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Indiana, The New Mini Tech Capital of America

In the past, CEO Steve Hershberger hired from big universities near Silicon Valley. Now, he needs coders to work on the connection between beer kegs to his iKeg app, and he is choosing interns from Kenzie because of the quality he sees in the candidates.

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Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of
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INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA —

Kavitha Kamalbabu needed a break. She had raised her two children and the youngest was now in kindergarten. It was time to turn attention to her career. The 36-year-old wanted to code. The mecca of high tech — Silicon Valley — wasn’t an option because she needed to stay close to home and family in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“I chose Kenzie Academy because of its life project-based learning,” she said.

Kamalbabu is now at the top of her class, getting a two-year degree as a software developer. Kenzie, based in Indianapolis, was established to keep talent in Middle America and to create a mini tech capital.

“Our point is to bring people from Indianapolis to stay in Indianapolis,” said founder Courtney Spence. To do that, they place students in local companies as quickly as possible after their enrollment.

For one class, Kamalbabu, originally from India, found herself asking questions about measuring beer and learning how data increases profit. The class was taking a tour of Steady Serve — a local beer management system that invented a device to measure the content of kegs to reduce waste and fraud.

“It’s on the cusp of what we are seeing as being a tech boom,” Spence said.
Students tour Steady Serve, VOA

In the past, CEO Steve Hershberger hired from big universities near Silicon Valley. Now, he needs coders to work on the connection between beer kegs to his iKeg app, and he is choosing interns from Kenzie because of the quality he sees in the candidates.

“It’s like they folded the country and brought San Jose [the heart of Silicon Valley] into Indianapolis.”

By the numbers

Indianapolis is Middle America. Located in the Corn Belt, Indiana is known for its farms — the state’s model is “The Crossroads of America.” City leaders said that perception is changing. Indianapolis deputy mayor of economic development Angela Smith Jones calls Indianapolis “Western Silicon Valley” with a “great startup culture.”

Last year, technology companies in Indianapolis contributed $7.7 billion into the city’s economy and employed 75,000 people.

Job postings for emerging tech are up 40 percent over last year, and the city’s unemployment rate is currently 3 percent, which is lower than the national average.

The average tech industry wage in Indiana is $76,860.

“It’s on the cusp of what we are seeing as being a tech boom,” Spence said.

Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of "California or New York, not Indianapolis."
Kenzie Student, VOA

Not so fast

But students majoring in tech at Stanford University — a research school located in the heart of Silicon Valley — were unimpressed. Freshman Max Comolli said he wouldn’t be enticed to leave California for Indianapolis because of the opportunities and “such a great tech scene already established.”

Masters candidate Diego Garcia said when he thinks of high tech, he thinks of “California or New York, not Indianapolis.” But freshman Alexa White from Detroit, Michigan, thinks a tech capital in the Midwest would “benefit the field” and create diversity.

The gender diversity hasn’t reached Kenzie, although school officials said they actively recruit females. The next class of 18 students starting later this year will have three women. Of the current class, only Kamalbabu and an African American are female.

Also Read: Lenovo Launches V-Series Laptop in India 

Statistically, women — and especially women of color — make up a small percentage of the tech field. But 24-year-old Mya Williams called it a “pleasant surprise” when she saw Kamalbabu on the first day of class because she thought she would be the only female. Williams said young girls aren’t encouraged to concentrate in math and science. “They get looked over when it comes to software,” she said.

To Asia and beyond

Kenzie officials plan to duplicate the academy model, starting in Malaysia. Spence goes a step further. “We have a commitment to replicate it around the world,” she said. (VOA)

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NATO Advances Its Weaponry And Technology

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said increasing military spending by NATO members would help tackle some of the challenges.

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A general view of USS Mount Whitney of the US Navy at sunrise as it approaches the port during the NATO-led military exercise Trident Juncture, Nov. 3, in Trondheim, Norway. VOA

NATO is developing new high-tech tools, such as the ability to 3-D-print parts for weapons and deliver them by drone, as it scrambles to retain a competitive edge over Russia, China and other would-be battlefield adversaries.

Gen. Andre Lanata, who took over as head of the NATO transformation command in September, told a conference in Berlin that his command demonstrated over 21 “disruptive” projects during military exercises in Norway this month.

He urged startups as well as traditional arms manufacturers to work with the Atlantic alliance to boost innovation, as rapid and easy access to emerging technologies was helping adversaries narrow NATO’s long-standing advantage.

NATO
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the NATO summit in Brussels, May 25, 2017.Source-VOA

Lanata’s command hosted its third “innovation challenge” in tandem with the conference this week, where 10 startups and smaller firms presented ideas for defeating swarms of drones on the ground and in the air.

Winner from Belgium

Belgian firm ALX Systems, which builds civilian surveillance drones, won this year’s challenge.

Its CEO, Geoffrey Mormal, said small companies like his often struggled with cumbersome weapons procurement processes.

“It’s a very hot topic, so perhaps it will help to enable quicker decisions,” he told Reuters.

NATO
A Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon is prepared for testing at the Eglin Air Force Armament Center on March 11, 2003. VOA

Lanata said NATO was focused on areas such as artificial intelligence, connectivity, quantum computing, big data and hypervelocity, but also wants to learn from DHL and others how to improve the logistics of moving weapons and troops.

Also Read: Weapons, Bombs Easily Detected by Wi-Fi: Study

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said increasing military spending by NATO members would help tackle some of the challenges, but efforts were also needed to reduce widespread duplication and fragmentation in the European defense sector.

Participants also met behind closed doors with chief executives from 12 of the 15 biggest arms makers in Europe. (VOA)