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Volume 1, Issue 1
October 2008

Information Technology Empowerment Center

Initiative is a diverse public-private partnership in mid-Michigan

One of the newest initiatives for Michigan State University is a public-private partnership working to increase technology skills for children and adults in economically disadvantaged areas and better prepare them for a 21st century workforce.

The Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) has a diverse set of mid-Michigan partners in business, education, government, and non-profit sectors with an ambitious agenda to enhance and improve the skills necessary to succeed in a high-tech economy.

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering had three individuals that were the driving force for organizing and implementing the budding concepts that created ITEC: Professor George Stockman, systems analyst Adam Pitcher and academic adviser Teresa VanderSloot. Each currently serves on the ITEC Board.

Information Technology Empowerment Center (ITEC) Logo

Shortage of IT workers

"We know that the information technology (IT) industry is one of the fastest growing in the Capital area," said Kirk Riley, ITEC executive director. "And we also know that there is a shortage of IT workers spanning a broad range of skills and occupations that threatens the future of our local economic development."

"ITEC has multiple goals, but the end result is that we need to provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educational opportunities to area youth and their families. We want to offer programs to those who have little or no access to computers, and boost their ability to learn and develop into a more prepared 21st century workforce."

ITEC goals

In the past 12 months there has been tremendous momentum in shaping and defining plans. Among the goals:

  • Opening ITEC space at the retired Holmes Street School in Lansing, now owned by an MSU alumni, Ryan Vartoogian, president of Spartan Internet Consulting Corporation. ITEC will lease a portion of the building and provide computers and a central "high-tech hub" for technology learning and training.
  • Ongoing invitations for MSU researchers and community leaders to learn more about ITEC efforts, creating opportunities for partnerships that are collaborative, participatory, empowering, systemic, and transformative, and anchored in scholarship.
  • Seeking funding and revenue generation from a variety of private and public sources
  • Offering programs and increasing enthusiasm in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines among younger to older students.
  • Helping to build the Lansing and mid-Michigan's reputation as a "high-tech" city with a more technologically prepared workforce in the 21st century.

Current projects

There are Fall 2008 semester projects at Sexton and Everett High Schools, and Pattengill Middle School, all in the Lansing School District. They include Alice 3-D Graphical programming, a teaching tool designed to be a student's first exposure to object-oriented programming. Project collaborators include MSU's Department of Computer Science and Engineering faculty and students, the Lansing School District and volunteers from area businesses Spartan Internet Consulting Corporation, Liquid Web, and Dewpoint.

Another effort is a ten-week, after-school course in Digital Media Arts where students develop a documentary, a music video, and prose or poetry compositions. Collaborators include the MSU's Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Center, Computer Music in the College of Music, and the Documentary Lab in the College of Arts and Letters.

ITEC Board

College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media; College of Social Science, Department of Psychology; Office of University Outreach and Engagement; Prima Civitas Foundation; Spartan Internet Consulting Corporation; Dewpoint, Inc.; City of Lansing; Lansing Public Schools; City of Lansing Economic Development Corporation; Holmes Street Neighborhood Association

ITEC Contact Information

Interested researchers and community participants are encouraged to contact Kirk Riley, ITEC executive director, kirk@iteclansing.org.

  • Written by Carla Hills