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Volume 21, Number 9 -- March 5, 2012

IBM i Is Looking Very Collegiate

Published: March 5, 2012

by Dan Burger

Last week I was talking with Jim Buck, who heads up the IBM i curriculum at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Each year the best of the Gateway graduates find their way into jobs with IBM i shops.

It's a credit to Buck's dedication and understanding of the importance of blending specialized training with the ability to solve business problems. He's very well networked in the business and education communities, and supports COMMON as a volunteer on educational committees. Buck's efforts have been rewarded with the COMMON Education Foundation Scholarship Award and the System i Innovation Award for Education Excellence. He's currently the president of the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association. His students are the beneficiaries.

His latest achievement involves the annual AITP National Collegiate Conference, where he spearheaded an effort to add a contest for students to demonstrate their RPG Web development skills. He's taking 15 Gateway students to the conference for the educational opportunities, the networking experiences, and to compete in the contest.

IBM and COMMON will have booths at the event. And IBM i application development expert Aaron Bartell will be one of the session presenters. Bartell, who is one of the most active members of the Young i Professionals organization, is leading a session that demonstrates how RPG can be used to develop Android applications.

IBM has been involved in this conference for several years, but the IBM i platform is getting some much-deserved attention because of the effort Buck has put into it. He has help from people like Bartell and Linda Grigoleit, an IBM executive who leads the Academic Initiative program among other responsibilities.

Buck has a strong belief in RPG as a modern language. He makes sure his students understand it and are able to write reports and applications. But he also makes sure they have Java skills and a comprehension of cross-platform capabilities. The underutilization of the IBM i operating system opens a lot of doors to people with the talents to tap into the unused resources. It's the future of the platform that is deeply ingrained in many solid businesses. "It's important to the system that we get new kids with new skills into jobs," he says. Young workers with broad skill sets and minds that are motivated by innovation are a good fit for companies invested in the platform.

"The students from Gateway Technical College provide something companies want," Buck says. "One of my goals is getting employers to realize that we have a good program."

Employers pay attention to the AITP Conference. It attracts talented participants who stand out. They get noticed. So do the session topics. There's excitement surrounding subjects like social media, IT leadership, cloud computing, mobile applications, security, and enterprise systems. The corporations and the individuals who get involved are more progressive. They value education and training and they are open to new ideas and technologies.

The conference takes place March 29 through April 1 in San Antonio, Texas. You can find more details at the Association of Information Technology Professionals website.


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