February 2021 Tech Upload
NEW Digital News
Thank You Alliance Members
What’s not to love about February? Spring is right around the corner (who cares what Punxsutawney Phil says!). And February is host month to Black History Month, and International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We thought we’d celebrate this month by sharing some stories about a few blacks and women in technology with you. Scroll down to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science section to read these stories. Not feeling represented in our stories? Help us share YOUR story or stories of other under-represented groups by submitting them to info@newDigitalAlliance.org so we can share them in future newsletters.
Back in January, the NEW Digital Alliance hosted one of our Quarterly Meetings. In addition to a brief update on Alliance activities we brought in guest speakers from the Milwaukee area to discuss Alternative Talent Streams for Tech Hiring. If you missed the meeting, we encourage you to check out the recording here. Panelists represented several companies who are working to reskill individuals into the IT field and connect them with employers in the Milwaukee region. We are planning additional activities to explore how we can bring these opportunities to Northeast Wisconsin to help provide alternative educational pathways for those looking to reskill and an additional pool of talent for employers. Member organizations will have an opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion on how to connect with the alternative talent providers, and brainstorm ways we can help their talent needs.
February also brings the start of some new initiatives the NEW Digital Alliance is launching. We are excited to launch the pilot for our TechConnect Pro event. This will see a local company host representatives from the regional colleges and universities to discuss ways to improve collaboration between industry and academia. The host for the pilot is member company Plexus who will host about 30 educators to discuss how Plexus can connect with faculty members on training, education, research, and consulting opportunities to benefit both sides. We hope to bring this opportunity to other member companies in the future.
We are almost ready to launch our surveys for the year. We collect annual data from K-12, colleges, and employers about the state of the IT talent pipeline in Northeast Wisconsin. The data from the surveys will be presented at our annual TechTalent Summit later in the year.
Mark your calendar for February 23. This will be the first of our TechTalk speaker series of the semester. This will be a virtual event where we showcase cool and exciting technology being used and developed by companies right here in Northeast Wisconsin. While TechTalk is primarily targeted at college students, it is open to the public and limited to the first 100 registrants. Register here to be the first to find out what this month’s topic and speaker will be.
For those interested in IT pathways in K-12 schools, the NEW CS Advisory Board meeting will be held on February 24, 2-4pm. This month we are excited to be discussing dual-credit offerings by local colleges. Registration is open and available here.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
From Ada Lovelace to PlayVS founder, Delane Parnell, men and women of all colors and backgrounds have helped drive the scientific and technology advances we all make use of today. However, as cool as Darnell’s eSport platform for high schools is, since February 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we are going to share the stories of several women who have left their mark on the field of IT.
Hedy Lamarr was famous as an actress in the 1940’s era. Born in Vienna, Austria she was so much more than just another pretty face on the silver screen. Thanks to walks with her father while growing up where he explained how things worked, Hedy developed a penchant for tinkering and innovation. This hobby eventually led Hedy to suggesting a more aerodynamic design for airplanes to Howard Hughes, as well as development of an improved traffic light. However, it’s the work she did with composer George Antheil that many of us use today. They developed a radio guidance system using frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology that was later incorporated into Bluetooth, and early wi-fi.
Dorothy Vaughan, whom you might know from the movie Hidden Figures, was a young mathematician working for NASA in the 1960’s. She was one of numerous “human computers” working in the West Area Computers team. This group of African American female mathematicians helped land John Glenn and crew successfully on the moon, and return them safely to earth again. Dorothy saw the writing on the wall when NASA brough in the first IBM computer and decided to teach herself Fortran. She then turned around and taught other women to code as well, and eventually became the head of the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division at Langley.
While many technologists seem to be born and raised on the coasts, Wisconsin is not without our claim to fame. Marissa Mayer grew up in Wausau, Wisconsin before heading off to college to study computer science, which landed her a job as a programmer at Google. There, she helped develop the code responsible for driving the search engine. She later advanced to become the VP of Google Search Products before leaving to become President and CEO of Yahoo. She is now co-founder of Sunshine, a tech company focused on leveraging artificial intelligence to improve consumer media.
We also have many brilliant technologists here in Northeast Wisconsin. We reached out to a few of them to see if they would be willing to share their thoughts with others who might be considering a career in technology. We sent them each a list of questions to answer. Keep reading to see their responses.
Barb Streubel | CIO Kreuger International Inc
Q: What got you interested in computer science / technology as a career field?
A: I was a waitress in high school and the owner mentioned I would do good in programming; I had a brother in college who sent me a Cobol book and I found it very interesting and decided to go to school for it.
Q: What has been your biggest hurdle?
A: Getting over the fact that making mistakes is NOT a failure. A valuable lesson is DO NOT be afraid to fail. I have made some big mistakes in my career, but I look back and now see the experience it gave me.
Q: What advice do you have for others considering technology as a career field (career changers, college students, etc.)?
A: If you want a job that is never mundane, change is constant, lots of challenges and very rewarding, then a career in technology is for you. My advice, is to always believe in yourself. If you can envision yourself doing something, then you can do it! Never, ever, let others bring you down. No one is perfect. Always stay true to yourself.
Q: What about technology gives you a sense of joy?
A: Working days or months on a project and then seeing it being used by others. Having it make a positive impact for the business. Technology is always changing. Because of that, your job is never boring.
Q: What is your biggest accomplishment?
A: Actually, there are so many that I can’t just pick out one. That just shows how much you can accomplish in this field. Probably getting everyone working from home in a matter of days when the pandemic hit!
Q: What do you wish you had known in high school or as a young woman entering the field?
A: I wish I had access to talk to women in IT and do a job shadow with them.
Q: And for fun: if you were a sock, what color would you be?
Madi Hilmershausen | Interactive Web Management Major at UW-Oshkosh | NEW Digital Alliance
From little on, technology has always fascinated me, but I never knew how big of a role it would play in my life today. After a low mental point in my life during high school, I decided to focus all of my energy on my academics and started taking business and media classes. Once introduced to the world of marketing, I immediately fell in love with the line of work and gained a deep passion for becoming successful and positively impacting the business world. In high school I worked as a Marketing Intern which solidified that this is the career path for me. I went into college at UW Oshkosh as a Marketing Major where I was then introduced to the Interactive Web Management (IWM) Major. The IWM degree at UWO is broad-based and interdisciplinary blending aspects of business, technology, and media creation in the web and technology fields. Once I heard about the emerging field and endless opportunities that go along with the major, I knew it was the perfect fit for me since it combines my love for technology and creating with marketing. Through my major I was introduced to Kim Iverson, Director of NEW Digital Alliance, and have been working as her Digital Communications, PR, and Marketing Intern since October. Starting this spring 2021 semester, I will be the president of UWO’s Interactive Web Management club. I am beyond ready to help organizations harness technology to create lasting solutions to today’s business challenges.
My advice to those considering IT as a career field: instead of fearing change, embrace it. Although the world of IT consists majority of men, nobody should be discouraged from pursing an IT career and making a difference. Technology is forever growing, changing, and is inescapable, so the world needs people who can utilize it and adapt. There are millions of diverse career pathways in IT besides just traditional coding. If I would have stayed in my comfort zone I never would have the opportunities and happiness I have today. I encourage others to have faith in their abilities and find their passion – hopefully in IT 🙂 .
Grace Vanden Heuvel | Hortonville Highschool | NEW Digital Alliance | Secura Insurance
Something a lot of folks don’t know about me is that I was looking at criminal justice as a career field when I was younger — I even took a blended criminal justice and English class! After I got involved with Girls Who Code, I learned I was really into technology, specifically software development. From there, I grew and continued to join and lead coding-related clubs and take as many computer science classes and get as much work experience as I could. Six years from when I started looking into computer science, I’m working as a lead developer on a Robotic Process Automation project for the IT Personal Lines team at Secura — who would have known?
I would say to anybody of any age thinking about pursuing a career in IT: Do it! IT is such a diverse field and there are hundreds of different types of jobs. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t get my feet wet by trying out different aspects of IT. Take every opportunity you can!
Demand for talent continues to remain strong for Wisconsin and the New North region. National demand for tech talent also remains high, with the tech unemployment rate for December (3.0%) up slightly from November (2.4%), and matching pre-pandemic levels of 3% in January 2020.