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From IT-oLogy Charlotte Executive Director, Kay Read:

Clarissa Rainear, a talented Providence HS junior, is interested in pursuing computer science/information technology as a career and frequently discussed the importance of computer science with her classmates.  She requested an interview with me with the purpose to learn about IT-oLogy and its work in the Charlotte branch.  Clarissa planned to submit a feature article for her annual high school literary magazine, Roars and Whispers.

Not only was Clarissa’s article published, she recently shared with me that her feature article, “Behind the Screen,” was recently awarded first place for the Literary Magazine Feature Article category by the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association! This is one of the highest honors that writing can be awarded in this state. Congratulations to Clarissa, a rising leader in IT.

Behind the Screen

Clarissa RaniearThousands of fingers punch thousands of keys on thousands of phones. Text message alerts chime like birdsong amidst the click of smartphone cameras and the vibrations of social media posts. Our world is an endless stream of filters and likes, six-second videos, pinning and snapchatting. We are the Information Generation. But beneath the crisp white homepage of YouTube lie thousands of lines of computer code, the secret language that dictates just how big a thumbs-up icon is and what happens when “Miley Cyrus” is typed into a search bar. IT-oLogy is a non-profit organization created to address the shortage of information technicians who write this code.

Kay Read, Executive Director of IT-oLogy in Charlotte, works to connect local students with the “ecosystem of information technology” in Charlotte. “When kids think about IT,” says Read, “they think they’ll have to work behind a computer all day coding, but that’s just one of the many different information technology jobs. There’s also an idea that it’s too geek, and the thought of ‘I can’t do that.’ But you can do it.”

Cyber Saturdays, an IT-oLogy program underwritten by Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds effort, offers middle and high school students the opportunity to get hands-on experience with information technology. Over three hundred participants have learned to write code and build their own websites while working with professionals in the field.  Read says their goal is to “connect with anyone who is interested in IT,” even providing computers for those who may not have technology access at home. Cyber Saturdays touch “so many students and volunteers and parents,” Read says. “It’s part of that awareness effort. The greater number of people we can connect to, the better.”

IT-oLogy also partners with local and national companies to create student internships. Companies who participate in these internships often hire their student interns after graduation. These internships, along with scholarship awards to students interested in information technology, reflect IT-oLogy’s goal of incorporating information technology into educational programs.  Local schools are beginning to recognize the importance of technology education. CMS is offering an increasing number of computer courses, including AP Computer Science, Computer Programming, and Multimedia and Web Design.

IT-oLogy has already connected hundreds of students to new career possibilities. A local museum in Columbia, South Carolina, asked the nonprofit to recruit teenagers to prepare a website for their latest exhibit. One student, known for her talent in fashion design, originally declined to participate because she did not believe that art was an important aspect of computer science. But after watching students in IT-oLogy work on webpage design, her interest in information technology grew. To her surprise, the design process tied directly into her love of art. She is now seeking a major in computer science and information technology.

Kay Read and IT-oLogy are looking forward to creating a thriving information technology community in Charlotte. “There is a perception that Charlotte is a consumer of technology, but not a creator of it,” states Read. “We want to put Charlotte on the technology map.” Perhaps we can look forward to an Instagrammed #ThrowbackThursday contrasting 2014 Charlotte, mere consumer of IT, with a future Charlotte flourishing as a hub of technology innovations.

Todd LewisThe following is a post by IT-oLogy Columbia Executive Director Todd Lewis.

As we at IT-oLogy continue our college roadshow to promote Coursepower and the 18 hour Applied Computing minor one thing is becoming clear – student and parent interest is extremely high.

While the sheer level of interest has been mildly surprising even to us, I do believe it is yet another indicator that technology education is increasingly being viewed as a must have as opposed to something optional that one may or may not use. I can say without hesitation this would not have occurred just two or three years ago.

The most common response we get from parents and students, along with a positive head nod is “absolutely, makes perfect sense…technology really is in everything these days.” As proof, we now have more than 300 students signed up to receive CoursePower specifics and more information after just a few new student orientation sessions, and we expect between 750 and 1,000 before sessions end in early August. For a new minor that few if any of the people we’re talking to have heard of, that is amazing.

What does this mean and why should you be interested? For those in middle or high school it means a tremendous option is available to you as you consider and enter college, one that will make you more marketable and may increase your earning potential. The same goes for existing college students and even professionals needing a baseline understanding of tech. For businesses it means a supply of graduates with foundational technology skills will soon be available. For economic development officials it means they now have a competitive advantage when recruiting businesses of all types, because every business is enabled by IT and needs skilled workers. For everyday citizens, it means more businesses will be retained and recruited, which enhances the tax base and creates more opportunity for everyone.

As we continue to grow IT-oLogy and promote programs like CoursePower, we continue to need the help of everyone to make it a success. If you haven’t been invited to join us, consider this an invitation and contact us today. We need CoursePower ambassadors who understand the program and can passionately spread the word, as well as teachers, counselors, advisors, and administrators to help advance IT curriculum and the profession in general.

We hope you join us and change the system and society as we know it. We are truly at the beginning of something transformative.

Visit www.coursepower.org for more information.

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Connections 2014 in review

June 19th, 2014 | Posted by Emily in IT-oLogy Defined - (0 Comments)

Thank you to all who attended, supported, or were involved with Connections 2014! The event offered a great opportunity for leaders in all industries to show and be shown how IT can enhance their businesses, organizations, and areas of work. We received overwhelmingly positive responses to the event, and can’t wait for our next professional conference, Trends 2014, in September. We look forward to seeing you there.

 

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Stay tuned to find more information about Trends 2014!

 

Looking for activities for your tech-savvy child this summer?  IT-oLogy can help you find the right program or activity. 

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  • Cyber Saturday
  • University of South Carolina Summer Camps

  • Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Summer Camp
  • On Their Own
    • Little BitsUse the Little Bits Starter Kit and Expansion Kits to build various electrical prototypes. No programming required.
    • LEGO MindstormsCreate small, customizable and programmable robots using LEGO pieces.
    • Computer Science UnpluggedCS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. The activities introduce students to underlying concepts such as binary numbers, algorithms and data compression, separated from the distractions and technical details we usually see with computers.
    • ScratchUse Scratch, a visual programming language to create animations and games using block programming.
    • Lightbot 2.0Lightbot 2.0 is a free programming game that is played through a browser.  Through simple commands, players learn about programming, functions, recursion, and conditionals.
    • AliceUse Alice to create a 3D animation using programming concepts.
    • Kodu Game LabCreate you own interactive game using Kodu, which is free and requires no design or programming experience.
    • BlocklyBlockly is a web-based, graphical programming editor. Users can drag blocks together to build an application. No typing required.
    • GimpGimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free, open-source image retouching and editing tool similar to Photoshop. Use Gimp edit or create images to make them their own.
    • Mozilla Popcorn MakerUse a Mozilla web browser to combine video and audio with content from the rest of the web — from text, links and maps to pictures and live feeds.
    • MIT’s App Inventor – App Inventor lets you develop applications for Android phones using a web browser and either a connected phone or emulator. The App Inventor servers store your work and help you keep track of your projects.
    • CodeacademyOnline programming tutorials in HTML & CSS, jQuery, JavaScript, PHP, Python and Ruby
    • Code.org K-8 Intro to Computer Science – Learn the basic concepts of Computer Science with drag and drop programming. This is a game-like, self-directed tutorial starring video lectures by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies. Learn repeat-loops, conditionals, and basic algorithms. Available in 34 languages.
    • Code Avengers – Code Avengers has free interactive online courses that teach the basics of web design and computer programming, in a way that makes learning fun and effective.
    • Micro CareerBurstsMicroburst Learning, in partnership with businesses, has developed interactive presentations on specific IT Careers.  Log into the MicroCareerBurst website, choose an IT career, and complete the activity.

Contact Alicia Thibaudet at Alicia.thibaudet@it-ology.org for recommendations, resources and info.

A message from Lonnie Emard

June 5th, 2014 | Posted by Emily in IT-oLogy Defined - (0 Comments)

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

IT-oLogy in Business Terms

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to share the IT-oLogy mission, strategy and operational results with a number of national foundations and private sector funders during a “speed dating” like activity in New York at Chase Manhattan Plaza.  In total, 40 non-profit organizations were there from across the country making pitches  for support of their efforts to perform some measure of “social good”.  Throughout the day, one of my original beliefs was reinforced time and time again.  All of the other organizations operating in the space of STEM education, IT skills or just technology advancement were competing to solve a particular somewhat narrow aspect of our country’s supply and demand imbalance around skills and talent.

IT-oLogy, was to my knowledge, the only organization presenting a complete model to address the skills shortage, deliver business value to companies and create econimc development advantage because of the talent.

Until a few week ago, IT-oLogy used terminology that referred to creating an entire ecosystem, an end to end solution, “from classroom to boardroom” or “from 0 to CIO”.  The idea was that we were advancing IT talent by growing the IT talent pipeline.

Since we have been running this like a business, it now makes sense to capture a true business term to describe what truly differentiates the IT-oLogy model from any other in the country.

SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT for companies that hire IT professionals.  For business partners, it clarifies why we start with k-12 education for our Promote IT initiative, then leading to the various supply chain paths that could lead to a newhire or an entrepreneurial startup, then leading to innvoation and skill development within the existing workforce and eventually the net regime of leaders.

Since there are so many varieties of partners who join IT-oLogy, this supply chain management concept makes it easier for everyone to understand where they fit because of where they receive the product (the developing individual) and who they provide the product (more skilled individual) to.

Based on feedback, I see this term supply chain management working with funders to help them connect their strategies to our proposal for creating scale and sustainability of IT-oLogy in communities and states across the country.

Your help through participation in the supply chain is the key to our success.

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IT-oLogy is thrilled to announce that we are giving away FIVE tickets to Connections 2014 on June 11! Join us as we explore the latest developments in hardware, software, infrastructure, processes and design across a variety of industries from art to health to manufacturing. Our featured speakers work in vastly differing industries and will share their experiences with technology, so you won’t want to miss this! Visit the IT-oLogy website for a more detailed look at our lineup in addition to the event schedule.

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Featured speakers include:

Garima Prasai, IBM

Jerry Tessendorf, Clemson University

Krissa Watry, Dynepic

Tom Ferree, Connected Nation

Jon Bartschi, IT-oLogy

Amy Love, South Carolina Department of Commerce

Bryan Bender, Mariner Group

Charles Wyatt-Smith, Bublish

Eric Mills, Connected Nation

To enter the competition, enter your information in the Rafflecopter below and we will announce the five winners next Monday, June 9 at 5:00 pm.


Hack for SC 2014 Review

June 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Emily in IT-oLogy Defined - (0 Comments)

Last weekend’s Hack for SC  held at IT-oLogy was a huge success, with creativity and collaboration throughout the event! After Rails Girls and Local Wiki sessions on Saturday, the Hackathon and Designathon began, allowing local creatives and coders alike to use their skills to bring publicly available data to their communities! Check out some of our favorite photos and tweets from the event below. Thanks to all of Hack for SC’s sponsors, partners, and participants to making this weekend possible!

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Alice McCroryIT-oLogy would not be possible without the help of our amazing volunteers who donate their time, energy, and skills to spreading the IT message. To say thank you to those individuals, we will be highlighting some of the great people who volunteer with us! First up, Alice McCrory!

1.     How/when did you first get into IT and technology?

I got into IT in 1972 when I switched my major from Mathematics to Computer Science at USC. I was flipping through the Course Catalog thinking I didn’t want to major in Math because I did not want to be a teacher, so what could I do? I stumbled across computer programming and decided I’d give it a try! The decision took no more than 5 minutes and changed by life forever! Graduated in 1974 from USC with a BS in Computer Science. Loved the field from the very beginning.

2.     What about IT appeals to you?

I am particularly interested in the software side of Information Technology. Programming appealed to me from the very beginning as I enjoy getting the computer to do what I ask it to do, but my main interest lies in the people in IT.

3.     What type of professional or personal background do you have in IT or technology?

I started at Seibels, Bruce and Company as one of the first of 12 programmers on the Policy Management System (PMS). I took the typical career path from Programmer to Systems Analyst, Project Leader, and then management. I spent about nine years of my career at South Carolina National Bank (now Wells Fargo) and was instrumental in installing the earliest ATM’s in the state. I moved on and was hired in 1984 at BCBSSC as a Data Base Analyst. I eventually become Director of IT at BCBSSC, the first female direct report to the CIO Steve Wiggins. My departments included IT Recruiting, Programming Support, Training, and Administration. I unfortunately became chronically ill in 1998 with Lyme disease and had to suddenly leave the company due to my illness.

4.     How did you find out about IT-oLogy?

I watched IT-oLogy create their workspace and open at the current location. I often wondered what it was and about 4 months ago found out more about the company and called Lonnie to set up a meeting. I continued to learn how closely tied the companies are and that they are working towards solving a problem that was so prevalent when I was over IT Recruiting at Blue Cross: Not enough resources! I am fascinated by the organization and once again so excited about being a part of promoting, teaching, and growing IT!

5.     In what capacity do you volunteer with IT-oLogy?

I have gone to career fairs at elementary, middle, and high schools. I have volunteered at Cyber Saturdays, have taught Mindstorms Robotics to middle school [students] at Cyber Saturday, and will soon be promoting the Coursepower minor degree at USC, Columbia College, Benedict, and Midlands Tech. I will be presenting at SC Midlands Summit on IT in a few weeks, representing IT-oLogy and will also be a volunteer at the Columbia Mini Maker Faire at EdVenture in mid-June.

6.  What advice would you give to women working or volunteering in the IT industry?

My advice to woman volunteering or working in IT would be to know that you are the best that you can be professionally and to give it all you got, but also realize that our personal lives need lots of our attention too! My two daughters grew up with a mother that worked all the time and now they have both become successful professional women. But, they too, even more so than I did, realize how important their children and families are and that giving them the attention, time, and love that they need is of utmost importance.

Thanks again to Alice for answering our questions! If you are interested in volunteering with IT-oLogy Columbia, click here.

Summit on IT in review

May 7th, 2014 | Posted by Emily in Grow IT | IT-oLogy Columbia - (0 Comments)

14087920233_2639a127a8_oThe first annual Summit on Information Technology kicked off with a rousing start with remarks from Governor Haley to the more than 280 business leaders gathered from across the state. Hosted by IT-oLogy, in partnership with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the Summit focused on how information technology (IT) is driving innovation and impacting job creation and growth across all sectors of our state’s economy.

Matt Gardner, Senior Fellow for Innovation at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute discussed the landmark study, Technology Works.  “South Carolina has four distinct communities in the top 15 for growth in information technology since 2006. This is not as a result of an explosion in start ups but more likely major employers have added to their IT infrastructure,” said Gardner. “The top line is that these South Carolina communities are really doing well with more than 20% growth.”

From the macro to the micro –Regional Impact and Issues

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From the Upstate to the Lowcountry, representatives from South Carolina’s regions followed the keynote by  presenting facts and data about their local start up scene, workforce development, economic impact of IT in their area and trends.

The afternoon “Think Tank” sessions focused on industry verticals including banking, professional services, healthcare and innovation/entrepreneurship. Reports from these sessions will be made available in the coming months.

“This summit  is a first step in a process to help keep South Carolina competitive,” said Todd Lewis, executive director IT-oLogy Columbia. “Our hope is this will be an annual event that will keep the conversation going.”

To see more photos from the Summit on IT, click here to visit IT-oLogy’s Flickr page. To see presentations from the Summit, visit the IT-oLogy website here.

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IT-oLogy partner and local Columbia IT firm VC3 has recently unveiled Cognito Forms, the first of a cloud-based family of applications, called Cognito Apps. Users can now use Cognito Forms to build and tailor customizable online forms to collect data and gain relationships with their customers.

Cognito Apps was born out of a void for affordable, yet customizable, applications for organizations, according to VC3’s Director of Development, Jamie Thomas.

“We do consulting, and have for well over a decade, and we felt there was an untapped need for this type of product,” Thomas said. “Our customers would come to us with a need, but when we looked at the market and the products available, they would only get them fifty percent of the way there.”

After noting the “ridiculously high” customization costs for available products, Thomas’ team, comprised of five developers, a testing manager, user interface manager, and IT infrastructure manager, started its development of Cognito Apps.

“Our goal was to create products that solve real problems and were easily reachable and accessible. We’re not trying to be everything, but we’re trying to be a piece of the solution by creating applications that can integrate with an organization’s existing infrastructure.”

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The VC3 Cognito team.

The concept for Cognito Apps began 3.5 years ago as a way to bring its users closer to their customers. Cognito Forms can not only be used in business, but also every day life, for instance, for a local soccer league wanting to register parents for snack duty. The app has even received the stamp of approval from Thomas’ 9-year-old son, Michael.

“I asked my son—he had never seen the product—to make a form. I didn’t tell him what to do, I had never shown it to him,” Thomas said. “Michael had recently filled out a registration form for Minecraft, and he said he wanted to do that. So he was able to sit down and build a form, and that was a good feeling for me.”

After three rounds of usability testing and countless modifications, Thomas thinks that Cognito Apps is exactly what the market needs: a product that is user-friendly, instinctual, and simple.

“If a 9-year-old can build the form, then something about it must be intuitive, and we must be doing something right.”

VC3_AIM_Logo copyFor the time being, the application is free to all customers, actively engaging and creating web forms.

In addition to Cognito Forms, the introduction to the Cognito payment platform was launched on February 24th. While testing the platform with only a handful of companies, Cognito Payments has already managed over $1 million in charges. In the next year, Thomas’ team plans to fully execute its payment offering and make it available for all organizations to try.

VC3’s plans for the immediate future are to make Cognito Forms more feature rich, adding Likert fields for surveys and a payment feature for organizations to collect payments from their customers. The team also has plans to integrate across a variety of platforms, such as WordPress, a widely used content management system. The WordPress plugin will make it even easier to create, embed and manage online forms all within your WordPress website.

To begin using Cognito Forms for free, visit https://www.cognitoforms.com, and check out the Cognito Apps blog for the newest updates http://blog.cognitoapps.com.

IT-oLogy partners interested in highlighting a new IT development can contact our Communications Assistant, Emily Lott, at communications@it-ology.org.