University City

UNCC and tech group team up

UNC Charlotte and a Raleigh-based technology association hope to expand their reach statewide as partners at a Sept. 15 conference in uptown Charlotte.

ThinkTech, the N.C. Technology Association's annual conference, hosts professionals from computer hardware and software companies, professional services firms, government agencies and universities.

The university sees the conference as a chance to attract more of the state's professionals to its online courses and those at its new uptown campus.

By having the conference in Charlotte, the association hopes to find new members among the expected 250 guests.

"We've made an effort to be more visible in Charlotte," said Brooks Raiford, the association's president and CEO.

Raiford said membership numbers in Charlotte once were a distant second to the statewide association's reach in the Research Triangle area. Now Charlotte-based firms make up 20 percent of its 450 members.

The organizers hope to draw the Charlotte businesses community and others around the state to the conference with a program that shows how technology can bring greater efficiency and mobility to the workplace and greater responsiveness to customer needs.

"NCTA is sort of a sandbox where we bring the various players together," Raiford said.

Three panel discussions are the highlight of the conference.

A representative from Google is among the panelists who will discuss "Virtualization of the Workplace." Virtualization is a term for boosting productivity for workers outside the office by using the Internet to access work systems.

The topic for a second panel is "Big Data." The discussion will focus on ways leading corporations use technology to comb through their massive databases to spot trends and create new products.

A third panel will focus on technology for advanced manufacturing. Industry leaders say today's systems can help businesses use less energy while improving tracking with suppliers and performance in distribution.

Organizers also want to emphasize the importance of preparing the workforce to help businesses take advantage of new technology.

The university's staff can hear first-hand the types of skills training that businesses need.

Meanwhile, UNC Charlotte's participation will allow its staff to share information about programs for professional development available now.

The university has a range of courses for professionals. Among the online programs, UNCC offers a master's in instructional systems technology.

"We'll have a booth all day and lots of time between sessions so people can visit our booth," said Lesley Snyder, the university's director of program development and marketing.