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The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) is pleased to announce that Summer Working Connections, the successful annual IT faculty professional development event, is turning 20.

The first North Texas edition of Summer Working Connections was held at Richland College in Dallas in 2002. The tracks way back then included Java, .Net Server, Visual Basic, and Windows 2000. Ann Beheler was a part of that event and she’s led the way for every Working Connections in the region ever since. If you’d like more background on the origins of Working Connections, take a look at Microsoft press releases from 1998 and 2001 from Microsoft.

For the second summer in a row, the pandemic is forcing Working Connections to run online. (Fingers are crossed that faculty will be able to visit North Texas in person in 2022.) While the online event last summer removed the valuable face-to-face networking that happens informally, the virtual access boosted the attendance to a record-breaking 184 attendees. Before that, the highest attendance had been 112 back in 2004.

To date – if you include Winter Working Connections (started in 2010) events in December and a handful of “franchise” Working Connections events sponsored by the National CTC in Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin – more than 2500 enrollments from at least 35 different states have been recorded covering more than 100 unique IT topics. In the past six years, 75% of faculty attendees choose a discipline that they were not currently teaching, which ensures new topics and skills are getting into classrooms across the country. By the National CTC’s calculations, thanks to longitudinal surveys of past attendees, over 149,000 students and faculty have been impacted by the training provided by Summer Working Connections since the program began.

We’ve come a long way from 2002. This year we’re featuring the following six tracks:

• “Azure Fundamentals” will cover the fundamentals and exam considerations for the Microsoft Azure AZ-900 Fundamentals exam. Attendees will learn about the principle of infrastructure-as-code and how to successfully deploy resources in Azure.

• “Big Data Analytics and Visualization” will help attendees understand the basics of “big data” and how businesses are creating a culture of data-driven decision-making. The track will feature a look at the core features of PowerBI and Tableau software.

• “Cyber Buffet” will cover a number of cybersecurity topics in a fun, capture-the-flag competition format. Each attendee will work at his or her own pace, with harder challenges available for more experienced participants.

• “Introduction to Applied AI” will look at how AI and ML modules can fit into various college curricula at an introductory level. Attendees will utilize the latest AI tools and industry-based academy resources to enhance work performance and learn how to determine which AI and ML tools to use for different scenarios.

• “Learning Python with Cybersecurity Examples” will examine fundamental concepts of Python programming. The goal is to learn Python by writing programs relevant to cybersecurity through step-by-step labs as well as more open-ended projects to reinforce Python concepts.

• “Red Hat System Administration I” will focus on Linux® administration “survival skills” by looking at foundational Linux concepts and core tasks. Attendees will learn how to apply command-line concepts and enterprise-level tools.

If you’re a current community college IT/convergence faculty and would like to be invited, please write to nationalctc@collin.edu. Many of these tracks are already full, but we are managing “wait lists” and do our best to get people into the track they want. Note also that Winter Working Connections will run this December 13-15.

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