Ann Arbor software consultancy offers fellowship for BIPOC high schoolers

Software development consultancy Atomic Object’s Ann Arbor office is offering fellowship opportunities to Washtenaw County BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) high school students who plan on pursuing higher education and careers in computer science. Fellows will receive $2,500 annually, up to $10,000, throughout their time in higher education.

"The ultimate goal is to bring in one new fellow each year, and support them through a four-year college degree," says Dylan Goings, accelerator manager at Atomic Object and fellowship mentor. "The first application process happened last spring, and we brought on our first two fellows in the fall."

The Baker and Cook Fellowship, named after Ann Arbor Foundry founders Charlie Baker and Tom Cook, offers more than just monetary incentive for students interested in a computer science career. Accepted fellows also will receive mentorship from current Atomic Object employees, who will meet with fellows to discuss navigating through college, and assist fellows with networking and career planning once the fellows finish their degrees.

Jonah Bailey, Atomic Object managing partner and the founder of the Baker and Cook Fellowship, saw the diversity gaps within his field. He says he knew he could make a difference on that issue within the Washtenaw County community.

"We’re particularly passionate about getting people of color into technology," Bailey says. "We want to do everything in our power to be a strong ally with an opinion about how that can be achieved."

Computer science has steadily become one of the most lucrative careers. Forbes reported in 2015 that the average salary for a college graduate with a computer science major is $71,500. While both Bailey and Goings say pay can be a massive draw to the field, the fellowship is about more than just getting college grads into high-paying positions.

"If you’re one of the first people going into higher education in your family, or the first one in this field, it’s important to find out what is valuable to spend your time on," Goings says. "We want to provide those resources as much as possible – as well as anything else that will lead to a successful outcome."

The fellowship is designed for any Washtenaw County BIPOC high school student interested in pursuing a degree in computer science, or currently enrolled in computer science courses at their school. Four finalists will be chosen at the end of April, with up to two of those finalists being selected as fellows. Those interested in applying or learning more about the fellowship can visit the Atomic Object website or email

"We want to make a local impact," Goings says. "We specialize in creative solutions to difficult problems. The more diverse perspectives you have, you come up with better solutions. Societally, we see this as something that is important and that we want to be involved with."

"My hope is other tech companies see what we’re doing and do it themselves," Bailey says. "Everyone should be doing this kind of work. We are passionate about seeing that rich diversity in technology. The tech we’re producing as a human race will be better and serve the planet better when we’re all involved."

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photos by Joe Ho Photography.
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