Nearly 500 technology oriented high school students poured into the conference center of Salt Lake Community College’s Miller campus for an 8:30 a.m. keynote address.
The annual conference of the Academy of Information Technology convened on Wednesday, March 21, to host kids from five Utah school districts and reinforce the AOIT objective of offering better ways for students to learn. As a member program of the National Academy Foundation, a national network that supports the extracurricular development of professional and personal success, AOIT has branches to work with high school students all over the country.
Director of the local AOIT board Patricia Isom expressed the board’s desire to not only provide young students with education and opportunities, but to also build and maintain interest in the field, which Isom hopes will be contagious.
“We want to not only give students an idea of what’s available to them, but to wow them,” Isom said.
After the buzz of teenage chatter died down in the spacious conference hall before the keynote presentation, Jason Bangerter, adjunct instructor at UVU and owner of the nationally recognized design firm, “Struck,”explained to the students that both form and function are necessary for appealing interactions on the Internet.
As part of his presentation about design-emphasized engineering, Bangerter invited four students from his class, Special Topics in Graphic Design, to show the high school conference goers their class projects.
UVU students, Ethan Clark, Stephanie Bird, Nick Bluth and UVU Review Life Designer, Drew Milton, showcased projects that ranged from animated stock portfolios to a program that tracks and analyzes business’ check–in based promotions from apps like Foursquare, Yelp and Facebook.
Making things like app construction, software development and HTML 5 – all included as topics in the day’s sessions – appeal to high school age kids might seem like a daunting task, but the attendees of the conference were uncharacteristically excited to be there Wednesday, learning from the likes of Electronic Arts Animation Director Paul Metcalfe and EA Creative Director Richard Reagan.
Nicole Neumarker, vice president of technology at Neutron Interactive, taught a session called “Technology – not just a dude thing.” Neumarker explained that access to technology creation and design is no longer limited to a certain demographic.
“[We are] on the cusp of a singularity of capabilities because of the exponential growth of technology,” Neumarker said.
That singularity felt almost palpable at this conference, with the wisdom imparted to the eager youth in the speeches and seminars falling impartially on the ears of each person.
NAF Regional Director Beth Kay articulated the success of the annual AOIT Conference.
“[This conference] is a great example of how excited, committed adults in a community can change people’s futures,” Kay said.