Davin Jackson has created a hub for the youth to explore technology.

This is important for the Bridgeport, CT, native since he himself gained financial security working in the sector. It was also something he was drawn to at an early age. In fact, his tech exposure can be traced back indirectly to his interest in tinkering with computers.

“I grew up not really knowing much about tech or not knowing that the things that I was doing or interested in would be considered tech,” Jackson, 40, told AFROTECH. “I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house, and she just used to let me tinker with stuff. Her rule was, as long as I could put it back together before my father came to get me, it would be fine.”

He continued, “So, I always made sure I put it back together. But I always had that mind to try to figure out how things work and what I could do to make it work differently. That kind of got lost when I got into high school, but I didn’t really follow a lot of tech things, and honestly there weren’t a lot of opportunities for tech in the high school I was going to.”

Alpha Esports & Technology

Jackson was essentially self-taught in the tech field, embracing a non-traditional pathway, and he secured various certifications. Today he serves as a cybersecurity trainer and penetration tester. He is also the founder of Alpha Esports & Technology, a self-funded venture creating opportunities for the next generation — opportunities he missed out on in his early years.

Housed in a 1,400-square-foot facility, the esports, gaming, tech/cyber education center invites the youth to join esports teams, which include the Fortnite, Overwatch 2, and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate esports leagues, all requiring a paid monthly membership fee of about $200. Additionally the center has workshops led by guest speakers around tech, cybersecurity, ethical hacking, and game design, to name a few.

“What we want to do is use gaming as that bridge to engage in conversations about having roles in tech,” Jackson explained.

Photo Credit: Davin Jackson

He is currently in the process of creating a hybrid version of the workshops through Google Classroom to make the material accessible to members who may be traveling or are unable to make it to the center.

Girls Game Two

Another focus area of the center is ensuring both boys and girls feel welcomed. Its Overwatch 2 esports league team is a mixed-gendered team.

Additionally, the center hosts weekly game nights solely for women and girls of all ages and backgrounds.

“We do a program called Girls Game Two for women of all ages to come get together, and they can game and have fun,” Jackson said. “I know there’s some young ladies who are amazing at some of the games, but they don’t wanna play with the boys. So, now we give them an opportunity to play amongst themselves, feel comfortable, feel safe, and not have to worry about some of the things that they hear online.”

Content Creation

Furthermore, Alpha Esports & Technology has 15 computers in its facility and encourages members to also utilize the labs for content creation. Jackson says mentees can create blog posts, Twitter threads, or rely on other social media platforms to document their technical knowledge.

“Cybersecurity is a big field, and sometimes you can get lost in the mix and lost in the shuffle when trying to apply and compete with other people,” he said. “So one thing that I have my mentees do is document their journey.”

Jackson added, “People, especially in ethical hacking jobs, struggle with having hands-on knowledge. So, that’s where the content creation comes in. You can do small videos on simple things like how to secure your Wi-Fi right at home. It can be any topic you want as long as you’re displaying that knowledge.”

Looking ahead, he is focused on improving the center and increasing its exposure. He hopes to create more tech hubs across the nation and different parts of the world.

“My goal is to build several centers across the continent, where we are promoting positivity, safe spaces, and also learning transferrable skills into careers beyond gaming,” Jackson said.