“Once you see it, you believe that you can do it too”

El-Amins are living their passion by helping others succeed

Milwaukee natives, Que and Khalif El-Amin are the founders of Young Enterprising Society (YES) and The Blueprint. The brothers have been inspired by their father who’s an entrepreneur, their mother, and their entire family full of dynamic talent and knowledge. 

“A lot of my inspiration was my father, he’s been an entrepreneur for over 30 years now. Seeing him and how he was able to give other people opportunity, and not just for himself, has always been inspiration.”

—Que El-Amin

After attending college and living in various cities across the U.S., the brothers returned to Milwaukee. The El-Amins started YES after realizing they could use their wide network and resources to help the city. A lot of their business was built around connecting. In the beginning they hosted a large party at a local venue and got people together from all areas of Milwaukee, of all races and backgrounds. The brothers were able to show a unified front by bringing together a diverse group of people.

The mission of YES is to be an international epicenter for financially, politically, and socially progressive individuals. Serving as a hub, YES mobilizes people, information, resources and capital for the greater good of its members and society at large.

YES presents Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math programming to students in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach that shows children young working examples of people that generate income from these fields. The goal of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math, program is produce students who are trained in entrepreneurial skills based in STEAM that allow them to be successful in industry or college upon completion.

“Big businesses aren’t going to bring back the jobs that we saw in the past, so we have to create our own opportunities.”

—Que El-Amin

YES started the business accelerator known as “The Blueprint” after noticing the lack of African Americans and people of color at a local tech event. The Blueprint helps to develop a rich entrepreneurial ecosystem in the areas of technology, eCommerce, and advanced manufacturing. The Blueprint program provides entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to start and scale in Wisconsin with tools for sustainable business models that will help them be successful. The focus of YES is to continue to grow businesses, and grow entrepreneurs in the city of Milwaukee, and wherever they grow and continue to grow.

“When you have different types of people, they have more insights, more thoughts, and the more diverse thoughts you have, the better a product is going to be. From a business perspective, you need diverse thought, because they produce better products.” 

—Que El-Amin

YES is contributing to The Milky Way Tech Hub Initiative by building an inclusive ecosystem in Milwaukee. They’re giving businesses opportunity, providing them with resources to be successful, and motivating them—seeing somebody else be successful inspires others to believe they can be too. They also believe that collaboration is the key to making Milwaukee be the home of tech diversity across the country—by breaking down silos, working together, and using our strengths and weaknesses to have a direct effort, we can help ensure we’re not recreating the wheel or making the same mistakes. 

“We don’t want to have 1,000 tech organizations and still not be a tech hub. We need to make sure we’re working with each other, not against each other.” 

—Que El-Amin

Get involved

YES believes in developing strong alliances that strengthen communities. You can get involved by visiting the YES website at

YES also has many free resources—courses on STEAM, resources for free software, digital libraries, and scholarships. Visit to learn more.

Additionally, you can join YES on Sunday, June 30, as they welcome Sheena Allen as their special guest for Demo Day.  They will have 12 businesses pitching their newly formed ideas as part of The Blueprint Cultivator.

“Give back as much as you can. Bring other people up with you”

—Que El-Amin

How Code for Milwaukee is building a diversified community through collaboration and civic engagement

Originally from New York, Andrew Yaspan moved to Milwaukee to start a job at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a programer analyst for the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Yaspan completed his undergrad in political science, and did an AmeriCorps term in New Orleans with the rebuilding post-Katrina where he learned a lot about public health and public health perspective. He eventually realized his interest in public health and public policy and took an opportunity in the New Orleans Health Department. While working for the Health Department, Yaspan learned a lot about technology and IT infrastructure. He saw the potential in spreading across departments and using that as a way to break down divisions within government and encourage more collaboration and feedback in government.  

Andrew Yaspan, Code for Milwaukee’s Captain

Yaspan’s consistent interest in well being, social determinants of health, and different aspects of people’s lives that contribute to how much opportunity or disparities in opportunity people have, started with the criminal justice system. One of the first areas that grabbed his attention is how counter-intuitive and destructive our criminal justice and incarceration system is. A lot of his attention was brought to the issue through his love of hip hop music. Additionally, Yaspan’s interest in computer science and policy inspired him to complete the Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy program (MS-CAPP), blending together new ways of doing data analysis, data collection, and using it to inform evidence-based policy. 

After moving to Milwaukee, Yaspan began to see some of the issues regarding segregation and equality in the city. Motivated by his love for service and seeing people’s creativity through the face of adversity, Yaspan worked with a core team to revitalize the Code for Milwaukee effort here. Code for Milwaukee is a Code for America Brigade, which are volunteer groups that collaborate with local government and community partners to build new tools that help with local civic issues.

“Tech for good is one of the pillars, clear connection, symbiosis.”

—Andrew Yaspan

The core Code for Milwaukee team is: Andrew Yaspan, Captain; Mitchell Henkie, Co-Captain & Development Lead; Erin Magennis, Community Organizer; Romke De Haan, Storyteller; Brian Barkley, Communications Lead; Danny Capozzi, Financial Lead.

Erin Magennis, Code for Milwaukee’s Community Organizer, hopes that Code for Milwaukee will be as welcoming, collaborative, and impactful as they envision it can be. 

“Technology isn’t great for technology’s sake, technology is great because it makes people’s lives better. I believe that when initiatives and objectives that can have a considerable effect on people’s lives, are paired and enhanced by technology, that impact can be exponentially greater.”

—Erin Magennis

Moving forward, Magennis and the team is excited to enhance collaboration between tech and civic enthusiasts with:

  • Artists, writers, and videographers who can translate the purpose of the projects into something meaningful that others can connect with. 
  • Marketing and branding masterminds to help promote the projects created to the people who can actually get value out of their existence.
  • Tech and civic engagement inquirers who haven’t yet delved into these realms, but who are interested in learning more about technology, programming, or civic engagement. 

Magennis believes that through the public good projects Code for Milwaukee will be involved with, more people will come to a deeper understanding and connection with the policies affecting our lives and the governing bodies ruling in such a way that they now feel empowered to have a voice and be involved. Magennis also believes that Code for Milwaukee can create a pathway towards a more technologically sustainable community with greater technological interest and literacy starting at young ages. 

“Technology is the future, so having a technologically savvy population will create a more vibrant community.”

—Erin Magennis

Erin Magennis, Code for Milwaukee’s Community Organizer

Magennis hopes that Code for Milwaukee will ignite a series of bridges being built throughout our community, breaking down silos through cross collaboration and diversity of thought. She believes that diversity is key for survival, and by facilitating opportunities for connection to others who may have substantially different backgrounds, but similar interests and passions, will allow us as a community to be better connected and more sustainable. 

One of the projects Code for Milwaukee has in the works is their website to provide a space where people can understand what they’re doing, learn about projects, get to know who the core team members are and their philosophy, and how they can promote good things happening in the city. Code for Milwaukee is also working on creating a de-incarceration platform, providing a space for collaboration for organizations interested in reducing the prison population, and resources for people who are re-entering society. Additionally there is a project being built around one of the core team members’ interests in how property assessments are being done and the disparities in how that’s being done within and across neighborhoods. 

A lot of other projects will be brought to the group, and people can decide which projects they want to be involved in. The Code for Milwaukee team is excited to be part of a solution to support The Milky Way Tech Hub Initiative, to get people involved, and to collaborate on projects. Code for Milwaukee is made up of individuals who are interested in bringing technology to various parts of local government, whether you’re a designer, developer, or a product manager, everyone is encouraged to join regardless of experience. Check out the Code for Milwaukee Meetup page to get involved!

“To achieve real, beneficial impact on people’s lives, meaningful projects need to be tackled. By establishing a community of people who envision a better future and who regularly support, contribute, and commit to working together to build this vision, a better state of Milwaukee can be created. Although Code for Milwaukee may appear to be simply a tech group on first glance, it is so much more than that.”

—Erin Magennis


Tanzania Sewell Educates Milwaukee Youth with her Beyond STEM Program

In her earlier years Tanzania Sewell set out to be a neural surgeon. Over time she came to the realization that as a physician her abilities to treat patients would be limited to the technology that was in reach. Technology began to spark a curiosity that set her career down a path of electrical engineering.

She is currently a lead electrical engineer at GE Healthcare. Outside of her career as an engineer she works to inspire the next generation of leaders in tech. She currently shares her industry experience in the classroom as an adjunct assistant professor at MSOE in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department.

Her passion to educate people in STEM is a testament to what can happen when people are exposed to career paths in STEM and are afforded opportunities to excel in the industry. Sewell continues to pay it forward by helping address the disparities in STEM fields through her program Beyond STEM.

Beyond STEM is a six week hands-on program that introduces ~40 middle school students to a multitude of STEM concepts. In the future Tanzania hopes the program will evolve to provide more in-depth opportunities for students to explore different careers in STEM.

“We seek to provide role models who are succeeding in STEM fields and break the stereotypes that our country and our culture has when it comes to folks in STEM” – Tanania Sewell on Beyond STEM

Today Beyond STEM held its closing celebration to wrap up this years session. Students and parents gathered to celebrate the student’s accomplishments and had the opportunity to listen to a panel of industry professionals share their STEM journeys(pictured below).

Industry professionals share their STEM story with participants of Beyond STEM.

Tanzania Sewell and her program Beyond STEM truly embodies the mission of The Milky Way Tech Hub. By inspiring the future leaders in tech, Beyond STEM is helping Milwaukee’s Tech Scene to be more representative of its population!

Listen to the interview of Tanzania Sewell on our podcast Down to Mars to learn more about her efforts in educating the youth in Milwaukee!

To learn more about the program contact Tanzania at and give them a follow on instagram @beyondStemMKE


Minorities to Majorities: How Jasmine Chigbu is tackling the diversity gap and inspiring students to pursue their dreams

Jasmine Chigbu has always been interested in medicine and driven by her passion to help people. Chigbu, a first year med student with an undergrad in clinical research and master’s degree in biomedical sciences, noticed a distinct lack of diversity in her undergraduate, graduate, and professional experiences. She was often one of a few females and ethnic minorities in the room, and fell into entrepreneurship through this realization. While Chigbu was researching scholarships for her graduate degree, she realized she could share her extensive research to help others. It became a personal passion project. Chigbu wanted to find a way to increase the representation of diverse groups by providing them with information about educational and professional opportunities, tools, and inspiration. Chigbu found a software development company, and through trial and error, built Minorities to Majorities, a mobile app to provide ethnic minority, female, LGBTQ and international students information about scholarship, internship, and fellowship opportunities.

“Be creative in the ways you want to reduce disparities. What’s creative in your approach? Minorities to Majorities is using tech. Use your niche—find a creative way to attack the same issue and you’ll have greater results. If you’re really passionate, that will keep you going.” 

While being underrepresented is challenging and at times isolating, Chigbu encourages people to use their voice, even if they feel suppressed, and to let go of imposter syndrome.  

“You might be under-represented, but you’re not under-qualified.”

Jasmine Chigbu, founder of Minorities to Majorities.

“Find your community—social media, friends, a community of people to support you and champion you.” 

Chigbu found support and mentorship from her boss while working at a biotech startup, and she was introduced to Nadiyah Johnson, founder of Jet Constellations, while pursuing her mission-driven project. Both are driven by their passion for promoting diversity and empowering underrepresented people—an instant partnership was formed. Johnson has helped develop MTM, and has joined their growing team as Operations Manager.

The Minorities to Majorities team.

MTM is driven by their mission to transform the lives of students one opportunity at a time. They’ve started a crowd funding campaign to raise funds to generate their second generation app in order to better serve students, and they need your help. The funds will help expedite the scholarship, internship and fellowship search and application process for students through the utilization of AI, customized software and an improved algorithm. The goal is to scale their platform and mobile app into the leading educational and professional platform connecting students to opportunities across the globe.

MTM plans to optimize their mobile app and platform through the following methods:

  • Develop an advanced algorithm with improved search and filtering functionality to provide users with curated experiences
  • Build a web compatible platform to accompany the mobile app, improving user accessibility
  • Leverage artificial intelligence to continuously populate our opportunities database  
  • Hire an enterprise development team to design, build and configure the app

In order to close the diversity gap, Chigbu says we need to speak up and speak out. 

“Don’t be afraid to call out disparities. Call them out and provide examples, whether it’s at work, or school. Start small-one step at a time, making actionable steps.”

If you want to help, consider contributing to the campaign, or help by sharing this campaign with your friends, family, and social networks!

Check out the campaign here!


A Month of Panels in The Milky Way!

Panels, Panels, and more Panels!

This month I had the opportunity to moderate and speak on several panels. I picked up some amazing gems along the way that I had to share!

Toward the beginning of the month I had the pleasure of being on a panel hosted by Northwestern Mutual’s African American Employee Resource Group!  It was such an honor to sit along side amazing women to discuss  navigating tech careers and sharing the importance of representation in tech! I was super thrilled to be sitting next to Keisha Howard founder of Sugar gamers. She’s a true gem ! 

Key takeaways from this panel: 

  • Communities that want to help address the racial and gender disparities in STEM fields should commit to giving time, money and resources.
  • When exploring career paths— educate yourself as much as possible on the industry and all it has to offer.
  • Technology is democratizing entrepreneurship.— Create what you want!

This month I also moderated a panel for Northwestern Mutuals Girls in Tech day!  This panel was geared toward young girls in middle school! We talked about the power of standing out! Knowing that these brilliant young women are interested in a career in STEM gives me hope for the future! 

Key takeaways: 

  • Leverage what makes you unique.
  • Ask questions early and often.
  • YouTube University is a great way to pick up a new skill!
  • It’s possible to be artsy/creative and have a passion for STEM at the same time!

Lastly, yesterday I sat on a panel hosted by Panther Hacks. Again, it was an incredible honor to sit alongside amazing leaders in Milwaukee. We had a candid conversation about Milwaukee’s entrepreneurial capabilities and the need to address Milwaukee’s segregation issues in order to ensure Milwaukee reaches its full potential. 

Key take aways:

  • Take risks!
  • It’s better to fail big than to fail small because of the level of learning along the way.
  • Don’t allow people to project their limitations on you! 
  • Never underestimate your ability to make change!
  • Keep a solid support system.. but believe in yourself enough to fly solo if you have to. 

I ‘m grateful for the community leaders in the city that made all of these amazing events possible. I especially am grateful for the amazing folks at Northwestern Mutual that continue pour their time and resources into the community to empower Milwaukee’s tech hub!

Good stuff!

Check out my new podcast –


Jet Constellations and The Milky Way- A Moment with the Founder

Jet Constellations continues to make head way in creating an urban tech hub in Milwaukee. The Milky Way Tech Hub initiative aims to ensure Milwaukee’s tech hub is reflective of its diverse population. Watch the video below to learn more about Jet Constellations and The Milky Way initiative!


Momentum in the Milky Way

Momentum in the Milky Way!

hackthedreamThere were many notable events last week that featured tech, entrepreneurship and networking. Several of which were in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was able to attend the “Hack the Dream” event Hosted by i.c.Stars. and had an amazing time!

Hack the Dream was an incredible event that aimed to highlight the work of the Office of Violence Prevention and bring non-profits and technologist in the city together to ideate solutions for the city’s problems. I had the opportunity to participate in the pitch contest and thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

Mayor Barrett

At the beginning of the event we were greeted by the Mayor who encouraged everyone in the room to continue putting forth efforts to making Milwaukee a tech hub. I was happy to hear him give Jet Constellations Milky Way initiative a shout out! Following a presentation on OVP from director Reggie Moore, representatives of the non-profits were grouped with technologist to quickly develop a solution to a problem presented by the non-profits earlier. I was paired up with Urban Underground to develop a way to leverage technology to communicate stories of disenfranchised people. After about an hour groups pitched their ideas.
Judges William Caraher Melanie Cannon Brown Adam Gabornitz & Reggie Moore chose a local grass roots organization,  Program the Parks to be the winner!

This was an inspiring event and a great way to spend MLK day. I’m looking forward to participating in similar events in the future.


Startup Milwaukee Week Emphasizes the Importance of Diversity in Milwaukee’s Tech and Startup Ecosystem

JetConstellationsdesignstudio (5)

Jet Constellations Presents the Inaugural
Startup Milwaukee Week Diversity Track

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – As Milwaukee’s startup community continues to grow it is extremely important that this community is a reflection of Milwaukee’s diverse population. Startup Milwaukee recognizes the importance of diversity in Milwaukee’s tech and startup ecosystems and is partnering with Jet Constellations, a local startup focused on building a nurturing ecosystem of techies and entrepreneurs that represent Milwaukee’s diverse population to ensure inclusion through Startup Milwaukee Week’s diversity track programming.

This is the first year Startup Milwaukee Week which runs November 5 – 11, 2018 has included a diversity track which will include nine events hosted by organizations such as Jet Constellations, MalmaDoe, Spearity and 88nine Radio Milwaukee.

“Having a strong STEM workforce that is inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds is critical for the Milwaukee region to be competitive in the 21st century,” said Nadiyah Johnson founder of Jet Constellations “We are committed to closing the diversity gap in Milwaukee’s tech and  startup community and aim to raise awareness of the need to do so throughout Startup Milwaukee Week’s diversity track.”

“Cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce for the tech and startup community would be a competitive advantage for Milwaukee as we continue to develop the ecosystem,” said Matt Cordio president of Skills Pipeline and organizer of Startup Milwaukee Week. “We are excited to partner with Jet Constellations as part of our commitment to advance the tech community, moving southeastern Wisconsin’s economy forward, and provide more opportunity to build and grow a pipeline of startups and technology talent.”

According to Pew Research, Black and Hispanic workers continue to be underrepresented in the STEM workforce. Blacks are 9% of STEM workforce while being 11% of the total US workforce. The lack of representation of women, Blacks and Hispanics hold strong financial implications. It’s no secret that jobs in STEM fields average higher salaries compared with many non-STEM jobs. If there is not a significant push for STEM education in underrepresented communities the wage gap will not only persist but also expand. There will be an approximate 9 million jobs in the STEM industry by 2022.

Jet Constellations believes that quality STEM education should be afforded to everyone not just the elite institutions. It is vital that we as a country understand what’s at stake and care enough to take action.

Diversity Track Event Information





Jet Constellations: The Milky Way –

Changing the Culture of STEM



88Nine Radio Milwaukee

MalmaDoe: Women Founder’s Business Lifecycle




Thrive: People Strategy – setting and growing thriving culture


1:00 PM

Technology Innovation Center

Spearity: Developing Inner City Tech Entrepreneurs


Milwaukee Networking Hub: Speednetworking – Building Relationships, One Round at a Time



Central Standard

UWM’s Immerisive Media Lab (Augmented & Virtual Realities):

Tour UWM’s Immersive Media Lab


9:00 AM

Kenilworth Square East Side of Building

Lubar Entrepreneurship Center:

UWM Social Good Morning with Dr. Moe Mukiibi


9:30 AM

UWM Freshwater Science

88Nine Radio Milwaukee:

88Nine Labs | Moving the needle: How new technology is changing the music industry


5:30 PM

Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Labs

88Nine Radio Milwaukee:

88Nine x Capitol Records Hackathon


10:00 AM

Northwestern Mutual’s Cream City Labs

About Jet Constellations:

Jet Constellations is a community tech hub that functions to promote STEM education in our communities, consult tech oriented startups, and build a nurturing ecosystem of techies and entrepreneurs that represent Milwaukee’s diverse population. Startup Milwaukee Week’s  Diversity Track presented by Jet Constellations’ Milky Way initiative aims to promote diversity in Milwaukee‘s tech scene.

About Startup Week Milwaukee:

Startup Milwaukee Week presented by Advocate Aurora Health takes place on November 5 – 11, 2018, and is designed to connect, educate, and celebrate entrepreneurship in Southeast Wisconsin. The week’s programming showcases the community’s emerging companies while highlighting the resources and organizations available to foster support for entrepreneurs on their journey. The week will feature 40+ events hosted by 35+ partner organizations in the community. Startup Milwaukee Week is supported by Advocate Aurora Health, Concordia University Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell, Northwestern Mutual, Accelity Marketing, Headway, Milwaukee Business Journal and Newsradio 620 WTMJ and is a part of the Startup Wisconsin initiative.


Tech-Hub for The Milky Way

stikerdesktop (1)Jet Constellations is a local startup that functions to promote STEM education in Milwaukee, consult tech oriented startups, and build a nurturing ecosystem of techies and entrepreneurs . Jet Constellations’ Milky Way initiative works to transform Milwaukee into a tech hub that represents the city’s diverse population through community workshops, panels, talks, hackathons and design thinking sessions.  It is evident diversity in STEM spurs innovation and plays a significant role in ensuring the best ideas and solutions see the light of day.  An inclusive tech scene in Milwaukee will help the city reach its full potential. Milwaukee will be known as The Milky Way, a tech hub made up of creators and innovators that are representative of its population.
Follow Jet Constellations
Instagram – @jetconstellations
Facebook- Jet Constellations


DeepVariant: Genomics Meet Deep Learning

Collage of DNA images and people

Yesterday I attended a talk on deep learning and genomics by Pi-Chauan Chang, a software engineer at Google.  Pi-Chauan gave a high level overview of deep learning and how her team formulates a problem in genomics to successfully apply deep learning techniques. She also discussed DeepVariant – a software built by Google to enable community efforts to progress genomic sequencing.

What is deep learning?:

Deep Learning is a subfield of machine learning concerned with algorithms inspired by the structure and function of the brain called artificial neural networks.

Deep learning is playing a huge role in advancements in genomic research such as high processing of sequencing techniques.  This information era where we continue to be presented with an outpouring of data has truly began to challenge conventional methods used in genomics. While deep learning has succeeded in a variety of fields such as vision, speech, and text processing it is now presented with the unique challenge of helping us to explore beyond our current knowledge to interpret the genome.

Pi-Chauan Chang shared that genome sequencing is a core technology in biology.. It allows us to ask how can we personalize medicine  based on genome?

What is a Genome?:

A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build that organism and allow it to grow and develop.

There are 23 chromosome we inherent from our parents.

Most of our DNA is similar.. 99.9% of our DNA are the same– this makes us human..

Its the .1 pecent that makes us unique. 

The Human Genome Project was a milestone of genome sequencing . This was the massive international collaboration to map the complete human genome. This project outputted a  genome dictionary ~ 3.2 million characters.

A decade ago it was expensive to sequence it cost ~$1000 to sequence an individual. This creates much opportunity for precision medicine.

There is, however, a trade off.

The new sequencing technology has errors! From blood draw computational biologists get raw data(characters of ACTG) which are really short snippets of  the whole genome.. much like puzzle pieces. They try to map the puzzle pieces but are faced having to find the variants.

Variant calling:

Variant calling is the process by which we identify variants from sequence data.

Typically variant calling consist of a three step process:

  1. Carry out whole genome or whole exome sequencing to create FASTQ files.
  2. Align the sequences to a reference genome, creating BAM or CRAM files.
  3. Identify where the aligned reads differ from the reference genome and write to a VCF file.
A CRAM file aligned to a reference genomic region as visualised in Ensembl. Differences are highlighted in red in the reads, and will be called as variants.

The audience was informed that it is pretty common that computational biologists regularly inspect genomic data..

The question at hand is can we teach machines to perform the same task? Can we teach a machine to detect the variants?

This is where deep learning steps in.


DeepVariant is a deep learning technology to reconstruct the true genome sequence from HTS(high-throughput sequencing)  sequencer data with significantly greater accuracy than previous classical methods. DeepVariant transforms the task of variant calling, as this reconstruction problem is known in genomics, into an image classification problem well-suited to Google’s existing technology and expertise.

DeepVariant is now an open source software to encourage collaboration and to accelerate the use of this technology to solve real world problems!