IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Morehouse College Opens High-Tech Computer Lab

With help from a $1 million donation from Google, an all-male historically Black college in Georgia set up a new multipurpose space to serve as a classroom and collaborative computer lab for students and researchers.

(TNS) — When Morehouse College students return to campus next fall, there will be a new Google-funded computer lab decked out with state-of-the-art technology for them to explore.

The tech giant and the all-male historically Black college unveiled the Google Annex tech hub on Monday, touting it as a place for Morehouse Men to learn, grow and innovate.

“The tech industry is ever evolving and ever-changing, and as it does, we need make sure that these students have the technology to make sure that they are keeping up with the times,” said Ernest Holmes, a technical program manager at Google and a Morehouse alum who helped spearhead the new space.

Last fall, Google donated $1 million to Morehouse and announced it planned to transform an old classroom into a new innovation hub.

The tech giant spent about $100,000 to renovate the space and then put in another $100,000 worth of technology, according to Melonie Parker, Google’s chief diversity officer.

Morehouse’s Google Annex is the second such space the tech giant has built at an HBCU, and Parker said the company plans to build more. She added that the company partners closely with the school to determine what its students specifically need and design the space to fill those gaps.

The Google Annex classroom was barely used computer lab with outdated technology, said Alfred Watkins, chair of Morehouse’s computer science department. Now, it will be a multipurpose space, serving as a classroom and a collaborative computer lab for students and researchers.

“I felt that we owed it to our students to bring the very best in technology for them to use while they’re here and be very familiar with after they leave,” Watkins said.

Google outfitted it with 10 high-performance Alienware desktops. They will allow students to run programs that help them learn about artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and data science, Watkins said. He added they will be powerful enough to host gaming livestreams.

“There haven’t really been computers like this at Morehouse throughout my matriculation, so it’s really amazing to see something like this,” Elijah Truitt, a senior in computer science, said. “I’m a little jealous because this does beat the computer that I just built.”

Google has also provided 10 MacBooks, a Smartboard and other gadgets like mobile charging stations, cameras students can use to livestream and smart speakers and lights that come with a Morehouse-specific call-and-response.

“Hey Google, whose house?” Holmes asked the speaker in a demonstration.

“Morehouse,” the speaker responded and changed the lights to wash the room in the school’s maroon hues.

There are also design touches specific to the college. The back wall of the lab showcases a mural by Atlanta area artist and Spelman College professor Shanequa Gay that includes Morehouse written in binary. Student art lines another wall.

Watkins sees the classroom as a bridge between different STEM disciplines at the college, figuratively and literally. The room sits in the hallway that connects two buildings ― Merrill Hall, which houses the chemistry department, and Tech Tower, which houses computer science and software engineering.

Jonathan Banks, a graduating senior, said as a physics major, he used code for a lot of his math problems and that the department had been wanting to collaborate more with computer science, which now they will be able to do.

“We tend to actually want to work with them in terms of like getting high-level math problems and just trying to figure out certain solutions and theories that we talk about in class. This kind of brings it all together for us,” Banks, 23, said.

But for Tyler Greene, another graduating senior, though he won’t get to enjoy the space himself, he’s inspired by what Holmes was able to do for his alma mater just five years after graduating.

“It’s a challenge for me to pour back in an even quicker way, because Morehouse has done something for me that I would have never gotten if I had gone to any other institution,” Greene, 21, said. “It’s just beautiful to see that legacy being continued of seeing a lack and kind of filling it and that’s what I want to do in the future.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Report for America are partnering to add more journalists to cover topics important to our community. Please help us fund this important work here.

©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.