Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



October/November 2011

Diversity/Careers October/November 2011 Issue

Champions of diversity
Anniversary: two top women
Disabled veterans
Green technology
Financial IT
BDPA conference

Defense suppliers
News & Views
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers DRS Technologies

Society news

2011 BDPA conference offers guidance & inspiration

From high school kids to CIOs, the conference had something for everyone

The thirty-third annual national BDPA technology conference and career fair brought more than 700 IT pros, students and corporate supporters together in Chicago this summer. They spent four days attending seminars, panel discussions and awards presentations, and of course they also enjoyed plenty of opportunities for networking.

The conference's Chicago location drew attendees from chapters across the country, as well as a surge of last-minute interest from local job seekers and companies, says conference director Pamela Sexton, an IT exec at HSBC Bank and president of the host Chicago chapter.

Looking up
"I get the sense that things are starting to look up" in the IT job market, Sexton reports. "It's still challenging to help both job-seekers and employers understand that finding and filling positions takes extra effort in this kind of economy."

That challenge, she says, was behind the choice of the conference theme: "the GPS of future technologists." Session tracks were set up not just for different levels of IT pros, but for entrepreneurs and diversity officers as well. The roster of individual sessions, Sexton notes, included several firsts. Among the topics were up-to-the-minute subjects like IT service management and ITIL; SharePoint 2010; mobile technologies in healthcare; and "Is your future cloudy?" Also included were popular topics like transitioning to consulting and career building.

Awards and honors
The conference celebrates people of color in IT, from the teenage participants in the High School Computer Competition (HSCC) to seasoned CIOs in corporate America. Awards also go to corporations that support and encourage African American IT pros. The 2011 Best Companies for Blacks in Technology roster included Allstate Insurance, American Airlines, BCBS of IL, NM, OK & TX, Intel, J&J;, Merck, Northrop Grumman, State Farm, Walmart, WellPoint and Wells Fargo. BCBS of IL, NM, OK & TX was named the overall Best Company for Blacks in Technology. HP, McDonald's and Johnson & Johnson also took home awards for their corporate support of BDPA.

State Farm got special recognition for its work in tenure and promotions for African American IT pros; Allstate Insurance for its career-path programs; Merck for minority vendor efforts; and Wells Fargo for community outreach.

Individual awards recognized Gregory Morrison of Cox Enterprises, Vince Edwards of State Farm Insurance, Stephen Paskel of Wells Fargo Bank, Millie Liggins of Walgreens and Michele Cheatham of Wells Fargo.

Chapters and students
BDPA's chapters compete with each other in a number of areas. This year's Chapter of the Year award went to the New York metro chapter, currently led by Renetta English.

Chapters also compete through their High School Computer Competition teams. This year more than a dozen teams were there to solve programming challenges on the spot. The team from Southern Minnesota took top honors for the fifth year in a row; Detroit's team was second, the Columbus, OH team was third, Atlanta placed fourth and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St Paul, MN) team was fifth. All team members received scholarship dollars and goodies from the corporate sponsors.

An individual competition for older students, the IT Showcase, was created and is still managed by Dr Jesse Bemley, founder of the original HSCC. High school and college students present research papers on IT-related topics to a panel of BDPA judges, and six prizes are awarded: three for high school students and three for college kids.

A long association
Diversity/Careers has been covering these conferences for many years. This year, sales director Jordan Weiss attended and took most of these photos.


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