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TACC/IE Launch First Verizon Innovative Learning Summer
Entrepreneurship Experience

June 29, 2016

AUSTIN, Tex., June 29 — The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) is piloting the first Verizon Innovative Learning Summer Entrepreneurship Experience on campus this summer, June 26 through July 22.

The program, launching with 25 students from around the country over the course of three and a half weeks, is an immersive, hands-on camp designed to expose underserved and underrepresented rising sophomores and juniors in high school to skills and careers in technical fields and innovation.

With two curriculum tracks – technical and entrepreneurial – the program aims to foster critical thinking and computation skills that will allow students to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce.

“To build the next generation of innovators, we have an obligation to engage students in STEM skills and careers,” says Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education programs at Verizon. “We’re excited to launch this unique program at TACC so they can bring their expertise and resources to students who might otherwise not have access to this technology.”

The technical curriculum, designed by Joon-Yee Chuah, a senior program coordinator in TACC’s Education and Outreach group, will teach students web development and coding using Bootstrap, JavaScript, and representational state transfer application program interfaces (REST APIs).

The entrepreneurship component, led by UT professor and researcher Scott Evans, and director of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Graduate School Internship at UT, Thomas Darwin, was inspired by Austin’s healthy culture and numerous fitness entrepreneurs. Students will be provided FitBit activity trackers, and will then work to develop a product that stores FitBit’s data in the cloud, culminating with a mock product pitch using skills learned throughout the program.

“These students have very limited resources when it comes to applying for college, so they’re already many steps behind compared to the student that has participated in even one summer program,” said Rosalia Gomez, TACC’s Education and Outreach manager. “Our goal is to prepare students for college and beyond by giving them an opportunity to explore technology they might not have access to at their schools, and to inspire them to understand the importance of technology in any career of the future.”

For students, the program will also provide a collegiate experience, allowing them the opportunity to attend classes and meet guest speakers who are minorities currently working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

About Texas Advanced Computing Center

TACC designs and deploys the world’s most powerful advanced computing technologies and innovative software solutions to enable researchers to answer complex questions. Every day, researchers rely on the center’s computing experts and resources to help them gain insights and make discoveries that change the world. TACC’s environment includes a comprehensive cyberinfrastructure ecosystem of leading-edge resources in high performance computing (HPC), visualization, data analysis, storage, archive, cloud, data-driven computing, connectivity, tools, APIs, algorithms, consulting, and software. In addition, our skilled experts work with thousands of researchers on more than 3,000 projects each year.

About the Verizon Foundation

The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company’s innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management.  Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities.  For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit