Check out the clip from "Fresh Living" with President Aaron Reed, Ed.D., Director of Corporate Relations Britta Nelson, and recent graduate Sophie Wargo. They share their insights about the value of a computer science degree in today's economy.
Neumont College of Computer Sciences's official blogs shares the stories of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff to illustrate the Neumont experience.
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Ten years ago, Utah Geek Events kicked off their first coding camp at Neumont University’s South Jordan campus. There were 50 adults that attended the session. A decade later, more than 700 attendees were taking part in another historic event: Kid Code Con at Neumont’s campus in downtown Salt Lake City, officially kicking off the Summer of Programming at the university.
“As a mother of young girls, I thought it was wonderful to get an opportunity for them to get a chance to dig deeper into the STEM area,” said Jamie Moncur, who attended with her three daughters, ages three to eight.
Sabrena Suite-Mangum, a Neumont employee said she was also elated to participate in Kids Code Con with her seven-year old son Holden.
“He started getting particularly interested in programming and computer science during last year’s Hour of Code. He kept asking when he would get attend a summer coding camp, but there’s not much offered for kids under age eight. The event was great way to keep fueling his interest in programming. I’m so grateful we attended.”
Holden said he thought it was important to learn to code “so I can make video games when I grow up.” His mom recognizes it's the language of the future, and a skill set to be nurtured early. He attended the Lego session and the Electronics 101 class, lead by Copper Hills High Junior Cassandra Ivie, who has been recognized on a local and national level for her contributions robotics and STEM education For this session, participants used breadboard kits to show how circuits and LED lights work.
Eight-year old Cyrus Cheney, son of Neumont UniversityEvent Coordinator Emily Cheney said, “I like that it was educational and fun. It’s important to do things like Kid Con because we learn different strategies to do different things.”
His mother Emily added: "We had a fantastic time at Kid Con! I wish I had the opportunity to learn coding basics as a child."
For the older participants, one of the event highlights was the Virtual Reality session. Pat Wright, President of Utah Geek Events and head of Kid Code Con said that more than 70 people chose to attend the morning session alone. One key factor was the Microst HoloLens. Only 1,000 have been made to date, and it lived up to the hype.
Wright said that while Utah Geek Events' Adult coding camps have expanded well beyond the capacity at Neumont, that the downtown spot was perfect for Kid Code Con.
“We have a long standing relationship with Neumont,” he explained. “It’s a great school. The project-based learning is what sets Neumont apart from every other university in the state. I tell parents, 'For my dollar, I’m most likely sending my daughter to Neumont because her best chance of getting hired is here.' ”
Utah Geek Events will host another Kid Code Con at Neumont University in August. Watch the news story on KUTV for more information.
Career Week is in full-swing at Neumont University! We're profiling Enterprise Partners (past, present, and future) to help highlight how our hands-on education gives students the experience they need to launch their careers. Pluralsight is a global leader in online learning for technology professionals an one of Neumont’s Enterprise Partners.
Recently, we caught up with Pluralsight's Amy Dredge to get some feedback on what she’s seeing in the industry from her vantage point as a Pluralsight employee, a woman in tech, and passionate computer scientist.
Amy stepped into college without having written a single line of code, but after seeing her first application run, she quickly fell in love with writing software. In 2011 at 20 years old, she graduated magna cum laude from Utah State University with a bachelor's degree in computer science.
Since then, she has worked as a software craftsman, learning and improving her skills. She is currently technical lead on the learner experience team at Pluralsight. Her passions include TDD, pair programming, lean process, and continually improving herself and her workplace. Watching Pluralsight grow and thrive over the last three years of employment has been challenging and rewarding, she says.
On a side note, Amy’s personal hobbies include running, learning new things, and spending time with her husband and son.
NU: Tell us about your work, as well as what your company does:
AD: Pluralsight is a global leader in online learning for technology professionals. We provide instant access to more than 4,500 courses authored by top industry experts and serve as a career catalyst, delivering hands-on, practical training for the most in-demand and understaffed jobs of today.
I am a Software Craftsman with the additional role of Tech Lead at Pluralsight. My responsibilities as a Software Craftsman include writing new and maintaining existing code for the learning experience on pluralsight.com. Software Craftsmen at Pluralsight also participate in the process of discovering what our customers want. We speak to real customers, and we help decide how to best build what our customers need.
My responsibilities as a Tech Lead include working as a partner with the Product Manager on our team to make sure we’re building experiences our customers will love that are also technologically sound, which is a critical component in reliably providing a great user experience.
NU: What industry trend or practice are you currently interested/passionate about?
AD: Lately, I find myself gravitating toward lean and the focus on flow efficiency. I like the focus on delivering small amounts of work frequently; I believe it enables meeting customer needs more quickly and more precisely. I also enjoy the emphasis on paying attention to the system at large, rather than exclusively concentrating on my immediate area. And lastly, focusing on continuous improvement allows us to do just that – improve. I believe striving toward lean principles results in better quality, faster delivery and a more enjoyable work environment.
NU: In your opinion, what are most tech employers looking for?
AD: I think there are three things tech employers look for in an employee: culture fit, love of learning, and skills.
I believe culture is often a big consideration when hiring, if not the most important. Most employers realize that some skills may need to be taught on the job, but other things—like attitudes and beliefs that make up a culture—are more difficult to teach. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit the company’s culture can cause a lot of disruption.
After culture, tech employers like to see someone who loves learning. Learning is so important in an industry that changes so rapidly. Having the right skill set and experience for the job is important, but being able and eager to learn new skills is more valuable in the long term.
NU: What are your thoughts on project-based learning vs. a more traditional theoretical approach to education?
AD: Academic standards are changing, particularly in technology. I earned a bachelor’s in computer science, and after entering the industry, I quickly learned that many people without degrees know a lot more than I do and contribute at the same level as those with degrees. With regard to the technology industry, I think something that is more valuable than a degree or certification is the ability and desire to learn. With that, I think project-based learning works better for some people. Getting hands-on experience early on is a great way to understand if technology is your career field of choice. Doing mini-projects has been a great tool for me when learning a new technology, but it’s not my only approach to learning.
NU: How do we solve the issue of getting more women in tech?
AD: There are a number of things that can be done to get more women to enter the tech industry. One thing is to provide them with early exposure to the different fields of technology. I’ve seen more and more of this happening over the last few years, but I think that the efforts can be furthered. What I mean by exposure are things like hands-on coding at a young age, whether in the classroom or out. Exposure could also include hearing from women in the industry and having more women prominent as role models. Additionally, it would be great if this group of role models consisted of women with varying levels of expertise and experience. Individually and collectively, these role models could connect and encourage women who are at different stages of their tech career paths.
I think this also relates to the previous question. I believe that as we move away from the traditional classroom model of learning that more women will find it easier to engage in the industry. I could be wrong, but I think the stigma around technology being a male-dominant field makes it intimidating for women to get involved – particularly in the classroom.
NU: What is your five-year prediction for the industry?
AD: I hope to see more women in tech five years from now. While there are on-going efforts to get more women involved, I think there will be even more of an emphasis on this in the future. All the efforts may not come to full fruition within the next five years, but I think we’ll see a slow upward trend in women’s participation in tech.
I also hope to see the tech education space evolve a lot over the next five years. At the beginning of 2015, Aaron Skonnard, CEO of Pluralsight, wrote an article in Inc. Magazine about the 5 Top Trends in Education Technology. They are all closely related: online corporate learning, skills measurement, alternative learning styles, online competency-based training, and flipped-learning tech. To me, these trends all seem to serve one goal: to make online technology education a sufficient—as well a more widely accepted and recognized—means of learning technical skills. I think Aaron’s words are informed and accurate, as I’ve seen more focus on these things.
Students are invited to learn more about Pluralsight and their tools for online learning at a training on campus on Wednesday, May 18 at 12 p.m. Please contact Tom Beatty with any questions.
Career Week continues all this week with Tech Talks from Industry and Enterprise Partners at 12 p.m. in Room 323. Companies will also be on campus all week interviewing students for open positions. For the complete Tech Talk schedule, follow our Facebook page.
Despite feeling some apprehension, volunteers from Neumont University's admissions, financial aid, and marketing departments knew they were doing something to benefit The Road Home. The local homeless shelter provides emergency shelter and programs to help individuals and families step out of homelessness and back into the community.
Karick Heaton, Neumont University director of admissions described the group's arrival. “Once at the facility's door, we could tell that the entire block was swarming with individuals who are certainly less fortunate in many ways, and who also must rely on the service we were about to discover.”
The NU volunteers were buzzed in and introduced to a number of employees “who were all very cheerful and pleasant,” Karick said. The group took a tour through the donation warehouse where donations are delivered and “ended at the foot of a giant pile of boxes and bags, all filled with clothes, food items, and a number of interesting odds and ends.”
There were mounds of donations to tackle and the team eventually found its groove.
“We suddenly got into a rhythm and were abuzz with activity,” Karick said. “We unloaded boxes and bags, sorted socks, hats, shirts, and canned food. We cleaned shelves, bins, and racks. And of course all the while, we were being our usual goofy selves and definitely having some fun as well. Suddenly, we were done, having cleaned an entire room of its contents.”
Matt Brown, Neumont University enrollment coordinator summed up the team’s experience. “We arrived to see about 700 square feet of clothing that required sorting and putting away, and upon leaving the warehouse, the space that contained all that clothing only hours before was now empty."
If you need some heavy lifting done–whether at the gym or on campus–John Belak is your guy. That is, as long as he doesn’t have to climb a ladder to do it. The native from Canton, Ohio is the current president and co-founder of Neumont’s Fitness Club, but also admits to being terribly afraid of heights “so much so that I get anxiety from simply seeing other people on ladders or balconies.”
Besides a passion for weight-lifting, he is also one of the friendliest people on the planet. (He considers “talking to people” one of his main hobbies.) In fact, John is such a force for good that when you’re around him; it’s hard to imagine him being negative about anything. Though he did confess to hating holiday music "in most forms,” it doesn’t look like there’s much use for “Jingle Bells” in the Bachelor of Science in Technology Management degree. So we’re giving him the full benefit of the doubt.
We caught up with John via email; and he had this to say about his Neumont experience so far.
NU: First off, how much programming experience did you have prior to coming to Neumont?
JB: Before coming to Neumont, I didn’t even know what code looked like, let alone how to write it.
NU: And your favorite programming language?
JB: I’ve only had experience learning Java while at Neumont, due to the mandatory Intro to Computer Science and Object-oriented Programming classes. Being in the Technology Management degree here at Neumont, I didn’t have as many opportunities to learn different programming languages in a classroom environment. I have, however, dabbled in a bit of Python for another class assignment, and it was an interesting experience. I think that maybe because I got to explore that on my own that I’m a bit more partial to Python over Java at this point, but there aren’t any programming languages that I prefer overall.
NU: What’s a project you’ve enjoyed most during your time at Neumont?
JB: In my 7th quarter, I had a class called System Analysis and Business Modeling Project. This solo project consisted of conceptualizing a future technology and modeling a business around it, completing work such as market research, identifying competitive advantage, and more. This is what I felt like the Technology Management degree was leading up to, and as a result it was very rewarding to be trusted with this kind of assignment. I was so excited to give the final presentation that my passion for the project made me give my best, or at least my favorite, presentation to date.
NU: What’s been the most surprising thing about your Neumont experience?
JB: I was not prepared for how close-knit the community is here at Neumont. More often than not, you’ll know everyone here or at least know someone who does. This makes the community pretty open and friendly, to the point where you can ask most people for help with just about anything. That, coupled with Neumont’s student support department, ensures that there’s always someone looking out for you, and that surprised me a lot.
NU: Tell us a tech trend you’re interested in and why.
JB: Personally, I like watching the advancement of wearable technology and smart devices in general. The whole idea that everything we interact with on a daily basis can be connected is really exciting to think about, and it’s even better considering companies like Vivint are working today to make that a reality. We’ve got a bright future ahead of us and I’m excited for what we have in store.
NU. Finish this sentence, “While attending Neumont, I’ve experienced:”
JB: Growth. Physical, emotional, mental, you name it, I’ve experienced so much growth since I moved to Utah. Coming straight out of high school to college was a daunting experience, especially considering I moved two time zones away. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else for these past two years and I look forward to the years to come.
NU: And looking towards the future - your dream job?
JB: I’d be happy with a management position, primarily. Project management, program management, you name it. A lot of people strive for an executive position in a company, and I’m no different. But hey, baby steps, right?