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The City Journals

Local high school students attend DigiForge, a career fair focused on the future

May 20, 2019 10:26AM ● By Julie Slama

(Pixabay)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Herriman High student Patrick Brown may opt for a career in information technology. 

The high school senior attended the recent DigiForge information technology career fair where he attended three sessions: database, game design and cybersecurity.

“It was really fun to learn about cryptology and script,” he said, adding that he already knows C#, C++ and JavaScript. “It can all help to have a good understanding as a base for a career.”

The fair was sponsored by the Wasatch Front South Region Consortium, where about 250 students selected from 14 industry presenters who spoke on topics from data science to game development. They also could tour Salt Lake Community College’s Center for Arts and Media as the presentations were held at the college’s South City campus.

“Our conference goals are to inspire and excite students about technology careers, show possible career paths, and offer creative learning opportunities,” said Patti Larkin, Canyons School District careers and technical education coordinator. 

Students from Jordan, Canyons, Murray, Tooele, Salt Lake and Granite school districts came to learn about their technology career options. 

Corner Canyon High School junior Jack Eckersley is interested in pursuing a career in animation and game design, but he also attended the session “Databases: The Most Delicious Secret in Information Technology,” where he learned from Control4’s Andrea Allred about how some companies, such as Target, customize letters to their customers based on what coupons they use.

Allred said data also has been used to identify where malaria is reported in Zimbabwe, and then teams are sent to try to eliminate any standing water to combat the disease.

“Data is used in so many different places and ways, but databases are needed to be kept secure, with a strong password, firewalls and encrypted information,” she said. “With more and more data being collected, we need more database analysts and administrators. There’s a lot of opportunities to get involved and available resources.”

High school students from across the Salt Lake Valley attended the DigiForge information technology fair where Control4’s Andrea Allred shared with students “Databases: The Most Delicious Secret in Information Technology.” (Julie Slama/City Journals)

 

In another session, Murray High sophomore Lincoln Pham learned about 3D graffiti from SpyHop’s Chris Manfre.

Manfre demonstrated how to use layers, saturation, clipping, levels and blending in Adobe Photoshop to achieve their own artwork.

He also said he changed from a career as an audio engineer for death metal bands to studying graphic design so he could make album covers for bands. 

“Find out what you like to do and go for it,” he said.

Pham said he already has an idea of the career he’d like to pursue — cybersecurity.

“It’s basically hacking, but with permission,” he said, adding that he also attended sessions in cybersecurity and computer myths. “I’d be deciphering codes, which aren’t hard, but fun to do. I’m planning to take computer science classes, but this gave me a head start.”

Pat Wright, who chairs the event, said part of the reason to interest high school students in technology information careers is to fill positions.

“There’s not enough people in the jobs now and by 2020, we expect it to grow to 2 million people,” he said, adding that there are about 300,000 people in the field now. “There’s a lot of technology out there that is growing and not enough Utahns to fill the demand."

He recommended students as young as elementary age start learning more about computer programming as more careers will incorporate it in the future. He said by middle school, students should learn computer science, and in high school, programming should be required.

While he applauded districts where students learn code.org in elementary, he also recommended students learn more coding, such as at the free Utah Code Camp on June 8, which teaches students from age 5 to 15 skills from Arduino and Scratch to Unity and HTML (www.utahgeekevents.com/events/kids-code-camp-2019).

“It’s becoming a digital world from artists to virtual reality to gaming to understanding data,” Wright said. “We need our kids to be prepared and get excited about their future.”