March 11, 2019 / VU helps high school students take first steps toward IT career path
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VINCENNES, Ind. - High school and college students interested in gaming, cyber security, and other areas of information technology attended an Information Technology Symposium and Showcase at Vincennes University on March 6.

The Symposium was hosted by the VU Information Technology Department and focused on the growing need for IT professionals.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $84,580 in May 2017, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations of $37,690. Employment for computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2026. These occupations are projected to add about 557,100 new jobs. Demand for these workers will stem from greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.

More than 225 students attended the event, including students from area high schools: Center Grove, Forest Park, Loogootee, Perry Central, Parke Heritage, South Knox, Tell City, Warren Central, Washington, and Wood Memorial.

The Symposium included presentations by IT experts, VU staff members, and a student panel. Hands-on activities were available in the form of technology booths were students could see and experience networking hardware, IOT devices, virtual reality, and cyber hacking techniques.

Providing his view on the topic “Bigger than Hollywood: A Look at Video Gaming and Beyond” was keynote speaker Newton Lee. This author, educator, and futurist teaches courses in video game development at VU. He was the founder of Disney Online Technology Forum, creator of AT&T Bell Labs' first-ever commercial artificial intelligence tool, inventor of the world's first annotated multimedia OPAC for the U.S. National Agricultural Library, and the longest serving editor-in-chief in the history of the Association for Computing Machinery for its publication Computers in Entertainment (2003-18).

Additional presentations included “What can I do with a degree in InfoSec, cybersecurity, or other areas of IT?” by Paul Miller; and “How the VU and EC-Council partnership can help you get ready for the future in IT” by Wesley Alvarez. An alumni and student panel participated in a Q&A session.

“The IT Symposium and Showcase was a big success, giving more than 200 students access to industry experts and trending technology right here on the Vincennes Campus,” said Jaci Lederman, chair of VU’s Information Technology Department. “The profession requires continual learning and open-minded thinking that can be sparked from attending events like this. The feedback from students was very positive and I am pleased to see how the event energized their creativeness.”

Center Grove High School senior Sheldon Mudd attended the symposium along with his mother, Peggy, who said, “Thank you so much for all the time you gave us on such a busy day. We, Sheldon especially, enjoyed the information presented and he is more excited about attending. I thank you for that.”

Details about Vincennes University’s Information Technology programs are available online at


Lee is the chair of the California Transhumanist Party, education and media advisor to the United States Transhumanist Party, and president of the nonprofit Institute for Education, Research, and Scholarships. He graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Tech with a B.S. and M.S. degree in Computer Science (specializing in artificial intelligence) and earned a perfect GPA from VU University with an A.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and an honorary doctorate in Computer Science. He has been honored with a Michigan Leading Edge Technologies Award, two community development awards from the California Junior Chamber of Commerce, and four volunteer project leadership awards from The Walt Disney Company.

Lee’s Total Information Awareness trilogy books (Facebook Nation, Counterterrorism and Cybersecurity, and Google It) have garnered rave reviews from Eleanor Clift of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, ACM Computing Reviews, AdWeek SocialTimes, Choice Magazine, and Carmen LaBerge of Faith Radio, among others. Dr. Laura Wilhelm for The Hollywood Times applauded that “Newton Lee’s thorough and thoughtful analysis should please pacifists in search of lasting solutions to the planet’s biggest problems.” Veteran Staff Sergeant Andrew Price of the United States Air Force (USAF) remarked, “I am inspired by the prospect of world peace. I’d fully recommend following the author’s steps, reaching beyond our borders, making friends outside our norm, and helping to foster world peace and a better tomorrow.”


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