How Tech Journey Creates a Bridge Between Learning and Application
When I first discovered Tech Journey in 2013, I was as a reporter covering a new event in Greater Des Moines (DSM). During the small amount of time I spent at the organization’s first annual Tech Camp, I was inspired by the group’s mission to provide technology opportunities to Des Moines students of all backgrounds. Watching the group’s first class of eighth grade students come out of their shells as they learned basic programming skills, I was inspired by their hunger to know more and their ability to pick up new concepts quickly.
Tech Journey's History
Established in 2012 by Antonio Kioko and Dave Kessler, Tech Journey strives to inspire students from homes with limited access to resources to take an interest in technology. Driven by their mutual desire to get underserved Des Moines students engaged with technology, Tony and Dave wanted students to consider a career in technology as a viable option for their future, helping to fill the tech talent pipeline.
STEM in Des Moines
As Iowa’s workforce continues to grow, careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields remain one of the fastest-growing areas for expansion. But it’s important to make sure that all of our students are prepared for the implications of that growth. By 2025, 68 percent of jobs in Iowa will require at least some education or training beyond high school, according to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education. EDGE thinks that number is closer to 75 percent in the region. Tech Journey’s mission is to help them get there.
By seeking out students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience training in technical fields, Tech Journey hopes to level the playing field for all of Des Moines’ students and strengthen the area’s workforce for decades to come.
Part of what makes Tech Journey’s impact a lasting one is the multi-year partnership the program creates. As an organization, Tech Journey knows that to truly cultivate the next generation of employees, it is essential to be present for the duration. Beginning in eighth grade, students from Des Moines Public Schools are selected to participate in Tech Camp. For one week each summer, the same class of students returns to Tech Camp through high school to learn everything from basic programming skills to robotics engineering.
They also experience real world applications of the new skills they’re learning through local resources like the Area 515 Makerspace and demonstrations of new technologies from drones to virtual reality. Over the course of the next five years, each student receives technical training from industry professionals and their own personal computer, provided free of charge by Tech Journey. Currently Tech Journey has 85 active students.
What's Next for Tech Journey
Later this month, Tech Journey will host its fifth Tech Camp and celebrate the program’s first graduating class. Not only are these students an inspiration for Tech Camp’s younger classes, but many of them have shown interest in pursuing STEM careers that they may not have previously considered.
Are you an employer who wants to get involved with Tech Journey? We’re still looking for passionate volunteers to help make Tech Camp 2017 a success. View available opportunities and learn more about the organization from our video below.
Employers: Explore DSM talent development resources, including how to find talent and discovering more about Education Drives Our Greater Economy (EDGE).