Monthly Archives: July 2018

Begin your STEM Career in Illinois

While Illinois boasts  the second largest producer of computer science graduates nationwide, there is still a severe lack of STEM graduates.  As such, universities in the region are trying to encourage students to think about the possibilities open to them with a degree in this subject.

One way the schools are doing this is by offering new types of experiential education.  Rather than simply offer the standard projects assigned by teachers and internships, there are now other ways students can learn.

Two years ago, local energy entrepreneur Michael Polsky gave a staggering $35 million to the University of Chicago to set up the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.  Through this, it is hoped that the “next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators [will be] fueled with the knowledge, skills, and experience to make a powerful social and economic impact.”

Then there is the work of Patrick Murphy who realized that students who had not learned coding “struggled to thrive in traditional computer science.” As such, three years ago he set up a 16-week coding academy giving students a real project to practice what they have learned on. He then joined local entrepreneurship and innovation center Blue1647 enabling students to meet off campus once a week to learn basic skills in simple computer language which would add website launching and app development to their skills.

Chicago is clearly on its way to giving its students the steps needed to go out into the job market.


Green Food?

WeWork is going green.  At least for lunch. Miguel McKelvey, one of the organization’s co-founders said the following as part of his explanation as to why WeWork’s Summer Camp retreat would not be serving any meat/poultry/port at events:

“New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car.”

Starbucks also seems to be on a similar green track, in its recent announcement to get rid of plastic straws from its stores.  According to VP of Communications and Engagement at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Jennifer Caddick, it is important for people to speak out, as it is those voices that “encourages industry to make changes.” At the beginning of 2018 Shedd Aquarium, the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Illinois Council issued a joint resolution on a ban of plastic micro-beads from personal-care products. Manufacturers got on board even before the federal law came into play and the hope is that the same will be true for plastic straws.

Chicago: Technology, Innovation and Advancement in Business

In a recent article written by Alton Zenon III in Built in Chicago, an investigation was made into 8 tech company leaders in Chicago on innovation.   Stressing the importance of innovation “for companies looking to stay competitive as markets evolve,” Zenon asked these individuals what they felt was needed to “ensure [their] company stays on the cutting edge.”  He wanted to  know how these leaders were creating new innovation at their firms and found the following answers:

  1. According to founder and CEO of Project44 Jeff McCandless “you never know where the next great innovation will come from.” As such, he ensures everyone in his company has an opportunity to come up with a new idea/solution, etc.
  2. Head of Product at Compass, Eytan Siedman is seeking to “simplify [the] fragmented experience [of] third party software tools bring[ing] engineers together with agents under one roof.”
  3. One of CityBase’s senior software engineers, Jim Segal, says the company is “changing the way that constituents interact with their local governments by digitizing entire processes from the front end through the back end.”
  4. Director of Engineering at Collective Health, Izi Aviyente links part of the company’s success to its “automation of processes leading to more productivity.”

Zenon III also spoke with senior executives at OneSpan, Keeper Security Inc., BRD and Eved for their input on establishing innovation at their companies as well.