Getting more college students and women involved in information technology is among the goals of Technology First, a Dayton-based IT nonprofit that now boasts Wright State University’s Shu Schiller as one of its directors.
Schiller, chair of the Department of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management at the Raj Soin College of Business, was appointed to the 20-member board in the spring.
“The idea is to bring IT talent and resources together,” said Schiller. “We need a sense of community where we can rely on each other and share information.”
Technology First has 170 companies as active members and about 20 annual partners, including the Raj Soin College of Business. The organization serves as an IT hub in Dayton and the greater Dayton region, connecting companies with individuals.
“It truly lives up to its philosophy by providing lots of resources and opportunities for people to get to know each other and to learn from each other,” said Schiller.
Schiller said an organization such as Technology First is critical because information technology changes so fast and people in the field need to stay abreast of the changes.
“Just think about all of the software we’re using today. Big data was nowhere to be seen 10 years ago and now it’s one of the most trending things in business,” said Schiller. “So there is a lot to learn. And modern organizations normally don’t have such resources and opportunities to catch up.”
Technology First organizes as many as 50 major events annually, including conferences, seminars and workshops.
Its Digital Mixer, for example, enables IT companies to mingle with students and potential employees. Within Technology First is a data analytics group of about 60 members who hold themed meetings every six weeks. And there is also a Women for Technology (W4T) group.
“We need to be really mindful of how as a community we can support women to pursue these career paths, to come into the STEM fields, to get a degree in information systems or computer science,” said Schiller.
Technology First’s annual Taste of IT conference features speakers, panels, presentations and forums to exchange best practices. The event has grown into a virtual regional IT summit.
Technology First publishes a monthly magazine. Article topics in the July edition include the power of volunteers; tips on designing secure, efficient and scalable networks; becoming a digital enterprise; calculating the value of IT; privacy vs. security; and the impact of website failures.
Schiller said there is no organization quite like Technology First in Cincinnati or Columbus.
“This organization has grown so much,” she said. “But I hope to see more engagement from the region. I’d like to see more members, including those from non-IT businesses that use information technology.”
Schiller would also like to get more college students involved with Technology First.
“I feel this organization can do more to provide opportunities to engage our students and maybe bring job opportunities to them,” she said.
Schiller is no stranger to information technology. She holds a Ph.D. in business administration, management information systems from Temple University. In 2013, she was a speaker at TEDxDayton, discussing data analytics and how to bring numbers to life.
Schiller was also a winner of a University System of Ohio’s 2011 Ohio Faculty Innovator Award. She was honored for creating an electronic course resource that included free course files, calendars, online assignments and submissions, multimedia tutorials and grade management coupled with an open textbook. The annual savings for each student was about $157.