The Binghamton Tech Collective (BTC), a recent addition to Binghamton University’s array of student clubs, is making waves on campus with its mission to foster a thriving tech scene through innovative campus-based projects. Co-founded by Mishu Kaur, president of BTC and a junior majoring in computer science, and Jenifer Weng, vice president of BTC and a senior majoring in political science — BTC’s journey is both inspiring and transformative.

BTC’s story began during the 2023 finals season when Kaur reflected on the lack of opportunities for students to gain tech experience on BU’s campus.

“It is so difficult to gain tech experience on campus, which is a problem because the tech industry is growing really fast, and people’s interest in tech is growing really fast,” Kaur said. “A lot of other universities have tech clubs, and those are the students that [BU] students are competing against in the job market. So we wanted to create BTC to have a space for students to gain actual experience, but also to make an impact on campus with projects.”

With this vision in mind, Kaur went to Weng, a classmate and friend who shared a similar vision.

“Before [Kaur] had come to me last semester with the idea, I had already been doing a lot of thinking because on campus, especially for a social science major who is interested in tech, it’s really hard to get into tech without prior experience,” Weng said.

In addition to making tech opportunities readily available, the two founders envisioned a project-based club that could create a space for students to tackle campus-wide issues with effective solutions.

“It’s really heartbreaking because what can you really do on campus,” Weng said. “You can do your research, but after your research, you know what the problem is, but what resources do we have on campus to actually solve it? But with a club like BTC, I feel like it would really inspire a lot of students to actually realize that there is a place on campus where if they have a good idea, and it’s an idea that a lot of people feel the same way about, it is something that we can actualize and create positive impact for.”

To make their vision a reality, Kaur and Weng embarked on a series of student surveys, identifying a myriad of on-campus problems. The surveys revealed a wide range of project ideas, such as redesigning the Off Campus College Transport SPOT app, helping students find off-campus housing, creating a platform for making study groups on campus and even finding ways to help students make friends.

While these projects are not yet official, Kaur and Weng confirmed that they would each select and head a project within the next few weeks, with a focus on benefitting the campus community.

Following an application and recruitment process, Kaur and Weng appointed over 90 general body members to head these projects, embracing students from various disciplines, including STEM students, School of Management (SOM) and Harpur College students.

Kaur and Weng were keen on inclusivity and gender diversity, recognizing the need to break away from male-dominated tech culture.

“A lot of the [tech] clubs on campus have a lot of men, and there’s not really a place where it’s super inclusive [for women] besides Girls Who Code and Women in Tech,” Kaur said. “So we want to make sure that BTC is an inclusive club for all, and promote that you don’t have to be one specific type of computer science student to be in the club.”

Weng reinforced this idea, emphasizing that BTC aims to include students outside of typical tech fields.

“You don’t have to be an engineering major to be involved in tech either,” Weng said. “I want to make sure that people understand that you can break into tech. It is possible.”

While E-Board, design and software engineering team positions have already been filled for this semester, students can get involved through BTC’s student workshops. Collaborating with the Product Management Development Program, BTC offers workshops aimed at enhancing technical skills and career development. Additionally, BTC’s director of technical education will be posting a website-building workshop, and the director of career development will host a career development and LinkedIn workshop.

While BTC is in its early stages, both founders are optimistic about the future of the club. After receiving over 100 applications over the span of two weeks in their first semester of operation, Kaur and Weng hope to accept more applicants in the coming semesters as the club continues to grow.

BTC, beginning as an idea, has grown into a promising space for students to gain tech experience and work to promote positive campus improvements by students, for students. With an eye on a future filled with innovation and progress, BTC hopes to make a significant impact on Binghamton’s tech landscape.