UTRGV to host Hispanic Heritage Foundation and U.S. Army’s first Coder Summit

Hundreds of Latinx programmers – students, professionals and entrepreneurs – are expected for a day of workshops, presentations and networking

EDINBURG, TEXAS – MARCH 27, 2017 – The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) and the U.S. Army are holding the first Latinos On Fast Track (LOFT) Coder Summit, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The event will be held at the Community Engagement and Student Success (CESS) building, 1407 E. Freddy Gonzalez Drive in Edinburg.
Hundreds of Latino programmers – students majoring in computer science, and professionals – are registered to attend the Summit, which will feature back-to-back workshops on coding-languages, career paths, tech interview process roleplay; start-up roadmap; interactive discussions with experts; and opportunities to expand networks in tech space, as well as share in cultural pride.

Previous Coder Summits have been held in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Austin, and additional cities will be added in 2017, attracting thousands of Latino programmers to join the LOFT Network. Use the hashtag #LOFTCoders.

“The UTRGV Office of Community Relations is pleased to support the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Army with this LOFT Coder Summit,” said Velinda Reyes, assistant vice president for Community Programs and Operations at UTRGV. “Partnering to bring national programs to the region is important to us as we expand educational opportunities for students and empower leaders.”

The LOFT Coder Summits (LCS) are part of HHF’s larger Code as a Second Language (CSL) initiative, which includes HHF teaching computer coding to middle and high schools in more than 20 regions across the country, video game and app challenges, hackathons and other activities. HHF also connects Latino programmers through the LOFT Network for mentoring, sharing of ideas, building community and accessing resources to move forward in the tech space.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Army to identify, prepare and position Latino programmers for maximum impact in their careers, as innovators and a source of inspiration to others,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. “We are at the intersection of a nation in need of tech workers and a talent-rich Latino community. We want to continue to shatter stereotypes and redefine the landscape of technology by tapping Latino coders across the country from the Rio Grande Valley to Silicon Valley.”

Lt. Col. Michelle Nhambure, Army Marketing and Research Group, said the Army is deeply committed to helping develop the next generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Through important partnerships with organizations like HHF, we’re able to educate students, teachers and counselors of the significant educational resources, training and career opportunities the Army offers in these high-demand fields. We encourage people to visit goarmy.com for more information.”

9 a.m. - 9:40 a.m. -  Registration            
9:40 - 9:50 a.m. - Welcome Remarks - Dr. Maggie Hinojosa, vice president for Strategic Enrollment, UTRGV
9:50 - 9:55 a.m. Welcome Remarks – Captain Adeniran Dairo, U.S. Army          
9:55 - 10:05 a.m. - Keynote Speaker - Dr. Andres Figueroa, UTRGV professor of Computer Science
10:05 - 10:55 a.m.  Workshop Session 1 – Chief Warrant Officer Tanya Matos, U.S. Army; Oscar Gonzalez, principal software engineer, Sawyer Effect; Haydee Cruz,  Flinn Scholars program coordinator, Flinn Foundation
10:55 - 11:05 a.m. Networking Break
11:05 - 11:55 a.m.  - Workshop Session 2 – Chief Warrant Officer Tanya Matos, U.S. Army; Oscar Gonzalez, principal software engineer, Sawyer Effect; Haydee Cruz,  Flinn Scholars program coordinator, Flinn Foundation
11:55 am - 12:40 pm - Lunch
12:40 - 1:25 p.m. - Panel - Alberto Avalos, Innovation & Tech Program Manager at HHF, Haydee Cruz, Flinn Scholars program coordinator, Flinn Foundation, U.S Army Lead
1:25 - 1:35 p.m. - Networking Break
1:35 - 2:25 p.m. - Start-Up Pitch
2:25 - 2:35 p.m. - Networking Break          
2:35 - 2:45 p.m. - Featured Speaker - Oscar Gonzalez, principal software engineer, Sawyer Effect
2:45 - 3:00 p.m. Closing Discussion

There is a need to fill a million technology jobs by 2020 (currently, 500,000 jobs are open), yet 90 percent of schools do not teach coding. IT jobs will grow 22 percent through 2020. Of the nearly 250,000 employees working for the nation’s leading tech companies, just 4 percent are Hispanics.

About 7 percent of computer science grads are Latino, according to the advocacy report by “Change the Equation.” Latinos are less likely to pursue careers in engineering or computer science today than they were at the beginning of this millennium. The CSL program is designed to fill that gap.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation, established by the White House in 1987, inspires, prepares, positions and connects Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities, including in tech. HHF also promotes cultural pride, accomplishment and the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions. HHF is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, with satellite offices in Miami, New York, Silicon Valley, and now Mexico City. Learn more at www.HispanicHeritage.org. Follow Hispanic Heritage Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

The Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG) is the U.S. Army’s national marketing, marketing research and analysis and accessions analysis organization. The AMRG develops innovative and effective ways to connect with the American public and make the Army more accessible and understood; increase awareness of both the benefits and value of Army service; and motivate the most qualified candidates to choose the Army as their service of first choice.


Isla Martinez

UTRGV Community Relations Liaison / (956) 882-6535