Vital To The i: The Thirst of Youth
October 15, 2012 Dan Burger
There’s some truth in the remark that as we get older we get more set in our ways. And along that same line of thinking is one of my favorite reflections that “wisdom arrives with old age . . . but sometimes old age arrives alone.” Things like this come to mind when I think about the age demographic of the IBM i community.
The other day I got an email from Laura Ubelhor, president of the Southeast Michigan iSeries User Group and the assistant director of the COMMON Education Foundation (CEF) board of directors. Laura is full of energy, is the epitome of the volunteer spirit, and is not even close to being on the AARP mailing list.
Ubelhor was eager to tell me about three college students from Michigan who received scholarship money from the COMMON Education Foundation that allowed them to attend the COMMON Fall Conference and Expo in Columbus, Ohio, three weeks ago.
“The kids were really excited to attend sessions and meet IBM i professionals,” Ubelhor says. “I could tell by their comments they were inspired. They took this seriously and they connected with a lot of people. There was loads of enthusiasm and they will take that back to other students.”
The students–Kwame James, David Langlois, and Benjamin Newman–all intend on getting four-year degrees in computer science. Langlois and James are enrolled at Muskegon Community College and Newman attends Ferris State.
The CEF supports educational services and programs for the IBM midrange community. It works with the IBM Academic Initiative for Power Systems, local user groups, Power Systems customers, and IBM business partners. It funds scholarships for educators and students that help pay tuition, conference registrations, and travel expenses.
In this case, the CEF covered the Fall COMMON registration costs and accommodations. COMMON has a discounted registration rate for students, which is $125 for the Annual Meeting and Exposition. The students covered their travel expenses from southeast Michigan to central Ohio.
The CEF does not have deep pockets. It is not in the league with the likes of Gates or Ford or Getty. Its resources are limited, but it is doing good work with what it has. It accepts contributions if you are so inclined, but I was thinking companies might see advantages of working with local colleges to fund students the way CEF has done with these Michigan professionals in waiting.
As Ubelhor, who also spearheads efforts to bring area students to the annual, one-day MiTech Conference hosted by several local user groups, explained in her email to me, “It’s vital to the IBM i to get more young students and future IT leaders excited about the platform.”