A Detroit engineer wants to turn old buses into tech labs for students

by

comment
THOMAS PHILLIPS | PHOTO VIA HACK THE CD
  • Thomas Phillips | Photo via Hack the CD
Detroit-born engineer Thomas Phillips believes that a high school diploma doesn't prepare young people for quality jobs as it once did. Qualification standards seem to be rising, and this is especially true in the tech industry. You can be sure that he knows what he's talking about. Phillips is a graduate of Lawrence Technological University and a quality assurance engineer for Amazon.

Phillips attended last month's Hack the Central District Cultural Innovation Conference (Hack the CD) in Seattle. Hack the CD is a two-day event in the "Africatown" neighborhood of Seattle's Central District where, according to their website, "creatives and technologists from across the globe showcase new concepts in designs, entrepreneurship, and technology."



It was at this conference that Phillips presented a fascinating idea: the Aspire Tech Bus.

"I wanted to convert an old school bus into a tech lab," Phillips said, "and I want to drive around to different locations in the city and teach web development or other advanced STEM programming concepts to kids in Detroit."

Phillips wants to help students in the Detroit Public School system who are interested in the tech industry, whether they want to pursue a college degree, become entrepreneurs, or move right into a job.



His planned curriculum includes two 16-week courses, according to Michigan Radio. Students will work on software development teams, learning HTML, JavaScript, and other programming languages. They will also create LinkedIn profiles and learn how to present themselves professionally on social media.

At the end of the course, students are expected to have a code portfolio, the know-how to build a website and server from scratch, and the hardware that hosts these sites. Phillips's project has already attracted attention, and he will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign for more support.

Eventually, Phillips said, he wants the program to expand to other struggling communities and school districts. 

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.