Joel Wilson of Philadelphia
"I loved pac man and the defenders"
said Joel Wilson when asked what sparked his interest in computers. 30 years later, Wilson continues his passion for tech by teaching children and young adults STEM and coding. As a child, Wilson loved video games. After he mastered his Atari, Wilson set his sights on another gaming system. His parents; however, decided to purchase their then pre-teen a computer instead. “It was a TI994A, I still remember it,” he recalled.
From a young age, Wilson knew his calling. At 11, he began to teach himself coding. By 17, Wilson created an accounting program that his parents later used for their business. “I had my wisdom teeth removed, and I was (stuck) in the house,” Wilson remembered, explaining how his first software came to be. After high school, Wilson attended the University of Maryland College Park. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.
Post-college, Wilson started a business and became a consultant for other organizations, including some Philadelphia schools. Unsatisfied with the way computer science was handled in educational settings, Wilson decided to create his own program that would teach the youth how to solve problems through technology. Thus born TechCORE2, a non-profit dedicated to creating a technology pipeline within the city of Philadelphia.
Originally, TechCORE2 was a summer program. Wilson’s first students were pupils who attended alternative schools. From there, the program grew into two 8-week sessions in Spring and Fall. TechCORE2 accepts children as young as kindergarten age and follows them through college. “Our children are not interning at the same level as their peers,” Wilson noted as he stressed the importance of real work experience. Once in high school, students are eligible to obtain a paid, part-time position with TechCORE2. Many continue throughout college.
As TechCORE2 continues to expand, Wilson and his family routinely participates in community engagement events. On June 23, TechCORE2 will be marching in the city’s Juneteenth parade, a holiday that commemorates the day slaves learned of their own freedom. More than anything, Wilson provides exposure to an overlooked demographic, “We want people to see viable tech options in the community,” he says. TechCORE2 does just that.
For more information on TechCORE2, go to: http://techcore2.org/