Campers Learn Technology Opportunities at Walton

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Twelve high school students from groups underrepresented in technology fields got the opportunity to learn about career opportunities open to them during the 17th Technology Awareness Program at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

The Information Technology Research Institute, the Walton College Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Department of Information Systems hosted the 12 students for a week-long residential camp June 19-24.

“It is vital that technology fields include minorities and women,” said Eric Bradford, managing director of the institute. “Research shows that diversity helps drive innovation, which in turn shapes the future of technology.”

Campers lived in a dorm, ate at Brough Commons dining hall, and met faculty and staff while on campus. Students participated in an information technology project, researched topics at Mullins Library and presented their findings as part of a closing ceremony. Walton College staff discussed with students the potential salaries of technology professionals and how the students can apply for admission to the University of Arkansas.

Campers toured the information systems department at Walmart headquarters to learn more about technology's role in business.
Campers toured the information systems department at Walmart headquarters to learn more about technology’s role in business.

Campers also heard from professionals representing Dillard’s, Acxiom, Walmart, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. and Arvest Bank regarding how those companies use technology daily. Students toured Walmart’s information systems department to see professionals in action.

“These young people came here ready to learn,” said Barbara Lofton, director of Diversity Programs at Walton College. “Based on their research and final presentations, each student would be a welcome addition to any occupation in the field of technology and to the university.”

The camp culminated with three student teams presenting business cases, reflecting how technology could resolve common issues. The lessons learned were summed up by one camper’s parent.

“It was one of the most incredible displays of coaching, mentoring and teaching that I have seen in a long time,” said Denisho Coleman Sr., an alumnus of the University of Arkansas. “To see those students present subject matter in the order and depth in the short period of time afforded was very emotional to me –- in particular the SWOT analysis, which is a mainstay for how we justify corporate capital expenditures as a routine part of how we do our jobs.”

To attend the camp, participants must hold a 3.0 GPA, submit three essays and be a rising high school junior or senior. The camp was made possible by the Information Technology Research Institute board members: ArcBest Technologies, Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, Arkansas Department of Information Systems, Arvest Bank Group, ConocoPhillips, Dillard’s, Inc., FedEx Services, Hewlett Packard, InContext Solutions, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Movista, Phillips 66, Teradata, Tyson Foods and Walmart.