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Donté Lewis, Sr.

President/Founder of Vine Technology Solutions

 

How did you first get interested in CS?


I took my first programming class in high school at Eleanor Roosevelt HS in the mid
90’s. I believe it was a COBOL class. I have to admit, I didn’t know what Computer
Science was nor that programming was a foundational element of computer science.
I just knew programming seemed different, interesting, and it enabled me to surf the
internet during the day, which was a big deal pre-smart phones with most folks
having only dial-up connections at home.

 

How did you get involved with the work you're doing now?


I took a pretty circuitous route to the IT services and solutions work we do today at
Vine. Freshman year of college at William & Mary, I just knew I was going to be a
Computer Science major. This was despite all my college football teammates making
it very clear that no one plays football and majors in Computer Science at William &
Mary. I knew I’d be the first to do it, so I shrugged it off. Well, I was wrong, and
they were right. Haha! The CS commitment on my time was too great and football
was paying my tuition. I ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Business
Administration (BBA) degree with a concentration in Information Technology.
Ironically, my first job was as a programmer at the management consulting firm
Accenture. While I liked programming, I wanted more. My BBA degree exposed me
to so many aspects of business. Therefore, I wanted to explore. This led me to
project and program management, where I was managing large technical
projects/programs for the Department of Defense as a government employee. I went
back to the commercial world, working with senior government leaders in strategic
management efforts from optimizing corporate IT investments, managing technical
insertions, and large corporate change initiatives that involved technology.
Eventually, I started my own company that empowers leaders to overcome challenges
through solutions focused on technology, people, and business architecture, resulting
in accelerating change and maximizing technical investments. Fancy way of saying
that we provide technology-based solutions that help people running government
organizations, companies, and non-profit organizations do more, and have a greater
impact on their mission and customers.

 

What do you find compelling about your work in CS?

 

I love being able to solve real world problems with a combination of technology,
leadership, and business principals. Understanding business, leadership, and
Computer Science allowed me to see the whole picture of why I was writing code in
high school or early in my professional career. It illuminated the ‘why’ and gave me
great fulfillment.


What are you proud of or excited about?


We’ve (Vine) enabled the federal government to avoid millions in operating costs, so
those dollars could be put to greater use for mission-related needs. We’ve also helped
small businesses overcome challenges that enabled them to better serve their
employees, customers, and the community.


What advice do you have for a young person interested in getting into your field?


Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to be different. Your journey will most likely
take you down roads people around you today have and never will travel, then lead to
destinations you may have never dreamed.
Always seek and try to understand the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing. The pursuit
will lead to growth. Also, knowing why, unlocks your creativity in solving problems
which leads to innovation.

Dianne O'Grady-Cunniff, dogrady at usmd dot edu
Director, Maryland Center for Computing Education

Dr. Megean Garvin, mgarvin at usmd dot edu
Director of Research, Maryland Center for Computing Education

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Maryland Center for Computing Education
3300 Metzerott Rd. Adelphi, MD 20783 http://cs4md.com
MCCE received initial support from the National Science Foundation, (MSP)2 Grant No. 0831970.