High School Students Explore Information Technology Careers

For the sixth year, the University of Central Arkansas and Acxiom have provided high school students an opportunity to learn more about careers in information technology.

The university and Acxiom hosted the annual Information Technologies Careers Camp from June 20-23 on the UCA campus. The camp is offered each year to high school students in grades eight through 12. Its goals are to generate and maintain students’ interest in the technology field and to draw technology majors to UCA and, ultimately, to careers at Acxiom.

The camp is funded by Acxiom.

There were 170 applicants for the 60 available slots this year. Students took part in various technology education activities and visited the Acxiom campuses in Little Rock and Conway.

The camp offered two tracks — one for first time campers in the area of web development and a second track for the more advanced in the area of game design. The first track group participated in a competition that involved developing a web page about IT careers. The second track group developed a game application that involved a ship that protected a base and shot the enemies. The students were instructed to improve the game and to make it their own.

For the second year, the faculty from the Management Information Systems (MIS) and Computer Science (CS) departments collaborated in hosting the camp. Dr. Summer Bartczak, an assistant professor of Management Information Systems, said UCA and Acxiom work closely for a number of reasons.

“UCA is a significant hiring base for Acxiom. The benefit of the collaboration is that we can bring kids here to learn about information technology and associated careers, what the MIS and CS departments have to offer, UCA as a college campus, and Acxiom as large local employer of IT professionals,” she said. “We all win if students have a good experience here and eventually come to study at UCA and possibly go on to work at Acxiom.”

Allison Nicholas, the leader of College Recruiting/University Relations at Acxiom, said the program benefits both UCA and Acxiom.

“It’s an opportunity to recruit more students into UCA, particularly in the MIS and CS departments in hopes, of course, of broadening those programs, but to also create a future workforce for Acxiom as well,” she said. “It’s a pipeline program that we’re looking to hopefully achieve.”

Dr. Michael Nooner, system administrator and instructor for the Computer Science Department, said there is a demand for individuals trained in technology. UCA’s Computer Science Department and the MIS Department have an almost 100 percent employment rate for its graduates.

“Most people don’t think of Central Arkansas as having really cutting-edge IT systems, but there’s always a high demand for people in IT careers here,” Nooner said.