On the road with CTA: Day 4

Colorado Technology Association explores the state on its pioneering Tech Tour

Though the corridor along the Front Range may be known for its sophisticated and successful tech communities, many cities scattered throughout the state play home to shining stars in technology.

So the Colorado Technology Association has taken this week – July 20-24 – to explore the state on its pioneering Tech Tour. The team – including individuals from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, Colorado Innovation Network and Go Code Colorado, among others – has networked with and highlighted businesses, trends, challenges and opportunities in each community along the way. The trip has ranged from Durango to Telluride, Grand Junction to Aspen and Frisco, and Thursday, coming full-circle, to the very edge of the Front Range in Colorado Springs.

After touring two data centers – CenturyLink and FedEx – the traveling team spent its lunch hour with a variety of individuals from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS).

“We’re really here to fill voids, be a catalyst and create flow for technology throughout the state,” CTA Chief Operating Officer Wendy Nkomo told a roomful of faculty members.

She said there are 15,998 open tech jobs in the state and went on to explain that about 5,000 Colorado-based higher education students are in computer science and information systems programs. The two- and four-year programs that offer such specialty degrees and certifications, however, graduate fewer than 2,500.

UCCS staffers asked about opportunities for veterans, given the economic impact military organizations and affiliated individuals have throughout the state, and particularly in Colorado Springs.  Nkomo touched on programs such as the White House initiative TechHire, an initiative to create better pathways to tech jobs, as well as fast-tracking developer boot camps, including Galvanize, Turing School of Software & Design, and Skill Distillery, which recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to accept the GI Bill.

Nkomo mentioned education and industry partnership case studies, pointing to a summer training program taking place this summer to match students from the University of Colorado-Denver to companies, aimed at funneling newly skilled students into the work force. Apprenticeship programs – like those Nkomo recently learned of on a trip to Zurich, Switzerland – are also top of mind in a long list of innovative solutions CTA is exploring with public-private partners.

UCCS, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year, is currently under construction, with a $500 million project in the works, set to be completed within the next two years, said Martin Wood, vice chancellor for UCCS advancement and development.  In particular, he pointed to health care, military, and sports, as thriving sectors the University is orienting some of its innovative curriculums and partnerships toward. About 200 undergraduates come out of UCCS computer science programs each year, however, there aren’t graduates to fill industry needs.

The Tech Tour team continued on Thursday’s journey, venturing to Epicenter Coworking, an at-capacity shared workspace in downtown Colorado Springs, followed by a stop at the yet-to-be-opened Catalyst Campus, a startup space geared toward defense and aerospace professionals. The weeklong tour will wrap up Friday with stops in Fort Collins at the Rocky Mountain Innosphere, the new Galvanize campus and more.

Categories: Tech