On Monday, September 30 the Waukee APEX Designing Web-Based Technologies (DWT) team traveled to the Des Moines to attend the first-ever Iowa High School Tech Summit. The event was free to all Iowa high school students and was a collaborative effort between Principal Financial and The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI). A primary goal of the summit was to inspire the next generation of Iowa’s high-tech workforce. “This is a dynamic and diverse group of Iowa technology professionals,” said TAI President Brian Waller. “You can’t be what you can’t see. Through the purposeful representation of Iowa’s diverse tech industry, students attending the Iowa High School Tech Summit learned about technology careers and discover possible role models in our panel of dynamic speakers.”
A main purpose of the conference was to connect under-served students to technology companies and careers across the state of Iowa, and further, to introduce them to professionals who have come from similar backgrounds. This goal was evident in the selection of keynote speakers for the day. First, Eddie Etsey, Director of Sports Information Technology for The University of Iowa Athletics, began with a speech that highlighted his own personal story of being born in Ghana and moving to Iowa City with his family in the early ’90s. Etsey is a strong believer in bridging gaps between people and encouraging diversity of thought. He emphasized to the audience that failure is a part of life, but how you react to that failure says a lot about your character – an important message for all young people to hear.
Students also had an opportunity to listen to Ben Milne, Founder, and CEO at Dwolla. Dwolla is an e-commerce company that provides an online payment system and mobile payments network in the US. Milne talked about finding your calling and what that can mean in the “real world”.
Finally, Antoinette Stevens, a Senior Detection and Response Engineer at Cisco Meraki gave a rundown of all the opportunities in the Cyber Security realm. Nadir Abosaida, Waukee APEX student associate offered that, “As someone who is interested in possibly pursuing a career in cybersecurity, I really enjoyed listening to what she had to say. Honestly, I had no idea that so many different careers were possible under the cybersecurity umbrella. Her words really opened my eyes to future possibilities.”
After listening to keynote speakers, students were able to participate in an interactive activity led by Dave Tominsky, Chief Relationship Officer from NewBoCo. This session encouraged students to take all that they had learned in the conference and develop some action steps. Waukee APEX student associate, James Joseph, attended the conference as someone who is interested in possibly pursuing a career in software engineering. Joseph stated, “I found the interactive session to be especially helpful because it gave us a chance to take what we heard from the speakers, and apply it to our own career goals and plans. Overall the conference was educational and inspirational, and I would definitely attend again.”
The day ended with the CIO of Wells Enterprises launching the TechStreamIowa website, a repository of resources for anyone interested in technology in the state.
The summit was a wonderful learning experience for all students interested in pursuing a career in the information technology arena. Scott Palmer expressed, “It was great to hear different stories and to show our student associates the many paths a career in technology can take. The entire event had a live DJ, prize giveaways, an incredible amount of swag to take home, as well as interactive sessions that kept the audience engaged. Overall, a great way to spark the interest of our next generation of tech workers!”