Miami Dade College elevates Antonio Delgado to key role in tech ecosystem

Miami Dade College leader Antonio Delgado has a message for local companies, large and small: “When you need tech talent, you can find it here.”

Delgado now has a much bigger pulpit. Miami Dade College has named him Vice President of Innovation and Technology Partnerships, a new position designed to further the college’s mission in Miami’s burgeoning tech ecosystem. Delgado is well known in Miami’s tech community, previously serving as MDC’s dean of School of Engineering, Technology and Design (EnTec), which has been on a tear creating new programs in emerging technologies.

“In his new role, Antonio will focus on building new and expanded strategic alliances in Miami’s tech ecosystem, as well as regionally, nationally, and internationally, so the College can continue fueling the technology talent of the future today and helping students expeditiously enter the workforce with quality jobs and careers,” said MDC President Madeline Pumariega in a letter to faculty announcing the new role.

It’s a role Delgado is excited about taking on at the nation’s most diverse institution of higher education, full of first-generation and second-generation immigrants. That experience is his experience, too.

“Miami is the city where you can make the American Dream happen,” says Delgado, who is Cuban and came to Miami 10 years ago after earning a Master’s in London. “That’s what I’m here for – changing lives with pathways for economic mobility,”

He saw lives changed first-hand during the pandemic, like the small business owner whose service business didn’t survive the pandemic but he went to MDC to learn cloud computing skills and is now working with Amazon.

In fact, EnTec actually increased enrollment during the pandemic as more South Floridians used the time to reskill or skill-up in technology fields.

As dean, Delgado established partnerships with global players in tech, including Amazon, Tesla, IBM, Microsoft, SoftBank and Google. He launched the Cybersecurity Center of the Americas, the Cloud Computing Center, and the Electric Vehicle Training Center at MDC, and helped secure more than $15 million in prestigious grants from the National Security Agency, the National Science Foundation, Mozilla, and other organizations. Prior to his role as Dean of EnTec, Delgado managed technology programs for The Idea Center and served as Generation IT Program Manager and Lead Instructor for the McKinsey Social Initiative at MDC.

The Cybersecurity Center at Miami Dade College.

In his new role, Delgado will work to further connect MIami Dade Collegev – and it’s more than 100,000 students – to the tech community “to make the ecosystem stronger, promote what we’re doing and make sure that our message is heard by a lot of companies and locals who say we don’t have enough talent,” Delgado said.

“At Miami Dade College, we’re listening and creating the talent that the workforce needs, diverse talent with in-demand skills.”

That would be skills in Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, data science and other emerging technologies. Indeed, applied AI training has been and will continue to be a big focus at MDC, he said. “We hear a lot about demand for artificial intelligence  — for example, every company Softbank is investing in is crying for talent in AI. That is key for our vision moving forward.”  Delgado wants MDC to supply talent to companies of all sizes.

Cloud Computing Center at Miami Dade College, pr-pandemic.

“The local startups are growing and we want to make sure we can produce talent exactly with the skills that they need,” Delgado continued. “As the companies scale, we want to be the A-team for their workforce.”

That means partnering with IBM, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, AWS, Tesla and SoftBank to bring in their expertise “and put those skills in the hands of our students to get them ready and get them certified,” Delgado said, noting that students don’t always need a degree to land a good-paying entry level job. Certificate programs are fast and tailored to the skills gaps.

Delgado also said his new role will also entail making sure the Idea Center, Miami Dade College’s entrepreneurship incubator, is strengthened and best leveraged to help students launch their own businesses in tech. He said he wants MDC to be there for the next Lula, the startup founded by locals Michael and Matthew Vega-Sanz. The brothers  attended MDC but didn’t get immersed in technology and entrepreneurship until they went to Babson.

“We are a college for first generation and second generation immigrants who have ideas but they don’t know about the resources. Miami Dade College’s Idea Center on the downtown Wolfson campus can expose them to those opportunities while also being a space for the whole community at its central location,” Delgado said. Recently MDC, along with FIU and University of Miami, also teamed with SoftBank to help students gain startup operational skills.

“This is not a wave,” continued Delgado, referring the Miami Movement sparked by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s “How Can I Help?” tweet in December that has brought hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors and tech professionals to South Florida. “We are here to make sure that the tide is always going up. As an ecosystem we are stronger together and the Idea Center will be a connector to make that happen,” Delgado said.

Delgado says he still hears far too often that there’s a lack of tech talent in Miami, but that will change. “When you hear stories every week of local diverse talent from our local institutions feeding these companies, that will change perceptions. It takes a village, but showing by doing is how you change the perception.”

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Nancy Dahlberg