2017 Technology Awareness Program tours the Information System Department at Walmart.

Technology Opportunities Brought to Life for High School Students

Twenty-eight high school students from underrepresented groups attended the 18th Technology Awareness Program, a weeklong residential camp that brought to life the many opportunities in technology.

The Information Technology Research Institute, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Department of Information Systems at the Sam M. Walton College of Business hosted the camp June 18-22 to expose students to the University of Arkansas, technology degrees on campus and career opportunities.

“It is vital that technology fields include minorities and women,” said Eric Bradford, managing director of the Information Technology Research Institute. “Research shows that diversity helps drive innovation, shapes the future of technology and increases profits for organizations.”

TAP students learn about technology careers and salaries from Renee Clay, managing director of Walton's Career Services.
TAP students learn about technology careers and salaries from Renee Clay, managing director of Walton’s Career Services.

Campers enjoyed the full university experience by living in a dorm, dining at Brough Commons and meeting faculty and staff. They also participated in a technology gamification app project, researched topics at Mullins Library and presented their findings as part of a closing ceremony. They heard staff members discuss potential salaries of technology professionals and how to apply for admission to the U of A.

Leaders from Walmart, Tyson Foods, Movista, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. and Arvest Bank Operations participated on two professional panel discussions, one related to the use of technology and the other related to the creation and support of those technologies. Attendees were able to ask questions to learn more about technology and careers. Campers also toured Walmart’s Information Systems Department to see professionals in action.

The camp culminated with student teams pitching business cases for gamification apps.

“Every year I am surprised by the level of innovation these high school students deliver,” said Erica Holliday, a lecturer in the Department of Information Systems. “Technology industries need students like these to create new ideas and to establish a diverse, well-rounded work environment – both invaluable to business.”

To attend the camp, participants must hold a 3.0 GPA, submit three essays and be a rising high school junior or senior. The camp was made possible by the Information Technology Research Institute board members: ArcBest Technologies, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Arkansas Department of Information Systems, Arvest Bank Group, ConocoPhillips, Dillard’s, Inc., FedEx Services, Hewlett Packard, InContext Solutions, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., Movista, Phillips 66, Teradata, Tyson Foods and Walmart.