June 17, 2013
From itjungle.com: “Industry-Driven Training Aims at Skills Gap” – The skilled workforce is a big concern for all companies. In the IBM midrange community, you won’t find many people who believe it isn’t a problem. Potential entry-level employees with IBM i skills are scarce. And companies that are hiring tend to be particular about that. In most instances, organizations are not looking for one-dimensional individuals. Broad-based skills, including multiple languages and operating systems, are more the norm.
What’s being done to address this?
Some companies have found success when the IT and HR departments work together on a recruitment strategy that has close ties to colleges where IBM i skills are part of the computer science curriculum. They are on advisory boards that help determine the classroom subjects. It’s an effective strategy, but it’s not one in widespread use.
Replicating success is not difficult when you have a good template. That’s the thinking of Jim Buck, who is in the process of applying for a grant to do just that. Buck, who heads up one of the most successful IBM i educational tracks at the collegiate level for Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin, hopes the Department of Labor grant will allow Gateway to begin a program to train instructors at other colleges and universities. Among his priorities is helping other institutions set up advisory councils with IBM i shops.
At Gateway, Buck has an advisory council with 12 members representing IBM i shops. They help establish the curriculum and specific skills they view as important for the entry level jobs they hope to be filling now and in the years ahead. It’s the connection and collaboration between companies that need to replenish their workforces and the colleges that can best provide the skilled people that is critically (and I don’t use that word lightly) important.
Buck describes this as “industry-driven training” and he is emphasizing the role of IBM i shops in the preparation of training and the job placement support following the completion of training. The curriculum roadmap consists of three core classes: an introduction to programming, enterprise system concepts, and DB2 programming. The colleges and their advisory boards can select educational tracks to best fit business requirements and employment opportunities.
Gateway is relying on a consortium of community colleges across the U.S. (the 125-member National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers), as well as schools that participate in the IBM Academic Initiative. The initial group of colleges that are expected to prove the program is viable includes: Muskegon Community College in Michigan, Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina, the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland, Metropolitan Community College in Nebraska, and Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois. Each of these schools will be developing partnerships with IBM i-based companies, including software vendors and IBM business partners.
The targeted student population includes college students as well as dislocated workers, the unemployed, veterans, and other adults. Those who complete the training will earn industry-recognized certifications, which will be spearheaded by COMMON.
There are a lot of companies in the IBM i community who could help themselves, help the IBM i community, and help their local communities by lending a hand to this. If your organization isn’t involved in an advisory council relationship with a tech school, the question needs to be asked, “Why not?” Is it because there is no plan for investment in IT personnel for the future? Is it because there’s no investment in IT infrastructure? For all the companies who say they can’t find people with the right skills, are there companies that believe in taking an active role to change that outcome?
“If this consortium of schools gets this grant–and they are asking for up to $25 million to build these centers of excellence–it will be the biggest step forward in teaching Power skills in the 17-year history of the Academic Initiative. This is an enormous step,” says Pete Glass, program manager of the Power Systems Academic Initiative. “But we need to have names to give the grant application strength.”
Companies that are interested in getting involved with this project can take the first step by completing a brief survey that, when compiled, will identify the severity of the skills gaps and rank their importance. Participation in the survey will result in follow up from the project coordinators who can help determine ways in which your company can benefit from this collaboration and how an effective skills pipeline can be hooked into your company.
June 10, 2013
From beloitdailynews.com: “Job prospects on tentative rise for graduates” – Derek Rice thought about going back to school.
A couple of years ago his employer at Menlo Worldwide Logistics in Beloit passed over him for a promotion because he didn’t have a college degree.
“I’ve got 10-plus years of warehouse experience. You name it I’ve done it,” the 36-year-old Janesville resident said. “They were hell-bent on having someone with a degree, and it didn’t matter if it was related to warehousing or not.”
He then got another job in Janesville after a worker was out recovering from a surgery. Even after he was told it was a permanent position he was let go after the worker returned.
After that he talked with his wife, Danielle, and they decided he should go back to school to get his associate’s degree at Blackhawk Technical College. The decision wasn’t easy having two kids at the time, and recently welcoming a third, but Danielle’s job in healthcare allowed them to live off the one salary. He recently graduated with a degree in Information Technology Network Specialist.
“I’ve always worked on computers on the side at my home,” he said. “First time I went to college was for computers so I’ve always liked working with them.”
Recent graduates are still feeling the affects of the recession even though the market seems to be improving. Jeff Scott, IT instructor at Blackhawk Technical College, said graduating students are not only competing against their peers, but also against other workers who have lost jobs due to downsizing in the workforce.
“Right now it’s more of an employer’s market versus an employee’s market,” Scott said. “So in some ways potential employers have the pick as far as if they want someone with more experience. So what I tell students is, ‘What you have to realize is much of the experience you have is very relevant and new compared to those that have been downsized.’”
However information technology jobs is one area that is seeing growth in the average number of employees. Towards the end of 2011 there were about 1,100 jobs in information technology in Rock County, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). In the fourth quarter of 2012 there were more than 1,300 IT jobs in Rock County.
“It’s kind of across the board,” said Dave Winters, chief labor economist at DWD, on the average job increases. “We’re seeing it in construction, manufacturing, professional and business services, IT and healthcare.”
Construction added about 400 jobs between 2011 and 2012 going from 2,200 to more than 2,600 average employees in Rock County. Manufacturing grew by nearly 600 positions up to 9,032. Health services positions grew by about 400 positions between 2011 and 2012
Statewide the numbers are similar to the county numbers. About 395,600 were employed in the health services in 2012 compared to 390,300 in 2011. Construction workers by about 1,000 workers up to 93,000 and manufacturing grew by about 10,000 from 443,000 to 453,000.
Winters said there a couple different factors economists look at when determining the strength of the job market such as the unemployment rate and income tax revenue generated by the state.
Cathy Wickersham, director of community based learning at Beloit College, said the college works closely with the students through all four years.
Both Wickersham and Scott said having internships on a resume has significantly helped recent graduates over the last several years. Beloit College now requires students to do a unit incorporating some aspect outside the classroom.
“In terms of surveying employers what most want from college graduates is the ability to think critically, communicate effectively and also they are looking for students who have demonstrated an ability to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and take it beyond the classroom,” Wickersham said.
Scott tells students to emphasize internship experience on their resume when applying for jobs.
“It’s mainly because of younger students,” he said. “A lot have very little to no real world experience. I tell them to highly emphasize the fact that they have had an internship. One thing that employers have told me is that it shows some stability on their part.”
Rice said professors tell students for every 10 resumes sent out usually one will call back for an interview, and a job offer tends to come every five to seven interviews.
“So for about 50 resumes sent out you should get at least one job offer,” he said.
Rice currently is training as a computer support specialist at Data Dimensions in Janesville. Looking back he knows he made the right decision going back to school.
“There’s no doubt I wouldn’t be in the position I am without my degree,” he said.
From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “Former Whiting Mill employee charts new course with IT degree” – Dawn Zieher never considered working anywhere other than a paper mill.
A Pittsville native, Zieher said she had family that worked in the paper industry, and she began thinking about it in eighth grade. At 19 years old, she was hired at NewPage Corp.’s Whiting mill, where she worked for more than 26 years. When the mill closed in February 2011, she was working as a rewinder operator, cutting up rolls of paper into smaller sections.
“I was shocked,” Zieher said of the closure. “I had to figure out something to do. I always thought about going back to school, but I had been doing shift work, which didn’t really give me a chance to.”
Zieher, 48, of Stevens Point, said she had a general interest in computers, and settled on Mid-State Technical College based in part on location and cost. On Thursday, she will graduate with other students from the Stevens Point campus with an information technology-network specialist degree.
“I liked the classes they offered, and how the faculty treated students,” Zieher said. “I wouldn’t have thought a couple of years ago that I would be graduating with this kind of degree, but this was a great choice for me.”
Kathryn Doar is an instructor of IT-network specialist courses at MSTC, and she has been at the college for 51/2 years. Of the 15 students graduating with that degree this week, Doar said four, including Zieher, are displaced workers.
“Those kinds of students come in here with a great past work experience and a real drive to learn everything they can,” Doar said.
Doar said Zieher is regularly among those students who put in extra hours to learn, whether it is fixing computers in the college’s PC Clinic or volunteering to work on networks for the Rosholt Library and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She also has helped set up the new IT-network specialist lab at Mid-State’s new downtown Stevens Point campus, scheduled to open in January 2014.
While she’s involved now, Zieher admits that college wasn’t always so easy for her.
“It was a total 180 for me. When I was in school the last time, it was paper and pencil, and we used to look things up at the library,” Zieher said. “I felt overwhelmed, but the instructors here made a big difference because they were always very willing to answer any question I had.”
Zieher said she isn’t exactly sure what her next job will be, but that she’s interested in possibly working with computer servers and would be willing to move if necessary. She will benefit from the college’s near 100 percent placement rate for graduates in her field.
“I’ve been able to get a lot of experience at school, so I feel like I have options,” Zieher said.
From lacrossetribune.com: “Health care, accounting, tech are hottest fields for area graduates” – Shainah Hughes knows she’ll find a job and support her family when she graduates.
Job security is one of the big reasons the 29-year-old student at Western Technical College is pursuing a degree in electronics and computer engineering.
“When I graduate, there’s going to be a need for that,” Hughes said.
Health care, accounting and technology are big draws for grads who want to live locally, but college officials agree there’s no hard and fast trend.
Job security is “huge” for today’s graduates, said Beth Dolder-Zieke, director of career services at Viterbo University.
Many started college on the eve of the recession.
“They heard you go to college, you do really well, get a job,” Dolder-Zieke said. “And then they go to college, and for those of them who were aware of what was going on, it was very discouraging.”
College grads have high expectations from their first job. Nationally, they expect a salary approaching $50,000 and “want opportunities for future growth,” Dolder-Zieke said.
For that, many are looking to health care.
More than 160 students graduated from Viterbo’s un-dergraduate nursing and nursing-completion programs last year. Western, UW-L, Winona State University and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical in Winona all offer degrees in health care, too.
Radiography, certified nursing assistant and physical therapy programs have a consistent following because of local hospitals, said Jackie Newman, career services specialist for Western.
“The regional area makes health care a popular pick,” Newman said.
Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are also in demand by local hospitals “because that’s a way that they can serve underserved populations,” said Tim Tritch, UW-L’s associate director of career services.
Health care-related work makes up nearly 20 percent of La Crosse jobs, and about 24 percent of Winona County jobs, according to state employment data.
Issac Tillman went back to college with plans to open a restaurant but wound up working in financial aid.
Tillman started in Western’s business management program, hoping to pad years of experience and a past degree in food service. He soon realized he wanted something more stable.
Tillman graduates this year and has already found work in Western’s financial aid office.
“It clicked,” Tillman said.
Accounting and technology are both strong choices for students like Tillman, who stay in the region, college officials say. Employers want skilled workers in both fields.
“Even when the economy goes bad, they still need accountants,” said Gale Lanning, director of admissions for Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical. “They have always been our consistent program that still will survive no matter what.”
Career choices vary as much as certificates and degrees available at the region’s colleges — especially when an aspiring college grad is willing to move for work, Tritch said. Proximity of two major job markets, the Twin Cities and Madison, creates myriad possibilities for students.
March 29, 2013
From fdlreporter.com: “Recycle your electronics at Moraine Park” – Moraine Park Technical College’s IT Club will be holding its E-cycle event from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 at Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac campus.
Items can be dropped off at the campus courtyard, closest to the intersection of Johnson Street and University Drive. Accepted items include: Monitors, laptops, servers, TV’s, printers/fax/scanners, computers, video game consoles, mice/keyboards, cell phones, MP3 players/ipods, phones, DVD players, VCRs, cable boxes, satellite dishes, vacuum cleaners (without bag), coffee makers, bread makers, irons, hair dryers, radios, clocks and much more.
All batteries must be removed from all items including cordless/rechargeable products.
Items not accepted include curling irons, refrigerators, dish washers, stoves and household batteries.
A full list of items can be viewed by emailing Lisa Pollard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 1, 2012
From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC expanding IT offerings in Oshkosh” – Fox Valley Technical College will be offering more Information Technology courses at its Riverside campus in Oshkosh, beginning with this fall semester.
The Riverside campus will offer IT coursework for the first year of the Network Specialist, Computer Support Specialist, and Network Systems Administration associate degree programs. The added courses are a result of regional demands for skilled IT employees in the region.
In 2011, FVTC added the Health Information Technology associate degree program, which is exclusively offered at the Riverside campus. This offering was a direct result of FVTC’s response to industry requests for professionals who can gather, code, manage, and maintain patient health information. The regional employer needs reaffirm projected employment in this industry to increase by 20 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Health Information Technology program is currently full at Riverside in just its second year.
Along with Madison Area Technical College, FVTC offers more associate degree options in IT than any other technical college in Wisconsin. The college’s programs are nationally recognized through the Association of Information Technology Professionals. FVTC has earned three, first-place finishes in the last four years in AITP national competitions among more than 70 higher education institutions.
July 27, 2012
From fdlreporter.com: “Chick Geeks: Moraine Park program helps tear down stereotypes” – Chic Geeks ruled this week at Moraine Park Technical College.
Tech-minded high school girls who aren’t afraid of breaking things showed up on Wednesday to tear down computers and put them back together again.
Guided by women with IT skills, the teens attacked motherboards, circuitry, wires and disc drives as they systematically disassembled both a desktop and a laptop computer.
“Who wouldn’t want to learn how a computer works,” asked Sarah Bodden, 15, of Beaver Dam. “I mean, it’s something you use everyday.”
It usually doesn’t occur to girls to find work in technology fields, the teen said. The college is pushing the exploration of non-traditional careers — those that currently employ 25 percent or less of one gender.
“Maybe girls think there is less of a chance of getting jobs in fields that are dominated by men,” said 15-year old Victoria Sager, also of Beaver Dam. “I was going to be a chemical engineer, but after this I might want to do something in computers.”
MPTC student Stacey Babler, who served as one of the workshop instructors, said girls sometimes seem to be intimidated by machines and need to realize they can master technology if they are given hands-on opportunities.
“It’s the same old story,” Babler said, who is pursuing a degree in Information Technology Support Specialist and Technology Network Specialist programs. “We were brought up to nurture and weren’t encouraged to explore how things work.”
The girls worked together in groups to reassemble computers and load operating systems. They also got a sneak peak at the new touch screen Windows 8 operating systems on Beta and played with Google Chromebooks.
Instructor Johanna Voelker, a recent graduate of Moraine Park’s IT-Tech Support program, decided to make some life changes when she was laid off from a factory job three years ago.
“I like hands-on work and that’s what I’m showing these girls, not to be afraid to explore how things work,” she said.
While some girls may want purses, Alexis Neese, 16, of Kohler craves more electronics. She said a computer club at her school got her interested in engineering.
“I was in auto-CAD a lot, designing 3-D objects, even designing buildings, so I’m not intimidated. Most of the time I can figure things out,” she said.
MPTC IT-Tech Support Instructor Lisa Pollard said that it’s important the teens are learning with their peers and are being taught by females in the industry.
“So often in these types of classes boys tend to always take over,” she said. “This workshop is meant to build knowledge, confidence and skills in girls.”
Kyleigh Huebner, 14, of Fond du Lac said she will use the new knowledge to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Her friend, Anna Dudzinski, 14, was pleasantly surprised that the day turned out to be “not boring.”
“I can’t really handle science, but this is technology, which is generally a good thing,” she said.
Along with IT careers, other non-traditional opportunities for women include criminal justice and civil engineering.
More information is available by contacting Moraine Park NTO Specialist Renee Fischer at email@example.com.
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “Column: Mobile Apps Certificate another advance in learning” — By Sue Budjac, president Mid-State Technical College – Dictionary.com describes technology as the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society and the environment. Technical education as a whole is no different. We aim to impart a hands-on delivery of knowledge to our students that gives them the tools they need to be successful in work and life.
The Mobile Application Development Advanced Technical Certificate is one example of cutting-edge curriculum designed to meet evolving technology needs in business and industry. This certificate, approved in April and starting this fall, allows anyone with an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in software development to gain certification in mobile device development. This three-class, 10-credit certificate can be completed in just two semesters. Graduates will have the knowledge and skills needed to develop applications in the native language of mobile devices.
Like all MSTC program and class additions, this certificate is designed to meet an identified local workforce need. A local employer survey and discussions with individuals in the industry indicated a shortage of qualified workers. In fact, several local businesses expressed an urgent need to hire software developers with training in mobile application development. MSTC responded, and our Mobile Application Development Advanced Technical Certificate will help satisfy this need for skilled workers.
This certificate is also an example of high-demand jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Much has changed at MSTC in those 10 years, both in the programs and classes we offer and in the manner we deliver education to our students. For example, MSTC’s flexible online learning lets students enroll in our 17-week online business classes with a new section starting each month giving students more flexibility in when they start their classes.
The need for additional flexibility led to the implementation of a live video feed called TelePresence. This technology creates real-time interaction between Adams, Marshfield, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids students and instructors as if all were in the same classroom. We are also in the very early stages of cloud data management and computing that one day might extend to the entire college.
A growing number of people are turning to MSTC to acquire high-tech curriculum and degrees like the mobile apps certificate they need for employment in highly skilled jobs. New technology infrastructure, instruction delivery tools and technological advancements in course delivery benefit MSTC students as a whole.
For more information about the Mobile Apps Advanced Technical Certificate or our growing selection of online courses, call 888-575-6782 or log on to http://www.mstc.edu.
May 24, 2012
From wdio.com: “WITC students bring technology skills to Guatemala” – It’s a different country and a different culture, but the need for technology is the same. A school of about 70 students in Guatemala only had a few computers that weren’t exactly up to snuff, “Most of them were around ten years old. The computers were very infected with viruses,” recent WITC graduate Jacob Koval said.
So every morning for ten days, the tech savvy students fixed them up. They also donated twelve laptops, “It was a way for me to take the skills I just learned and actually put them into a real world application,” recent WITC graduate Carl Haughn said.
But their itinerary had room for fun too. During lunch, the five students took a break to see the sights, and play a few pick-up games of soccer with locals. Roles reversed in the afternoon. Students became teachers, demonstrating computer and software skills to staff. As they worked to close the digital divide, they also had to overcome a language barrier.
“We had already kind of figured out what to say to get them to do what we wanted to do when giving the lessons,” Haughn said.
And they were completely immersed, living with spanish-speaking host families, “It’s always ‘buenos dias’, or ‘buenos tardes’, they’re all very friendly,” Haughn said.
Students said it was a once in a lifetime experience, “I really enjoyed being able to use my skills to help other people out. That’s half the reason I wanted to do this program, I like helping people out,” Koval said.
And the people in Guatemala appreciated the help, and the company, “In addition to helping them with the computers, just interacting with people from somewhere else, I think they really enjoyed it,” WITC IT Network Specialist Instructor Paul Gordon said.
The students graduated just before the trip. Some are now looking for IT careers while others are looking to continue their education.
May 18, 2012
From wisn.com: “12 News goes in search of must-have apps” – MILWAUKEE - “There’s an app for that.” That saying couldn’t be more true now with thousands of apps to choose from and more coming every day.
But which ones are considered must haves? WISN 12 News’ Marianne Lyles went digging for what you need to download.
Milwaukee Area Technical College student Tiara Beasly’s iPhone is always by her side.
“Especially when I can’t use my laptop. It’s easier for me to surf the web, with and without Wi-Fi,” Beasly said.
Another MATC student, Bethany Batson, said her phone is her source for the news of the day.
“I’m studying to be a sign language interpreter, so having an awareness of what’s going on in the world, like if somebody talks about it as I’m interpreting,” Batson said.
People are hooked on mobile applications — from college students to Packers players, past and present.
Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley uses his phone for social media.
“I like the Twitter app. I don’t download too many apps. I’m a Twitter fan,” Finley said.
Former Packers defensive end Santana Dotson needs an app to track the weather for his busy travel schedule.
“It’s 40 degrees here. So I definitely need that and I’m coming from 75 degrees in Houston,” Dotson said,
“We’re having people realize, ‘Hey, I no longer just have to use it as a phone. I can use it for all these different things,” MATC IT instructor Larry Domine said.
In the last few years, his department has included mobile application development. What was once on your computer can now be used on your phone. The industry is booming.
“Recently, Instagram was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion. Ten people with a company for an app that was only available on the Apple iPhone, and now it’s available on Android for $1 billion for 10 people. That’s how big this market is growing,” Domine said.
Like computers, games are still the most downloaded applications, so Lyles went in search of the apps that can better your life.
“I feel like apps are really what’s changed how we shop,” ShopSmart senior editor Jody Rohlena said.
ShopSmart is a Consumer Reports publication, which has researched free money-saving apps. Her favorite is one called Sale Price.
“So you find this item. It’s on sale. There’s an additional discount. You have a coupon. You put in the sales tax, and this app helps you figure out your final cost,” Rohlena said.
To get an item at the best price, download Price Grabber.
“The app is really cool because you can use it right in the store. If you see something you can find out how much other retailers are selling it for and where else you might want to buy it for less,” Rohlena said.
If you’re headed out on a trip, here’s ABC News’ travel and leisure editor’s pick.
“Another one is an app called Hotel Tonight that’s good for last-minute hotel bookings. It’s same day only, but prices up to 70 percent off,” Genevieve Brown said.
Miss America does a lot of traveling too, but she told Lyles she’s like Finley. She needs to tweet.
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun admits he keeps it simple on his smartphone.
“I don’t even know that much about technology. I have a weather app on my phone, so I always know what the weather is like in the cities we’re playing in,” Braun said.
Lyles’ favorite app is one for your health.
“I love the Lose It app. With this app I can track how many calories I take in if I want something from the vending machine, or want to eat my almonds. Maybe even if I want a piece of chocolate. It’s just another app to help you in your every day life,” Lyles said.
May 15, 2012
From wisconsinrapidstribune.com: “IT professional helps MSTC students” – Robert W. Van Dyke, Bull’s Eye Credit Union’s IT manager, works with Mid-State Technical College students as interns in order to complete their degrees.
Bull’s Eye Credit Union believes in giving back to the community. Dave Stark supports Van Dyke with his desire to help students. Stark agrees this is important to help young adults to succeed.
Anyone from MSTC or any student wishing to get into the IT field can visit Van Dyke’s office and ask anything they want about IT careers. They can see if Bull’s Eye has any openings for IT interns. Bull’s Eye takes one intern at a time for 72 hours.
Van Dyke has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and is Cisco network engineering certified. He got a two-year degree from MSTC in CIS-networking before earning his bachelor’s degree. He has worked at Bull’s Eye for almost eight years. He has served in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years active duty as an aerospace technologist.
April 30, 2012
From marshfieldnewsherald.com: “MSTC creates new mobile app development program” — Software developers in central Wisconsin soon will be able to learn how to create mobile apps, thanks to a new program through Mid-State Technical College.
Starting in the fall, Mid-State will offer a 10-credit advanced technical certificate for developing mobile applications for Android devices, said Sean Stilson, associate dean for business and information technology.
“We always try to stay in tune with what’s happening in industry, so we looked at our curriculum we currently have in programming,” Stilson said.
The three-course program is designed to complement a software development degree and is open to anyone with such a degree or equivalent experience, Stilson said. The program is one of several changes the college made after reviewing the results of a recent survey of local businesses.
“They’re based largely on employer input,” he said.
Although an increasing number of central Wisconsin businesses are looking to create their own mobile apps, they are at different stages in the game when it comes to developing the technology, said Tim Krause, an assistant professor of computing and new technology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“Even if they want to do mobile, they don’t have people in house who have quite the skill set,” said Krause, who helped to develop the MSTC curriculum and likely will be teaching two of the three courses for the certificate.
“There are some really exciting, compelling opportunities when you think about the job market in the state of Wisconsin in general because it’s an area where there are jobs available,” he said.
As part of the third and final course of the program, which will be available starting next spring, students will get matched up with local employers to help develop mobile apps as a capstone project, Krause said.
With an increasing number of people using smart phones and other mobile devices, the prevalence of mobile apps has increased dramatically during the past few years, and businesses are hoping to capitalize on that, Krause said.
“As quickly as PCs and desktops were adopted and as stunning as that was, the pace with mobile is more stunning than that,” he said.
Given the increasing desire from employers to create mobile apps, Stilson encouraged software developers to enroll in the certificate program.
For some industries, such as the health care and insurance sectors, which are on the forefront of mobile application technology, the possibilities are almost limitless, Krause said.
“The biggest opportunities are not things that we’re going to directly see as consumers,” he said, noting companies can use mobile apps internally to share data with co-workers who do not have a home office.
April 30, 2012
From witc.edu: “WITC students to volunteer in Guatemala” – In one of the poorest districts in Guatemala, there is a small school of about 70 elementary, middle and high school students. Of the 15 computers the school owns, only 10 are operable, but five technical college students are hoping to make a difference.
As part of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s first international service learning project, five informational technology-network specialist students and two staff members will travel to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, where they will repair and configure the school’s computers, configure donated laptops and teach computer and software skills to the students and staff. The project is in cooperation with IRFE Volunteers Abroad, and the group has received two grants to help fund the project.
“I’ve always been interested in service learning, and I even considered going on missionary trips with my church,” said Pat McCullough, project coordinator and WITC-Ashland network technician. “I was very pleased to be able to find a project where students could use the skills and knowledge that they learned at WITC.”
The group will leave the day after graduation, May 12, and will remain in Guatemala until May 21. That gives the students just weeks to raise additional funds, collect donations for the school and brush up on their Spanish language skills. They also need to build a curriculum of sorts.
“I’ve been practicing with all the Word applications – it’s very interesting that that’s what they (the school) seemed most interested, including photo applications like PhotoShop,” said WITC’s Dan Schmidt, New Richmond, in anticipation of the service trip to Guatemala. “I’ve also done some research on the culture and country to familiarize myself. I enjoy international travel and look at this as a leadership opportunity and a way to gain experience in the field. I’m looking forward to teaching, as I may pursue that as a career.”
Brian Carlson, Carl Haughn, Jacob Koval and Dan Nourse, IT students from the Ashland Campus, will join Schmidt, McCullough and WITC-Ashland instructor, Paul Gordon.
WITC introduced the international service learning initiative this year, allowing staff to compete for a grant to help fund a project that complements student learning abroad.
“This represents a new direction for us,” says Lenore Knock, dean of students at WITC-New Richmond. “Now we’re starting to share our students’ learning and skills with countries that don’t have access to the level of higher education we have in the US. Plus we can make a sustainable difference because we’re teaching and not just fixing. In addition because of our students’ ongoing commitment to service, WITC Student Senate district-wide has voted to support this initiative both financially and with materials and tools.”
“Some of the students from our area have not had the opportunity to travel,” McCullough said. “This will expose students to a different culture and lifestyle. And it might just cause us to look at things differently, make us more aware of people who don’t have all the benefits we have in the United States.”
The students are accepting donations of cash and school supplies. WITC has donated 12 used and reconfigured laptops to the school. Individuals wishing to donate should contact McCullough at 715.682.4591, ext. 3203.
April 25, 2012
From wrn.com: “FBI warns of Internet doomsday” – Your computer could be infected with a strain of malware without you knowing it. Traffic from computers with the trojan is redirected to malicious websites created by cyber criminals, who made millions of dollars in an online advertising scam.
Network Security Instructor at Madison College (MATC) Mike Masino says the FBI was able to track down the source of the malware, called DNS Changer. Investigators are maintaining the servers until all computers are rid of the malware. “They are gonna shut these machines down, which will stop the criminals from being able to get your information … the flip side is, if you don’t know that you’re infected, from your point of view it just looks like your machine stops working.”
That means infected computers — PCs and Macs — will no longer have access to the Internet on July 9. Masino says users can visit a website to see whether a computer is infected and how to fix it.
The FBI is estimating at least 360,000 machines are still infected in this fairly widespread cyber-attack that had affected almost twice that number. The malware also prevents anti-virus software from being updated, thereby making the computer vulnerable to more attacks.
Masino says you might be inadvertently giving your personal information to the hackers when you unknowingly use your password at a legitimate-looking fake website, as a result of the malware tricking your computer into being redirected away from your intended website. Masino says it’s always a good idea to frequently change your passwords.
The trojan first surfaced in 2007.
April 12, 2012
From wsaw.com: “Students plan for their futures at NTC’s 8th Grade Career Fair” – Middle school students are already planning for what they want to be when they grow up. At North Central Technical College, 8th graders brought their questions to the professionals for the tenth annual career fair.
“Is there anything out of school that you would recommend someone doing?” Horace Mann student Jordan Burton asked a firefighter.
Burton and her peers may still have braces but they’re already thinking about their post high school and college plans.
“This year in 8th grade we did this thing called the career unit where we looked at a bunch of jobs that we might want to do,” Burton said. “And I was looking at the top 25 jobs.”
At the top of the 25 Best Jobs of 2012 list from the U.S. News and World Report, are health-related and IT careers. In central Wisconsin, fair organizers say despite the recent layoffs in the paper industry, other kinds of manufacturing jobs are still in high demand.
“We really need to see this younger workforce coming up, know that there’s a lot of good careers in manufacturing still, and they’re also high-skilled education careers,” said Dan Nowak, the dean of NTC’s K-12 Programs.
More than 60 different vendors from 16 fields set up tables to give students an idea of what they could be doing someday.
“It’s actually pretty cool because it’s like a once in a lifetime [opportunity] where you have a chance to talk with them and meet with them,” Horace Mann student Jason Xiong said.
For those who already have a firm grasp on what they want to do, the event gives them the motivation they need to pursue those goals.
“I was really interested in the health fields,” Burton said. “It just makes we want to work harder and do the best that I can.”
From matc.edu: “MATC Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Team wins Wisconsin title” – Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) team won the Wisconsin state title February 24. The team bested representatives from Madison Area Technical College and Waukesha County Technical College.
MATC’s contingent now moves on to the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition to face eight other institutions March 16-17 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Ill. More information is available at
March 5, 2012
From itjungle.com: “IBM i Is Looking Very Collegiate” – by Dan Burger
Last week I was talking with Jim Buck, who heads up the IBM i curriculum at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Each year the best of the Gateway graduates find their way into jobs with IBM i shops.
It’s a credit to Buck’s dedication and understanding of the importance of blending specialized training with the ability to solve business problems. He’s very well networked in the business and education communities, and supports COMMON as a volunteer on educational committees. Buck’s efforts have been rewarded with the COMMON Education Foundation Scholarship Award and the System i Innovation Award for Education Excellence. He’s currently the president of the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association. His students are the beneficiaries.
His latest achievement involves the annual AITP National Collegiate Conference, where he spearheaded an effort to add a contest for students to demonstrate their RPG Web development skills. He’s taking 15 Gateway students to the conference for the educational opportunities, the networking experiences, and to compete in the contest.
IBM and COMMON will have booths at the event. And IBM i application development expert Aaron Bartell will be one of the session presenters. Bartell, who is one of the most active members of the Young i Professionals organization, is leading a session that demonstrates how RPG can be used to develop Android applications.
IBM has been involved in this conference for several years, but the IBM i platform is getting some much-deserved attention because of the effort Buck has put into it. He has help from people like Bartell and Linda Grigoleit, an IBM executive who leads the Academic Initiative program among other responsibilities.
Buck has a strong belief in RPG as a modern language. He makes sure his students understand it and are able to write reports and applications. But he also makes sure they have Java skills and a comprehension of cross-platform capabilities. The underutilization of the IBM i operating system opens a lot of doors to people with the talents to tap into the unused resources. It’s the future of the platform that is deeply ingrained in many solid businesses. “It’s important to the system that we get new kids with new skills into jobs,” he says. Young workers with broad skill sets and minds that are motivated by innovation are a good fit for companies invested in the platform.
“The students from Gateway Technical College provide something companies want,” Buck says. “One of my goals is getting employers to realize that we have a good program.”
Employers pay attention to the AITP Conference. It attracts talented participants who stand out. They get noticed. So do the session topics. There’s excitement surrounding subjects like social media, IT leadership, cloud computing, mobile applications, security, and enterprise systems. The corporations and the individuals who get involved are more progressive. They value education and training and they are open to new ideas and technologies.
The conference takes place March 29 through April 1 in San Antonio, Texas. You can find more details at the Association of Information Technology Professionals website.
February 7, 2012
From newrichmond-news.com: “WITC student places fourth in national competition” – Timothy Grabrian, a Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond student from Hammond, recently placed fourth in the nation at the Cisco Networking Academy competition.
A home-schooled high school graduate, Grabrian is set to graduate WITC in May with an associate degree in Information Technology-Network Specialist.
“I’m a typical geek,” he jokes.
Jeff Heathman, WITC’s IT-Network Specialist instructor, said the NetRiders competition is an annual contest hosted by Cisco, the predominant name in computer networking. This was the first time WITC-New Richmond students participated.
Heathman encouraged his students to take part in the NetRiders competition. The grand prize was an all-expense paid trip to San Jose, Calif., in January to tour Cisco headquarters, Stanford University, and various sites of interest in Silicon Valley. Only the top four in the nation could win the trip, along with winners from other global countries.
Grabrian and his classmates started the process in October. Separated into three rounds, the competition continued for Grabrian as he passed the first round in late October. He started with about 700 competitors, which whittled to 18 in the state of Wisconsin, and then to 44 in the national competition. The end of round one actually saw seven WITC students out of the 18 Wisconsin competitors qualified to move on to the second round. Each round of successive difficulty included two parts: one part an online test of timed questions, the second part a set of 10 questions that involved a virtual computer network challenge inside Cisco’s “Packet Tracer.”
“I always felt confident going into each round, having studied a lot for the tests. While taking the tests, there were many questions I just knew,” Grabrian explains, “but many I could only make an educated guess. There was always a moment of hesitation before I submitted my answers. Did I do as well as I felt I did? I then had to wait anxiously for the results to be posted.”
Grabrian’s scores in the first two rounds placed him number one in the state. He then competed nationally (which also included several Canadian provinces) in the third round.
The final pitted the contestants on the same date, during the exact same time frame, in a proctored test. The results were immediate, and soon Grabrian and Heathman had to grasp the fact that WITC’s Grabrian ranked number four.
“As they were counting down from 10, I remember being concerned around seven or six when I had not seen my name. Either I had done poorly or had done really well,” Grabrian says. “I was stunned when I saw I had taken fourth place. I remember having to read the message on the screen multiple times before it began to sink in. Jeff gave me a high five and then he said ‘Dude, you’re going to California!’
“I think at the time, Jeff was more excited than I was because I was still trying to process everything. What I do remember is that all of a sudden Nancy (WITC academic dean, trade and technology, IT, Telecommunication and automation) and Joe (Huftel, WITC campus administrator) were in the room congratulating me. I felt honored that they were so proud me.”
In early January, Grabrian boarded an airplane for San Jose, Calif. His itinerary was packed with visits to local tourist attractions, and tours of the network giant, Cisco.
“My first reaction to Cisco’s headquarters was amazement,” Grabrian says. “It’s not so much one building but many, something like 48 buildings, spread across a large campus. Everything Cisco does is done on a large scale.
“During our first tour in one of their datacenters, I was blown away by the size of the room and the amount of equipment in it. We then walked through a hallway and into another section of the datacenter which was even larger than the first,” Grabrian says.
Back on campus at WITC, Grabrian is finishing his final semester. Along with a full credit load, he works as an IT team resource at a local company and tutors students in his free time.
From postcrescent.com: “Alta Resources adding jobs” — Attention jobseekers: Alta Resources has 100 job openings at its downtown Neenah headquarters, and it anticipates adding another 200 jobs within the next six months.
The jobs are in customer care, information technology, sales and team leadership.
“We’ve just had incredible growth in the last five years,” said Jim Bere, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Alta. “As we look forward, we believe it’s going to continue to accelerate.”
Alta Resources built a $20 million, 180,000-square-foot office building in downtown Neenah in 2005. At the time, the company occupied four of the building’s seven floors and toyed with leasing the open floors to tenants to improve its revenue stream.
Today the company fills all seven floors and leases one floor of One Neenah Center. It also operates a 200,000-square-foot fulfillment center in the Southpark Industrial Center, and it has operations in California and the Philippines to provide clients with around-the-clock service.
Bere said Alta already has begun exploring options for expansion to accommodate further growth. He said the company likes downtown Neenah, but employee parking remains a major concern.
“We’re not sure where we’re going to put all of the people,” Bere said. “Do we look at other facilities in downtown Neenah? We’re looking at the full range of options.”
Chris Haese, Neenah’s director of community development and assessment, said city officials are aware of the parking challenges facing Alta and other downtown businesses. He said it’s a good problem to have because it reflects a vibrant business community.
“We need to come up with a plan for how we provide sufficient parking for both customers and employees,” Haese said. “For 2012, that’s one of the priorities of this office.”
Neenah budgeted $450,000 this year for improvements to downtown parking. Haese said the money would be used to evaluate parking needs and to start design work on possible options. He estimated downtown Neenah would need an additional 500 to 700 parking stalls in the next decade to meet demand.
World of outsourcing
Alta is an outsourcer of business processing services for Fortune 500 companies in the packaged goods, health care, entertainment and manufacturing industries. It doesn’t disclose its diverse list of clients because of confidentiality requirements, though it did acknowledge sausage maker Johnsonville as a client.
The company provides outsourced services in four main areas — customer care, e-business, fulfillment and sales. It has dedicated teams for specific clients.
Alta will answer questions about a client’s product, place orders, ship the product and bill the customer.
With Johnsonville, for example, Alta employees field inquiries from consumers who call a toll-free number on a Johnsonville package or website. Alta might respond to the inquiries by sending coupons or letters to the callers to promote brand loyalty and goodwill.
“We’re talking to a lot of consumers who are calling into us, but they’re really calling into who the client is,” Bere said.
Alta, though, is far more than a call center. It also develops and manages software systems for clients, and it uses social media like Facebook and Twitter to monitor the marketplace and quickly dispel misinformation about a client or client’s product that otherwise could go viral in the Internet world.
“We have tools where we can find a mom-and-pop blog or all sorts of chatter and get an inventory on what’s going on,” said Brett Meach, marketing manager for Alta.
Alta expanded into the Philippines to develop its information technology workforce and to process information around the clock, not just during business hours in the United States.
“We needed to have an ability to work 24 (hours) by seven days a week,” Bere said. “It gets really hard if you’re only geographically located in the U.S.”
Positioned for growth
Alta’s vision and performance have helped it to capitalize on the global outsourcing trend, and the precarious economy has worked in Alta’s favor.
Bere said when the economy tanked, companies refocused on their core business and looked to outsource other areas like customer care and software development. Alta was positioned to handle the additional business.
“We are at a stage where we can attract businesses larger than we’ve ever attracted before,” Bere said. “If before we would get a 15- or 20-person program, we now have opportunities for 100-person programs, 200-person programs and 300-person programs.”
Bere said Alta has improved its leadership throughout the company, which is another reason for optimism. He said the company tends to promote from within, noting that some of Alta’s top executives started out manning phones in the call center.
Alta will hold a career fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Holiday Inn Neenah Riverwalk, 123 E. Wisconsin Ave., to interview candidates for its job openings. The company will have its human resources department and program directors on hand.
“We’re looking for a boost in qualified candidates,” Meach said. “We’re expecting a lot of people to show up.”
Meach said many of the jobs are entry-level positions, but Alta also is looking for software developers, business analysts and team leaders.
December 16, 2011
From wisbusiness.com: “Jackson: New head Accelerate Madison sees hot market for programming, IT grads” — The overall economy may be struggling, but it’s a good time to be graduating with a software or information technology degree.
That’s the word from Tammy Jackson, the new executive director of Accelerate Madison – which bills itself as the “the premier networking organization that promotes and highlights the Madison digital technology community.”
Jackson replaced Jan Moen, who left in October to co-found a new company, Madcelerator, LLC. Moen ran Accelerate Madison for eight years and remains on its board of directors.
Created in 2010, Accelerate has grown to 1,000 members as the region’s high-tech community has blossomed. That number stands to increase as area companies recruit new graduates to their staffs, said Jackson, a former broadcast journalist who spent the past four years working as the public relations director for Sonic Foundry.
She said her tenure with Sonic showed her “what can happen when an IT company … gains traction, becomes successful, creates jobs in the community and changes the way that people work and learn. It really sparked my fascination in the technology industry.”
Jackson said many Accelerate members have told her Madison is a “hotbed” in the IT world.
“There are start-ups popping up all the time and they are getting funding and creating jobs in the area,” explained Jackson.
In addition, she noted, established companies that have been around for 20 years or more and are going strong and hiring, although Jackson said members have told her it’s hard to find talent.
“It you graduate and have a degree in programming or IT, there are a lot of companies that want to talk to you,” she said.
Jackson said the IT scene industry has grown and evolved in the area over the past decade.
November 30, 2011
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Job hopefuls line up for Collaborative Consulting’s hiring event at NTC” – Mark Zyhowski began his drive from Rhinelander to Wausau at 7 a.m. Tuesday, eager to get in line to apply for a new job.
Zyhowski is a 53-year-old former plumber who is nearing completion of two computer programming degrees. He thought he would be the perfect fit for Collaborative Consulting, a Massachusetts-based software firm that plans to open a facility next year in Wausau and hire 200 people in three years.
Collaborative launched its recruitment and hiring blitz Tuesday at Northcentral Technical College, searching for computer programmers such as Zyhowski. The job fair continues today, and the company would like to hire 25 people from the fair, a company official said.
“They’re just taking names and information right now to see what everybody has got,” Zyhowski said after a brief meeting with a company recruiter.
On Tuesday, the fair attracted about 130 people with a wide range of professional experience. Collaborative Consulting plans to hire 50 people in the first year of operation, according to state documents. The company picked Wausau as the home for its new site, partly because of an incentive package that includes $2.25 million in state tax credits, a $450,000 city loan and $270,000 in local job-training grants.
Tuesday morning, a line of about 20 people, many dressed in suits and with their resumes in hand, waited for the recruitment blitz to begin at 9:30 a.m.
November 22, 2011
From wsau.com: “Firm to add 200 software jobs in Wausau” – A Massachusetts technology firm will build a software development and support center in Wausau and add 200 jobs over the next three years.
The state offered Collaborative Consulting $2 million in job tax credits and $250,000 in job training credits through the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to make the deal happen. Wausau will give up to $450,000 in local tax increment financing to help the company locate here.
Corporate executives will visit Wausau early next week to scout a location for their new facility. City officials are steering the company toward existing office space in the Dudley Tower downtown or in the Samuels Group building on the city’s west side.
The tech firm expects to add 50 jobs in the first year, 75 jobs in the second year and 75 to 100 jobs in the third year.
The company will hold a recruitment-hiring blitz at Northcentral Technical College next Tuesday and Wednesday.
City leaders began meeting with company officials in June. Mayor Jim Tipple was poised to make the job creation announcement three weeks ago but postponed it because officials in Oklahoma City countered with a higher offer, sources said.
The City Council held a special meeting in closed session Thursday afternoon to finalize the city’s investment in the project, sources said. Collaborative Consulting president and CEO Bill Robichaud signed an agreement with state officials the next day.
November 11, 2011
From wjfw.com: “IT jobs, training on the rise” – RHINELANDER - It’s something we take for granted every time we log on, but cyber security should be anything but.
According to the FBI, cyber thefts cost Wisconsinites almost $5 million in 2010.
That’s a statistic Nicolet College IT instructor Scott Biscobing is trying to lower.
“We have to protect from people everywhere around the world getting into our data and getting into corporate business and into our personal business,” Biscobing said.
It’s for that reason cyber security jobs are on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the field will add more than 286 thousand jobs by 2018.
And it’s people like Scott who are in charge of preparing those future employees.
“We get into securing servers, securing personal desktops as well as configuring and setting up firewalls,” Biscobing said. “A student needs to be able to learn. It’s a challenge every day and you have to constantly be teaching yourself things and learning new things because it’s ever-changing.”
October 31, 2011
From waukesha.patch.com: “Video Gaming Program Coming to Carroll, MATC” – On Tuesday, representatives from Carroll University and Milwaukee Area Technical College will meet on Carroll’s campus to sign an articulation agreement for a joint program in information technology with an emphasis on computer game development. This is the first four-year program in southeastern Wisconsin that focuses on gaming.
In addition to recreational uses, game technology has been used for educational tools and business strategies software, as well as for training soldiers, pilots and surgeons. Although this program is themed on game development, students are exposed to many other applied and problem-solving skills that prepare them for a broad range of jobs in rapidly changing technology fields, such as software development, multimedia development, digital media and film production.
The Bachelor of Science degree in information technology with emphasis on computer game development will include two years of courses taught in Carroll’s computer science program, and the courses from MATC’s two-year associate degree in applied science in computer simulation and gaming.