We loved our time last week at the 2020 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit! Thank you to the amazing organizers and speakers. And thank you to local business leaders we interviewed between sessions (watch for that video series, coming soon!) What an inspiring event! Our team was out connecting and learning, we had a blast! Key takeaways:
#1 – It’s all about education and support.
We have a chance, together, to influence the future. By connecting with our team, local government, and tech leaders we can continue to grow Silicon Slopes in a thoughtful way. Everyone must re-invest and connect on the issue of Computer Science education. The future is dependent on our children’s education and establishing that pipeline of talent.
“We have tremendous cooperation happening across public, private, and education sectors. And it’s incredible to see it happening,” said Aaron Skonnard of Pluralsight. He shared the Silicon Slopes Computer Science progress and vision:
- We now have a shared definition that all schools and districts understand.
- We now have dedicated state funding for computer science.
- There are now state standards and metrics to track progress.
- A master plan provides a clear road map.
- The country’s first Field of Interest Fund dedicated to computer science education.
“Together we are creating a powerful influence for Computer Science to be in every school in our great state.” – Josh James and Ryan Smith.
#2 – Utah is different than other states in the country.
We’re different because of how unified we are. It’s our superpower! We have tremendous collaboration across all sectors. And with that comes the challenges of diversity and inclusion. Today’s majority profile is white, male, and belonging to the state’s foremost religious organization. But it is changing. The Silicon Slopes community embraces the challenge with several breakout sessions at this year’s summit. The key points discussed were to 1) find common ground, 2) embrace a culture from the top down, 3) communicate that vision to your employees with constant training and feedback, and 4) consider hiring an inclusivity expert.
Most importantly, Utah should not look at other models to solve our diversity and inclusion issues. Instead we should embrace how and why we are different and should create a ‘Utah Model’.
Mayor Erin Mendenhall moderated a panel on inclusion, pointing out that Salt Lake City is a magnet for diversity and inclusion in Utah. It always has been. The culture is evolving, and downtown is poised to become the next tech center for the State.
#3 – We’re proud of West High School and Fifi Teklemedhin!
In 2018 there were 2 black students in computer science classes in the entire state of Utah. Salt Lake City’s West High Computer Science teacher Nicole Reitz-Larson has quadrupled minority participation in computer science classes.
Fifi Teklemedhin, a 10th grade computer science student at West High School spoke about going to students of color and low-income students more instead of asking them to come to you, an important point when we talk about disparities.
#4 – World tech leaders love what is happening here. Salt Lake City is turning heads and changing minds about what’s possible in the Beehive State.
‘Rise of the Rest’ movement and AOL Founder Steve Case — one of America’s best-known and most accomplished entrepreneurs pointed out, “America was a startup not that long ago, continuing to lead the way through revolutions.” As a pioneer in making the Internet part of everyday life he said the progress happening in Silicon Slopes is extraordinary. He continued, “I was shocked when I started looking at the data. Essentially all the job creation in the country comes from startups, young firms. Yet there is a huge imbalance: 75% of VC went to just 3 states: CA, MA, NY. CA alone gets 50% of the nation’s VC. But it is shifting. Last year, Silicon Slopes hit 1%.” It is encouraging for Utah’s future.
Mark Zuckerberg has a message for budding entrepreneurs considering following his footsteps and moving to Silicon Valley to launch a startup: Don’t bother “If I was starting from scratch now, I would not pick the Bay Area”.
#5 – Salt Lake City’s tech leaders are awesome!
We had a chance to interview some of Salt Lake City’s tech leaders about why downtown is the right place to start or expand your business. And no surprise, what they said was thoughtful, smart and inspirational! Watch our social channels for the videos to hit soon!
We had a blast! Thank you, Silicon Slopes Tech Summit!!!