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In advance of the annual Tech Impact Awards next month, Seattle Business magazine has named Hadi Partovi and Trish Millines Dziko its Tech Impact Champions for 2018. The awards recognize distinguished careers of work in the technology field.
Partovi is CEO of Code.org, which he founded in 2013 with his brother, Ali, to expand access to computer science in schools and to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Millines Dziko has run the Technology Access Foundation, or TAF, since cofounding it in 1996 after a 15-year career in the tech industry. Today, TAF provides STEM learning in underserved area public schools and co-manages TAF Academy with the Federal Way School District.
The Partovi brothers had spent the Iran-Iraq war huddled in their Tehran basement, programming games on a Commodore 64 home computer. A Harvard computer science degree, a Microsoft executive career and two startups inform Hadi Partovi’s views.
Even as he has thrived, Partovi observes that programming remains a field “dominated by white, upper-middle-class boys.” By helping all schools in the United States and beyond teach computer science, Code.org seeks to equalize opportunity and access. That’s vital not just to train kids to be coders, Partovi insists, but “to become well-rounded citizens in the 21st century.” Code.org’s newest program, Hour of Code, asks teachers to apply a single hour to computer science in the classroom.
Millines Dziko takes an interdisciplinary approach, bringing STEM skills to bear on humanities and arts. “What we try to do is present STEM as a way to help solve problems,” she says. That philosophy includes being able to research, find data, and present and defend ideas.
“Learning the code is only one piece of it,” Millines Dziko asserts. Finding relevance in their efforts is vital, she notes, as with a student who developed wearable tech for her cousin, who sensed advance body signs of a sickle-cell flare-up.
Code.org seeks expansive change in classrooms across the country; TAF focuses on the classrooms close to home. Yet both prove Partovi’s view that “there’s a lot of power in the American teacher when they decide to do something.”
Partovi and Millines Dziko will receive their Tech Impact Champion awards on September 25 during a ceremony at MoPOP, the Museum of Pop Culture.