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coursepowerThe following article was written by IT-oLogy Columbia Executive Director, Todd Lewis.

More than 1,200 incoming freshman at local colleges have expressed interest in the 18 hour CoursePower Applied Computing minor.  Each of the 1,200 spoke to CoursePower representatives during freshman orientation programs and signed up to receive more information.

While not everyone will enroll in the Applied Computing program, many will decide to pursue the minor to compliment their chosen major.  The end result will be a more tech-savy and competent group of graduates better prepared to fill the jobs of the future and the knowledge economy.  A better prepared workforce will enable companies to grow faster because of available talent, which will create jobs, enhance the local tax base, and make the Midlands and South Carolina more competitive.

The Applied Computing minor is now being offered at four local higher education institutions – The University of South Carolina, Midlands Technical College, Benedict College, and Columbia College.  More information can be found online at www.coursepower.org or by contacting Todd Lewis at IT-oLogy at todd.lewis@it-ology.org.

tuckerThis 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 third “Meet the IT-oLogy Interns” feature, Tucker Ervin!

Name: Tucker Ervin

Age: 17

School: Homeschooled

When did you first get interested in IT? How?
I became interested with IT at an early age because I wanted to know how my dad, who worked at company that worked on sound systems, TVs, etcetera, could make all this stuff work together. He taught me quite a lot of what I know, such as wiring systems together, troubleshooting computers, and building computers.

How did you find out about IT-oLogy?
I was actually introduced to IT-oLogy around a year ago by a good friend, whose mother thought it sounded like a fun time for all of us. He, my brother, and I started going to the Cyber Saturdays, and we’ve been there pretty much every month since. It was a fun time indeed.

What parts of IT are you interested in? Why?
I’m mostly interested in programming and physical computing for one reason: robots. Designing, building, and programming robots is my dream. Without programming or physical computing I could not build robots, so IT was an obvious place to start for me.

Why do you think IT is important?
I think IT is important because technology permeates every facet of our lives. If you don’t know how to interact with this technology, you are basically powerless in today’s society. IT helps us understand and better interact with the technology. That makes it pretty important in my eyes.

Who has helped you get involved in IT?
As I said before, my dad was the one who introduced me, helped me along, and encouraged me into doing what I enjoy, but several other people have helped me as well. My mom bought me books on programming, drove me to IT-oLogy quite a lot, and bugged me into finding what I enjoy doing and making it my job. Jon Bartschi and Heather Bauer helped get me an internship and let me mess around with some of the cool stuff we have here at IT-oLogy. Quite a few other people have encouraged me to just do what I love doing, and IT is just that.

How does IT affect your day to day life?
Well, over the course of the day I have access to no less than three computers sitting in my room and a smartphone I carry everywhere. IT has helped me learn how to better use those things for my purposes. Especially since at least one of those computers likes to give me slack every other week or so. If I didn’t know how to fix those bloody things, I would eventually end up with three broken computers and a broken smartphone, which is a sad state to be in.

Where would you like to work someday? In what position?
My dream job would be owner of my own robotics company, but it doesn’t really matter to me where I work. As long I get to build really cool robots, I don’t care where it is.

What are your plans for after high school? 
I plan to either double major in Electrical and Computer engineering with possibly a minor in Mechanical Engineering or major in Mechatronics. It all depends on which college – hopefully some place like MIT or CAL-TECH – I go to and what programs they have.

Meet our other interns here: David and Daniel.

Kellett_CindyIT-oLogy is pleased to announce that Cindy Kellett has joined the organization as the Chief Development Officer. Cindy was one of the original members of the team that developed the concept of IT-ology from the vision of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina and IBM executives.  Cindy has over 25 years of experience in the non-profit development arena most recently as Senior Director of Development for the Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management College at the University of SC.  She also spent seven years as a securities broker in Columbia, SC with Prudential/Wachovia.

A native South Carolinian, she lives on Lake Murray with her husband, Chris Wren.  Her only daughter, Bonnie Kellett is a first grade teacher at The Center of Knowledge in Blythewood.

Cindy looks forward to working and meeting with the IT-oLogy partners. She may be reached at 803.354.5738, cell 803.730.1701 or cindy.kellett@it-ology.org.

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Connect South Carolina and IT-oLogy are pleased to announce that Jim Stritzinger has been named executive director of Connect South Carolina. Stritzinger assumed his role on July 1 and will lead Connect South Carolina as it continues its work connecting communities to broadband and technology.

Connect South Carolina and IT-ology have also agreed to also formally enter into a partnership that will, for IT-oLogy, expand public funding for broader, scalable program impact and expand reliable, private funding for long-term sustainability of the Connect South Carolina program.

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Jim was formerly the IT-oLogy Grow IT Director and in his new role retains a dotted line reporting relationship to IT-oLogy as an Alliance Director.

The partnership will also:

•Elevate IT-oLogy’s profile among the state broadband community while aggressively expanding its rural footprint in South Carolina

•Create value beyond Connect South Carolina’s existing grant work through a stronger state-based expression of Connect South Carolina’s economic and community development programs to key stakeholders in public and private sectors

•Support long-term sustainability for both organizations

“The synergies between Connect South Carolina and IT-oLogy were obvious to me when we began our partnership about 18 months ago,” said Stritzinger. “Since I’ve been a member of South Carolina’s Broadband Advisory Council over that time, my transition to Connect South Carolina is a natural and exciting evolution. I am honored to join the Connected Nation team, and I look forward to traveling around the state and shaping programs that will hopefully turn into best practices nationally.”

“Our recent partnership announcement between Connect South Carolina and IT-oLogy shows our commitment to helping more communities get connected and helping more workers increase their skills through technology expansion in South Carolina,” said Connected Nation President and COO Tom Ferree. “Jim is a great fit for the organization. The future is bright for the Connect South Carolina program.”

“When we look at the supply chain for talent with digital skills that can be applied in business, this partnership triggers some key things,” said IT-oLogy President, Lonnie Emard. “Connect South Carolina broadens the access to populations of new talent for IT-oLogy and IT-oLogy adds to the content package delivered to rural communities.

Dallas

The following blog post was written by IT-oLogy Dallas 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.

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

Announcing IT-oLogy Charlotte’s partnership with the STEMersion program. STEMersion, the collaborative efforts of representatives from businesses, organizations, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and Central Piedmont Community College, provides 50  CMS science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers a firsthand experience into how STEM comes to life in a 21st century workplace.

For two weeks STEMersion introduces teachers to on-site diverse representations of exciting STEM career opportunities, the education requirements for these jobs and the attractive salaries available to students on these career paths.   Participating teachers are charged to take their experiences into the classroom, enhancing the authenticity and effectiveness of their classroom practices.

Healthcare, energy, advanced manufacturing, engineering and technology industries are represented.   Some of the participating companies include Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bosh, Duke Energy, Novant, Peak 10, Piedmont Natural Gas, Premier Inc, Siemens,  Time Warner Cable, and TW Telecom.

IT-oLogy business partners offer teachers a look into the IT side of their businesses and an introduction to the diverse career opportunities. Teachers have hands on experiences in coding, cabling, security, technical support and Big Data applications. New this year is an experience into IT entrepreneurial, start-up and incubator organizations at Packard Place, an entrepreneurial and start-up hub.

STEMersion is one of the many IT-oLogy programs connecting businesses, educational institutions and organizations to grow the IT talent pipeline.

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, David Hodge!

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Name: David Hodge

Age: 18 

School: Graduate of Spring Valley High School

When did you first get interested in IT? How?

I became interested in IT at a very young age, back when I played simple computer games in the early 2000s. More recently, mobile phone software has caught my attention, which is what I currently write and design. 

How did you find out about IT-oLogy?

A representative from IT-oLogy spoke at the Rotary Club, where my mom is a member, and she told me about IT-oLogy and got my interested.

What parts of IT are you interested in? Why?

I currently focus on iOS app development for the iPhone and iPad. The whole concept of simplicity in software is genius, to me, at least. By developing apps for the iPhone, I can potentially reach hundreds of millions of people all over the world. All it takes from my part is creativity and the persistence to wake up every day and make the best product I am capable of.

In the future, I want to make small electronic devices that combine software, electrical engineering, and design to make life a little bit easier. I have not determined what purpose I want to build this device for, but it is definitely an area I will be pursuing as soon as I find the focus of the project. 

Why do you think IT is important? 

Information technology has and will continue to change the lives of all of us. There are very few people on this earth who have not adapted their lifestyles as a result of the presence of IT. Weather forecasts, cell phones, radio broadcasts; they affect people all around the world.

Who has helped you get involved in IT?

My brother, John, who recently graduated from Virginia Tech with a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering, helped get me started with programming. I was always interested in IT but John helped me get motivated to take on the daunting task of learning to code.

How does IT affect your day to day life?

IT has an impact on my everyday life from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. I keep my iPhone with me everywhere, for communication, entertainment, education, and whatever else I may need. The internet gives me hope and the ability to learn and to innovate. I can learn and accomplish anything I want simply because I have access to the internet.

Where would you like to work someday? In what position?

I  picture myself in one position in the future, which is Founder and CEO of my own startup company. I currently manage Genesis Apps, LLC where….you guessed it, I’m the Founder and CEO. The title alone does not mean too much to me, as I am much more focused on what I can do with that company and the impact I can make.

What are your plans for after high school?

In the fall, I will be attending the University of South Carolina where I will pursue a B.S. in Computer Science and a Minor in Economics.

Photo via Spring Valley High School, Viking Update

 

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 first “Meet the IT-oLogy Interns” feature, Daniel Standerwick!

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Name: Daniel Standerwick

Age: 16

School: Spring Valley High School

When did you first get interested in IT? How? When I first started middle school I wanted to find out how the people in the games I was playing moved. So I looked into it and found out about 3D animation. From there I have taken every art class in school to get closer to becoming a 3D animator.

How did you find out about IT-oLogy? I was looking online for a place to complete my internship and get some experience in the IT field. IT-oLogy came up in the search results and I took a shot at it.

What parts of IT are you interested in? Why? 3D animation! When I first started middle school I wanted to find out how the people in the games I was playing moved, so I looked into it and found out about 3D animation.

Why do you think IT is important? IT is the only way to go in a technological world. IT teaches you how to get a step ahead of the competitors technology-wise.

Who has helped you get involved in IT? My parents are really supportive. When I was around five my parents got me my first computer. When I told my parents I wanted to start focusing on 3D animation they were willing to get me any software and hardware I needed, but getting involved was all on my own. I researched how games worked and how animated movies are made. It all just amazed me so much that I had to follow up and get more involved.

 How does IT affect your day to day life? I find myself looking deeper into games and movies than what’s just on the surface. I notice if an animation glitches for a second, or if a polygon of a figure is overlapping with another. It’s made me a critic of movies and games.

Where would you like to work someday? In what position? I would like to one day become Lead Animator for a company’s project, but it doesn’t matter where, be it a major company or a small group as long as I’m doing what I love and I’m happy that’s all I need.

What are your plans for after high school? I have a few choices for college, one of which is SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) for a MFA (Master of Fine Arts), and another  is The Living Arts College for a BFA (Bachelors of Fine Arts). We’ll see what happens!

Hummingbird-dogThe Hummingbird Robotics Kit is a spin-off product of Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE lab. Hummingbird is designed to enable engineering and robotics activities for ages 13 and up (10 with adult supervision) that involve the making of robots, kinetic sculptures, and animatronics built out of a combination of kit parts and crafting materials. Hummingbird kits come with all the robot guts you need: pre-wired LED lights, motors, five types of sensors, and a controller that connects to the computer via USB. It also includes free graphical software for programming the robots. Hummingbird is used in hundreds of schools, and has been integrated with art, science, math, and even history and language arts courses. It’s a great way to introduce engineering, CS, and IT skills into the K-12 curriculum.

The company behind Hummingbird, BirdBrain Technologies, partnered with IT-oLogy to bring three free Hummingbird teacher training workshops to IT-oLogy locations in Columbia and Charlotte. In these workshops, teachers learn how to build, wire, and program their own robots. The workshop usually begins with a description of Hummingbird’s origins at Carnegie Mellon, followed by 1-2 hours of guided time where teachers connect electronics to the core Hummingbird controller and learn how to program, which is then followed by 2-3 hours of open building time. Teachers had to make and program a robot that uses at least one sensor, two lights, and a motor: The results are endlessly diverse – cartoon characters, buildings with drawbridges, flowers that open and close, and more!DragonKO

At one of the workshops, we observed exactly how intensely interested teachers were in building their robots. The caterer providing lunch to the workshop arrived over two hours late, but even after announcing that lunch was (finally) here, most teachers continued working on their robots instead of grabbing food immediately!

BirdBrain Technologies is currently launching a new version of their Hummingbird kits on Kickstarter. The new kit, dubbed “Duo”, adds many of the features requested by BirdBrain Technologies’ core community of teachers: Tetherless operation, Arduino mode, and more minor improvements like wheels for motors, solid-ended leads, improved sound sensing, and color-coding of the connectors by function. The Hummingbird Duo may be the first electronics kit that is fun and educational for a fourth grader, a high school student, a college engineering student, or an adult maker. Duo provides several levels of engineering and technology learning. Instead of a steep learning curve, learners go up a staircase where each step increases skills and where mastering each step allows one to use the Hummingbird in a new and more interesting way. For more information and to back the Hummingbird Duo KickStarter project visit, their Kickstarter page here.

IT-oLogy WISE

Computing-related occupations are projected to be the fifth fastest growing segment of the professional workforce through 2022, and computing has the second highest median annual wage of all occupational categories. Yet in 2013, women held only 26% of computing occupations although they held 57% of all US workforce professional occupations. Improving the gender balance in computing can lead to a more diverse and competitive workforce while offering families more stability.

Charlotte WISE is dedicated to doing just that -  increasing the percentage of women in the IT talent pipeline. Charlotte WISE (Women in Information Technology Science and Engineering) is now a  GROW IT  program of IT-oLogy.  Although new to IT-oLogy, WISE has a 10 year history in Charlotte bringing businesses, educational institutions and organizations together through outreach, professional development events and networking opportunities promoting opportunity and creating visibility to the many  IT careers available for girls and advancing women in the IT profession.

WISE outreach programs include awarding college scholarships to qualified young women high school seniors who plan to pursue degrees in IT and recognizing girls  in grades 9 -12 for their accomplishments in IT as part of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations awards.

The LeadHERship series of events offer business and IT relevant round table discussions, executive panel presentations, networking opportunities and more. The next event, in partnership with NCWIT, is planned for late summer.

Join us as we work together to create a more diverse and competitive workforce. For more information or to get involved, contact Kay Read, kay.read@it-ology.org.