Moses Namara’s interest in computers started at a young age, playing games on his computer. Wanting to learn how games and programs are developed, he chose to study computer science, which has led him to Clemson University, where he’s currently a PhD candidate emphasizing in human-centered computing.
As he’s progressed in his studies, Namara co-created an academic program to support Black artificial intelligence (AI) researchers. For his efforts, he was recently named one of the 35 Innovators Under 35 by the MIT Technology Review.
“In most of my computing classes, I was mostly the only Black person in my class, and increasingly so the numbers continued to dwindle as I got higher up the ladder,” said Namara.
He explained that his interest in AI sparked when he noticed that computers are making decisions on our behalf without much intervention of humans. Through his work, he continues to help shape the future of artificial intelligence by encouraging other young Black students to not only become interested in AI, but he also serves as a mentor, helping them land their first job through additional creative programs.
Namara’s path led to Clemson, thanks to an undergraduate advisor. His educational journey started off at Montgomery College and he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland. Namara came to Clemson for graduate school and finished his master’s in computer science before starting his PhD.
“I specifically came to Clemson for graduate school, but I didn’t know about Clemson at first but learned from my advisor at an academic conference that would help guide me along the way,” said Namara.
While working on his PhD, Namara is also a user experience researcher intern at Facebook, where he conducts research on multiple Facebook products aimed at improving users’ experiences.
Namara hopes to not only recruit for the Black and AI academic program and encouraging students to apply for graduate school, but he also wants people to be in an environment where they feel supported.
“I want to make Clemson an attractable place for people to come to,” he said.
Ultimately, Namara said he hopes to teach once he’s finished with his studies.
“I hope that at the end of my graduate program that I will be able to teach my students in a classroom what I’ve learned to impact the next generation of researchers and students who come after me,” he said.
You can see the complete list of the MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 here.