Posts Tagged ‘IT’

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

The State of the Union: Science and Technology

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The State of the Union: Science and Technology

Science and technology played major roles in President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address last Tuesday night, January 25th, as he emphasized the need for America to maintain its leadership in “a rapidly changing world,” in order to keep our economy on course.

As the President described, “In a single generation, revolutions in technology have [already] transformed the way we live, work and do business.” To continue to maintain this momentum, he explained, the country will invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology, “an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Not surprisingly, training students for careers in clean technologies, green building, biotech, and cutting-edge information technology are also central to the missions of Advanced Technological Education and community colleges across the country. We thought we’d take this opportunity to recap some of the resources available to students and job-seekers in the fields of biotech, IT, and clean energy — the technologies that will help provide our economy’s momentum in the years to come.

Clean energy:

The President has proposed an ambitious plan of generating 80 percent of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. ATEEC, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center promotes and supports environmental and energy technology education, partnering with industry to provide a foundation for the nation’s sustainable future. Sustainable energy draws on resources that will never run out — be it wind power or solar energy — and also focuses on refurbishing existing buildings with renewable materials, and performing energy audits to help businesses and other institutions to reduce waste and pollution. Last year, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) launched the Sustainability Education and Economy Development (SEED) Center an online resource to help prepare workers for the future green economy.

Biotech:

The President’s speech also addressed the need for investment in biomedical research, one of the keys to the future development of new drugs and vaccines.

Since its emergence in the 1970s, the biotech field has already created more than 200 new therapies, diagnostics, and vaccines, including products to treat cancer and diabetes, as well as methods to keep our blood supply safe. Therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease are among the hundreds more biotech products currently being tested. As ATE’s Bio-Link describes, Associates’ degrees from Bio-Link programs provide students with lessons in the cutting-edge techniques, technologies and equipment related to molecular biology, recombinant DNA, immunology, protein purification and tissue culture — the integral components of the biotech industry. To learn more about job opportunities in the biosciences and genetics, check out Bio-Link’s Career Page.

Information Technology:

Finally, the President also called for new efforts to ensure that the U.S. has the fastest, most reliable ways to move and share data through the high-speed Internet. His National Wireless Initiative will enable business to grow faster, helps students learn more and provide public safety officials with access to state-of-the-art, secure, mobile communications, according to a report on Scicasts. To learn more about the many educational opportunities and career options available in the widespread IT industry, check out the related Advanced Technological Education Centers.

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!

Yes! “We’ve Got An App for that!”

Friday, September 24th, 2010

What apps do you use?

“I” is for “Information”; “A” is for “Application”

Last spring, when the ATETV segment on Information Technology jobs first aired, EMC’s Todd Matthews told us, “More digital data will be produced in the next two years than was produced in the last ten.”

Wow. Needless to say, this enormous amount of data speaks to the extraordinarily rapid pace at which the field of Information Technology is growing and expanding, impacting virtually every aspect of our personal and professional lives. And there’s no sign of a slow down in sight – to the contrary, new technologies are being developed at break-neck speeds!

Earlier this year a story in Bloomberg Businessweek took note of this phenomenon in its story marking the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the dot.com, writing, “In just the past few years, we have seen a range of new products – smart phones, netbooks and tablet PCs come to market, along with a proliferation of applications.”

Ahh, applications, better known as “apps.” Essentially a software program for mobile devices – the aforementioned smart phones and tablet PCs – apps range in size and complexity. Today’s emerging new apps are extending way beyond fun and games to more serious goals of energy efficiency, health care, personal safety, and productivity. For example, Bloomberg Business Week reports that utility companies are rolling out Internet-connected devices that empower consumers to use energy more efficiently, enabling consumers to shut off the lights from their phone. Intelligent transportation systems integrated with GPS navigators and phone applications already let users know about real-time traffic conditions and steer them away from traffic jams, wasted gas and jangled nerves.

In fact, some sources predict that mobile apps may play an important role in boosting our struggling economy.

It’s happened before. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, since the personal computer was first introduced in 1976, IT has helped expand the U.S. economy by an estimated $2 trillion. (In fact, according to a 2008 ITIF report, IT has transformed virtually every sector of the economy with the $500 billion trucking industry saving $16 billion annually through the use of on-board computers that enable companies to better track and more efficiently dispatch truck to farmers using the Internet to buy and send fertilizer, track market prices and sell crops and governments issuing EZ passes to automate toll collections.)

But getting back to apps: According to the Christian Science Monitor, the growth in revenue from apps ($3 billion last year) compares favorably with the PC revolution of the 1980s, which helped to lift the economy. And, as ITIF analyst Stephen Ezell noted, “Mobile applications will be a huge driver of employment. You have tens of thousands of people writing mobile applications, and I’m sure an increasing amount of e-commerce will be driven on the device. A mobile phone now is a communication and computing platform and that’s going to drive real transformation.”

If this sounds appealing, check out the Yahoo! Education website, which outlines seven different areas of employment in the mobile apps field are highlighted. Or listen to ITConversations, where you can hear IT and Communications leaders discuss various aspects of apps: From cloud computing, data driven applications, and requirements of mobile access applications to the ways that Facebook and other social network tools are adapting their use of applications to keep users engaged.

ATETV Episode 47: Industry Offers Opportunities and Incentives

Friday, August 27th, 2010

This week, from directly impacting one student’s experience, to networking and sharing resources in professional learning communities and tailoring community college programs to meet critical hiring needs, industry involvement makes a difference everyday in Advanced Technological Education.

First we meet Andrew Engel, a student with a passion for hands-on electronics and an interest in alternative energy. Andrew is currently enrolled in the Electronics Engineering program at Stark State College where he has found an outlet for both in the Fuel Cell Technology program. Andrew reveals that “Since (I was) a kid boy, (I always) tore stuff apart, tried to fix things.” Guided by industry input, this program translates that childhood hobby to hands-on labs like the DC and AC Circuit Analysis. In this lab, Andrew can continue to do more of what he has always loved to do while preparing for a secure and bright future.

Advanced Technological Education programs offered through community colleges benefit from being part of a large network of expertise and shared resources. In the second segment, we visit one example of a program where curriculum is structured with industry input and faculty are trained to be up-to-date with the skills they are teaching- the National Center for Information and Communications Technologies at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, MA.

Finally, in the third segment, we see how the close relationship these national ATE Centers and ATE programs at community colleges share with industry professionals is also beneficial to the industries. In the field of Lasers and Photonics Technology, for example, industry is actively seeking to hire more female technicians. Central Carolina Community College offers a special incentive to reach out to more qualified women in response. “One thing that we have is a sex equity grant,” recruiter Gary Beasley tells us. “All females can go to school for free- free tuition, free books. It doesn’t make any difference if they are real poor or real rich. It’s free education. You can’t beat that!”

Nope. You can’t beat that! By collaborating directly with industry, ATE programs at community colleges across the country are able to offer many advantages to students as they prepare them for the high-paying, high-demand jobs of the future.

ATETV Episode 45: Safeguarding the Future

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

This week, we look at the many ways that emerging technologies are protecting our futures — from supplying safe, clean drinking water and new energy sources to guarding our computer information.

In our first segment, Linda Correira of Aquaria Water, LLC, describes how Water Treatment Technology systems successfully treat salt water and turn it into clean, thirst-quenching drinking water.

“Everyone needs water and we have limited supplies [on earth]” explains Linda. “But if you have the ability to take salt water — which we have much more of — and convert it into drinking water, then there’s [an important resource.]” As Linda further explains, the desalination process puts salt water through a treatment process to remove any bacteria and then salty, high-conductivity water goes through a “reverse osmosis” system to remove dissolved salts. From there, water is disinfected and — voila! — the glass is half full of drinkable water.

In our second segment, we talk with a student at Springfield Technical Community College whose work in the school’s Information Security Program will have an impact on lots and lots of people.

“[Almost all of your personal information] is stored on a computer system somewhere,” explains Sean Coughlin. “People might think, ‘Oh, I don’t use online banking, I don’t put my credit card information into websites, so [computer security issues] don’t affect me.’” But, in fact, says Sean, everyone is affected because businesses put their information on computer systems — and your information is their information.

The growing need for Cyber Security professionals, and a lifelong love of computers, has brought Sean from an 18-year career as a commercial flooring contractor to a new “position” as an Information Security student at Springfield. And he couldn’t be more satisfied. “Every single job you look at, [employers] want to see that you have experience in addition to classroom work. [Through the program at Springfield Technical College] I’ve actually worked on devices and reconfigured them…that’s the solid foundation that employers want to see.”

Finally, in our third segment, we take a look at the cutting-edge field of Fuel Cell Technology and learn how students at Stark State College are not only responding to industry needs — they’re staying ahead of them!

“A student who studies fuel cells is going to have a wide range of opportunities available when he graduates,” says Justin Ruflin of Contained Energy, LLC. “Fuel cell technicians are needed within the lab itself to help build the technology, while scientists are busy figuring out how to solve the challenges within the fuel cell industry and managers are running the companies.” So whether a person is interested in building fuel cells, understanding the properties of fuel cells or creating new materials to increase fuel cell performance, there’s likely to be a job opportunity available — and it’s likely to be a good-paying job offering employees a lot of responsibility.

ATETV Episode 43: Collaboration, Conservation and the Cutting Edge

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

This week, we learn how companies look to graduates to meet workforce demands, learn about the latest trends in energy conservation and talk with a student who is returning to school to study laser technology.

In our first segment, we visit Springfield Technical Community College, where Computer Technology students are taking classes side-by-side with professionals from area computer companies.

Says Scott Edwards of Juniper Networks, “The collaboration between Juniper and local colleges [enables students to] access the same information [being accessed by professionals] which helps them prepare for the same types of jobs.”

And as Springfield’s Gordon Snyder notes, “What we’re doing is exposing companies to the community college…We have made good connections with these companies and they realize what great places community colleges are. [In fact, community colleges] are now probably the first place they come when want to hire somebody new.”

While industry is becoming more aware of the programs offered at Springfield Technical College, students, teachers and consumers alike are becoming more aware of the high costs of energy – and ways to conserve – as we learn in our second segment.

As Mike Traen of Certified Energy Raters explains, green building verifications and performance testing for Energy Star compliance and rating is a great movement.

“It’s a way to be environmentally responsible,” says Mike. “It amounts to not using more than you have to, not disposing of more than you have to. It’s a good thing for a home owner because you’re going to save money in the process.” Mike predicts that the field of Energy Efficiency and Compliance will expand and that the need for qualified energy technicians, too, will increase.

And, it’s a similar message in our third segment, which takes us to Central Carolina Community College’s Laser and Photonics Program, where student and former truck driver Andy Dawson is making a change, and embarking on an exciting, fast-paced career.

“I’m loving every minute of the program so far,” says Andy. “I mean any time I get something in my hands and I’m having to do the work on it and being able to break that laser down [and figure out what’s wrong with it and how to best fix it] to get it working correctly [I get excited]” he adds. “For just two years’ investment, you can’t go wrong in a community college program, “ he notes.