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Google leverages Edlyft, A Black-women-owned Startup, to make computer science accessible

todayJanuary 30, 2024

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Photo Credit: Erika Hairston and Arnelle Ansong

Google has taken a significant step forward in diversifying the tech industry by llevearging Edlyft AI Tutor, an innovative artificial intelligence platform founded by Erika Hairston and Arnelle Ansong. The platform is known for making computer science education more accessible, especially for Black students aspiring to become engineers. This move underscores Google’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and broadening the talent pipeline in technology.

Edlyft, created in 2019, initially offered group tutoring and study support to help students excel in computer science courses. As AFROTECH reported, Edlyft’s AI Tutor was launched after a successful partnership with Google Tech Exchange, a program teaching applied data structures to students at select Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Over two years of collaboration, Edlyft accumulated valuable video data from tutoring sessions. By incorporating this into the Edlyft AI Tutor platform, the tool enables students to obtain on-demand knowledge paired with the relatability of human guidance. “The Edlyft AI Tutor will support a growing number of talented future engineers as Google scales its programs,” said Hairston, outlining the ambition for the tool to provide mentorship through an AI interface that emulates empathetic peer interaction.

By typing questions into a chat box, students engaging with Edlyft AI Tutor receive tailored answers and video snippets designed to help demystify complex computer science concepts. Google’s partnership promises to scale the impact of this platform significantly, making these resources more widely available to students who need them.

Jess Hill, Google’s education equity team leader, emphasized the synergy between Edlyft’s mission and Google’s educational initiatives. “Our partnership with Edlyft has already amplified learning outcomes, and we’re thrilled to unlock even deeper impact through their AI-powered platform,” Hill said in the announcement.

Despite the growing prominence of AI, there remains a notable underrepresentation of Black professionals in AI-focused roles. Hairston hopes that initiatives like the Edlyft AI Tutor will alleviate apprehension surrounding AI in the Black community and encourage a surge of interest among Black and brown students in technology at large.

Hairston compared AI’s emergence to calculators, which, despite initial skepticism, have become an indispensable part of everyday life. She envisions AI as an essential tool, particularly in the workforce, and believes that Edlyft’s AI Tutor can integrate into students’ daily learning routines to enhance their understanding and use of AI. Through hands-on experience, students may be inspired to innovate and create AI solutions.

Wider familiarity with AI among younger generations has the power to impact not just individual students but entire communities. As Hairston puts it, “By familiarizing Black and Brown students with AI, we hope they’ll spread the word and skills back home,” thus making AI a more “familiar face” in diverse households and inspiring technology interests from a younger age.

The leveraging of Edlyft’s AI Tutor by Google marks a hopeful progression towards a more inclusive and skilled workforce, aligning with the tech giant’s broader goal of diversifying the industry and nurturing the next wave of tech innovators.

Written by: Tarik Moody

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