By Cicely Samuels, Content Strategist
Due to reasons unknown to me, Northwest Arkansas has become a major hub of innovation, development and creativity. I know that I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for this rise in modernity. As a fresh-out-of-college content creator (I cringe at this self proclaimed, extremely general title) and Fayetteville enthusiast I have seen this growth affect my peers, my alma mater and my own personal opportunities. Not only is NWA home to Walmart, Tyson, and J.B. Hunt (duh - old news) but it is a breeding ground for startups and locally owned businesses. Think highly successful restaurants, museums, advertising agencies...you name it - NWA probably has it. With this in mind, it’s simply a matter of fact that technology has, will and does play a considerably extensive role in the infrastructure of these companies and our community.
Now, let’s get real for a second, in no way do I have any knowledge of engineering, computing, or really even advanced math. But, I understand and appreciate that I can do whatever I want to do because of technology. From engaging shoppers, to eliminating risks and creating pretty much anything you can dream up - technology always comes into play and I believe that it’s valuable to be educated on the possibilities that it holds. That’s why I am getting ready to spend an exciting day at the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit.
The Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit will take place on October 7 at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Arkansas and although I’m a little intimidated, I’m also pretty excited. Even though, as I mentioned, I most likely won’t be developing software anytime soon, I’ve always had a penchant for learning about new things and have never understood the kind of person who would shrug something off and say, “that doesn’t pertain to me.”
With influential keynote speakers Kevin Turner (former Microsoft Chief Operating Officer) and Dr. John Cohn (Fellow at IBM and Chief Scientist of Design Automation at IBM) this summit is bringing in the best of the best for a full on edification. Cohn, in particular, seems to have had a fascinating career and I’ll definitely be attending his “mad scientist” talk in hopes that he’ll speak about the 58 days that he spent inventing and living in an abandoned steel mill for the Discovery Channel’s show, The Colony. Yes, he really did that.
I will also get the opportunity to hear from many NWA superstars including Sam Dean (Executive Director of the Scott Family Amazeum), Greg Garner (Principle Engineer of Roku - my favorite streaming device), and Kristen Williams (Senior Director of e-Commerce at Walmart) - to name a few. As I said, NWA is home to numerous successful people and businesses so I'll be on my toes all day long to try and gain some insight from all of them!
It can't go without mentioning that I am especially excited to attend the Women In Tech panel. When I was scanning the agenda, I couldn't help but grin when I noticed that this panel was included. I firmly believe that equal representation should be a top priority and I applaud the NWA Tech Council for making sure that this panel exists. From CEO's to Senior News Reporters (the journalism major in me is so ready for that) these women are doing it all and doing it well. Bethany Halford of Whoa, wait. Walmart? will be speaking and I cannot wait to hear about how she created such a successful microblog that appeals to the everyday shopper.
Thanks to the NWA Tech Summit, I'll have the opportunity to meet and mingle with tech influencers, professionals and enthusiasts, immerse myself in a day of tech, and (hopefully) walk away feeling inspired and itching to create something wonderful. What more could I ask for on a Friday?
By Sarah Daigle and Jennifer McCool
At Currant Technology Group, we talk about STEM a lot. As we prepare for the upcoming Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit in Rogers, AR on October 7th, we look back to the groups we've spoken to, the conferences we've supported, and the children in our community we hope we have influenced.
Hour of Code
In December 0f 2015, the Women's Foundation of Arkansas, as part of the #ARkidscancode initiative, sponsored the first ever Girls of Promise Coding Summit. The Governor's Mansion served as the backdrop for this inaugural event, which included a portion called the Hour of Code. We were fortunate enough to be present as an instructor. We spoke to the girls, grades ranging from the seventh to senior, about technology jobs available in Arkansas and how women in technical careers are beneficial to the state's economy.
The Northwest Arkansas Community College has a program called Upward Bound. This program is focused on high schools students, from lower income families, to complete their high school education and continue on to college. The students are encouraged and motivated while attending workshops, participating in classes in a college atmosphere, and listening to local businesses speak about the opportunities in our community. We had the honor of speaking to a group in July about the start-up business world. Students were interested in means of communication and the possibilities and venues for pursuing business ideas they already had formulated. Discussing the start-up business atmosphere with these students was enlightening on both sides of the conversation.