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A new partnership between the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) Department of Computer Science and Information Technology (CSIT) and the Grand Island Career Pathways Institute (CPI) is aimed at tackling the IT workforce deficit in Central Nebraska. This agreement establishes a dual enrollment opportunity for the UNK CSIT Introduction to Computer Science course.
According to Dr. Harms, the dual enrollment with Grand Island CPI is a model that UNK plans to build on. Establishing dual enrollment programs with Central Nebraska schools allows talented students to earn college credit while still in high school. This shows these students they can be successful in the IT field, and provides them with incentive to pursue an IT-related major in college, thus impacting the number of high school students with IT career awareness, the total enrollment of CSIT majors at UNK, as well as the number of IT professionals in Central Nebraska.
Ian Lim and Keathan Fertig placed third at the Midwest Instruction and Computing Symposium (MICS) robotics competition. Teams were tasked with designing, building, and programming a robot to locate, retrieve, and accurately shoot a three point basket. Teams were scored based on the number of valid baskets made within two minutes.
The assistant director of eCampus, Steven McGahan and CSIT Chair and professor Dr. Sherri Harms created a capstone course to introduce social media as a useful tool for business and self marketing. The course includes the history, politics, and sociology of social media and concludes with a social media marketing campaign. Local businesses took part in the project, including Mosaic, the Red Cross Fort Kearney Chapter, Kearney Children's Museum, and others.
by Rachel Feddersen, CSIT Junior
Congratulations to Michael Odell, Gerardo Quintero, Ben Bomberger, and Abi Pofahl for their first place performance at the "Tilt-a-Hurl Too" robotics competition hosted by the artificial intelligence class.
In March 2015, President Obama announced the TechHire Initiative, a campaign that encourages businesses and communities to quickly train people for high-paying technology jobs. Kearney, NE is among 20 communities involved in the campaign. Dan Hoffman, the COO of the nonprofit venture development organization Invest Nebraska, said that Kearney is a good fit for the program because of the area’s “entrepreneurial ecosystem. It has a great university, and I think that it is positioned right at a crossroads in Nebraska for developing more of a technology-based economy.” In collaboration with the State of Nebraska, Buffalo County, and Kearney, Xpanxion and Invest Nebraska have worked to build partnerships with local training institutions to ensure that individuals who successfully complete their programs are connected with IT jobs – like software development and quality assurance work for clients such as The Weather Company, Sony, Red Hat, and Intercontinental Hotel Group. Through this initiative, Kearney will launch a technology incubator that will support high-growth software startups in a rural environment, bringing ideas to a low cost area with access to reasonably priced talent in rural Nebraska.
In October, CSIT faculty and students assisted the AIM Institute with the youth track of the Broadband Connecting Nebraska Conference. High school students received hands-on experience with new technologies such as the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset and Google Glass glasses. They also learned basics of creating their own games.
Mary Vaughn (CS, 1978) will receive the Distinguished UNK Alumni Award
Vaughn has an extensive background in computer science technology. She is president of Metargy Inc., currently supporting Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is also author of “The Gruntled Employee: A Holistic Approach to Creating Happiness and Success at Work,” which provides training programs for individuals and organizations to be happier and more successful.
For a number of years prior, Vaughn worked for Computer Sciences Corp., where she managed 1,200 employees and was responsible for a $150 million annual profit center. During that time, she was an account executive for Internal Revenue Service, United States Postal Service, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, DuPont, BHP Billiton, AT&T and Sun Microsystems.
Her career also includes work with ETA Technologies, where she was responsible for ensuring quality systems in place for technology developed to support NASA and the U.S. Air Force.
Vaughn has been honored with excellence awards for service provided to AT&T and Sun Microsystems. She volunteers with veteran support groups that support service members, veterans and their spouses by conducting Gruntled University Development, Personal Empowerment and Relationship Management workshops. She currently provides workshops to homeless veterans and those with traumatic brain injuries.
Angela Emrick-Hollman (CS, 2001) and her husband, Travis Hollman (2000), of Kearney, will receive the Young Alumnus Award
Travis and Angela Hollman started a web development business in 2000 while finishing their degrees. In 2008, Hollman Media was formed and the company hired its first employee.
Today, Hollman Media employs 10 developers, programmers and designers building award-winning websites and innovative mobile applications.
The company’s WeatherThreat.com closings and alerts system has been used millions of times in the past decade. Hollman Media is currently working with Nebraska researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to produce a free application aimed at helping cattle producers identify the real-time risk potential for their livestock. The application allows producers to be proactive in mitigating stress to their livestock.
The company is also working on “The Kearney App” that is a collaboration among UNK, the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, Good Samaritan Hospital, Kearney Visitors Bureau and several other institutions in the Kearney community.
Work has resulted in recognition of a number of awards, including the 2014 Walter Scott Entrepreneurial Business Award. They used the money from that award to create a new digital intern program at UNK.
Angela also teaches in the Information and Telecommunications Department at UNK. Travis is an adjunct faculty member.