CCDS Students “LEVEL UP” at TechOlympics
Neil Badlani ’20, Contributor
Information Technology is a vital necessity in our lives today and continues to grow at an exponential pace. We all rely on it every moment, in some form or another – from transportation and communication, to education, shopping, and even our grocery stores. INTERalliance, a local non-profit organization, is dedicated to helping high school students explore the rich IT industry around greater Cincinnati, and connect students with internship, and eventually career opportunities with local companies. It organizes an annual program called TechOlympics, which is Cincinnati’s premiere technology competition and expo, and the nation’s largest, student-run tech conference. Twenty-one Cincinnati Country Day students attended the three-day TechOlympics event, participating in competitions, breakouts, workshops, showcasing our college connection app project “FutureLink” and attending informational future-forward lectures.
The program had many local sponsors like Kroger, GE, P&G, Great American Insurance, and Worldpay to name a few, providing nearly a quarter of a million dollars to run the event. These same companies are looking for young talented students to fill their IT demands here in the Greater Cincinnati area. “Now in its tenth year INTERalliance has served over 6000 high school students in discovering more about technology companies, finding majors, exploring technology career pathways, offering IT Carreers summer camps and even internships,” says Mr. Twyford, who has attended the event the last nine years and, in addition to being CCDS’s INTERalliance and Hack club coach, now serves on the Board of Directors. “Cincinnati’s IT presence continues to grow and (the city) is being recognized more and more as a center of technology innovation and talent, and we will continue to need talented and capable young people to fill the jobs in innovation, IT and cyber security for years to come.” The event had a wide array of opportunities ranging from coding and cybersecurity competitions, showcasing school tech projects, networking with IT companies, reviewing resumes, keynote speaker talks and lots more. All the local universities were also on hand over the weekend to answer questions about their schools, fields of study, application process and more.
The CCDS INTERalliance chapter spent weeks prior to the event, working together to design and prepare a project to showcase at the TechOlympics this year. They created an app, FutureLink, which helps connect CCDS students to alumni, to answer specific questions about college pathways, opportunities, specific classes, and ‘fit’ for students; this is information that may not be obvious in the typical brochures. There are other resources out there, like Naviance’s college app, but specific connections to current students and colleges can be a challenge. This app can be helpful for students who’d like to learn more about the colleges they are interested in, the courses and majors they’d like to pursue, future internships and job networking with young CCDS alum. It is unique in that it can connect students with alums on college visits as well. During the entire process, from brainstorming ideas with our teachers and colleagues to presenting our project, we had a great team building and learning experience. We all experienced a strong feeling of camaraderie and lot of fun throughout the weekend at TechOlympics.
Mr. James Black, CIO of WorldPay, a global leader in payment technology, with the capability to power global omni-commerce, talked about the top notch security processes to protect against cyberattacks. Chris Hjelm, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at The Kroger Co. spoke about the ‘tech company that sells groceries’ that knows from the time the consumer walks in how long it will take them to shop, their shopping preferences, and how to make sure the right number of associates are working the checkout lanes. It was fascinating to me to learn especially now, having worked for Kroger myself, about the company intelligence and tech innovations that is in the works at Kroger, like the self driving car, NURO, that may soon deliver your groceries. The impact of these innovations will certainly improve the future of shopping across the world.
Mrs. Back, CCDS Mathematics Teacher and tech enthusiast thought that the TechOlympics was a fantastic event. She enjoyed attending the “Intro to Consulting” Panel and The “Women in Technology” Panel. She felt that the information presented was pertinent to students. She shared her thoughts by saying, “I was amazed at the level at which local companies supported the event – with volunteers, keynote speakers, panelists especially at the top levels of management. It is clear that these companies want to attract local talent early. What a great reminder of the AMAZING tech opportunities & tech innovation Cincinnati has to offer!”
In our fast paced forever changing world, we learned that staying ahead, thinking forward and the need to “Level Up” is key.