NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk State University is looking to get students motivated to innovate. That’s why they are launching the Spartan Innovation Academy. To help that along, every incoming and returning student will get some high-tech assistance: an iPad Pro.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our students, to have the innovation and the tools that allow them to move forward and do so many creative things and to be competitive in the world of work,” said NSU President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston.
Adams-Gaston announced the new academy last week. As part of it, students, faculty and some staff will get iPad Pros. The school will also add an on-campus innovation lab where students can learn about coding and app development.
Adams-Gaston hopes this helps bridge the digital divide, which was further exposed by the pandemic.
“If we don’t fix the digital divide issue, we’re going to have a situation where there are ‘have and have-nots’ and Norfolk State doesn’t find that acceptable,” said Adams-Gaston. “So, we’re doing what we need to do to have our students ready to go.”
Adams-Gaston was on hand Friday to help distribute the first 30 iPads to students in the Virginia College Affordability Network, which provides college tuition and academic support to students from Hampton Roads who are Pell-eligible.
The iPads went to students like Robert Dunbar, who is from Chesapeake and studying computer science.
“It takes away like all of the financial stress of college,” said Dunbar.
Fellow freshman Anthony Jones agrees.
“It’s a blessing. We don’t have to pay for school or be in debt, so I think that it’s a great opportunity for me to be in this program,” he said.
Adams-Gaston said some of the funding is coming from the state and some is coming from the CARES Act.
The university will hand out the remaining iPads and accessories to students and faculty throughout the month of September. Students will be able to keep the devices throughout their enrollment at the university. When they graduate, they can purchase the device for $1.
With the new initiative, NSU will be the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to launch a campus-wide deployment of these Apple products to all students and faculty in a first-year program.