The 2008 Texas State AITP High School IT Symposium: A Time to Remember
A New Tradition Successfully Grows
After a year of planning and preparation, the second annual Texas State AITP High School IT Symposium came to a successful conclusion. The award winning Texas State AITP student chapter hosted the 2008 event on October 31st. The event was highly expanded from the inaugural high school IT conference in 2007 and greatly exceeded expectations with 253 registrants.
The High School IT Symposium was planned and developed between the Texas State AITP student chapter officers and members and the CIS Department faculty in the McCoy College of Business. The two parties have come to work closely together to bring multiple skills, viewpoints, and ideas to this event and have found the mutual partnership very rewarding and beneficial. The conference was co-chaired by Doug Fogle, student lead and CEO of Texas State AITP, and Kevin Jetton and Dr. Garry White, CIS faculty members. Together, an event was created to give attending Texas high school students an opportunity to participate in numerous IT related events and activities. The overall goal of the event was to expose Texas high school students to the concepts of IT, the educational opportunities in IT, and what the IT Industry has to offer in a career.
Event History Starting from an idea to introduce area high school students to the IT field, the Texas State AITP High School IT Symposium was originally developed and held in October of 2007. The event was developed and hosted by the Texas State AITP student chapter. The chapter based the design of the symposium on the regional and national AITP conferences that it annually attends. The design gave the members of the chapter the chance to develop contests and events for high school students in much the same format that IT professionals do for college students at the AITP regional and national conferences.
The initial event brought in 23 students and drew a great deal of interest. It provided several speaker sessions and two contests along with tours of the Texas State University Datacenter. Student and faculty feedback from the high schools was very favorable with the high schools finding it to be of great benefit.
Although a relatively small event in 2007, the Texas State AITP High School IT Symposium was drastically expanded during the planning and development work that went on throughout 2008. The CIS faculty partnered with the students of Texas State AITP and volunteered to be speakers. Additional contests were researched, expanded, and refined, and new promotional efforts were created that provided a contact list of over 500 names. The chapter sought and received promotional assistance from members of the San Antonio AITP Professional chapter and the Austin AITP Professional chapter. A larger volunteer group was formed, and Texas State AITP, with good feedback from the 2007 attending schools, redesigned the symposium and put forth new plans to develop and host the recent event. The result was an increase of more than a 1000% in attendance at the 2008 symposium. The chapter now hopes to make the symposium an annual tradition and looks forward to its continual growth.
Opportunities Abound The heart of this year's High School IT Symposium was the contests. Texas State AITP officers and members spent a great deal of time researching the standards used by the UIL (University Interscholastic League) in its high school competitions. During the year leading up to the symposium, field trips were made to area high schools to visit with teachers and students to get a first-hand look at the technologies, assignments, and textbooks currently used in our Texas high school classrooms. With care given to designing events as close to the current high school curriculum as possible, the Texas State AITP chapter constructed six contests to give attendees a range of challenges to test their skills. The contests included MS Excel, MS Access, Web Design, Java, IT Topic Poster/Research Presentation, and PC Troubleshooting.
PC Troubleshooting proved to be the largest contest with over 60 competitors. It was held in two parts with the first section being a written exam over technical questions with the top four scores moving to a hands-on final. Those finalists were presented with non-operational computers to repair. Texas State CIS students scored all contests and named first, second and third places as well as honorable mention.
The next component of this year's symposium that attendees were very excited about was the numerous speaker sessions that were held throughout the day. Over twenty sessions were presented by primarily CIS faculty volunteers. Sessions ranged from basic topics such as using Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access to more advanced subjects such as the future of the internet and understanding the new IPv6 internet communication protocol. Students could choose the sessions they wanted to attend based on their own interests and levels of experience.
Additional symposium events included various demonstrations. Mike Henry with the Texas Institute for Educational Robotics displayed several robots and talked with high school faculty about creating robotics programs in their schools. Several AITP members presented the Xbox 360 game development demonstration, which showed how games are created and what technical knowledge is required for the design of such games.
Another exciting event at this year's symposium that was highly regarded by the attendees was the tour offered through the IT infrastructure of Texas State University. In conjunction with the University's IT Services, numerous tours were given throughout the day to take high school students behind the scenes so they could see the University's primary datacenter and network operations center. This gave students the chance to see an actual large-scale working datacenter.
The final component of this year's symposium was the IT Exhibitor Fair. From the 2007 event, student feedback indicated that the fair was one of the most beneficial events and this year's fair proved to hold the same interest for the attendees. With numerous companies present at the symposium, the students again had the chance to speak directly to IT professionals from these companies to get a sense of what IT careers were actually like. Students were able to visit with a range of companies from USAA and Time Warner Cable to Labatt Foods and ITT Tech. This gave the students varying views on the uses of IT and the many different fields in which IT is used.
By the Numbers The 2008 Texas State AITP High School IT Symposium attendance numbers broke expectations and the level of competition and involvement set a new standard for future Symposiums: 253 overall registrants, 155 high school students & faculty, 11 high schools represented!