Posts Tagged ‘ICT’

A High-Demand Career for Our Hyper-Connected World

Friday, December 9th, 2011

It’s almost hard to remember, but not so long ago, technologies handled one medium or accomplished one or two tasks. For example, each type of entertainment medium had to be played on a specific device: Video was played on a television, using some type of video player, music was played on a compact disc player and video games were played through some type of console. In the same way, each type of communication media used its own technology for transmission: voice conversation by telephone, e-mail via computer, and so on.

But as everyone now knows, devices can now interact with lots of different formats. So while the primary purpose of the Xbox video game console is still to play video games, it can also play back video and music and connect to the Internet. And, of course, cell phones are used for far more than just making phone calls, also functioning as personal music players, digital cameras and text messaging systems.

Convergence Technology brings together these various communications – voice, video and data – into a single network and it’s indispensable in today’s uber-connected world. And that makes Convergence Technology specialists indispensable as well. According to ATE’s Convergence Technology Center skilled specialists in the areas of Convergence Technology and Home Technology Integration are in great demand to design, build, test, secure and troubleshoot communication infrastructure and devices for both home and business markets.

As Copeland Crisson told ATETV in this week’s Episode, “A lot of students have been exposed to a lot of the [different] technologies, but they’ve never been exposed to the point at which these technologies come together.” Training programs like the Convergence Technology Program at Collin College in Frisco, Texas offer both degrees and certificates to prepare students for the workforce and for professional certification exams.

What does a Convergence Technology program of study look like? It generally begins with the basics – courses in Network Fundamentals and Routing Protocols and Concepts, as well as College Algebra. But it soon expands to include training in classes such as Digital Home Technology Integration, Wireless Telephone Systems, Information Storage Management and Operating System Security, among others. Students are also exposed to plenty of hands-on applications and real-world problem solving to get a firsthand look at how technologies come together.

“The jobs in this area are very attractive, whether building a network, maintaining a network or troubleshooting a network,” Dell Computer’s Glenn Wintrech told ATETV. And while the constantly-changing field means that today’s jobs may be obsolete within a few years, there’s no question that a new crop of jobs will be on the horizon.

As Cisco’s Corey Kirkendoll puts it, “Everybody has a computer, everybody wants to be networked and connected, so there’s always an opportunity. We are positive that there will be more jobs available than we can fill.”

IT Certifications Help Employees Stand Out In a Crowded Marketplace

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Computer networks are integral to business and demand for employees in the field of Information Technology is expected to increase as firms continue to invest in new technologies. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook employment of computer network, systems and database administrators is expected to grow by as much as 30 percent by 2018 – much faster than the average for other occupations.

Want to stand out from the competition when pursuing an IT position? Look to certifications. “The job market today is highly competitive even in higher demand areas like information technology and networking,” says ATETV Advisor Gordon Snyder, Director of the National Center for Information and Communications Technologies at Springfield (MA) Technical Community College. “An effective way to distinguish yourself from others is to earn certifications in computers and networking, in combination with a degree. These certifications compliment academic work, showing a potential employer your knowledge, skills, ability and ambition.”

Certifications are offered through product vendors, computer associations and other training institutions, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics today, many employers regard certifications as the industry standard – and may even require employees to be certified. Certifications are also important for advancement.

We asked Gordon Snyder to recommend certifications that can help employees launch their IT careers – and advance their careers. Here are three he suggested, two entry-level and one advanced.

A+ Certification (entry level)

The A+ certification is globally recognized as the mark of a skilled entry-level technician and is a mandatory hiring requirement for a variety of entry-level IT jobs. An A+ certification demonstrates that an employee has acquired entry-level skills in the essential IT domains: hardware and PC repair, software and operating systems, network administration, information security and desktop troubleshooting. A+ certified technicians also develop customer service and communications skills to help in their day-to-day interactions with both technical and non-technical employees.

What skills that are measured by A+ certification?

• Understanding the fundamentals of computer technology, networking and IT security;
• Understanding of the operating system functionality and troubleshooting methods;
• Ability to identify hardware, peripheral, networking and security components;
• Ability to categorize various types of storage devices and backup media;
• Ability to explain the types and features of motherboard components; knowledge of how to perform proper computer safety procedures and best practices;
• Possession of practical interpersonal communication skills;
• Ability to install, configure, upgrade and maintain PC workstations, the Windows operating system and SOHO networks;
• Ability to install and configure input devices, such as mouse, keyboard, biometric devices and touch screens;
• And ability to use a variety of troubleshooting techniques and tools to effectively resolve PC, OS and network connectivity issues.

What jobs are available for candidates with this certification? An A+ certification can help job-seekers who are looking at positions as an IT Support Specialist, a Help Desk Technician, a Desktop support Specialist, a position in PC and Hardware Repair, or a Field Service Technician.

Network+ Certification (entry level)

Another certification that demonstrates competence as an entry-level network professional and provides an IT professional’s expertise in managing, maintaining, troubleshooting, installing and configuring basic computer networks. Network certification is the gateway to numerous career credentials and a key step toward a career in networking and telecommunications.

Which skills are covered in Network+ certification?

• Management and troubleshooting a basic network infrastructure
• Installation, operation and configuration of a wired or wireless network
• Ability to identify and explain common networking protocols and parts
• Ability to identify and troubleshoot performance and connectivity issues
• Ability to install, configure and differentiate between common network devices
• Ability to describe networking technologies and basic network design principles
• Acquisition of the knowledge to adhere to wiring standards and utilize network testing tools

CCNA Certification (Advanced)

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an advanced certification to enable employees in the IT field to broaden their skill sets in the management and optimization of network systems. CCNA is globally recognized as the mark of a competent and qualified network technician and can be an important step forward toward a career in network administration or network engineering.
CCNA shows employers that workers have gained abilities in the installation, configuration, operation and troubleshooting of routed and switched networks. CCNA-certified professionals also have the abilities to make connections to remote sites via a WAN (wide-area network, a network of computers within a very large area such as a state or country), can deal with basic network security threats and can understand fundamental wireless networking concepts and terminology.

For more information on IT certifications and the IT field, check out the following resources:
IT Career Finder
PC World Magazine
ICT Center, Springfield Technical Community College

Fourth Generation (4G) Technologies

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

ATETV adviser Gordon Snyder oversees the Telecommunications Technology program at Springfield Technical Community College, which concentrates on the numerous technologies that deliver information — in the form of voice, data, video or a combination of these.

Today, federal deregulation, growing security requirements, and rapidly changing developments in the areas of fiber optics, ATM, DSL, LAN/WAN technology, Cisco networking, and wireless technology, have all helped to make telecommunications and network technicians highly sought after in the marketplace.

In this week’s blog, Gordon brings us up to speed on some of the latest developments in wireless technology.

I’d like to thank the folks at ATE TV this week for the re-airing of episode #34 to coincide with our Winter 2011 ICT Educator Conference and for allowing me to post here on the ATETV blog. The episode covers why internships are important to employers and employees, the future of Information and Communication Technologies, and Biotechnology career options.

These days, most of us are carrying some sort of mobile device with the expectation of continuous connectivity and availability. With all of the advertising we’re seeing lately from providers like Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless and Sprint I thought it would be interesting to write a little bit about 4G wireless technologies.

4G is short for fourth generation and is a successor to third generation (3G) wireless technologies. 4G includes both LTE (Long Term Evolution) and WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), and sets peak mobile download speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) and 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) for fixed services. An example of a fixed service would be an antenna used for wireless access on top of your house.

You may be wondering – if both are considered 4G technologies and both offer the same bandwidths, what’s the differences between LTE technology used by providers like Verizon and AT&T and WiMAX used by other companies like Sprint? Is one technology better than the other? Why would one company decide on LTE while another decides on WiMAX to deliver next generation services? If they are very similar – what makes them different?

Here’s some quick answers taken from a few of my recent blog posts:

LTE is the 4G technology of choice of the larger mobile carriers like Verizon Wireless (launched LTE last month) and AT&T Wireless (scheduled to start LTE rollout this year). These carriers already have LTE spectrum and the money to buy more spectrum. They will also tell you that LTE more easily supports backward compatibility with earlier cellular technologies. LTE uses Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) spectrum.

WiMAX is the choice of carriers with Time Division Duplex (TDD) spectrum (launched by Sprint in 2008) and also makes sense for for green-field situations where backward compatibility is not needed.

So, LTE uses FDD spectrum and WiMAX uses TDD spectrum – what’s the difference? Here’s a quick explanation from three-g.net:

Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) and Time Division Duplex (TDD) are the two most prevalent duplexing schemes used in broadband wireless networks. TDD is the more efficient scheme, however, since it does not waste bandwidth. FDD, which historically has been used in voice-only applications, supports two-way radio communication by using two distinct radio channels. Alternatively, TDD uses a single frequency to transmit signals in both the downstream and upstream directions.

Basically, FDD (LTE) uses two channels and TDD (WiMAX) uses one channel for two-way communications.

Which technology will dominate? It looks like LTE in the United States but….. there are already issues with expensive and crowded spectrum. There’s also a lot more TDD spectrum available than FDD spectrum and TDD spectrum is cheaper.

Now, if LTE is preferred by the larger carriers in the United States and spectrum is in short supply, wouldn’t it make sense to try and develop a version of LTE that could use TDD spectrum? That’s what an emerging technology called TD-LTE does – it uses TDD spectrum for LTE transmission. Does it work? It sure looks like it. Last July, Ericsson and China Mobile demonstrated an end-to-end TD-LTE solution that achieved a single user peak downlink rate of 110Mbps and on Friday (December 31, 2010) China Mobile announced it had finally received approval from regulators and will start large-scale testing of domestically developed TD-LTE technology. This is going to be really interesting to watch!

Want to find out more? Watch (and search) places like ATETV.org and Gordon’s Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Blog (my blog!) for more on emerging information and communications technologies like 4G along with the different kinds of great technical career opportunities community colleges can provide.

The Next Big Thing in Precision Agriculture

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Farming

Precision Agriculture Keeps Pace With Telematics Technology

Last winter, we wrote about Precision Agriculture, the use of technology to understand and manage variability in fields and crops. Precision Agriculture helps farmers save time and reduce costs, and also plays a key role in reducing the environmental impacts of farming by lowering chemical use, and reducing pollution and runoff.

This week’s Episode revisits the subject of Precision Agriculture, and so we decided to do the same. We learned that the specialty that some say could be “the next big thing” in Precision Agriculture is called Telemetry. Also known as Telematics, it’s a Communications Technology that relies on a central computer server to both capture and report information from a remote location, enabling users to monitor critical operating conditions from a location five miles away — or even on the other side of the world.

Telemetry systems are already being used in other industries – including transportation, construction and mining – making them ripe for adoption in the field of Agriculture. (Perhaps the best known telemetry system currently in use in the United States is OnStar, which makes use of cellular communications, GPS satellites and operations data to link automobiles to a central computer server and service center. It’s estimated that in an average month, the OnStar system unlocks more than 60,000 car doors and coordinates 2,000 automatic crash responses.)

Agricultural telemetry systems are based on the same basic technologies as OnStar, but instead of relaying information to a service center operator, information is delivered via Web sites.The information flow is supplemented by automated cell phone/e-mail and text alerts, which are made when preset alarms go off, alerting the farmer to engine error codes, required maintenance or low fuel tank levels, for example.

An article on PrecisionAg.com states that by incorporating advanced GPS Technology, wireless communication and Web-based equipment management software, growers gain instant access to key information about their farm equipment, including location, fuel consumption, speed and direction, and potential maintenance issues. Growers also gain the ability to manage their business from inside their homes, and to connect wirelessly via computer from a piece of farm equipment. And according to Farm Industry News, two-way telemetry systems that allow engine electronics to be automatically diagnosed and fixed remotely are already a reality.

Stay tuned – while farmers aren’t likely to be driving tractors by remote control in the immediate future, the rapidly evolving field of telematics technology could one day make this scenario a reality!

ATETV Episode 37: Careers in Telecom and Biotech are Booming

Monday, June 7th, 2010

This week, we hear from employers and educators in two of today’s fastest growing industries — Biotechnology and Telecommunications — and learn how they are working together to prepare students to emerge as tomorrow’s technicians.

In our first segment, we head to San Diego, a hub of the country’s Biotech industry, where Southwestern Community College is working hand-in-hand with area Biotechnology companies to design the curriculum and develop the classroom skills that will enable students to launch Biotech careers as soon as they graduate.

“We have over 500 Biotechnology companies here in San Diego, and all are in need of entry level technicians,” explains Southwestern’s Nouna Bakhiet, PhD. She adds that when the school’s Biotechnology program was first created in 1999, Southwestern reached out to industry to learn about its specific needs, which enabled them to carefully design the program’s course content. Over the years,industry has come in to co-teach some of the program’s Biotech courses, providing students with firsthand instruction in specific applications. The end result: Students emerge from the program armed with experience and ready to go — many of them actually become managers within only two years of their hire.

In our second segment, we hear about another program that is also preparing students to hit the ground running — this time in the rapidly growing and changing field of Telecommunications. “[Today's Telecom industry] encompasses many things,” explains Andrew Maynard of Springfield Technical Community College. “It encompasses networking, it encompasses computer programming, [it encompasses] web programming.” In fact, the Telecom world today is actually a convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunications, as the use of voice and data are becoming one.

And, as Springfield student Steven Worthing tells us, the school’s relationship with the Telecom industry has provided him with the hands-on experience that is critical for success in such a rapidly changing industry. “I studied a broad course in Computer System Engineering Technology,” explains Steven. But he says that his experience working as a part-time computer telephone technician repairing telephone lines for CRA has really given him the edge when it comes to mastering the skills needed for the field.

“CRA is a nine-year old company, serving the small- and mid-sized business, helping them to successfully navigate working with the telephone companies,” explains CRA’s Laura Bernstein. “We find that [this type of Telecom training] is rare, so we reached out to Springfield Technical Community College to find students that seem to have the predisposition to be good [at this field] and the students seem to be very excited about the opportunity.”

It’s a good match all the way around notes Springfield’s Andrew Maynard. “It’s really nice [for our students] as they’re out there competing for jobs. Not only do they have a degree, but they can demonstrate that they went the extra distance and gained experience, which really shows a certain level of commitment…and understanding of the subject matter. It’s helped many of our students gain employment.”

ATETV Episode 17: Standard Operating Procedures

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

This week we head back to Times Square for another man-on-the-street segment, get our hands dirty on the farm, and then head online to explore the world of Cyber Security.

First, we take to the streets to ask people if they know what “SOP” stands for. As in the past, we get some pretty creative answers, but no one gets it right. SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedures, and in the ATE world it refers to the meticulous systems by which labs operate. If you’re a person who likes checklists and order, a career in biotechnology where you may utilize this system might be right for you.

Next we head out to Kirkwood Community College to learn more about hands-on internships in Agriculural Technology. “One of the best ways to have students learn is to have them actually do the exercise, do the math, do the work,” says Kirkwood’s Terry Brase. “They can hear about it, they can read about it, but it’s not going to stick with them until they actually experience it.”

Finally, we talk Cyber Security with Scott Edwards of Juniper Networks. Juniper makes routers, switches and other computer equipment that powers the Internet and keeps data secure. As devices become ever more interconnected, the need for workers trained to make and service these devices is growing. An ATE program in Computer and Information Technology (C.I.T) will give you the skills you need for these career opportunities.