After months of preparation, 26 students from various local high schools convened in the Taylor Institute at The University of Akron on Monday, June 20, to begin a weeklong IT-focused career camp. The students were divided into teams of 5, with a high school IT teacher serving as a mentor for each group. Each team was sponsored by a company: The J.M. Smucker Company (red), MCPc, Inc. (orange), OMNOVA Solutions, Inc. (yellow), Westfield Insurance Company (green), and Knotice, Ltd. (blue).
Dr. Krovi, Dean of the College of Business Administration, and Chris O’Neil, Chairman of the Center for IT and eBusiness Advisory Board, welcomed the participants and provided an overview of the CBA and CITe. Dr. Vijay then described the week’s activities and rules of conduct. Molly Cuenot described the scavenger hunt activity that was to be completed during lunch breaks.
Monday morning’s activity, sponsored by Westfield, involved distributing laptops to each participant and having them install Adobe Reader; Lego Mindstorm NXT-G software; and Tableau, an analytics package, with the help of Mary Hardin and CBA lab assistants. Mary also discussed laptop security. Before breaking for lunch at the Student Union, Scott Shearer from Westfield presented various types of virtual desktop technologies and demonstrated how virtual desktops are used at Westfield, using iPad, thin client, and smart phones.
Monday afternoon’s activities were also sponsored by Westfield. Jacob Harris described how to recover data from a USB drive that was considered “deleted.” He then gave an overview of security and incidence response and how to write an incident response tool using a batch file program. The student teams then wrote their own incident response batch file programs and were awarded points based on creativity and attention to detail. To conclude Monday’s activities, the student toured the UA Forensics Lab, where Dr. David Licate demonstrated the forensics search and recovery software package used by the university and many criminal investigators.
NASA Glenn sponsored Tuesday’s activities. Dr. Jay Horowitz talked about robonaut, which is the humanoid robot developed by NASA to perform tasks that astronauts are currently performing in space. Dr. Herb Schilling introduced the students to Lego Mindstorms NXT-G software, which they would use to build and program robots. The main activity for the day was for each team to develop two robots, one that could follow a simple course quickly and a second to follow a much more challenging course with greater dexterity. At the end of the day, the students raced their robots in a round-robin tournament to determine the winners.
The College of Business Administration sponsored a Business Analytics activity on Wednesday morning. Dr. Bill McHenry lectured on the topic; he also showed IBM Smart planet and Hans Rosling videos and discussed with the students the enormous amounts of data we are now storing and how this relates to IS/IT careers. The team activity involved students analyzing Tweets about MIO (a drink additive) and rating them on a -10 to 10 scale, based on product satisfaction. This data was then analyzed using Tableau. The students also did a MIO taste-test; each team sampled one flavor of MIO, both warm temperature and ice cold variations. Students rated MIO on a 1 to 7 satisfaction scale; after inputting the data in Tableau, no correlation was found.
Wednesday afternoon’s presentation was sponsored by Revol Wireless. Rick Moran provided company background information, IT mission statement, and innovation using mobile technologies. Several members of Revol’s IT staff provided descriptions of their jobs, favorite mobile apps, and software they use in their daily lives. The student activity was to “design the next killer mobile application.” A Revol team member worked with each student group to introduce a potentially useful or humorous application. Each team presented their idea to the entire group, answered questions from the audience, and evaluated the other ideas.
Linda Weidman from The J.M. Smucker Company provided an overview of the company for Thursday morning’s activity. The presentation focused on business process. Students were instructed to write directions for how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The Smucker’s employees then LITERALLY followed the directions; only one “sandwich” was “made.” Carrie Tylicki spoke about making Uncrustables. The students were then asked to determine how much waste is created by making a round sandwich from square bread. Additionally, the students brainstormed ideas to eliminate such waste and to keep the Uncrustables from getting soggy.
Hyland Software presented Thursday afternoon. Kevin Corbett explained OnBase and Workflow; additionally, he discussed where the greatest possible performance improvements are for system design. The two examples he used were processing order and serial versus parallel. The student challenge was to make the serial versus parallel example better, using software, pen, paper, discussion, or any combination, to come up with alternative designs.
Friday morning, CBA Undergraduate Advising presented on the CBA, MIS program, admission requirements, and financial aid/scholarships. Students participated in ice-breaking activities. There was a student panel discussion, moderated by Susan Lowry. Students were most interested in the undergraduate experience and internships. The group then enjoyed lunch at Robertson Dining Hall.
The Friday afternoon session was held in the Bierce Library Learning Lab. Here, students spent the entire afternoon putting together videos of their week to present at the awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony was held Friday evening at the Martin University Center. The teams presented their videos, enjoyed dinner, and listened to keynote speaker Brian Deagan of Knotice, Ltd. All participants were given certificates of completion and laptops that had been donated by Westfield Group. The orange team won the overall competition, while a member of the red team won the individual competition. The winners were presented with backpacks full of UA gear and scholarships, should they choose to enroll in the UA MIS program.