S2 E22 Kansas Technology Council Enjoys a Year of Growth

The technology council of Kansas has had a solid year of growth in 2019, as we learned when we talked with Lisa Roberts, the executive director of FlagshipKansas and Stan Finger, a writer for the technology council, both of whom joined us for the interview.

Growth has been fantastic after starting a year ago with 50 charter members, the organization has grown to 23,000 members and an additional 58,000 student members. Many of the universities in Kansas have paid for the student members making it free for students to join and participate.

Stan Finger joined FlagshipKansas to write a number of stories about the initial charter members and we discussed a really interesting story he is working on about teaching coding and programming skills to inmates at the Topeka Women’s Correctional Facility.

With this training, women upon release can use their new coding skills to get great paying jobs in the Kansas technology industry. Most of the students in the first class didn’t have any sort of coding skills before taking the classes and now see a better future for them.

We also talked about the value of including a diverse set of backgrounds to improve the ability of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Greater diversity is something that the technology industry recognizes the need for diversity in programming. For the industry having women in programming jobs will help to bring some of that diversity in thought that will benefit the industry.

In addition to the coding training in programing languages the training covers the soft skills development that so needed to be effective team members in technology settings.

The Last Mile program was founded by a venture capitalist that visited inmates in a California prison and saw in them a strong desire to improve them. It started a training program that now is in five states including Kansas. An interesting fact is the number of applicants for the program has doubled from the first class to the second class, starting soon.–

For 2020 the technology council has a number of programs on their agenda. Machine Learning and AI is a topic of interest to insure this technology is used for good. So the council will be studying the potential for inherent basis.

FlagshipKansas will also be participating in the first Data Analytics Showcase, at Wichita State University on April 17 at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex. he showcase aims to deepen the understanding of research advances, curricular programs, top software, hardware and skill-building.

The event will create a venue for campus researchers, community representatives and industry experts in Wichita to build professional networks, discuss analytics and develop collaborations. Students, faculty, staff and community members are able to attend the event for free. 

Working with a variety of educational boards of education and school districts the council is striving to revise and implement now policies around Computer Science Education and computational thinking as it relates to computer science. This shift in the education approach is more about applying scientific methods more than teaching basic computer skills.

Lisa also introduced us to Sarah Bond a student Bioengineering major at Wichita State that as contestant in Miss Kansas competitions makes science education a part of her platform.

Lisa also announced a Cyber Security conference at Groover Labs, March 26, organized by the technology council and a workshop with students from Friends University to help participants insure there personal devises are properly cyber secure before they leave the workshop.

Be sure and check out our sponsors for Saunders and Cash and let then know you found them right here: Foreman Law, Retreat To Joy,  FlagshipKansas.tech, SCKEDD, Lee Gray Action CoachFriends University, Shaken not Stirred Bartending, and 2UAuto. 


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