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PrintIT-oLogy Charlotte is planning the revival of the regional information technology Blue Diamond Awards. Veteran Blue Diamond chairs, Karen McIsaac, The Abeo Group, and Dan Royle, Ettain group, are leading the charge.

The Blue Diamond Awards were awarded annually in Charlotte for over 20 years.   After a seven year void, IT-oLogy is bringing back the awards to recognize the advancements in IT!   The awards recognizes the region in terms of IT talent and significant achievements in leveraging technology to support business innovation and growth.  Teams, individuals and scholars are recognized – so everyone can have a ‘diamond’.

You and/or your team can be recognized as a winner or finalist. You have the opportunity to network with people within your industry.  You will have some fun learning about how others are leveraging IT for their organization’s benefit or their own benefit.  You’ll be contributing to a great not for profit that is focused on developing and promoting the next generations of IT industry professionals.

For more information or to volunteer for the 2015 Blue Diamond Awards, contact Kay Read, kay.read@it-ology.org.

DSC_0460IT-oLogy is proud to be the recipient of a $25,000 grant from Time Warner Cable to fund its popular Cyber Saturday programs in Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC.

Time Warner Cable will continue to sponsor Cyber Saturday, a program for middle and high school students focused on exploring IT. The program takes place once a month at IT-oLogy Columbia and IT-oLogy  Charlotte and introduces middle and high school students to careers in IT through hands-on projects and activities. Through Cyber Saturday, IT-oLogy will be able to reach approximately 6,000 students and parents over a one year period.

“Cyber Saturday at IT-oLogy is a perfect fit for Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds initiative and a great way to help make fun STEM programs available to so many kids in the area,” said Charlene Keys, area vice president of operations, Time Warner Cable South Carolina. “Connect a Million Minds is all about exposing students to STEM in engaging ways and we believe these programs will accomplish that and much more.”

“Time Warner Cable’s decision to become a partner in IT-oLogy allows us to multiply and magnify our efforts to reach more young students about careers in IT and at the same time further the mission of Time Warner Cable’s initiative Connect a Million Minds,” said Lonnie Emard, President of IT-oLogy. “Cyber Saturday has been a hit and their support enables us to expand the program to more underserved groups.”

The Cyber Saturday program offers students the opportunity to learn more about IT careers while engaging in hands-on activities. For more information about Cyber Saturday in Columbia and Charlotte, please visit the Events page at www.it-ology.org.

managed applications and services.  Time Warner Cable Media, the advertising arm of Time Warner Cable, offers national, regional and local companies innovative advertising solutions. More information about the services of Time Warner Cable is available at www.twc.com, www.twcbc.com and www.twcmedia.com.

IBM_logoPrint

Leaders at the Dallas Innovation Center of IBM, one of IT-oLogy’s founding partners, invited IT-oLogy Dallas to showcase the latest technology during Engineering Week at two world-class science museums in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Celebrated around the world each February, Engineering Week provides an opportunity for the public to understand first-hand the significant contributions engineers make to the advancement of our world.

IBM has been a sponsor of Engineering Week in the DFW area for twenty-five years along with other major corporations like Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobile, and Texas Instruments. Public, private, and home school groups participate in the hands-on activities in local museums where cutting-edge technology is on display with the goal to inspire more young people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

IT-oLogy Dallas recently showcased 3D Printing and Robotics at our local Cyber Saturday event, which caught the attention of one parent who is a Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor at IBM, Romelia Flores. With a career at IBM spanning three decades and includes more than two dozen patents, Mrs. Flores saw the excitement among students around the 3D printers during the IT-oLogy workshop and wanted to impact many more students during Engineering Week, when some 10,000 students pass through each of the two major science museums in DFW: The Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

With kind assistance from local IBM staffers, IT-oLogy Dallas presented a display of four 3D printers for five days at the IBM station in each museum, speaking to students, teachers, and parents about the marvel of 3D printing in education, research, and manufacturing. The excitement was non-stop and dozens of teachers signed-up to have IT-oLogy Dallas schedule speaking events at local schools.

The contribution that IBM makes on local education is a model for other technology companies who see the long-term vision to impact generations to come to meet the technology needs of the future, advancing the IT talent pipeline with young people who will become the leaders of these major enterprises that will change our world.

Shelby

The following was written by Shelby Switzer, Social Media Manager at Voterheads.

When I tell people what I do, and then answer the inevitable “What was your major in college?” I’m usually faced with exclamations of surprise, bewilderment, or just plain confusion.[1] My answer to the latter question usually garners some semblance of that response anyway, even though I always thought that Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic was a totally normal university course that anyone in their right mind would elect to take.[2] But what most people can’t seem to piece together is how I went from a degree where I learned medieval Welsh, recited Latin and Irish poetry, and studied Anglo-Saxon kings,[3] to a career that seems so deeply rooted in modern technological culture: programming.

Maybe some of the shock has to do with the century gap – most of my time in college was spent pouring over texts written a thousand years ago, and now my daily life centers around languages invented in the past few decades. I think most of the confusion, though, arises from this prevailing concept that humanities degrees cannot lead to STEM[4] careers.[5] This is utterly mistaken.

I’m not here to give my life story on how I made the “transition” from whatever “normal” humanities-major folk do and what “techies” do – whatever any of that even means – but to reflect on my experience and share how my extremely esoteric, impractical, fantastically interesting, unique, and fun humanities degree did in fact give me skills that I use on a daily basis. Skills for which I am infinitely grateful, and which are highly needed in my field.

1. Communication

I can’t even begin to stress how important this is. My communication skills were improved exponentially when I had to write three- to five-thousand-word essays every week and discuss[6] them verbally in supervisions. Now, whether I’m pitching crazy awesome apps[7] to a potential investor, or more regularly, explaining to clients why a certain feature addition just isn’t a practical use of my time or their money, I have to be able to communicate well. Contract programming is half coding, half negotiation.

But on an even more basic level, communication is key to making good software. How many times have you used a gem[8] or other program with not only poor (or nonexistent) documentation, but obtuse methods that don’t elucidate what on earth the code is trying to accomplish? When have you inherited a piece of software to hack on, only to find a similar situation, as well as a tight deadline that leaves little time for figuring out what the previous programmer intended? Computer languages are great and all, but they’re used by humans, and they need to be well-communicated.

2. The Power of Language

This brings me to my little rant on how awesome language is, and how central it is to programming. I can just see you busting out the duh face now – “Well, they’re called computer languages, dummy!” – but hear me out. My intense study of multiple dead and living languages embedded in me an innate grasp of syntax, grammar, and just general linguistic structure across incredibly different language families. When I first saw = and == in a Ruby program, I could immediately pick up on which contexts they were frequently used in (e.g. when one was declaring the value of variables and when the other was being used in conditional statements).[9] I never even read the documentation or had a real tutorial before I began taking = and == and using them (reasonably) correctly. When I first look at a piece of code, my mind starts recognizing, memorizing, and using patterns like this, so new computer language acquisition is a rather speedy (and thorough) process for me.[10]

But natural attention to linguistic structure isn’t all that my humanities degree imparted to me in this regard, but also a sheer joy in linguistic diversity and nuance. When I learned that a new array can be created by either array = [] or array = Array.new, I was freaking stoked.[11] The first is simple and quick, while the second allows for arguments to be passed into it, like Array.new(2, “baller”) (which yields [“baller”, “baller”]). Which one you choose to use entirely depends on what you feel like, or what your situation calls for – akin to how in Irish both and madra mean “dog,” but both have different connotations and would be used based on personal choice or context.[12]

3. Informed Decisions

As simple of an example as this is, choosing between [] and Array.new can only be done well through understanding the range in meaning and usage of each one. These can be learned quickly if you’re already trained in what to look for, and especially if you’re already used to the amazing flexibility, dynamics, and nuance of human languages. But my humanities degree also trained me for making good decisions on a larger scale.

The programming community is constantly discussing what are called “best practices.”[13] The medievalist community is constantly discussing whether Arthur originated in Wales, France, or Mars. I know the parallel should be obvious, but in case it’s not, let me explain. When I’m writing a paper on the origins of Arthur and I argue that there are Byzantine references in some texts that suggest the legend of Arthur started on the Continent and not in the British Isles, I really have to do my research. I have to cite scholars who agree and scholars who disagree – and assess these scholars’ credibility. I have to determine if the references were introduced at the same time the text was originally written, or if they were introduced later. I have to look at these examples of Byzantine references myself and determine if they are strong enough references, or even if they’re referring to Byzantine culture at all.

The same goes for when I’m architecting a piece of software. If I hear about some cool new programming trend, I have to do just as much research. Does this trend fit with “best practices”? Are “best practices” – which change frequently, mind you – really the best, whether overall or just within my current project? Who’s promoting the trend, who’s dissing it, and do I respect those individuals’ work?

If I’m considering using a gem in my application, I need to read the gem’s code to see if it was even done well before I blindly just plug it into my program. I want to see who made it, who uses it (if possible), if it’s being maintained, and if it can really fit within the scope of my project. It’s so irritating to start using a gem without doing enough research and end up ditching it (and having to do clean-up) because it wasn’t suitable or was poorly crafted.

Long hours of research, meticulous citation, and argumentative writing taught me how to immediately approach making decisions based on critical thinking and strong research and evaluation, as well as the ability to change my decisions in light of new evidence or compelling arguments. These skills are essential when both coding and designing software. It keeps you from just hopping on the latest code-wagon and helps you argue your case when talking to your team about the decisions you’re making – which also goes back to the importance of communication.

4. Making the Pieces Fit Together

One of the things I only realized recently about myself as a programmer, and really as a person, is that I’m good at keeping the big picture in mind. You could account this to my personality type,[14] my zodiac sign,[15] or whatever, but I think a lot of it has to do with my humanities degree.[16] Why? Because of having to write 15,000 word essays that are at least somewhat coherent! All those paragraphs and arguments you make and block quotes you use[17] have to be tied back into your original thesis: everything must be relevant. So when I’m writing an application, I’m very aware of all my models, objects, controllers, views, partials, etc, and constantly thinking about how they piece together and work towards a specific feature’s, or the whole app’s, goal. Not saying I don’t forget things, but I do find myself frequently asking teammates how something is going to play with an object or feature they have forgotten about. I believe I learned a lot of this behavior from writing extensive essays, pulling together every corner of knowledge I have to fit into arguments, and trying to keep my structure coherent, cohesive, and concise – all three alliterative adjectives which I think apply to good programming.

Writing essays, conducting research, learning other languages, having to defend and communicate a position verbally and in writing, are all key components of humanities curricula that can help make better coders, technologists, careerists, people, dogs, anacondas — you name it. I’m not saying that I’m a perfect programmer, or even a great one, but I do think that my humanities degree prepared me pretty darned well for this life of code I’ve stumbled upon.[18]


[1]          Not to mention the occasional marriage proposal from Tolkien nerds.

[2]          I still think that way – I’ve just come to realize that most people aren’t in their right mind.

[3]            And often dressed up like them.

[4]           Read: “successful.”

[5]            Which I think stems from an even more prevalent, and in my mind more troubling, idea that the primary purpose of degrees is to prepare you for a career.

[6]   i.e. defend; i.e. try not to look like an idiot.

[7]   Shameless self-promotion: http://www.voterheads.com/

[8]   Which is essentially a plug-in in the Ruby programming language.

[9]   See how I just used those great grammatical terms in a newbie observation about code?

[10] And similarly, I imagine, for others who already know one computer language. Furthermore, it’s enormously easier than acquiring new human languages. That’s why I find programmers who call themselves “polyglots” intolerably pretentious. I mean really, a rough equivalent of = and == in Irish Gaelic could be and bheadh. I’d like to see a so-called coder polyglot pronounce those words, let alone immediately understand the difference based on context.

[11] Okay, maybe that’s a mild exaggeration. I definitely thought it was super cool though.

[12] This is sort of a simplistic semantic example, but if you’d like to hear my nerdier, more technically parallel examples between Ruby and Irish word choices, get in touch and we’ll geek out together.

[13] This is especially true for those of us who use RubyOnRails, with its cult of DHH versus the rebellious factions vying for fame and glory.

[14] Which would probably get about 0 matches on OKCupid.

[15] Capricorn, by the way. Yes, that means I’m coming after you, Aquarius.

[16] If you can’t tell, I think my humanities degree was absolutely amazing, worth every penny, and great preparation for life as a human in general.

[17] To try to reach the word count minimum, until you realize that quotes aren’t counted in the official word count.

[18] Like that internety reference? I’m so clever.

POSSCON 2013-770The following blog post was written by IT-oLogy Columbia Executive Director Todd Lewis.
As Executive director of the Columbia IT-oLogy office I regularly meet people in the Information Technology field from all over the Midlands as well as the State of SC, and I am constantly amazed at the world-class talent and ideas we have here.  After 10 months of these meetings and conversations one thing has become crystal clear – people need to get together, share their great ideas, observations and issues, and formulate a plan as to how we collectively address IT moving forward as a state.
The reason for this is twofold:

- Information technology is driving innovation and impacting job creation across all sectors of our economy.  Currently more than 67,000 people across South Carolina are employed in a technology-related occupation at an average salary of $64,693, and the numbers of these jobs and their economic impact will only increase in the future.

- South Carolina MUST remain competitive in this area if our economy is to remain strong and grow.  Whether we realize it or not, other states recognize the importance of IT and are doing everything possible to stay a step ahead.

I am happy to announce that on April 23 that event will take place in Columbia at IT-oLogy headquarters.  Called The Summit on Information Technology, the purpose of this day long event is to inform and educate attendees about what’s currently being done across the state (establish benchmarks), to gather input from attendees in various industry verticals, and to exchange ideas.  The ultimate goal is the Summit will serve as the starting point of a comprehensive strategy in which stakeholders from across the state work together and collaborate moving forward.

The target audience will be IT leaders across all industry verticals, elected officials at all levels, as well as economic development officials from local and state organizations.  Specifically, that includes CTOs, CIOs, CEOs, IT Directors, and IT decision makers of all types in education, state and municipal government, manufacturing, healthcare, professional services, banking, and entrepreneurship (the start-up community).

Finally, we will tackle important questions. Is South Carolina competitive on a national and regional level? What incentives and innovations are being implemented here and elsewhere and what best practices should we pursue? How does IT impact economic development? What are we doing to stay competitive with an educated workforce? What role does public policy play in making us a progressive and more IT/business friendly state?
I sincerely hope all IT-oLogy partners recognize the importance of this event and decide to participate.  Information technology is in everything we do, every business we run and every job we pursue in 2014 and beyond.  Will we in the Midlands and in South Carolina be at the forefront or will we merely react and fall behind others?  The choice truly is ours.
Find out more information on the Summit by visiting the IT-oLogy website.

Dan Wright Picture

The following guest post was written by Dan Wright of Unitrends.

My name is Dan Wright and I have an IT story to tell. My journey into the IT world has been full of great memories, hardships, and risks. All of these worked together for my good and landed me a fulltime job at one of the fastest growing IT companies in South Carolina.

The University of South Carolina has an Integrated Information Technology (iIT) B.S degree which focuses on the applied understanding of IT with a business perspective. I discovered this degree while attending Midlands Technical College and soon realized this opportunity would change my life. I stepped out in good faith knowing that taking the risk of uncertainty for the future would someday pay off.  Spending the last two years of my education at USC showed me what I needed to improve and how to achieve that. A class that impacted me the most was the HRSM 301 Professional Development Seminar. This course is given to all students in the College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sports Management at USC. HRSM 301 focuses on improving your resume, interview skills, professional dress, and networking skills. Attending this class pulled me out of my fears to be myself in any environment. It also transitioned directly into my desire to obtain an internship at a local IT firm. With these skills I pressed forward to achieve my professional goals.

A requirement of the iIT program at USC is a 400 hour internship course. I had access to many resources that placed me on the right path of finding an internship, one of which was the S.E.T fair hosted by USC. During my visit to the S.E.T. fair I connected with the IT Corporate Recruiter from Unitrends. I accepted an internship opportunity at Unitrends during my last semester at USC.

Unitrends provides an All-In-One disaster backup solution, and our passion is to give a peace of mind backup solution that is reliable, easy to use and simple to place in any IT environment. Immediately after my arrival at Unitrends this passion of providing support to those in need became very clear. My job was to ensure the highest quality of customer support to those who had need. Over the last year I have embraced the Unitrends Support culture, which has not only changed my way of working, but also transitioned to how I treat others in my daily life. Unitrends has been a great place for an intern to learn and I have grown my knowledge of the IT world. After serving my 400 hour internship I was asked to join the Unitrends Support Team full-time, and I am now continuing the Unitrends support culture of ensuring the highest quality of customer support.

My education at the University of South Carolina played a large part in my opportunity at Unitrends, but I would be leaving out an important piece if I did not mention IT-oLogy. The iIT program at USC can be found housed at the IT-oLogy offices on Gervais Street. This partnership allows for the growth of local IT talent within and extending beyond the university. IT-oLogy also provided me the opportunity to follow up with the IT Corporate Recruiter shortly after the S.E.T fair at their own IT-focused career fair for professionals and students. This last meeting solidified my interview with Unitrends, leading to my internship and eventually fulltime employment. I believe in the cause IT-oLogy stands for in producing local IT talent to a world that is in drastic need.

My IT story is a journey that is still in progress. There have been valleys and peaks, but I know they are all for my benefit. My experience at USC and with Unitrends and IT-oLogy have strengthened my IT skills and prepared me for the rest of my career in IT. If you take one thing from this post, step out in good faith and know that the opportunities and risks taken can and will pay off. Be a strong and courageous future IT professional!

IT-oLogy is pro-business. Helping businesses succeed by advancing IT talent is one of our guiding principles, and it is this understanding of technology’s role in every industry that drives IT-oLogy to promote, teach, and grow qualified IT professionals, beginning with K-12 students.

One of the vital components in educating students about technology is STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This nationwide movement is focused on educational initiatives that prepare students to achieve a higher level of proficiency in these skills that are so crucial to business and economic development. And leaders across the country are beginning to talk about the need to improve STEM education, which in turn will impact the quality of our workforce for years to come.

Recently, some 2,000 government, business and academic leaders met in Austin, Texas to discuss the state of STEM education as well as solutions that would improve how students learn these necessary skills before they enter the workforce.

Current estimates show that “fewer than 40 percent of students who major in science, technology, engineering, or math actually graduate with a degree in those fields. Instead, they switch majors after a semester or two, with many of them later reporting feeling isolated, discouraged, or overwhelmed by the course requirements.”[i] Why? Because they struggle with these skills during their formative years of education.

That two major conferences on STEM have taken place in Texas in the last two years is not a coincidence. Three of the top gold medal STEM high schools in the nation are located in Dallas, Texas, where business thrives on IT.

As IT-oLogy partners with business and academic leaders in the Dallas/Fort Worth region, it is clear that elevating programs such as Cyber Saturday will be instrumental in advancing technology skills amongst middle and high school students who are looking at career options.

STEM is not just about education—it is ultimately about jobs. And that’s why IT-oLogy’s expansion across the nation is so vital at this time, when the need to advance IT talent is fundamental to business.

 

 


[i] Alphonse, Lylah. “Highlights From the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference.” U.S. News and World Report Aug. 2013. www.usnews.com 7 Aug. 2013.

2014 New Year’s Message

January 9th, 2014 | Posted by Emily in IT-oLogy Defined - (0 Comments)

The following article was written by IT-oLogy President, Lonnie Emard.

Lonnies-mugshotJanuary marks five years of official history for this collaborative venture we now call IT-oLogy.  A few of us (special thanks to Kristine Hooker, Bob Brookshire, Cindy Kellet and Sheryl Kline) had been thinking about it for another year before the official opening.  At the start of this New Year, I have especially spent time reflecting on how many people we’ve interacted with and how many lives we’ve impacted during the growth of this belief system.

For anyone reading this, please do not take that statement lightly.  Many things have changed in five years, but the focus of this organization has remained unwavering.  IT-oLogy has always been about people.  I don’t mean generically humanity, but rather a focused aspect of people. Focused in the following ways:

People in this country of all ages living lives influenced by technological and economic change

People who need a different set of capabilities to live, work and play

People who will start companies, work in companies, produce and lead

People who will recognize that IT is in everything and that change is all around them

People who want good jobs and to function well in the midst of great opportunity

Five years ago, 5.2 million people in this country worked in the profession of Information Technology and today that number is over 6 million, yet the skills shortage continues.  IT-oLogy has reached over 100,000 people and still we’re just scratching the surface.  IT jobs are everywhere in every industry for people with the right skills.  That alignment of workforce capability to industry needs for people (the right people) is what the IT-oLogy non profit organization is all about.

At the intersection of capability and opportunity lies the road to success.

THANK YOU for being part of making an impact on history, for at every step along the path for each individual mentioned above as part of the collective people, your efforts toward IT-oLogy programs truly makes a difference.

IT-oLogy

Highlights: Hour of Code

January 9th, 2014 | Posted by Emily in IT-oLogy Columbia | Promote IT - (0 Comments)

The following article was written by Bethany Ferrall.

South Carolina students participate in national Hour of Code

Code.org’s nationwide effort paid off in a big way, exceeding expectations

IT-oLogy led the way during the week-long Hour of Code by providing daily workshops at IT-oLogy and 24 instructors and volunteers at 14 area schools. Over 1,000 students in the Columbia area and 69,000 across the state of South Carolina participated in the Hour of Code.

Workshops were held December 9 – 13 at IT-oLogy. “These workshops were a great opportunity to engage middle and high school students in the basics of computer programming. The hands-on workshops covered the basics of a variety of programming languages and tools. And, no experience was necessary!” said IT-oLogy Promote IT director, Alicia Thibaudet.

The Hour of Code was part of the annual Computer Science Education Week (CSEd Week), a celebration geared to encourage interest in the field and show anyone can learn the basics. Nationally, 15 million students participated in the Hour of Code.

For more information about the Hour of Code visit their website or visit Venture Beat.

DID YOU KNOW*

• Children who learn introductory computer science show improved math scores

• 90% of K-12 schools in the US do not teach computer science

• Software jobs outnumber students 3-to-1. The gap is 1 million jobs over 10 years.

• In many countries, (including China, UK and Australia) computer science is – or will be- required.

• Anyone can learn the basics, starting in elementary school, but fewer than 10% of students (and just 4% of females, 3% of students of color) take computer science classes.
*from CSEd Week

The 2nd Annual IT-oLogy Career Fair was held on Thursday, November 7, 2013.  We had over thirty vendors present and more than 300 job seekers come out and meet with potential employers to discuss internships, entry-level opportunities, training programs, and experienced positions. This year we approached it a little differently and partnered with SC PMI to bring a wider audience of job seekers, which proved successful and we hope to continue that tradition next year.

Employers were busy interviewing students and professionals from 10 AM – 1 PM.  At 12:00 PM, job seekers attended a range of career advancement workshops that gave them interview skills, social media knowledge, and networking tips. Job seekers came from as far north as Virginia and employers traveled from their home offices in New York to Texas.

USC Integrated Information Technology Professor Dr. Bob Brookshire, who attended to recruit students for USC’s Masters of Health Information Technology, “This is one of the best career fairs we have attended.  We met some extremely gifted students and were excited to meet students from schools throughout the region.”

IT-oLogy plans to host the third annual career fair in Columbia in November of 2014.  Interested in attending as an employer? E-mail Bethany Ferrall, recruiting@it-ology.org, to be added to the list of employers for the 2014 event.