Tag Archives: Roseville California

Technology is abuzz in Greater Sacramento area

I love living in the Sacramento area.  Schools, cost of living, plenty family-oriented activities, tons of outdoor hobbies and interests, bearable traffic, easy access to airport with direct flights to virtually all major hubs, and a great mix of mature and budding technology companies.  Being a geek at heart, the technology piece has me completely excited to roam around the 50 corridor, Downtown/Midtown, through Roseville/Rocklin, and other locations to see how the technology scene is already here and gaining added momentum and maturity everyday.

From my vantage point, core to this speed and maturity has been the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance or SARTA (@SARTA_Tech).  Under the leadership of Meg Arnold (@MegAtSarta), SARTA carries itself with a “get in where you fit in” attitude that welcomes and accepts anyone ready to contribute to the growth of high tech ventures in the area however direct or distant the effort might be.  Despite running a million miles an hour the SARTA staff manages to stay connected with and considerate of other non-profits in the area that are pushing technology or business interest.

Of those, my absolute favorite is the Hacker Lab (@SacHackerLab).  They refer to themselves as a “coworker and maker space” but the reality it is an innovation mecca.  For all practical purposes, it’s a big shack (former tattoo shop) in midtown with three big garage doors in back.  However, I think there was some amazing voo-doo in the blood that was splattered on the walls that has this place hopping with really good hee-bee-gee-bees.  If you’re an old school ham radio person, new school app developer, staunchy enterprise hardware tester or developer, PC technician, dabbler in code, lover of code, mechanical engineer type, IT manager, user of IT, oscilloscope loving propeller head, or maybe you just like good people and technology- then you owe it to yourself to make a stop by 1715 I Street.

There are many more connections that SARTA brings to the table and it’s much for the locals to be proud of and for businesses in other states to bear witness to.  The biggest complaint that I hear about Sacramento in terms of technology and innovation is that it isn’t San Francisco and the Silicon Valley.  Well no $#!+.  Sorry, I’m kind of sick of hearing that.  Were you to put the tech scenes of New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Seattle, Bangalore, Tokyo, you name it 100 – 125 miles outside of Silicon Valley, they too would look smallish in comparison.  The only missing ingredient that I can muster is a private institution of higher learning that delivers a great mix of young technologists and liberal artists.  Downtown is coming around too.

That aside, UC Davis does a phenomenal job of keeping fresh talent rotating through with a knack for research, Sac State has no shortage of graduates ready to dive in both testing and development roles, Cal Poly SLO some how manages to send large numbers of its top talent to the area year after year, and we thank Silicon Valley for being Silicon Valley and sending so much tech genius who’ve decided they want to see green stuff growing from the ground, shorten the drive for skiing, easily access bike trails and rivers, row on Lake Natoma, send their kids to great schools without paying tuition, spend more time working than commuting, amongst many other reasons.  Technology is abuzz in the the Greater Sacramento area, the environment is primed for it, and it’s going no place but up- really fast.



Oak Ridge HS are the Champs at HP CodeWars 2013 in Roseville

On a beautiful California day at the very beginning of high school swim season and in the midst of high school basketball playoffs, there was a group of high school students huddled at the HP site in Roseville for a different competition- CodeWars.  Oak Ridge HS exited the competition as the clear team to beat going forward as they took first place in the advanced competition and swept the novice competitiion with first, second, and third place. 

CodeWars began at the HP site in Houston 16 years ago and this year was the first time the competition made its way to California thanks to HP Roseville engineer, Ken Duisenberg and loads of HP volunteers.  CodeWars is a team competition with up to three members per team using their brain power to solve problems and earn points for correctly solving  problems.  The problems have a range of difficulty of which few points are given for the easier variety and many points are given for the extremely difficult ones.  However, the competition is time bound and teams must take a strategy that allows them to maximize points within the time they have.  Thus, attacking a very difficult problem but not successfully solving it could leave a team with no points.  See sample problems here  http://www.hpcodewars.org/index.php?page=samples.

Second place for the advanced competition went to Mira Loma HS and third place went to Mira Costa HS.  Mira Costa HS is in Manhattan Beach, CA.  Yes, a young man and his dad, Phil Anthony, made the long trip to get this opportunity because there is not enough of these types of challenges to engage kids in critical thinking and application of computer concepts.  Equally impressive was a team of eighth graders from Cooley Middle School in Roseville who came to take on the big kids.  And in an age where boys continue to convincingly outnumber girls in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) pursuits, it was great to see Aimee Staats bring two teams from St. Francis HS to compete.  The dedication of the Oak Ridge team was met by their sponsor, Mrs. Stephanie Allen, who sat in the lobby grading her classroom assignments while the students were in the midst of competition.

The lack of programming classes and challenges was a common concern amongst the parents in attendance and CodeWars was an excellent first step that they look forward to next year on the first Saturday in March- March 1, 2014.  Next year it’s expected that the number of schools participating will grow beyond the 16 from this year and HP will be filling their large cafeteria instead of the large conference room in order to hold everyone.  Luckily for some of the students their schools have adopted AP Computer Science though this is the first year for several of the programs.  In speaking with the winners and parents of the advanced competition, it appears that a few dads taking the initiative to pull together kids in their communities to work on robotics is what introduced them to programming and leveraging critical thinking to solve complex problems.

Schools represented included Casa Roble High School, Colfax High School, Cooley Middle School, Cornerstone Christian School, Del Oro High School, El Camino High School, Ghidotti High School, Granite Bay High School, Mira Costa High School, Mira Loma High School, Natomas High School, Oak Ridge High School, Placer High School, Rocklin High School, Roseville High School, and  St. Francis High School.