaware School system, Eldridge does not hesitate. “Embed technology in any subject that is taught in a school district. If you want to be an investment banker, you need to know how to write scripts to analyze data; if you want to open a restaurant, having an understanding of what goes into your ordering app or reservation system especially in situations like the one we are in, is essential.”

“Technology should be embedded into everyday life. It is an accessory to everything we do. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that the way we continue to run society is through technology.”

Eldridge believes the biggest misconception about technology is that it is too hard. Anything with great reward takes some work. A lot of people feel defeated when they hear the word coding, so sometimes we don’t use it. “Come help us build a game using technology.”

“In the black community, the biggest misconception is ‘I can’t do it’ which has its reasons. There are not enough people in the industry that look like Tariq and me, to give them the confidence that they could possibly do it.”

Using Delaware, its location, resources and community as a springboard, Code Differently is changing the face of technology with velocity and passion. The mantra she likes to share about Delaware is, ‘We get things done here.’”

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Markevis Gideon – Bringing Technology to Delaware’s Communities

A successful business is not always measured by how much money you make. For Markevis Gideon, founder of NERDiT NOW, success comes from helping others. Growing up in an underserved community, Gideon’s only opportunity with technology came when a teacher gave him a laptop. That singular moment sparked a passion, and Gideon spent hours disassembling and reassembling the computer, finding his niche in technology. Years later, after some time spent away, Gideon returned to his hometown, and he was shocked to see that the technological divide between his community and other areas of the world had remained the same. Gideon wanted to give to others what his teacher gave to him: a chance to engage with technology despite the circumstances.

Starting in his apartment and eventually transferring to a traveling hub located in the back of an ambulance, Gideon formed a team that repaired computers, phones, and tablets for a community that might not have access to the latest technology. NERDiT NOW was Gideon’s way of helping those who, like himself, wanted an opportunity to learn and engage with the world around them through modern technology. From there, the business grew, and NERDiT NOW went on Shark Tank, securing a partnership and beginning the next step of business: creating kiosks in these communities that teach individuals how their technology works and what they can do to succeed in their own entrepreneurial aspirations.

Birth of a Technology Business for Markevis Gideon

“So my name’s Markevis Gideon, founder of NERDiT NOW where we purchase, repair and resell computers, phones and tablets.

When I was 12 years old, I grew up in an underserved community, it was one teacher who saw something in me and donated a laptop.

I had begun to take it apart, put it together, take it apart and put it together. Then, after that, I kinda went away for a while and lived in China for five years. But when I came back, I saw that the communities I grew up in were still undeserved, and there was this big technological divide.

So when I am living in my apartment, I’m like, “You know what? Let’s just start an IT company, to start raising money to now donate computers back into the community.”

So we knew we wanted to make a new way to actually expand out of this apartment. So we started with this ambulance. It was looked at to be a way for us to not have to get a store front and to be out into the community where we can repair things.

So being on “Shark Tank,” was an awesome, surreal experience. It was something that we never thought was necessarily within our grasp. But the cool thing that came from “Shark Tank” is that we got a new partner.

He’s actually helped us build out our prototype. We’re looking to push about 10 kiosks out there. And with each kiosk, we wanna make sure that we’re also going back into these underserved communities and training individuals to not only learn the tech skills, but to potentially also figure out how to become entrepreneurs through our franchise model through our business.

When I moved back from China, I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted to go. But, again, I saw the communities here and how they needed the support and want to make sure that I go ahead and pay it forward.

And the support around is just awesome. It’s a great business community. It’s very small, it’s very intimate, and it makes it so much more relatable, and I can go to other business owners, and they offer to help.

Like, “Hey, Markevis, try this or try that,” and it’s not like they want anything in return. They’re just thoroughly interested in making me succeed. So I truly appreciate being here from Delaware and look forward to seeing more entrepreneurs come.” –Markevis Gideon

The Perfect Place to Start a Business

When Gideon decided to start NERDiT NOW in his own community, he was thinking philanthropically. He wanted to give back to his town and help people, like his younger self, who would benefit from technological assistance. What Gideon was not prepared for, however, was how supportive the community would be in return. Delaware proves time and time again to be the perfect place to start a business. Not only is this due to the statistical, and financial evidence that doing business in Delaware is cost-effective, but the other entrepreneurs that make up a genuine community where new organizations can thrive. “They’re just thoroughly interested in making me succeed,” Gideon says about his fellow business owners.

There exists a desire in the intimate, growing business communities of Delaware to assist new entrepreneurs in reaching success. Not only does Gideon feel this type of support from others, but he looks to pay it forward through his work in the community, proving yet again that business in Delaware is unlike anywhere else.

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Stephen Sye

CEO, Futures First Gaming

Stephen Sye loves Delaware

Stephen Sye

Gaming Their Way to Prosperity

Futures First Gaming looks to create Esports industry pipeline in Delaware

If Stephen Sye, CEO of Futures First Gaming, has his way, his company will have planted the seed that germinates the entire Delmarva region Esports industry. Esports, or electronic sports, is a style of competitive sports played through the medium of video games – particularly multiplayer games played by professionals as individuals or part of a team.

“We’re a STEM.org Accredited™ Esports and educational organization focused on growing and cultivating the Esports community and industry in the region,” said Sye. “With the exception of the University of Delaware, the state itself has only a small underground scene right now as it relates to gaming culture – especially in comparison to other places like Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and New York City.”

The organization, which launched in February, is taking several approaches to its mission simultaneously. Futures First Gaming’s business model rests on four pillars, said Sye. The first is to advocate growth in the state’s existing Esports industry; the second is personally host competitive and recreational events to create opportunities for involvement; the third is to hold educational programs focusing on workforce development and the fourth pillar is to work with schools and universities to launch their own Esports teams to engage in tournaments.

Though their goals are ambitious, Sye believes now, more than ever, is the time for this effort. Gaming has long suffered from a perception problem – but that’s on the cusp of changing in a big way, he says.

“For a long time a good portion of the population has felt that playing video games is a waste of time, but this industry is growing by leaps and bounds and the opportunities for lucrative careers and entrepreneurship are growing every year,” said Sye. “Look at it this way; there was a League of Legends Championship in 2018 that had more than 200 million viewers tune in. That was more viewership than the Super Bowl, NBA finals and Major League baseball game seven had that year combined. There are gaming events in this space that are selling out venues like the Staples Center in 12 minutes.”

Perhaps a function of changing tastes, it’s been long predicted that Esports will supplant traditional sports in popularity. Sye says that ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the time window this was expected to happen has shortened.

“Viewership of Esports was already expected to eclipse that of traditional sports by 2022 – but now with COVID limiting audiences and introducing a lot of unknowns in terms of schedule, Esports has a huge advantage,” he said. “Esports is projected to be a $300 billion global industry by 2025. That’s huge. And, it comes with an enormous amount of opportunity and career pathways.”

Gaming Camp

Hoping to nurture the next generation’s desire to enter the Esports industry, Sye says the company held its inaugural Futures First Camp this past summer.

“Looking at the landscape, 83% of black teens game, but only about 9% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals are black.”

“It was a virtual summer camp this year, but it was 100 hours total,” said Sye. “Our Futures First Program focuses on Esports, coding, gaming, and entrepreneurship. Over four weeks, our team worked with students from 8th to 12th grade for five hours per day. Two hours were devoted to coding and game design – with the help of our partners Coderrific Academy and Code Differently. Then there’s one-hour for entrepreneurship where we cover things like starting a business, marketing, promoting, starting a website, Esport monetization and live streaming. Then the last two hours is basically gameplay. Gamers worked on communication, teamwork, strategy, and gaming skills development.”

There were 10 graduating students in the first class over the summer. Sye says it was a great proof of concept. The class’s final project was evidence of that.

“Over the last two weeks, the campers were tasked with a hands-on collaborative project to produce and host their own online Esports event,” he said. “They hosted a Brawlhalla tournament. They ended up having great participation and the event was flawless – it was an awesome learning experience.”

Futures First Gaming will be bringing the program back next summer and will shoot for an even larger class, but Sye hopes to push the program as a regular course in local high and middle schools to expose students to the available career paths.

“We’ll really be able to educate students on the possibilities if we can meet them where they are – we have commitment from two Delaware school districts pending funding and have had conversations about our program with Departments of Education in several states,” he said.

Equal Opportunity

Although not an exclusive organization, a fundamental goal of Futures First Gaming is to help expose minority students to the prospect of a career in the gaming industry, notes Sye.

“Looking at the landscape, 83% of black teens game, but only about 9% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals are black,” said Sye. “We really want to change that. We feel that the discrepancy exists because of lack of awareness and opportunity. Our program works to correct this by reaching out to students through their interest in gaming, but teaching them about the business side in the process. That way they can imagine a future where they make a living doing what they love. In our concept of STEM, E stands for entrepreneurship.”

To support this goal, Futures First Gaming has started to reach out to HBCUs (Historically black colleges and universities) to assist them in launching their own competitive Esports teams. Sye is a strong believer that the opportunities in the Esports industry will continue to proliferate and offer opportunity to people of all kinds of backgrounds and interests.

“There really is a spiderweb of careers cropping up to support gaming,” he said. “For example, last year’s Fortnite world cup winner, a 16-year-old named Kyle Giersdorf, won $3 million. He’s a millionaire now. He’s going to need an Esports specific attorney. There are gaming company’s that want to create game characters with his likeness and image, so he needs to negotiate that. He’ll need an accountant. He’ll even need a personal trainer to work on stamina and hand-eye coordination. The web of opportunity keeps spreading. When students come to us, we can work on where their interests lie and steer them toward a great career opportunity.”

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