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9th Annual Enterprise Computing Community Conference

Two weeks ago, I attended the 9th annual Enterprise Computing Community (ECC) conference hosted by Marist College with collaboration and support from academic and industry partners and sponsors. This year’s conference was Sunday, June 11, to Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

Revitalizing Undergraduate Education in Enterprise Computing

ECC was formed because of a National Science Foundation grant that Marist College, eight academic partners and nine industry partners received in September 2008. The objective of the community is to “revitalize undergraduate education in enterprise computing” to address the national skills shortage in large systems technology. This is an important ongoing initiative but the annual conference is structured in a way that is broader than education topics and is of interest to non-educators as well.

Why Do I Attend?

This is the third consecutive year that I put my projects on hold, gave up some hourly revenue from my research and writing and went to the mid-Hudson Valley to attend the conference. There are many reasons that I have been going to the conference. The mid-Hudson is beautiful in June and the Marist campus is so striking that I instantly feel at home when I am there. Marist prompts me to think of La Salle University in Philadelphia. When I go to Marist, it reminds me of my first day on the La Salle campus in fall 1971 at the start of my freshman year. It has the same kind of beauty but it much grander than that small, inner-city wonder.

I go to the conference to meet new people and to rekindle and deepen existing friendships. Each year, there is a Sunday evening reception at the Marist College Historic Cornell Boathouse. There is also a Monday night networking event. This year, we took a relaxing boat cruise on the Hudson. During the conference, I heard of the planned retirement of a few faculty leaders from around the country. This put urgency in the time we had together, knowing that it might be the last.

I also go to the conference to find out what is going on the classrooms where faculty teach enterprise computing. I’m not teaching as much but I am still interested in what is being taught and the approach used to deliver the material. In these sessions, I’m often reminded about something that I haven’t touched in decades. This year, one of the analytics sessions reminded me of concepts that I haven’t used since 2002. It was a welcome reintroduction.

I also go to hear the keynote speakers. They are consistently very experienced people like company fellows and executive vice presidents, and I learn from what they say and how they deliver their message.

This year, Madge Meyer was the standout for me. She told stories from when she was an IT Manager at Merrill Lynch. She took some bold actions that saved the company millions of dollars despite their reluctance to change. The success of one IT project led to others that institutionalized innovation. Through her experiences, I now understand the notion of instructional innovation. She was also part of the space program and was involved in three missions where “nobody died,” which was an ongoing concern for her and her husband who was also involved in pre-Apollo missions.

I also go to the ECC conference because I know that the concurrent sessions, 30 or 40 minutes in length, will be useful. There are usually three or four to choose from in a time slot. This year, the topics were typically diverse—security, LinuxONE, asymmetric cyberwarfare, predictive analytics, fiber optic communication, the Open Mainframe Project, blockchain, denial-of-service attacks, z Systems Academic Initiative, the API economy and many more. There were also two panel discussions. One had faculty members and the other featured students.

Partners, Sponsors, Links and Students

The ECC has am impressive list of partners, universities and companies. Membership is straightforward and the links on the ECC website are useful. The sponsors for the 2017 conference paid for a meal, participated in the vendor showcase and included informational materials in the conference bag depending on their level of commitment—Gold, Silver, Bronze or Academic.

There were a large number of young people at the conference, from Marist and other universities, and sponsors were promoting the internship opportunities that they have available. Internships, jobs, skill building and networking are all a part of what goes on at the conference, which makes it a good place for early career individuals. Each year, I see more young people attending as the word is getting out that you can make job connections at the conference.

Details on Monday and Tuesday Sessions

In my next two blog posts, I’ll highlight the speakers and talks from Monday and Tuesday of the conference. I’ll discuss the keynote sessions that I attended and the concurrent sessions that I attended.