Minority Programmers Association strives to create a diverse, multidisciplinary community using technical knowledge to develop globally minded projects. We strive to motivate our members through community outreach and professional development events. Our solutions are intended to be humanitarian in nature and socially impactful. We hope to uplift underprivileged communities, diversity the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics discipline, and approach problems from a software engineering perspective.
The Minority Programmers Association was originally founded in 2019 by a group of culturally diverse Computer Science, SMAD, Intelligence Analysis, and Business students as a national organization aimed to diversify the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field by allowing a space for minorities to develop humanitarian software solutions for communities in need.
With its first chapter at JMU, MPA uses a project-based learning approach to not only train its members on programming practices but other frontier software development practices as well. The organization aims to attract members from a wide variety of disciplines that utilize technology in their studies. The diversity of the organization aids effective problem solving as we work on impactful humanitarian projects.
The Minority Programmers Association overall vision is to both diversify the STEM field to reflect a diverse world and channel this technological empowerment to fuel humanitarian change. A facet of achieving diversity in STEM is both establishing a professional network of programmers from across the world, but also educating members of this network with both soft and technical skills, further investing in this world’s future. Moreover, as part of this principle of community outreach, MPA intends to implement local outreach with introductory programming courses through our local chapter model.
Our main objectives are as follows:
Kush Gupta is a Sophomore Computer Science student at JMU. As a Co-Founder of MPA, Kush aims to help develop projects that can make a real difference for communities in need. Currently, Kush works for a Defense contractor, Northrop Grumman, and is the President of Recruitment of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Planning to graduate a year early, he aims to leave a legacy at JMU with the hope that MPA can expand and create impactful projects that can affect the lives of people daily.
Abele Aynekulu is a Computer Science Major and Minor in Mathematics. He was born in Ethiopia and moved to the US at the age of 10. One of the reasons Abele got in to the field is the aspirations he received from his surroundings. Abele’s dream is to expose and educate communities around the world with the potential of STEM. As a founding member of MPA, Abele focuses on producing projects with an international scope.
Michelle Wong is a sophomore Computer Information Systems with a minor in Chinese. As a founding member of MPA, Michelle’s mission is to encourage young underprivileged programmers through free programming workshops and classes to provide them with equal opportunities of learning among their peers. Michelle’s mission also includes promoting STEM fields as career options to young female programmers and to empower their confidence in their abilities to succeed as much as their male counterparts. Michelle is an active member in multiple organizations including Women in Technology and also is an At-Large Senator on the Academic Committee in the Student Government Association.
Shot is a Computer Science major, Computer Information Systems minor of Bangladeshi descent. As a Co-Founder of MPA, Shot’s dream is to give the tool of computer programming to underprivileged communities to make the world a better place. Shot is also the founder of the JMU Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and President of Virginia DanceSafe, a nonprofit organization providing harm reduction services like drug testing and trip sitting in the nightlife/festival scene. A background in criminology, grassroots organizing, and harm reduction, Shot’s focus is on developing solutions to mitigate the impacts of the war on drugs.
Saif Manj is currently a student at George Mason University. Born in Pakistan, Saif came to America with the hope of both being able to support his family, but one day being able to remedy conflict in his motherland. He believes technology is the key to upward mobility for immigrant communities and developing nations. His interests include developing systems to make governing systems more transparent, social systems more equitable, and education more accessible. He brings a unique perspective to the team as he understands the limitations of implementing software solutions in area with power shortages, low-bandwith, and little infrastructure.
Dr. Toledo is a veteran professor having spent over 30 years teaching Computer Science and Math at James Madison University. Dr. Toledo is also Venezuelan native, recipient of JMU’s 2015 Diversity Enhancement Award, and Minority Programmer’s Coalition JMU Faculty Advisor. He also serves as the Editor-In-Chief of International Journal of Computer & Software Engineering (IJCSE). His research interests include Natural Languages, Databases, Data Mining, Compiler, Design, and Discrete Mathematics.
River is a Senior and is graduating JMU with a Bachelor's of Science in Interactive Design. His specialty is developing websites that are not only responsive, but easily accesible to people living with impairments. He hopes to use his skills in design to help causes he cares about a leg-up in their field.
Myles is a sophomore in Integrated Sciences and Technology major at James Madison University. Myles’s vision consists of integrating advancements of technology with a larger perspective on global conflicts; such as combating climate challenge. Myles invisions a platform to achieve global solutions through MPA. As a member of the Coders Anonymous club, Myles plans to further his discussion through numerous resources.
Grace is a sophomore Intelligence Analysis and Independent Scholars double major with Computer Science, Telecommunications, and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies minors at James Madison University. Through the Independent Scholars program, she analyzes technological trends and how they impact public policy, governance, and social dynamics around the world. She hopes that MPA can work on humanitarian projects to help combat international crime and address global concerns even if the projects are implemented locally.
Kyle Vinsand is a Computer Science Student at JMU. He enjoys educating other students as well, serving as Computer Science Teaching Assistant where he guides other college students through a wide array of programming problems during open lab hours.
Kyle LaCanna is a sophomore in Computer Science at James Madison University. Kyle aims to spread the knowledge of Computer Programming to everyone and allow everyone to be able to transform the future with technology. At the age of 14, he and a team had developed a gaming server which allowed people from all over the world to come together and make memories. Currently Kyle is the Head of Recruitment for Sigma Phi Delta Engineering Fraternity. Before he leaves James Madison, he wants to expand MPA and help bring the power of programming to students and people of the community.