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The following article was written by IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Lawrence Ford.

IT-oLogy Dallas recently partnered with IBM at its Innovation Center during a four-day summer tech camp called GIGAWOT, which stands for Girls Inspired Greatly About the World of Technology. Led by retired IBMer Jo Lynn Golden, the annual GIGAWOT camp gathers 50 middle school girls from local schools to learn about the latest in technology and how they can pursue technology careers.

GIGAWOT keeps science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) topics as a focal point for students through technology demonstrations, educational games, hands on projects, and interaction with top IBM engineers. One of the hallmarks of IBM, a founding partner of IT-oLogy, is its robust volunteer program, encouraging staff to engage with K-12 and college students at various technology events around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

One popular technology emerging today is 3D printing, and IT-oLogy Dallas brought several 3D printers to the GIGAWOT camp, demonstrating current and future applications for consumers, researchers, and manufacturers, such as home construction, product development, novelty chocolates, and event medical research.

IT-oLogy Dallas has worked with IBM Dallas on several K-12 tech events, including the popular Engineering Week held every February around the globe. Other major partners in DFW—CA Technologies, Companion Data Services, University of Texas at Dallas, and Crowley ISD—have opened their facilities for similar events throughout the year.

The work of IT-oLogy Dallas is part of the national initiative of IT-oLogy, headquartered in Columbia, SC, and founded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC, University of South Carolina, and IBM in 2009.

IT-oLogy_Registered_LogoAlice McCrory and Lonnie Emard attended the 2014 STARS Celebration and what an event it was! Over 40 universities, 200+ students, and 40+ faculty members attended the celebration held in Washington DC, August 14-16. 

As an introduction, what is STARS?  From www.starscomputingcorp.org: “STARS Computing Corps is a national community of regional partnerships with a mission to grow a diverse 21st century technology workforce.  The Corps is a framework for integrating engagement into computing departments for recruitment and graduation of undergraduate and graduate students.

Utilizing the innovative STARS Leadership Corps program, a curricular or co-curricular service-learning program for college students, Corps students collaborate with regional K-12 schools, industry, and community partners to inform, engage, and prepare upcoming students for entry and success in college computing programs. Through student-led regional engagement that includes peer mentoring, team projects, and research experiences, STARS Computing Corps students are emerging as the future innovators of tomorrow”.

IT-oLogy is an industry partner to STARS and is a key player in the interface between STARS and industry.  This Academic/Industry interface is the primary initiative for Teach IT and STARS is a mechanism to communicate to the over 40 universities nationally that have STARS programs.  Through the STARS mentoring programs we also have a direct connection between STARS and Promote IT.

The most exciting part of the celebration was the interaction with these very bright IT majors from across the nation.  The excitement they have for the profession is electric which was evidenced in the creative poster contest that was held the second night of the event.  The winners were as follows:

First place winners:

Service & Engagement:  Michael Helfrich and Russ Hill (FSU) – “Recruiting on Campus (the untapped market)”

Research & Internships:  Charles Scott (Hampton) –“ Adopting Secure Software Development Life Cycle in the Capstone Project”

Second Place winners

Service & Engagement:  Mary Zorn and Taylor Whitman (ULL) –“ App Inventor Workshop”

Research & Internships:  Trevor Brennan and Andrew Hicks (NCSU) – “Undergraduate Research with Bots”

Attendance to this event was very beneficial for Alice as she had only been on the job as Director of Teach IT for 3 days before she went!  What a way to get acclimated, Alice!

Next years event will be the 10th anniversary and will be held in Charlotte, NC in August.  IT-oLogy is on the 2015 committee and will be hosting the Career Fair at the 2015 STARS Celebration.  Stay tuned for more!

If you are interested in participating in the 2015 STARS Celebration Career Fair, please contact Alice at alice.mccrory@it-ology.org.

code.orgIn August, IT-oLogy’s own Alicia Thibaudet, Jon Bartschi and Lawrence Ford were invited by Code.org, with about 100 others, to attend an action packed professional development weekend in Las Vegas. The new Code.org K-5 Affiliate program, which is focused on coding curriculum for elementary schools, has developed 3 bands of courses that each focus on teaching coding concepts appropriate for varying skill levels.  The goal of this professional development workshop was to prepare over 100 affiliates across the nation to offer curriculum and professional development to K-5 teachers in the US.  Alicia and Jon will be offering workshops in South Carolina starting this fall and Lawrence will be offering workshops in Dallas soon.

IT-oLogy_Registered_LogoSo why is Code.org doing this? According to Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org, “Every 21st-century student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. The basics help nurture creativity and problem-solving skills, and prepare students for any future career. Software and computers are everywhere, but still less than one in ten schools teaches computer science.” To make computer science more accessible, we are offering free, high-quality professional development workshops for K-5 educators and content-area teachers (librarians, tech-ed specialists,etc.) interested in teaching the Code.org elementary school computer science curriculum. The workshop will cover content for all three courses and teachers will receive the supplies they need to teach the course at no cost. These workshops will be led by experienced Code.org K-5 Affiliates in over 60 cities across the United States. The elementary school curriculum allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all. Each level consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate.South Carolina starting this fall and Lawrence will be offering workshops in Dallas soon.

The courses are flexible so educators can tailor them to their class based on their students’ developmental level and prior experience. The lessons align to CSTA Computer Science and ISTE standards, and reinforce concepts and skills taught in other subject areas by integrating national Math, English Language Arts, and Science standards. The skills from each course are listed below.

Course 1:
Early readers (ages 4-6)

  • Sequences
  • Loops and events
  • Meaningful collaboration with others
  • Problem solving and perseverance techniques
  • Internet safety

Course 2:
Beginners, readers (ages 6+)

  • Conditionals
  • Algorithms
  • Binary code
  • Debugging
  • Societal impacts of computing

Course 3:
Prereq. Course 2 (ages 6+)

  • Problem decomposition
  • Functions
  • Nested loops and conditionals
  • Digital citizenship
  • Internet transmission methods

We will be announcing dates for workshops sometime in the next month.  For any questions, contact Alicia Thibaudet at alicia.thibaudet@it-ology.org.

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The following post was written by IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Kay Read.

On Saturday, September 13th, Cyber Saturday offered the student track at the annual Blend Conference, a national user experience, design, front and back-end development conference. Over 80 Grade 6-12 students joined more than 400 IT professionals at the Sheraton Hotel in Uptown Charlotte for this special edition of Cyber Saturday. Cyber Saturday is a signature IT-oLogy event, sponsored by Time Warner Cable. Saturday’s event aimed to engage the up-and-coming generation in STEM careers through the use of hands-on exercises and real life experiences shared by technology leaders.

For the middle school attendees, the day started with an entertaining keynote delivered by nationally renowned IT authority, Scott Hanselman. Hanselman spoke of his journey to discovering a passion for IT, including the incredible things he’s built through the use of technology.

“The ‘maker’ focus is the seed to plant in these young minds,” stated IT-oLogy Executive Director, Kay Read.

For the high school session, John Fread, COO of Logical Advantage, facilitated a panel of CPCC, JC Smith University, and UNC Charlotte college students who spoke to the students about pursuing a career in technology. The college students explained what sparked their interest in technology and discussed different ways for them to pursue this interest while still in high school. The college students shared a similar trait in that they always had a desire to understand how things work and a joy for making new things.

“Our panel encouraged the high school kids to follow their passion and to not worry about making mistakes. They also expressed the importance of getting involved in technology groups, such as Hackathons, where they can learn and meet other students that share their same interest,” said Fread.

Both middle and high school students were treated to a workshop led by IoT enthusiast and CTO of Logical Advantage, Dan Thyer. Supported by an army of volunteers, students followed Thyer’s lead as they soldered their own PoV Badges, comprised of a circuit board and LED lights.

One of the greatest successes of the event was the diversity of the students who participated. Many volunteers noted a strong attendance of female and minority students. This further reinforced the goal of organizations like IT-oLogy to raise awareness and bolster encouragement for Charlotte’s IT careers.

To learn more about IT-oLogy and their monthly Cyber Saturday events, visit IT-oLogy.org, or follow on Twitter at @IT_ology.

Aspirations AwardThe following post was written by IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Kay Read.

Applications are now open for the National Center for Women and IT (NCWIT) annual Award for Aspirations in Computing. NCWIT offers both a national and local award competition to generate support and visibility for young women’s participation in computing around the country. Young women in high school are honored for their computing-related achievements and interests.

One of the annual programs of IT-oLogy WISE (Women and IT Science & Engineering) is hosting the local North Carolina NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing celebration. WISE taps into the regional network of businesses, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and startups to build a community of support for young women interested in computing.

The Aspirations award recipient selection is based on computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. Recipients receive two engraved awards: one for her, and one for her school’s trophy case, opportunities for scholarships, internships, research experiences, and other educational and employment opportunities provided by NCWIT member organizations.

To apply, girls must register online https://www.aspirations.org/user/register/5. Registration ends November 2, 2014. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is open to all high school girls residing in the US and you may re-apply each year. You may only receive the National award once.

Award recipients are notified in mid December and award events take place around the country January through May. WISE plans the North Carolina celebration in April 2015.

Todd LewisAt IT-oLogy Columbia I’m proud to say we recognize the important role students will play in the future of computing and technology, and by extension, the overall economy. After all, today’s middle school, high school or college student is tomorrow’s professional, and it will happen before we know it.

Preparing these students for a possible career in IT, by either making content we develop and/or deliver available or by educating them about the profession of IT, is central to what we do and is of utmost importance.

In that spirit, I’d like to bring to your attention just a few of the programs we’ll continue, and in some cases launch, this fall. If you have children, or are perhaps a student yourself, I encourage you to take advantage of these tremendous opportunities. As many have heard me say in the past, I honestly wish they were available when I was in school.

Cyber Saturday LogoCyber Saturday

One of our signature programs, we continue to make introductory level instruction available on the third Saturday of every month through December. Featuring a different topic/technology each time it’s offered, expert instructors from throughout the Midlands introduce middle and high school students to applicable technologies and provide take-away resources that enable the education process to continue long after sessions end. *Please note these sessions fill up fast, so early registration is encouraged.

The fall schedule:

  • Saturday, September 20. Middle school from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, High school from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.
  • Saturday, October 18. Same schedule as September.
  • Saturday, November 15. Same schedule.
  • Saturday, December 13 (note, this is the second Saturday). Same schedule.

For more information or to register go to (website here) or contact me directly at todd.lewis@it-ology.org.

Black Data Processing Associates organization (BDPA) – Student Chapter

This award-winning, nationally recognized organization meets on Saturdays at IT-oLogy and is open to any student interested in pursuing a career in programming, analysis, computer engineering, project management/management, entrepreneurship, and most other jobs in the technology field. In short, it’s a great way to improve education levels in an area you might already know, or learn more about something new. The group is led by Jamesetta James, a technologist at SCANA and a long-time champion of student technology education, who is also a tremendous instructor and mentor. More information can be found at http://www.bdpa.org/group/GC. Jamesetta can be contacted directly via email at JJames@scana.com.

Aspirations AwardAspirations – An effort to recognize and encourage females in technology

As a national partner of NCWIT (National Center for Women in IT), we annually recognize high school females that have shown an interest in technology and/or are personally involved in a notable project or just learning more in school. If you know of someone worthy of recognition, or you yourself are that person, the nomination process will be open from September 15 through November 2 with award recipients being notified mid-December and officially recognized at a ceremony in early 2015 at IT-oLogy. In 2013/2014 we recognized 10 award winners from throughout South Carolina. In 2014/2015 we not only hope that number is far greater overall, but that we also have a large number of Columbia recipients. More information about Aspirations can be found at http://www.aspirations.org/aspirations-computing. More information about last year’s award winners recognized at IT-oLogy can be found at http://www.it-ology.org/en/News/Aspirations.aspx. Additional information is available by contacting Alicia Thibaudet at Alicia.thibaudet@it-ology.org.

IT-oLogy High School Ambassador program

We are launching the High School Ambassador program this fall to provide more opportunities for high school students to get involved in IT related programming at IT-oLogy (volunteering, serving as guest instructors, working with us to make more curriculum available, etc.) and to help spread the word on campus about the importance of IT education. Kevin Rabinovich of AC Flora High School, a long time volunteer at IT-oLogy and BDPA leader, is leading this effort and needs lots of help from fellow students at local middle and high schools. Serving along with Kevin will get you perks here at IT-oLogy and will look great on your resume. To learn more about the program please contact Alicia Thibaudet at Alicia.thibaudet@it-ology.org or Kevin Rabinovich directly at kevinrabinovich@gmail.com.

coursepower Coursepower – Ambassadors needed

Students, teachers and parents in Columbia or the surrounding area need to be aware of the 18-hour Applied Computing minor now available at four (4) local colleges – Columbia College, USC, Benedict, and Midlands Tech. In short, this minor will enable students to learn the fundamentals of technology/computing while majoring in another field (that field can be non-technology related or can even be technology focused, like software programming). In today’s economy, having that foundational technology underpinning is extremely important, and some would say vital. So what can students do about it while in high school or middle school? They can start by taking as many currently-available technology workshops and classes as possible to become educated about the technology field (many are available at local schools and at IT-oLogy). Not only will this begin to establish the much-needed technology foundation and understanding, but it will also better enable students to understand the connection between technology and a possible chosen major. Also, students can become a Coursepower Ambassador, which will enable them to get one-on-one instruction from us at IT-ology, then help educate others and spread the word about why IT is important and a great career option. Ambassadors are very much needed and will play a large role as we expand the program. More information about the Applied Computing minor can be found at www.coursepower.org. The points of contact at each of the four colleges currently offering the minor can be found at http://www.coursepower.org/academic-track (scroll half way down the page). To contact IT-oLogy directly about the 18-hour Applied Computing minor, please email me directly at todd.lewis@it-ology.org.

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IT-oLogy would not be able to provide the events and services that we do without the help of our awesome educational, non-profit, and business partners. When one of our partners celebrates a big milestone, we want to share and celebrate with them! VC3, a Columbia-based IT company providing computing products and services around the country. We caught up with David Dunn, VC3′s CEO, co-founder, and chairman to discuss his time with VC3.

Simply saying VC3 offers “computing services” is so vague! What does VC3 actually do?
We are very excited that this is our 20th year providing IT solutions! VC3 provides a full range of IT solutions to hundreds of organizations including: Managed IT Services, Private Cloud Services, Hosted VOIP, Custom Web Applications, Sharepoint Consulting, and Website Design & Hosting. This year we are launching our first software as a service (SaaS) solution, Cognito Forms …check it out at www.cognitoforms.com.

Tell us about VC3’s start and formation. Why did you start the company?
I started VC3 in February of 1994. At the time I had been working at NCR Corporation which used to be a very large employer in Columbia. AT&T had bought NCR and was planning for staff reductions. They were offering cash buyout packages to anyone willing to leave. I had just had my first child but decided it would be a brilliant idea to sell everything of any value I owned, move in with my in-laws, take the buyout and work for myself as an independent consultant. It’s comical for me to think about now, but at the time I think the extent of my business plan was “Hey, I know lots of cool stuff about computers and I think people would be willing to pay me for that!”

VC3_AIM_Logo copyAs the founder, chairman, and CEO of a technology organization, what does an average day for you look like?
Hah! There is no average day, which is probably what I like the most about my position. I tend to read business and technology news rabidly every day but other than that, my day can be made up of any number of tasks including: strategic planning, financial planning, organizational planning, meeting with customers, business partners and employees, the list goes on (and of course, there’s always my least favorite item and the one no one told me about – reviewing legal contracts…). I prefer constant change, so this suits my personality.

How would you describe the work environment at VC3?
The nature of our industry is that a) there is continuous technological advancement and b) information technology is so important to our customers that there are no “small” issues – everything is important and needs to meet our customers’ expectations. Employees who excel at VC3 are those who love…and are quick to learn…new stuff, love to teach others, have the problem-solving and customer service ‘genes’, are good multitaskers, and good communicators. We know this can be an intense environment to work in, so we do everything we can to create an open, casual environment, where we relax those things we can control, like dress code, internal communications, and we have fun together through office events and activities, etc.

 What would you say are VC3’s strengths, both internally and externally?
Internally, everyone probably says this, but our key strength is our people. We believe we have some of the top technologists in the Southeast, if not the Nation. Our size is a big strength these days as well – our customers have a lot of people at VC3 they know they can rely on. Externally, we continue to strive to offer our customers cutting-edge technologies that provide them the greatest return on investment.

What are you looking forward to for the future of VC3?
We have begun the process of opening up an Alabama office and expanding throughout the Southeast. This will be our first new office opened in about 10 years and we are hoping to refine a strategy that allows us to open multiple offices in other states every year. We are also releasing the Payment capabilities of our Cognito Forms product. Cognito Forms is the first of what we hope will be many Cognito Apps. We think it is great technology and we hope it will be a strong growth platform for us.

Think back over the past 20 years at VC3. What has been the most rewarding experience so far?
I don’t know if “rewarding” is the right term but I distinctly remember the first time our payroll crossed $100k for a month. All I could think of was “Wow, I’m responsible for over a million dollars of annual income to employees…” Of course, the next thought was “Oh s***, I’m responsible for over a million dollars of annual income to employees…”

VC3 has a close partnership with IT-oLogy. How and when did you personally find out about IT-oLogy?
Approximately five years ago I was contacted by Terry Floyd at TM Floyd about partnering with IT-oLogy to manage their data center and the IBM Z-Machine that was being donated by IBM to the University of South Carolina’s Research Foundation. We were already looking for new office space due to growth, so after that initial contact we worked with IT-oLogy and TM Floyd to find space suitable for all three organizations and a data center for the Z-Machine.

Why did VC3 get involved with IT-oLogy?
We fully believe in and support their goal of introducing more people into the IT industry…no matter their age, so the partnership made sense to us. It also gave us an opportunity to be more involved in our community.

 What has been the most rewarding part of the partnership so far?
It’s exciting to know that we are an active part of getting more people into the IT industry. I’ve also enjoyed the personal relationships I have built with people at IT-oLogy. Watching IT-oLogy grow and expand into other states is very rewarding, we are honored that we are able to contribute and support their mission.

Finally, we want to learn a fun fact about you! What is your favorite beverage?
A glass of Angel’s Envy Rye…and we will have some to share at our Open House Happy Hour on September 30th beginning at 4:30pm, please stop by and join us!

Meet the Interns

August 27th, 2014 | Posted by Emily in IT-oLogy Columbia | Promote IT - (0 Comments)

photoThis summer IT-oLogy has had the opportunity to work with many great interns, each with their own sets of interests, skills, and goals. We are happy to introduce them to the blog  and hope that the information technology community will welcome them as talented students and future IT professionals. Introducing our second “Meet the IT-oLogy Interns” feature, Kevin Rabinovich!

Name: Kevin

Age: 17

School: A. C. Flora High School

When did you first get interested in IT? How? My dad first introduced technology and programming to me in first grade.

How did you find out about IT-oLogy? I found out about IT-oLogy through a program called BDPA (an organization, that, apart from other things, teaches programming and hosts an annual national competition), whose Greater Columbia chapter meets at IT-oLogy.

What parts of IT are you interested in? Why? I’m interested in web and iOS development, as well as graphic design, at the moment, because combining both programming and design can make something that doesn’t just work, but functions beautifully and efficiently.

Why do you think IT is important? I think IT is important because it’s everywhere! And though not everyone needs to be a programmer, everyone should at least be exposed to coding, because not only does it teach you “how to think” (as Steve Jobs said), but also, how would you know that you don’t like programming if you’ve never tried it? Plus, it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds.

Who has helped you get involved in IT? My dad, because, as I mentioned earlier, he introduced me to programming.

How does IT affect your day to day life? I recently ditched bringing certain materials to school in place of just a tablet. Now, I use it every day to record assignments, do research, and play 2048.

Where would you like to work someday? In what position? Someday, I think I would like to work at a design studio, maybe doing typographic illustrations. I really admire Sagmeister & Walsh, The Great Discontent, and Jessica Hische particularly.

What are your plans for after high school? My plans after high school are to major in something that will allow me to continue pursuing both graphic design and computer programming.

Meet the IT-oLogy Interns

August 19th, 2014 | Posted by Emily in IT-oLogy Columbia | Promote IT - (0 Comments)
IT-oLogy intern Robert Petit, middle,

While with IT-oLogy, intern Robert Petit, middle, taught Cyber Saturday classes and assisted Program Manager Jon Bartschi.

This summer IT-oLogy has had the opportunity to work with many great interns, each with their own sets of interests, skills, and goals. We are happy to introduce them to the blog  and hope that the information technology community will welcome them as talented students and future IT professionals. Introducing our second “Meet the IT-oLogy Interns” feature, Robert Petit!

Name: Robert Petit

Age: 16

 School: Heathwood Hall

When did you first get interested in IT? How? I was introduced by a persistent and interesting teacher in the mandatory Introduction to Computer Science class.

 How did you find out about IT-oLogy? I was brought out to the IT-oLogy offices on a school field trip.

 What parts of IT are you interested in? Why? I am interested in software development and research science.

Why do you think IT is important? Computers are both interesting and useful, from advancing in the economy to helping scientists and researchers around the world.

Who has helped you get involved in IT? My computer science teacher and the IT department at my school.

 How does IT affect your day to day life? IT has, more or less, taken over my day to day life. I enjoy working with computers and do very little else.

 Where would you like to work someday? In what position? I would like to ultimately end up as an astronaut.

 What are your plans for after high school? I would like to attend MIT where I will study astro physics and computer science.

Professional shot[1]

IT-oLogy is pleased to announce that Pelham Spong has joined the organization as the GRIT Relationship Manager and Job Readiness Coach. Pelham works with the Growing Resources for IT (GRIT) program, which is grant funded through Midlands Technical College, to provide technical training to unemployed veterans, minorities, women and others with backgrounds in IT.  In her position Pelham works with both the GRIT participants to support them in their career search, and with local employers and IT-oLogy partners to match GRIT participants to technical jobs and on-the-job-training opportunities.

Pelham, a Winnsboro native, has worked in nonprofit fundraising consulting and Higher Education and spent 5 years living and working abroad in Paris, France.  She is a graduate of the College of Charleston.

Pelham is excited to be working with IT-oLogy and Midlands Technical College, and may be reached at 803.234.5761 or Pelham.Spong@it-ology.org.