Code Youth Attends iTech Conference Ottawa 
Written By Hadi Tehfe 

Technology conferences never cease to amaze me. With many of my friends pursuing careers in Engineering and Computer Sciences, I am constantly shown pictures of technology conferences all around Canada. A friend told me that she was able to meet the president of Pixar at a technology conference in Toronto. As I am now working in a technology start-up, it was now my turn to attend a technology conference: the 2018 iTech Conference held in Ottawa on June 12, 2018.  

When I first entered my job at Code Youth, I never expected that we would also be given the opportunity to participate in work trips. However, near the beginning of my work term, the Code Youth team was told that we would be attending and representing Code Youth at the iTech Conference. I was immediately fascinated. What was iTech Conference Ottawa*Picture1? With a question in mind, I accessed their website to learn more. I quickly discovered that the iTech Conference would be very fun to attend. Firstly, the iTech Conference was held in multiple cities in Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa), which revealed that the conference was most definitely popular in the technology sector. Not only was it recognized in multiple cities, but big names in the technology sector were also attending the conference, including: Microsoft, Intel (HP), and Toshiba. Lastly, when looking at the registration, we were promised free lunch, which immediately sold me the idea of the conference. Having now learnt about iTech Conference Ottawa, I was very excited for the day to arrive.   

 After registering for the conference, I did everything possible to prepare. As it was a networking conference of the sorts, it became quite apparent that we would need and use business cards. Prior to working at Code Youth, I had never used a business card before, nor had I ever given anyone a card with my name and information, so I was very excited about acquiring one. As I had some previous design experience, I was tasked with designing the business cards. In my mind, I very much enjoyed when business cards were very simplistic in design, or in other words, a card that looked simple, professional and sleek. After approval, the cards were printed on a cloud-like background to mimic the digital online cloud *(Picture2). The Code Youth team was ready to attend their first ever conference.  

On the morning of June 12th, I drove over to the Ottawa Conference and Event Center. I had dressed up in a pair of muted pants and a button-up, which was close to the business casual attire that I usually wore at work. When I walked in, I could immediately tell the event carried a busy but fun vibe: many people were walking around the center, chatting with other attendees, and enjoying the breakfast provided at the event. After meeting up with the rest of the Code Youth Team, we head over to the registration table. We received our identification badges and were given the agenda for the day. Looking at the agenda, the Code Youth team was given an abundance of activities to do at the conference. To begin with, within every 45 minute block interval, different IT speakers held sessions where we learned everything from business development to coding. Personally, as my coding skills are not up to par to a full-stack developer, it was slightly difficult to understand some of the sessions, but they were fun regardless. The agenda also allocated time for lunch and key-note speakers *Picture3. Lastly, the agenda allocated time to visit the “show-floor”, which is the area where attendees could speak with IT experts from different companies. With such a bustling agenda and with so many things to do, there was not one dull moment at the iTech Conference, and the Code Youth team was most definitely kept happy and busy. 

One of the most important parts of the conference for Code Youth was networking. As Code Youth is still a start-up, we are currently trying to communicate and receive support from organizations in the technology sphere. The iTech Conference gave us the perfect opportunity to reach out to many different organizations both within and outside the Ottawa area. Most organizations at the conference situated themselves at the show-floor. When the Code Youth team first walked into the show-floor, we were immediately overwhelmed with so many organizations present*(Picture4).

The Code Youth team split up to speak with as many people as possible, and I began networking. Thankfully, many of the individuals were very nice and seemed happy to hold conversations. My favourite moments from the conference definitely included the conversations I had, in which I learned not only about their organizations, but I learned about what universities they went to, why they were interested in the technology sphere, what they think the future of technology looks like and much more. As someone who does not know the intricacies of the IT sector, speaking and networking really broadened my understanding of the industry I was working with. Many of the organizations also indicated their interest in working with us. Although tiring, I definitely want to hold more conversations with people in the technology industry, allowing me to become even more knowledgeable.  

 

Not only did I leave the conference with many business cards and contacts, but I was also able to collect and take home many different mementos.  The iTech Conference hosts had brought in many different things to take, in which they provided a large amount of tote bags, as well as holding a raffle that all attendees were immediately registered in. The organizations that came to the event had also brought in different little goodies. Some organizations provided candy and chocolate, others gave out pens, and another organization provided stress balls; there was no limit to the amount of novelties provided. As a student and collector of free things, I gladly took many of these, and enjoyed going through all of them at the end of the conference*(Picture5) 

 I very much enjoyed my time at the iTech Conference in Ottawa. For people who are reading this, I definitely would recommend attending technology conferences as well as other technology related activities in the Ottawa area. The Code Youth website provides examples and lists of different activities that you can attend, so I would recommend checking out those. With that being said, I hope you enjoyed reading about my day at the iTech Conference as much as I enjoy experiencing the conference itself.  


Dropping out of class, dropping into another
Written by Maxime Le
The World Economic forums released a report on the trends in employment for various sectors.

One of the most stable, growing and in-demand spheres of work was the computer and technology field. This comes to no surprise, of course.

We live in the Information Era – one in which the founding of the Internet is compared as being superior or on par to the discovery of electricity and the innovations because of it. It makes sense that every day so many companies are investing and growing in and with Big Data.

BIG DATA?
All the data that’s gathered from our cellphone towers, our social media sites, our ways of life… is all information. And information is huge, valuable, complex and takes up a lot of space.

What we do with, how we handle and why we use the information is vital to grow the technology field. Everything we do with this quasi-infinite amount of information is summed into one term: Big Data Management.

Data miners, which are engineers who filter and dig through copious amounts of info, focus on finding the appropriate data and information for their project and translate it into words, images and graphs that can be understood in laymen’s terms.

Information can be used for a variety of reasons. It can be used to summarize revenues and direct a company to invest more money in a specific area. It can be used to target demographics and create change campaigns. And it can be used to save lives.

More and more we have health trackers that remind us to drink, to modify our sleeping habits, or to warn us if we’re about to have an epilepsy attack. The latter is exactly what Neutun Labs is doing. They gather data about patients through their smartwatches and can predict when they are about to have an epilepsy attack, so that they are better prepared to handle it. They use big data and translate it into life-changing knowledge. There are full teams of engineers and computer science experts needed to make the application a reality, so it’s no wonder the industry is booming with demand for qualified personnel.

BUT WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL?
That’s OK. School isn’t for everyone though – and this is true. We all learn differently. We all work differently. Often, the tech sector requires you to have advanced knowledge in programming and computer science, as well as high grades in order to even have your foot in the door.

And that’s even harder to do if you’ve dropped out of school. For whatever reasons that is, it still does not take away the value education and learning brings to one’s career, especially if one wishes to cash in on the early access to the blooming tech industry. Maybe there are barriers preventing you from doing so. But what if there was a way to address those barriers? Hmm…

That’s where a new, alternative form of learning comes in: instead of learning how to code in an institutionalized setting like a classroom, you could learn it in an open and inclusive space, filled with snacks, mentorship and a sharing environment which challenges you and keeps you focused. How does that sound?

THAT SOUNDS GREAT! BUT DOES THAT EXIST?
It does now. And it’s called Code Youth.

Essentially, you could learn all about programming and coding with your friends and amongst your peers, use an open, modern and comfortable space to learn and grow, be supported with services that address barriers that prevent you from continuing education, keep your belly full and your mind rich with nutrients with a grab-and-go food space, and complete the program with a nano-degree in coding in a variety of common coding languages.

And on top of that, the program could provide grants to people that need it, as well as find potential employment with partner employers who are willing to give talented coders a shot.

Surprisingly, there are few organizations that have done this… in the world. This would be the first in Ottawa. And the first in Canada.

This grassroots initiative is currently building its pilot project and is set for approval in the fall of 2017, with the first cohort being recruited shortly after. It hopes to garner much support from the tech industry and is always looking for volunteers or donations to keep the project going.

The future is based on the tech industry having enough programmers and coders to sustain a new way of life. And if education is the most powerful tool to change the world, it is vital that we provide those tools and find talent in those that might not be able to showcase it to the best of their abilities.

That means bringing the resources where the people are the most comfortable, that means making it as accessible as possible, that means finding local mentors that are relatable and knowledgeable, that means making connections that are meaningful and impactful, and that means making sure that everyone has the tools to succeed in this age of big data.

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