NEW IT Alliance – April Tech Upload
NEW Digital News
Happy spring! Spring has sprung and so has data collection and sharing in the region. The NEW North this month reported the results of the 2018 Northeast Wisconsin Business Intelligence Study with results from 288 companies across the region. While companies are generally positive about the economic outlook, they see risks associated with finding and retaining key talent. While the results doesn’t say so directly, we’re sure lack of IT talent is a part of it.
As we dug into the more detailed data we noticed that 66% of respondents don’t feel changes in AI/machine learning are relevant to the success of their business in the next 5 years. We suggest these companies check out one of the upcoming events held by Advancing AI Wisconsin to understand the significant disruptions AI and Machine Learning can bring to any industry. As one CIO who attended a recent event put it; “if you think AI sounds futuristic, you are already behind.” Another option is to attend the TechTalk we will be hosting in April on this topic with Oliver Buechse, one of the founders of Advancing AI Wisconsin (see below for more detail).
Companies are very concerned about their ability to hire and retain talent with 78% reporting that recruiting competent job applications is a problem while 58% indicate being able to offer competitive pay and benefits as a problem. Many companies see strengthening training and education systems as a solution. Among several priorities for future economic growth, the highest ranked was strengthening the educational system at all levels with 54% of respondents picking that as the highest priority. Further, 86% indicated that education and training programs in data science and analytics are important or very important to the business community.
You can read the full report here.
NEW IT Alliance will be doing a deeper dive survey on some of these questions to understand how we can better attract and retain IT talent in the region.
One of our member organizations was featured in the news this week for their use of data in decision making. UW Oshkosh is a leading user of the Navigate Student Success Collaborative system used to predict success of students. The system is being rolled out to all UW System schools except UW Madison after having been used at UW Oshkosh since fall 2016. The system helps predict which students are at risk of dropping out, allowing for early intervention. Apart from the benefits to the individual students, retaining students to graduation will help strengthen the talent pipeline in the region. Read the full article.
In early April we will be launching the second annual Digital Learning Opportunities survey, which seeks to understand computer science offerings in K-12 districts in the region. After a successful pilot last year in Brown and Outagamie counties, the survey will this year go out to all 91 districts in the NEW North. One outcome of last year’s survey was identifying the need for a regional CS Advisory board for K-12 districts, which has been established and has met several times already. Through these meetings, we experience the growth in enthusiasm in many K-12 districts for offering computer science opportunities to many more students. We have a report-out planned with the results on June 13 (see our Events page for more detail).
On April 30 from 4-6pm, we will be hosting our next TechTalk event at Moraine Park Technical College in Fond Du Lac. The featured guest speaker will be Oliver Buechse from Advancing AI who will be speaking about Artificial Intelligence. Community and businesses are welcome to participate in networking, pizza, and the presentation. See our Events page for more detail and to register.
Over the past 3 months, we have received six unsolicited resumes from seasoned IT professionals looking for their next career opportunity. Several of these have senior leadership experience in regional businesses. These have been shared with our members as part of the benefit of being a member of the NEW IT Alliance. If you are not receiving these, and would like to, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Girls from Neenah Boys’ & Girls Brigade Take a Closer Look at Coding
On March 4, more than 80 girls from the Neenah Boys’ & Girls’ Brigade spent an evening trying their hand at coding. J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. volunteers teamed up with Women in Technology Wisconsin and Microsoft to host the event at Fox Valley Technical College. This marks J. J. Keller’s second year participating in the event aimed to get more girls interested in technology careers.
Throughout the workshop, the middle and high school girls interacted with 18 female professionals from J. J. Keller, Women in Technology and the technical college to use MakeCode.com and Adafruit® circuit boards.
“With MakeCode.com’s easy-to-use drag-and-drop blocks, the girls learned how easy it is to create coding projects,” said Kashoua Yang, a training and quality specialist with J. J. Keller, who coordinated the volunteer event. “We knew they were intrigued by coding, because when the evening was done, many of the girls weren’t ready to leave.”
According to a survey of the girls after the coding event, 52% indicated having interest in pursuing a career within Technology – a 14-point increase over how they felt before participating. That’s a difference J. J. Keller volunteers are excited to make.
On Thursday, March 7, over twenty Oshkosh Area School District students gathered at a DigiGirls Workshop for an evening of technology and learning. The event provided middle and high school students with the opportunity to explore programming, coding, and computer science through hands-on and engaging activities.
The event provided students with the opportunity to use makecode.com to program Adafruit® circuit boards with their Chromebooks. Students brought these boards to life by creating a tiny rainbow of lights, adding sounds – such as a siren, and designing commands – including using the temperature to activate lights or pushing a button to complete the task. During the event, students were encouraged to work together and share what they learned.
Sponsored by the Women In Technology (WIT) 4 Girls, the workshop was made possible through support from Microsoft, Bemis, and Plexus. The Oshkosh Area School District is committed to helping all students explore their career interests. The goal of the District is to ensure that all students are College, Career and Community Ready (CCCR).
On April 7, Appleton North High School will be hosting HACKAppleton from 9a.m.-6p.m. HACKAppleton is an annual student-run hackathon held in the spring at Appleton, Wisconsin. It is organized by the Appleton Youth Education Initiative (AYEI), a student-driven non profit organization seeking to better prepare Wisconsin students for their transition into higher education and to face the challenges and opportunities of adult life. Through HACKAppleton, students interested in computer science will have a fantastic opportunity to gain experience working in a team, technical practice, and a chance to engage with both local and international tech leaders.
Teams of four will compete to create the best software tool for the WI business community. Participants must be enrolled in a WI school and be in grades 7-12. There will be over $2000 in prizes such as Microsoft Surface Pros, Xbox Ones, Raspberry PIS, and drones! This is a free event and food will be provided.
New IT Alliance Member, Oracular, Has a New Name!
Oracular is excited to announce that they are growing and expanding their capabilities with a renewed focus and energy in 2019. As part of this next chapter in their evolution they are changing their company name and will now be doing business as Smart IS International. To celebrate this exciting change, they will be hosting ‘EMERGE’, a party open to the public to officially launch their new name. The event will be held at the UWO Alumni Center on Thursday May 2nd, 2019 from 5:00-7:00pm. There will be complimentary food, beverages, giveaways to all attendees and a few fun surprises along the way.
Oracular has been a trusted business and technology solutions partner to local and global organizations for more than 30 years, with their headquarters located in Oshkosh. The growth they have shared with their clients has enabled them to open two new offices since 2013; one in Islamabad, Pakistan and the other in Frankfort, Germany. The ‘EMERGE’ event will feature more information about other new milestones happening with this locally focused global organization.
For more information and to register, visit www.smart-is.com/emerge
TEALS Program Volunteers
If you’re looking for a way to harness your computer science (CS) skills and make a difference for students, we invite you to become a TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) volunteer.
Computer science is a vital driver in today’s global innovation economy, but most U.S. high schools are unable to offer rigorous CS courses. Without CS in high schools, our students are missing out on essential computational skills that will help them succeed in any career they wish to pursue, as well as professional skills that could lead to an economically secure future.
The TEALS program seeks to change that reality, Microsoft Philanthropies TEALS Program operates in 27 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and British Columbia with 1,500 volunteers from 500 companies, serving 16,000 students. TEALS exists because many high schools want to offer computer science but most don’t have teachers trained to teach it.
To fill this gap, TEALS volunteers work with classroom teachers to team-teach students, and equip those teachers with the knowledge to teach students on their own.
If you’re interested in the opportunity to help inspire the next generation, shape students’ career opportunities—all while having fun—TEALS is the right fit for you.
Together, we can help build CS programs at high schools across the U.S. to empower the next generation of innovators. Here are a few ways you can sign up to volunteer with TEALS today and help change lives:
- Read the Frequently Asked Questions.
- Learn more and apply at tealsk12.org/volunteers
We’re eager to have more volunteers and happy to answer any remaining questions you may have!