Photo by: Mel Brown
“Angie Jones, Master Inventor: Black History in the Making”
Story by: Phyllis Coley, Spectacular Magazine
After just one computer course… Angie Jones of Durham was hooked. Now the inventor and Consulting Automation Engineer is on a mission in hopes of spreading technology fever to other young African American females near and far.
She is all too familiar with being grouped in the 2 percent of minorities that make up the technology workforce. She notes, for black women, that number is less than 1 percent.
Angie remembers plenty of times when she was the only African American female in her college classrooms as well as her early work settings. “It was 12 years before I got to write a program with another black woman,” she said. “There’s something wrong with that.”
Angie is a trailblazer in her field.
The professional “techie” works as a Consulting Automation Engineer at LexisNexis, located on the campus of NC State University. She holds 20 patents in the US and China and is considered a Master Inventor in the industry, known for her innovative and out-of-the-box thinking style. Angie shares her wealth of knowledge by speaking and teaching internationally at software conferences and serving as an Adjunct Computer Science Professor at Durham Technical Community College.
Among other notable publications, Angie has been featured in Ebony Magazine as one of the country’s 30 young leaders under the age of 30.
She has dedicated countless hours to exposing more women like herself to the world of technology.
Angie is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Tennessee State University as well as a master’s degree in Computer Science from North Carolina State University. She said her father encouraged her to go into the field of technology.
Her love of fashion and gaming led her to develop Diva Chix, an online fashion designing game.
She said before then, computer fashion games were less than challenging. “After your dressed up the doll, that was it,” she said, “It got boring really fast.”
Angie’ online fashion game keeps its participants engaged. The players graphically design the clothes and upload them to the website. In its eighth year, the game has drawn more than 250,000 players nationwide.
Players from all over the country are able to communicate and collaborate while they are competing for the top spot.
But it’s not just a game. The Diva Chix mission is twofold. Angie’ first mission was to make gaming and fashion more fun and interesting.
The next goal is introducing young girls to the field of technology and how to run their own businesses. For example, the gamers learn basic principles of business such as supply and demand and team building. “They learn how to run their own shop,” she said.
Angie said the demographic makeup of her classroom at Durham Tech still mirrors the technology industry numbers across the country. That is why initiatives like hers and CODE2040 are so important.
African American females can offer a different perspective in this ever growing field simply because they come from a different background.
“You can come up with your own ideas and be successful in this field,” Angie said. “We can solve real world problems.”
Angie extensive work doesn’t stop there. She also volunteers to teach technology workshops such as Designing Mobile Apps and Website Development for several organizations in the community such as Black Girls Code, TechGirlz, Hi-Tech Teens, and Alpha Kappa Alphas SMART Camp. She also mentors black technology students from Duke and North Carolina Central Universities.
Last year, she joined forces with Doug Speight and the CODE2040 initiative under the American Underground umbrella in Durham. She is now the lead of the Raleigh-Durham Chapter of Black Girls Code, a group that focuses on teaching tech to black girls ages 7 to 18 years old. The organization recently sponsored an outing for the young girls to see the inspirational movie ‘Hidden Figures’.
Angie loves to see the girls let their imaginations run wild.
Angie said the opportunities in technology are endless, adding there are jobs in programming, graphic design, robotics and developing mobile apps. “I never met a programmer … I didn’t even know what that was,” she said. “I want girls to know that this is a possible career path.”
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