S2 E 19 Building a Community of Technology Workers in Wichita, Kansas

We are with Seth Etter, one of the co-founders of DevICT talking about how they are growing a technology community in Wichita, KS.  DevCT is a community group of software engineers and anyone interested in technology.

Members often join and participate in meetings to connect with others, to learn, share, and find connections that might lead to job opportunities.

DevICT has been in Wichita for the past eight years. It got started to develop a community group around technology at a time when Seth was teaching at a local community college and was complaining about the lack of a community group. So someone suggested they just get started and create a group. DevICT grew from that challenge.

The group started using MeetUp.com to schedule gathering,  and because technology people like to talk technology, members would give talks at monthly meetings on a variety of technical topics.

They now meet at a co-working space, The Labor Party, located in the Old Town part of Wichita.

Membership now numbers in the thousands, rather than hundreds. Today they have at least five events each month, with 40 to 50 members at each event. The group also uses a chat app, Slack that has 1200 members in it and about 1100 people following their MeetUp site to learn about events.

Seth also founded Open Wichita, a community organization focused on using technology to drive civic change, part of the Code for America brigade group. Seth got engaged with the group to do his part. A quote that impacted Seth was:

“Being involved means offering your hands, not just your voice.”

For a day job, Seth is a software engineer at AdHoc, and a remote worker in the technology industry, where he supports the development of APIs and Data Pipelines for healthcare.gov.

With Open Wichita, the group focused on working on local software projects that wanted to have an impact.

In the second part of the interview, we learned more about what DevICT plans look like in the 2020.

We also announce our partnership with FlagshipKansas.tech, the technology council for the state of Kansas.

One of the topics we covered was how the technology community has grown in Wichita over the last few years, specifically focused on software development. With more than 1,100 local members in DevICT, we see members from not only a few large technology employers, but also a number of smaller software development shops, focusing on developing technology and applications for other companies and a host of workers who largely work remotely, to enjoy the low cost of living and maintaining a wonderful lifestyle. For example, Seth’s employer, AdHoc, is 100% virtual workers.   WE also highlighted companies like the Flint Hills Group that was formed after a layoff by a handful of workers with different but similar skills.

Seth also highlighted how he works from various coffee shops and now recently started using a hot seat at Groover Labs as a primary work spot. You can listen to our podcast with the founders of Groover Labs to learn more about this new co-working, maker space in Wichita. KS. 

The interview wrapped up with how to develop a career in technology. Seth pointed out that going to college for getting a technology education is more structured than trying to learn everything from the internet. And while either of these two approaches can work, the best you thing you can is participate in a technology community like DevICT.

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