Computer Science, Coding in High Demand by Gov. Fallin

By Governor Mary Fallin

Governor's Columns - Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - Article Available Online

April is science and technology month in Oklahoma. What a great time to highlight the emerging computer science scene that is shaping our economy and driving our future.

In Oklahoma, our emerging software community has taken on a life of its own.  These are coding professionals who know programming languages with names like C++, Perl, Ruby, Elixir, Python or Javascript.

Colleges, universities and technology centers across the state offer classes and postsecondary degree programs in computer science; software development is part of the curriculum.  Students who graduate with computer science postsecondary degrees and credentials are ready to join the workforce and shape our future with innovative software.  Degrees in programming, coding and computer science skills are in high demand by Oklahoma’s businesses. Numerous high-paying jobs are available throughout the state.

In addition to formal software education, there are flourishing grassroots efforts to grow the coding community across Oklahoma.  One of the most impactful is the vibrant community of coders nurtured by an Oklahoma City and Tulsa not-for-profit foundation known as Techlahoma.

Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Jesse and Amanda Harlin along with Vance Lucas, Techlahoma says its goal is to help Oklahomans become workforce ready by creating free training each week. It provides meeting space for user groups and boasts an online community of more than 3,000.

With accommodations provided by StarSpace46 in Oklahoma City and 36° North in Tulsa, Techlahoma is home to at least two dozen coding user groups that regularly meet in its space. Groups hosted by Techlahoma include Code for OKC, Code for Tulsa, Nerdy Girls OKC Code Club, OKC Python and OKC.js, one of several programming-focused groups that meet there.

Both StarSpace46 and 36° North are community-focused co-working and collaboration spaces that serve as startup incubators.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently invited two other governors and me to take part in the Girls Who Code 2017 Female Governors’ Summit at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.  I was able to speak to our state’s thriving initiatives to connect Oklahoma children in the K-12 age group with computer science education and all things STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

For instance, the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance is part of a drive to promote STEM and computer science to young people through activities, such as coding camps and professional education for teachers in conjunction with the Oklahoma Engineering Foundation.

Project Lead the Way, a national not-for-profit entity, has developed a comprehensive computer science educational program targeting students at all grade levels through high school. It offers a “Launch” module for K-5, two new courses embedded in its middle school Gateway curriculum, and a high school course for App developers as well as one for “innovators and makers.”

“We have a pretty comprehensive opportunity for K through 12 students,” said Robin Schott, Project Lead the Way’s Oklahoma-based vice president for the west-central region. “Our curriculum is problem-solving based, so students are solving real-world problems through our content, and it is very engaging to them.”

Why is all this important?

Consider the type of employees that Oklahoma’s tech-focused companies are seeking. They are all hiring computer-coding professionals. And that includes our long-established oil and gas community.

“Technology is intertwined with the future of our economy,” said Dustin Curzon, executive director of Tulsa’s 36° North. “For our economy to thrive, we need to invest in the current and future generations to create more tech careers -- not just coders but knowledge workers who can integrate technology into their professions.”

I am committed to ensure this growth continues across the state. Through Oklahoma Works, resources are being committed to make sure our students are prepared to meet the demands of the new economy. My support for Oklahoma’s entrepreneurial community stands as a testament to Oklahoma’s dedication to growing and diversifying our economy. The future of computer science, in its many forms, is bright, and Oklahoma will likely remain an emerging center for growth in this industry.

Better Together by Territory OKC

Better Together

Co-working and the possibilities of close collaboration.

story by Emily Hopkins

For the full story, pick up the spring 2017 issue of Territory:OKC.

Situated on the cusp of Film Row and the Farmers Market District, StarSpace 46 is, in simplest terms, a co-working space. Entrepreneurs and freelancers pay a membership fee for the perks of a desk and office amenities. In turn, they’re daily (or weekly, as nobody’s keeping tabs) surrounded by some of the most forward-thinking minds in Oklahoma City today.

This is the breeding ground for the next computer genius, the next design innovator, the next person to create something that alters your daily life. There’s no hierarchy, no bottom line — only the willingness, and drive, to do something great.

“It’s not just a space to work. There are cheap offices everywhere,” said Tommy Yi, StarSpace 46 co-founder. “Great ideas and businesses happen when you have a cross-collaboration of people with different points of view. That’s what this is: a hub for community.”

It’s a brainchild that has evolved over a decade. Once known as OKC CoCo and The 404, this hub has since generated the likes of Monscierge, a hospitality technology brand with millions of funding dollars from Facebook and Google and touchscreens in every Hilton hotel. It’s home to the 26-year-old CTO of Nodecraft Hosting, which provides high-capacity gaming servers for people across the globe. Techlahoma, a grassroots technology community, headquarters here, and it once was the workspace of CooperHouse Creative, a branding and design studio.

Girls meet at StarSpace46 to learn about technology careers

Article by NewsOK  - May 24, 2017

 Girls learning about careers and local tech companies at Women in Tech event at StarSpace46

Girls learning about careers and local tech companies at Women in Tech event at StarSpace46

Oklahoma Women in Technology hosted Behind The Scenes, a retreat designed to educate girls in grades 7 through 12 about the breadth of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and support their future participation in the technology workforce.

During the half-day retreat May 5, 100 girls from across the state toured data centers and technology departments at Sonic Corp., Oklahoma City Thunder and WeGoLook, according to a news release. They listened to speakers from the tech departments who shared their personal stories and encouraged the young women to consider career paths in technology.

“Statistically, only 18 percent of all undergraduate computer and information sciences degrees are obtained by women, and only 25 percent of all computing occupations are held by women. Our mission is to change that for Oklahoma's youth,” said Brandy Semore, OKWIT board president.

 Behind the Scenes participants pose for a photo

Behind the Scenes participants pose for a photo

In recognition of the gender gap in technology, Behind The Scenes offered girls the chance to explore the roles, experiences and educational programs that await women in technical careers. Behind The Scenes also encouraged participants to interact with growing technologies and potential career paths, while networking with technology professionals.

Participants also had the chance to apply for scholarships awarded by OKWIT for STEM-related degrees.

Lunch was hosted by StarSpace46, a co-working and innovation hub where technologists, investors, designers, entrepreneurs and dreamers can meet, collaborate, share and create new ideas and new businesses.

WeGoLook is a mobile-technology company, often known as the "Uber of Inspections" that dispatches agents to collect data for its clients.