BERKELEY, CA -- Filipino Americans in Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (FASTER) is
honored to have the Silicon Valley legend, Dado Banatao this year’s keynote speaker at the annual
FASTERCON conference hosted in UC Berkeley on Saturday, October 6. Every Filipino American History
Month, FASTER, a community organization dedicated to cultivating the Filipino American community in tech
celebrates the contributions of leading Filipino American technology professionals making an impact on
the tech industry and community and in partnership with media outlets, The Filipino Channel University
(TFCU) and Kubo. The hope is to increase more Filipino American youth from all backgrounds to pursue
careers in tech, and especially in engineering, where the number of Filipino Americans nationally in the
profession still remain underrepresented. FASTER pays homage to trailblazers like Banatao and highlight
both seasoned professionals and millennials succeeding across various verticals and roles in the tech
industry including blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, cleantech, biotech, artificial intelligence.
The conference, along with the annual mentorship program, helps build upon the effort for facilitating a strategic pipeline into the tech industry. Students and professionals listen in on a fireside chat with Banatao, considered to be the leading Filipino American Silicon Valley tech pioneer, whom also has a hall in his name in the engineering school at Cal. He is well known for making his mark in computer hardware early on and was a part of the wave of innovation with key tech thought leaders such as Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple’s co-founders from Berkeley). Banatao has given back generously over the years through many initiatives, including PhilDev Foundation and an Asian Pacific Fund scholarship in his name awarded to excelling high school students pursuing careers in engineering. Banatao scholar, UC Berkeley alumnus, and FASTER Board member spearheading the young alumni and student organizing conference committee, Corrina Calanoc, noted the significance of continuing mentorship for FASTER which features their annual mentorship program for students interested in pursuing tech careers.
“I benefited greatly from having people throughout my college experience serve as ate's and kuya's who helped me navigate institutions as a first generation college student. I've already seen the brilliance and innovation that transpires from accomplished engineers working together with students to tackle world problems during my time as a Banatao scholar. At first glance it seems like there's still such sparse representation in tech, but formalizing mentorship within this industry will give folks a better picture of how wide our community spreads and that's so exciting to me."
This year’s conference agenda includes programs for Filipino American students and professionals. Breakout sessions for Filipino tech professionals include workshops for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), independent consultants, tech startup entrepreneurs, and Pinays in tech (sponsored by Filipinas In Computing under the Anita Borg Institute Systers affinity groups). Charity Nicolas, Cal Pilipino American Alumni Chapter President and FASTER Board Member, recently founded Tech-In-Color, where members of FASTER PROS professional component, provide community service to high school students giving them exposure toward various tech career paths. Tech-In-Color allows students to experience a “day-in-the-life” shadowing through company tours with partner companies such as Gap, Pinterest, Pandora, Twilio, and Tesla.
“As a mother and first-generation Filipina, I hope Tech-In-Color and FASTER will create more equity for students of color looking for opportunities leading into tech and STEAM careers. By building a pipeline now, we hope this professional support system will provide invaluable guidance and mentorship to them throughout their career journey,” Nicolas continued.
Erin Pangilinan, FASTER Founder and Board President reiterated the importance of early exposure to support the life cycle of Filipino Americans as a whole and recognizing and celebrating Filipino American tech professionals at all roles and levels who have historically contributed to the making of Silicon Valley.
“Silicon Valley's rich history of Asian American contributions is significant, and Filipino Americans have always been a part of that storyline, whether it has been tech legends like Dado Banatao, our uncles and aunties working on the assembly line at Selectron like mine, or my parents in biotech as research and development scientists, our community’s stories need to be told. Early exposure to the tech industry in my own backyard carried me through all different phases of my career from civic engagement and now back into the spaces of immersive and emerging tech. Not everyone has that kind of support. We want to be able to help our community look to leading professionals and encourage others to aspire for achievement in their career, whether academic or industry related to technology, with an emphasis on technical skills that enables many to rise up like Dado and become leaders not only for the Filipino American community, but for all those entering tech. FASTER’s values strive for excellence in professionalism and education as well as serving community and we believe Dado embodies that. We encourage all students to become like him, and many other leading professionals no matter their background to demonstrate it is possible to achieve greatness.” Pangilinan emphasized that these success stories and those also readily forgotten have powered Silicon Valley’s tech companies for years.
“Many people do not talk about folks like Dado, Bobby Murphy (co-founder and CTO of SnapChat, and Stanford alumnus). We have talented folks in all areas of the industry from founders, lead designers, engineers, managers etc. that are relatively unknown and we hope through learning by example and sharing these stories, in our conference and through media partnerships, to spread the message partnering with TFCU, Kubo etc. and hope to inspire the next generation of Filipino Americans to enter careers in tech where they can bring value in impacting the lives of millions with the products that they create and services they provide.”
FASTER is dedicated to helping students and professionals rise in the next step of their career, encouraging professionals to leverage their networks with cross collaboration. FASTER strengthens a network of support through service. It takes a village to thrive as any entrepreneur and FASTER helps the tech ecosystem that we hope will bring more Filipino Americans into the tech workforce and engender Filipino American made-products and Filipino American founded companies now and for generations to come.