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Tampa grads develop expedited student loan repayment app

A Fast Company article about the shifting definition of The American Dream, published in July, reminds us that student loan debt repayment, as a hurdle to every other major life goal, is omnipresent for many people.

How can young graduates entering the workforce, or post-graduates aiming to give their career a boost, expect to build wealth if they have an average of $37,000 in student loan debt?

Two Tampa natives with their own challenging student loan debt situations have developed an innovative tool to help their colleagues, friends, and fellow borrowers. Spared.com is an app with a simple but powerful function: For everyday purchases, it rounds the total up to the next whole dollar and applies the change to a user’s student loan principal.

Spared also allows family members and those connected with users to match their repayment contributions, for even faster debt elimination.

On average, Spared will make additional payments of $30 to $50 on loans each month, above and beyond any payment already being made by the borrower. In the end, this process reduces the interest owed and lowers total repayment costs.

It sounds straightforward enough, but the app also integrates with users’ checking accounts and numerous loan providers, in order to automatically round up and make payments with the change.

CEO Ryan Lockwood (Jesuit High School class of 2006) says he long ago lost count of the hours used to develop Spared. A graduate of the University of South Florida with a BA in Marketing, Lockwood completed his MBA in entrepreneurship studies at the University of Tampa in 2017. 

“We founded the company in late 2016, brought on our CTO Kenny McGarvey [of Houston TX] shortly thereafter, and were lucky enough to snag Kathryn [Reina, Academy of the Holy Names class of 2006, now living in Los Angeles] in May of last year. We’ve all put in 100s of hours. Plus, buckets of metaphorical sweat, a few actual tears, and small amounts of blood commuting to/from the office by bicycle.”

Once the app is beta tested, the team will do a hard launch.

“Down the road, we’d like to expand into other forms of debt (credit, auto, mortgage). We really want to drill down on student debt first, though. Much of the team working on Spared labors under its yoke, but, more importantly, our entire generation is struggling with this. 

"We’re all extremely motivated by the opportunity to alleviate that burden for so many of our friends and family.”

Two things the team is watching closely are H.R. 795 and risk-sharing proposals for higher education. 

H.R. 795, or the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act, would allow employers to make up to $5,250 in tax-free contributions toward employees’ student loans. The bill also proposes to make this benefit pre-tax. Currently, employer contributions to student loans are considered post-tax, so aren’t particularly advantageous for either party. 

If it passes, companies get a great employee attraction/retention tool, borrowers can get some much-needed assistance from their employers. And, it presents a good opportunity for Spared to be a part of that solution.

There are also several risk-sharing in higher education proposals in front of Congress. 

Their intent is put institutions of higher education partly on the hook for the success or failure of their students. Not only does this stand to increase the quality of education, but it also represents an opportunity for tools like Spared. 

Many of the proposals suggest using either the repayment rate or default rate as the measure of institutional performance in this matter. Spared can help institutions of higher education remain below these thresholds for “punishment.”

Visit the Spared website to sign up for beta testing ahead of its official release on iOS and Android platforms.

NASA awards seed grant to USF for wastewater research

NASA has awarded a one-year seed grant to the University of South Florida to research a sewage waste recycling system and energy/nutrient extraction system for potential use in space and on Mars explorations.

“Being able to grow food in places like Mars is really critical,” says Daniel Yeh, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, whose focus is environmental engineering. “NASA has made it a priority that they are going to have to develop technology to grow food on Mars.”

Yeh points out NASA already has proven technologies it is using at the International Space Station to recycle urine and sweat for drinking water.

“NASA already has within its portfolio many technologies for water treatment, including that for water recycling aboard the International Space Station (ISS), which has been running successfully for almost a decade,” he explains. “The NEWgenerator is being evaluated as a potential technology due to new desires and commitments by NASA and private companies for exploring deep space, including putting humans on Mars within the next 15-20 years.”

Starting this month, USF is working with the Kennedy Space Center to see if its NEWgenerator, which it’s been working on for the last decade, can be adapted for space. The amount of the grant wasn’t available.

“New technologies will be needed for new methods to grow food and the complete recycling of all wastes. This is why NASA is taking a look at our technology as a potential candidate,” he says. “This is a rigorous multi-year process with a lot of evaluations and tests along the way, to ensure that, whatever technologies are chosen, they will be high-performing, reliable and safe.”

While sewage treatment plants typically are large, and take up a lot of space, the new prototype must be compact. “Think of it as a very efficient sewage treatment plant in a small box,” he says.

The system uses a filtration membrane and microorganisms to break down the waste. The Earth’s elements are building blocks that are stored, used, pulled apart, and used again, similar to Lego parts stored in bins, he explains.

“Our first priority is to get rid of them [germs] so it will be completely sanitary,” he continues. “That’s something we can’t compromise on.”

They’ve done the groundwork in India and South Africa, where they’ve been treating toilet waste and testing it. “We’re getting really good,” he says.

For space use, the USF research will endeavor to make the system smaller, so it will serve four to six people.

“We need to make it appropriate for zero gravity applications,” he says.

An environmental engineering student starting his master’s studies, Talon Bullard, will be developing the prototype of a NEWgenerator for space as his thesis.

After the initial year, they hopefully can get another grant to further the research, he says. Eventually, it will need to be tested in space.

“You can only test it so far on Earth,” he says, explaining zero gravity “is difficult to mimic.”

A prototype also needs to be maintained in space. “You need to design the system so that undesirable failure will not happen,” he says.

That might involve changing parts during regular maintenance, before they actually break. “What’s exciting for us is learning about how they [NASA] handle risk and how they deal with failure, so we can actually engineer our system so that it’s incredibly reliable,” he adds.

USF to host Young Universities Summit in Tampa

In the world of education, a university that is less than 50-years-old is considered young. It may compete with older, more established universities with centuries of history and global reputations.

So young universities have been meeting annually in places like Barcelona, Spain, and Brisbane, Australia, to talk about common challenges. Organized by the U.K.-based Times Higher Education (THE), the Young Universities Summit has never been held in North America. Until now.

Nearly 200 presidents and other education leaders from across the globe are expected to converge on Tampa June 5-7 to attend the summit hosted by the University of South Florida.

“We were deeply honored to be asked to host,” says Ralph Wilcox, USF Provost and Executive Vice President. “We’re just immensely proud that THE recognized the great strides that the University of South Florida has made in partnership with the Tampa Bay community.

He notes USF cannot become a “world powerhouse in education” without the community, nor can the community achieve its goals without a powerful foundation in higher education.

The summit will be an opportunity for education leaders to learn from each other.
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“The University of South Florida found ways to overcome those [higher education] challenges, and they wanted to be sure other universities, young universities from across the United States and around the world, have the opportunity to visit Tampa and to visit the University of South Florida,” says Wilcox, who holds a doctorate in Global Studies from the University of Alberta, Canada.

Founded in 1956, USF falls into Times Higher Education’s category of Golden Age universities opened to meet the demand of service members returning from World War II. Nine of Florida’s 12 public universities fall into the Golden Age or young university categories being served by the summit.

Times Higher Education ranked USF seventh among public U.S. universities in the Golden Age category in April 2017.   

Whether the university is 50 or 70, they share common challenges largely associated with competing against institutions with reputations dating back as much as 900 years.

“One identifies those universities that have a brand that’s been established,” Wilcox says. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better than. They are more recognized than the younger universities.”

Younger institutions tend to be more ambitious, dynamic and agile. Sometimes they possess a greater ability to be relevant in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, he says.

“There are advantages with being young, and those advantages tend to rest around our sense of agility and nimbleness to respond to change, to respond to the needs of the marketplace,” he says.

Younger universities tend to focus on research that has a high impact. “We’re looking to improve the well-being of the community we serve,” he explains.

At USF, much of the $550 million dedicated to research is focused on improving health, the environment or the needs of financial institutions, business and industry in the region and beyond.

“We tend to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship in ways that older universities tend not to -- and arguably have no need for,” he adds. “All too often they are quite comfortable.”

The summit features keynote speaker Andrew Hamilton, president of New York University and former vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, who will talk about his experiences in higher education. Other dignitaries are coming to speak from Israel, Scotland, France, England and Finland.


Tech Bytes: PikMyKid ramps up school safety efforts

With recent school shootings and other tragedies elevating concerns about the safety of students in schools, a Tampa company – through its use of technology -- is positioned to help make a difference.

Founded in 2015 after a mistake in a school pickup line resulted in retrieving the wrong child, PikMyKid is gaining attention as a problem solver. Its founders are headed for San Francisco to participate as a finalist in an international software-and-information-industry competition June 13.

We’ve always been seen as a startup so far,” says Chitra Kanagaraj, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer. “This is the award that is beyond startup.”

The company was named a finalist in the 2018 SIIA CODiE Award contest, Best Emerging Education Technology Solution for Administrators category, after virtual presentations. It was one of 152 finalists in 39 education technology categories.

 

PikMyKid, which now operates in public and private schools in 27 states, began rolling out a school-safety training program in Florida this month. That follows the release of its panic-button alert system being offered free while schools test the program and plan next year’s budget. The company's goal is to get initial responders to schools faster when there are intruders.

“We are giving schools one product that they can just focus on if there is a safety issue,” Kanagaraj says.

The company got off the ground with help from the Tampa Bay Technology Incubator at USF Connect and the Startup Scholars at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Now part of the Tampa Bay WAVE program, it also works with the TEC Garage in downtown St. Petersburg.

The mixup that inspired the company occurred when her husband, Pat Bhava, now Co-Founder and CEO of PikMyKid, went to pick up their fifth-grader and ended up with another girl in the backseat. The error was swiftly corrected, but it did trigger concern.

“It was really something we could change, rather than blaming the school or blaming ourselves,” she says.

When teachers are standing in the sun after a full day of class, facing a line of cars, things may not always go as planned. “It’s not their intent to mess up, but it does happen,” she says.

The app, licensed for use by the school or school district, is downloaded free by parents. It facilitates the pickup process by consolidating pickup changes and authorizations, improving safety and saving staff time.


Through a dashboard, parents have real-time communication with the school and are alerted as soon as the child leaves campus. “If there is anything wrong, the parents are able to fix the issue immediately,” she says.

PikMyKid, located at 5115 Memorial Highway, currently employs 10 and some part-time consultants. But it expects to add another four employees during its peak time in July and August, as schools gear up for the 2018-19 year. They are hoping to keep these full-time.


Company officials are looking for people with teaching backgrounds to work in customer service. “We think we’re competitive with what they’re getting from the public school system,” she says.

Read on for more news about Tampa Bay’s tech scene.

•  Monikl, which works similar to a dating service for jobseekers, has received a $25,000 Bizpark Grant from Microsoft and a Google Cloud for Startups Grant of $20,000, says spokesman Zachary Wright. The 1-year-old company now has some 25,000 active job candidates in its system. The company uses an algorithm to assess experience, skills, workplace preferences and personality.

Join Working Women of Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay WAVE for a morning of networking Wednesday, May 23. The event runs from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. It’s followed by 1 Million Cups of Coffee, which is featuring two women-owned businesses as presenters.

• Homebrew Hillsborough, a networking group for techies and entrepreneurs in Hillsborough County, will be meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, May 25, at SecureSet Tampa Campus, 1403 E 9th Ave., Tampa. The group will be touring SecureSet, which offers comprehensive training for those interested in careers in cybersecurity. Sign up online.

• The Clearwater-based Digital Media Solutions, a digital marketing company, has acquired Avenue100 Media Solutions, LLC, a specialist in performance-based marketing and analytics in education. Avenue100 Media Solutions will join DMS’s education division, but operate as a separate subsidiary based in Massachusetts. DMS, which provides end-to-end customer acquisition solutions, has been recognized as one of America’s “Best Places to Work” in 2017 by Inc. magazine.

• TeamWerx, a platform designed to find innovative solutions to warfighter problems, has announced two challenges with cash prizes totaling $25,000. The submission deadline is Thursday, May 31, for help expanding the TeamWerx ecosystem, with a $2,000 prize. The deadline is Saturday, June 30, to enter a contest to figure out how to retrieve data from mobile locations using a mobile device but without revealing the locations of sensors. That prize is $23,000. Learn more.

Florida Polytechnic University graduated its first class of 220 May 4 in Lakeland. The group included most of the students who enrolled when the university opened in fall 2014. Dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, Florida Polytechnic is located on Interstate 4’s high-tech corridor between Tampa and Orlando.

The university’s robotics team, Purple Fire, earned the Judges Award recently at the VEX Robotics World Championship. The team of eight students won half of its matches and ranked 22nd internationally out of 45 teams.

And Florida Poly is attracting attention in Mexico for its bookless, digital library. The university’s Vice Provost of Academic Support Services, Dr. Kathryn Miller, was a guest speaker at the first International Colloquium on Library Architecture and Environments, hosted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico earlier this month.


Career Cafe: Workshop helps girls land the jobs of their dreams

A Pinellas County high school student has created a career program that teaches the job-hunting skills girls need to land their dream jobs. Called The Career Cafe, it's intended to help girls compete more favorably in the marketplace.

Anne Bauer, a 17-year-old senior at East Lake High School in north Pinellas County, developed the program after recognizing two years ago that women face wage discrimination in the workplace. She’d attended a Women’s Conference of Florida, where she learned of the problem.

“My eyes were opened to the gender wage gap between male and females in the workforce,” she says. “I realized I was going to be entering the workforce soon. I did not want that to be prevalent at all.”  

So Bauer, a Girl Scout since kindergarten, created The Career Cafe, where girls can practice interviewing and hone resume-writing skills before they actually have an interview. The first Career Cafe was held in October; a second cafe is scheduled in May.

“The goal of The Career Cafe is to prepare the girls when they are looking for a job,” explains Clara Moll, VP of Membership Innovation for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It [the interview] is very daunting. Some of them have never attempted to look for a job for themselves.”

A cafe, open to girls in high school and above, up to 23 years of age, is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at The Kaizen Collaborative, 5215 W. Laurel St., Ste. 110, Tampa. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.

Girl Scout membership is not required.

The program teaches job-hunting skills like networking, personal branding, and interview dos and don’ts. It features opening remarks by Jamie Klingman, a Lightning Community Hero of the Year in 2014, and speakers Debbie Lundberg of Presenting Powerfully, along with Robin Kraemer and Ronda Clement of My Matrixx.

Coaches and volunteers include Camie Gibertini, Valley National Bank; Holly Donaldson, Holly Donaldson Financial Planning; Stephanie Gaines, Citi; Juliann Nichols, Julo Strategy; Adeola Shabiyi, Citigroup; and Jennifer McVan, Florida Hospital.

Bauer’s efforts have been recognized by the 2018 Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation’s Community Heroes of Tomorrow program, which awarded her a $25,000 college scholarship. She plans to attend the University of South Florida in Tampa next fall and double major in biomedical engineering and finance.

Another $25,000 was awarded to the Girl Scouts to continue the program.

“We hope to keep it going,” says Nicole Gonzalez, Public Relations and Media Manager for Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. “It’s definitely a great opportunity for high school.”

While the Scouts do offer other career-related programs like Camp CEO, The Career Cafe is open to the general public and gives girls a good career overview. “This is really more about envisioning their lives and where they see themselves,” Gonzalez says. “You’re going to leave here with the tools that you need.”

The Girl Scouts are looking for volunteers for the event, especially to help with resume writing and mock interviews. “It’s a good way to bridge the gap between women who are older that have more experience and the younger girls that are just starting their professional life,” Moll says.

To register or volunteer, visit the Girl Scouts website and search for The Career Cafe. For more information, email careercafe@gswcf.org.

Bauer will be receiving the Girl Scouts’ highest accolade, the Gold Award pin, for her efforts Saturday, June 9.

Women in Florida earn an average 87.5 cents for every $1 a man earns, according to The Status of Women in Florida by County: Employment and Earnings, a report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in partnership with Florida Philanthropic Network and Florida Women’s Funding Alliance.

That’s up from 79.9 cents in 2004.

The report released April 9 shows the Sunshine State receives a D+, ranking 36th in its Employment and Earnings Index based on the number of women in the workplace, women’s median annual earnings, the gender wage gap and women in professional or managerial positions. The grade dropped from C- in 2004.

Learn about upcoming job fairs in the Tampa Bay area.

Hillsborough Community College is holding a free job fair Tuesday, April 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the gym on the Dale Mabry Campus, 4001 W. Tampa Bay Blvd., Tampa.

• ECHO, the Emergency Care Help Organization, has scheduled its Spring Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Brandon Boys and Girls Club, 213 N. Knights Ave., Brandon. The event is free. Learn more.

• Career Showcase is holding a Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The event specializes in careers in sales, particularly pharmaceutical, medical, IT, inside and outside, as well as business development, financial services, customer service/call center and marketing recruiting. It is free and open to recent college graduates through executive candidates. Pre-registration is required.

JobNewsUSA.com’s Tampa Job Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at George M. Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Dr. The free event caters to all jobseekers. Recruiters will be available.

• A free job fair for Registered nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants is slated from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Kindred Hospital Bay Area St. Petersburg, 3030 6th St. S., St. Petersburg.
Learn more.

• Nations Joblink is targeting jobseekers from the Bradenton, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch areas with its Tampa Bay Career Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Homewood Suites Conference Center -- Sarasota Lakewood Ranch, 305 N. Cattlemen Dr., Sarasota. The event is for career seekers from a wide variety of industries. It’s free -- and hiring will be done on the spot. Register online.


Career Readiness: USF pilots program to digitally demonstrate skills

If you’re a jobseeker, there’s something you really ought to know: more than likely, your resume will have to pass the muster of a machine before you’re given an interview. It works very much like search engines when they rank websites, except it’s your resume that is ranked by keyword.

“It’s just easier to let computers make the first pass,” explains Peter Thorsett, Communications and Marketing Officer for Career Services at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

That is not to say you should stuff your resume with keywords so it’s nonsensical. After all, humans are behind the machinery. Still, it can help to know how your resume is being screened.

Networking is advised to help you build your skills and connect you to potential employers. “It’s best not to go it alone,” advises Lynn Chisholm, USF’s Director of Internships and Career Readiness. “So much of it is based on who you know and whether you are branded effectively for the company.”

Keeping current also is important. “I have not seen a lot of success in individuals who think what they did 15 years ago will help them get a job now,” she adds. “The whole process has changed.”

USF is helping students compete in an increasingly automated job market through its new Career Readiness Badging program, now in pilot mode on the main campus. It works pretty similar to the Scout badges system, except students don’t wear the badges on a sash. Instead, they post digital badges on resumes or electronic job boards, helping students rank higher on applicant tracking systems.

“The more we can have a student showcase those skills ... The more likely it is that they are going to be called in for an interview,” Thorsett says.  “We also empower them with the right language to be able to talk to an employer.”

The pilot began last fall and is expected to roll out across the Tampa campus next fall.

USF recognizes students may not be able to articulate their academic experiences effectively, or in ways employers expect. So the badging program helps by building and demonstrating eight key skills including communication, leadership, critical thinking technology, global citizenship, career management, professionalism and teamwork.

Through various partners on campus, even more badges are offered. For example, USF Libraries are offering workshops to build skills in Adobe Creative Cloud, Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator and Premiere. The workshops, which are one and half hours long, are in the afternoons and evenings, says Barbara Lewis, USF’s Digital Learning Librarian.

More workshops are planned, and students can also use the school’s subscription to Lynda.com for online tutorials, she adds.

The program helps prepare students for broader, open learning sources in the future. “It is exciting for our students. They’re learning how to do something they’re gong to use their entire career,” Chisholm says. “It’s going to set them up for career success beyond USF.”

Students on the Tampa campus can enroll in the program through the online job platform Handshake or through Career Services. Professors can involve students through their department or individual coursework. There is no charge to participate.

There are lots of opportunities for jobseekers in Tampa Bay, if the numbers of recruiters on campus are any indication. Top career fields are healthcare, tech, sales, and financial services.

Internships are being used to recruit new talent. “We find that there is a very healthy market for internships in the Tampa Bay area,” Chisholm says. “There are likely more internships than there are students to fill them.”

Read on to learn more about the local job scene.

• Two of the 2018 FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For are based in the Tampa Bay region, including the Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets ranked 47th, and the Clearwater-based Baycare Health System ranked 65th. Power Home Remodeling, which ranked 87th on the list, has a Tampa Bay office at 4135 Crescent Park Drive in Riverview. It is based in the Philadelphia region.

Publix hires for a wide variety of careers in the region, including corporate and administrative, real estate, quality assurance, marketing, pharmacy, distribution, manufacturing and human resources. It likes to promote its associates. An online search tool lets potential employees track opportunities that suit their particular interests and qualifications.

Baycare operates 15 hospitals in the Tampa Bay region, including St. Joseph's Hospital in West Tampa, and has openings listed for medical technologists, registered nurses, clinical nurses, patient support technicians, histologists, pharmacy technicians, cooks, medical office reps, environmental services techs, home health clinicians and more.

Power Home Remodeling currently lists openings for sales representatives in Riverview. Learn more.

• Interested in a career in Finance? Raymond James lists a wide variety of openings in St. Petersburg, including summer internships, a staff accountant’s position for a new graduate, a number of analyst positions, a reconciliation specialist, a portfolio reviewer, and a marketing associate for investment products.

Headquartered in Herndon, VA, Indexcel, a technology provider specializing in Cloud Services, Application Modernization, and Data Analytics is looking for a Tableau Developer/Data Reporting Analyst in Tampa. The job requires the ability to act as a data storyteller and liaison between tech and non-tech workers. The position requires one to three years in reporting and analytics.


Tech Bytes: A modern business matchmaking service prepares to go live

Singles often go online to numerous dating sites in hopes of meeting that special someone. Making business connections, especially for busy entrepreneurs who must stay laser focused to keep moving forward but need the help of other specialists, isn't as easy.  

Now a Tampa nonprofit is preparing to launch a digital platform to help businesses make meaningful connections that can mean the difference between going nowhere and getting ahead.

“There’s a lot of customers here. There’s a lot of talent,” says Brian Kornfeld, a founding partner at Synapse. “There’s also a lot of money. ... The connections aren’t taking place.”

The platform, slated to go live March 29, is “slick,” “easy to use” and capable of digitally pairing Tampa Bay businesses better than regular search engines, he says. Whether people want to know how to invest in a startup or real estate, learn about blockchain, build a business or host an event, or simply need to work with a specialist such as an accountant, an attorney or a success coach.

Signup is free for most users, such as entrepreneurs, inventors, mentors, jobseekers, employers, entrepreneurial service organizations and government workers. Those considered innovation enablers, like patent attorneys, bankers, accountants, software developers and marketers, would pay a small fee.

Kornfeld, Marc Blumenthal and Andy Hafer are founding partners in the effort underway since last year. The platform's launch is anticipated during Innovation Summit 2018, the second summit in Tampa Bay connecting innovators, entrepreneurs, corporations and community leaders.

The summit will be held March 28 and 29 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, and will feature Tampa Bay Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik as the keynote speaker during the kickoff at 9 a.m. He will share updates since the event last year as well as future plans.

Also slated to speak are IBM Chief Innovation Officer Bernard Meyerson, Henry Ford Health System Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Mark Coticchia, Water Street Tampa’s Innovation Hub CEO Lakshmi Shenoy, and Dr. Ajay Seth, who is famous for his bionic work advancing treatment prospects for prosthetic patients.

Multiple innovation hubs, focusing on defense technology, Internet of things, blockchain, cryptocurrency, wearables, robotics, 3D printing, renewables, energy, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital health, urban tech, and financial tech, will feature product demonstrations and speakers from companies in the region.

To buy tickets, visit the Synapse website.

Read on to learn more about what’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech scene.

Tampa Bay WaVE has launched a new TechDiversity Accelerator Program funded by a $100,000 grant from The Nielsen Foundation. The 90-day program is for early-stage technology firms with a majority ownership by a minority, woman, veteran, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person or combination of these.

The WaVE is currently accepting applications for the program to run this summer. The application period closes March 31.

• 1 Million Cups Tampa, a free national program to engage, educate and connect entrepreneurs, is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, 2101 E. Palm Ave., Tampa. The event is free and registration isn’t necessary.

Homebrew Hillsborough is meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23, for a visit and tour of AVI/SPL, an audio video technology company, at 6301 Benjamin Rd., Suite 101, Tampa. Homebrew is held monthly at different locations for techies and entrepreneurs to network.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Forman has developed an app for fellow Berkeley Prep students named Flower Sale – and it has been accepted into the App Store. An alumna of Tampa’s Hillel Academy, Forman created the app so students can buy flowers for one another. Funds raised are designated for the Students Helping Students Scholarship program through the school’s French Club.

• Four companies in the Tampa Bay region made G2 Crowd’s list of the top 25 companies in Florida’s business-to-business tech scene. They include Qgiv of Lakeland, ranked 7th place, followed by VIPRE Security of Clearwater, 17th; Connectwise of Tampa, 19th; and SunView Software of Tampa, 24th. The top ranking company was Goverlan of Coral Gables.

• Florida ranks third in the nation for cybercrime and losses reported to the FBI, according to a report, The State of Cybersecurity in Florida, released Feb. 8 by The Florida Center for Cybersecurity (FC2) at USF. On the plus side, the report done with Gartner Consulting says “Florida is well positioned to develop a strong workforce, with nearly 100 cybersecurity certificate and degree programs offered by institutions of higher education across the state.”

• At Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, faculty members are working on next-generation spacesuits to make astronauts happier, more comfortable, and efficient. Because astronauts can be adversely affected by lack of exercise, excessive light and lack of sleep, professors Dr. Arman Sargolzaei and Dr. Melba Horton, together with Computer Science student James Holland, are developing Smart Sensory Skin to detect deficiencies through wireless sensors. The sensors can initiate changes in temperature, light exposure, light color, and oxygen levels.

In related news, seven of 10 science and engineering students chosen for the Hays Travel Award from the Florida Academy of Sciences Council are from Florida Polytechnic. Students will be presenting their research projects March 9 at Barry University in Miami Shores, during the FAS Annual Conference. The winners were Mechanical Engineering student Brian Gray of Tampa, Mechanical Engineering student Sean Cloud of Brandon, Mechanical Engineering student Geoffrey Doback of Brandon and Computer Science student Nathaniel Florer of Kissimmee, Mechanical Engineering student Ecieno Carmona from Summerfield, Innovation and Technology graduate student Jephté Douyon of Haiti, and Innovation and Technology graduate student Mohammad Bharmal of Pakistan.

• Digital currency: risky business or a big moneymaker? Bitcoin Pioneer Charlie Shrem can help you decide what to believe. Shrem will be speaking on “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Future of Finance” from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 1, at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s College of Business. The event is open to the public. Register by Feb. 28 here.

• Students at USF St. Pete are participating in 2018 Ex Labs, a competitive Accelerator Lab involving the latest technology. Teams will be creating new products, business plans and marketing strategies March 12 through 16. One team will win a training package from Cisco valued at $2,300.

• In Manatee County, the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Angel Colonneso has begun offer e-filing through Simplifile. The office now is able to electronically receive, stamp, record and return documents in minutes with less error and cost.

• A licensed and registered Microsoft refurbisher, Goodwill Manasota’s Tech Connection program kept more than 208,000 pounds of e-waste from the area’s landfills last year. It raised nearly $71,000 last year, plus more than $17,000 in January. The program to refurbish and resell computers and accessories, headquartered at Goodwill’s Ranch Lake store at 8750 E. State Road 70, Bradenton, installs the Microsoft Digital Literacy Program, helping to improve basic computer skills.

• The Mulberry-based ArrMaz has opened a new, state of the art Innovation Center at the company’s headquarters. Designed for its research and development team, the center features a modern work environment with cutting-edge laboratory equipment for analytical and synthetic chemistry. Its open layout facilitates collaboration, team-based research and innovation. A 50-year-old company, ArrMaz is a global producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, fertilizer, asphalt, industrial ammonium nitrate, and oil and gas industries.


Top educators to provide free training to inner city businesses

Businesses in or near urban or economically underserved areas in the Tampa Bay region can receive free training from top name educators beginning Feb. 28.

The Inner City Capital Connections program, rescheduled from Sept. 12 as a result of Hurricane Irma, will kick off with a conference at University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) in downtown Tampa.

This is a really awesome opportunity for businesses to get the tools that they need to achieve the success that they desire,” says Hyacinth Vassell, director of the program.

The goal is to help businesses overcome obstacles to growth, such as lack of capital. “It’s an opportunity to work on their business while they are being guided by the most brilliant minds in the U.S.,” she says.

To be eligible, businesses must be in or near a depressed area or have 40 percent or more of their employees living in a distressed area. That’s broadly defined to include “parts of the city that have had little investment or disinvestment” as well as major population centers, adds Jeremy King, VP of Corporate Communications for Regions Bank, an ICCC partner.

“That’s almost everywhere in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. We don’t want anyone to feel limited,” King says.

The company must be at least two years old and have $500,000 or more in revenue.

What ICCC primarily looks for is “readiness to participate,” Vassell says, “readiness for growth.”

“This is about helping each business take stock where it is now, identify where it wants to be in the future and identify a path how to get there,” King adds.

Founded in 2005, the program is ICCC’s first in 2018 and first in Florida, unless you count last year’s training relegated to webinars after Irma.

The ICCC training consists of modules on growth strategies, including talent management, entrepreneurial finance, marketing and sales, and access to capital. Among the experts involved are:

Dobbin Bookman, an adjunct lecturer from Harvard University who holds dual master’s degrees from Harvard and who works with MBA students and the Harvard Business School’s Career Services program to assist businesses;

• Gail Taylor, a professor of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, who is an expert in marketing communications, retail promotions and services marketing; and

• Susan Perkins, an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at University of Illinois-Chicago, whose specialties include business strategy, corporate governance, and organizational learning.

The deadline, originally set for Feb. 9, has been extended to Feb. 16. Interested companies, which can send one representative in a senior leadership role, can apply at www.iccapitalconnections.org. Click on “Tampa Bay” and “application page” to access the form.

Run by the Roxbury, MA-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a nonprofit, ICCC is offered free because of partnerships with Regions Bank and other regional sponsors including Florida Blue, Carlton Fields, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Ernst and Young, United Way Suncoast, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Valpak. ICIC was started by Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School Professor, to build communities through education and investments from the private sector.

“Our goal as we sponsor ICCC is to connect with the small business communities in various markets that we serve, and work with them hand in hand,” King says.

The Birmingham, AL-based Regions will be providing coaching, expertise, and information. “This is about beginning a relationship and providing access to opportunities for these businesses long term,” he explains.

According to its preliminary 2017 report, the ICCC has trained 1,659 businesses and created 15,946 jobs. Average revenue grew 172 percent while raising capital of more than $1.47 billion.

ICCC is heading for 14 cities where they will hold executive education seminars in 2018, including Atlanta, Memphis, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The program also includes webinars and a live meeting at the conclusion.

It hasn’t been decided if, or when, the ICCC program will be offered again in Tampa.


Job fairs: Employers recruiting at Florida Polytechnic, Kaiser, and more

Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland is preparing for its third Career and Internship Fair -- its largest to date.

“We’re starting to have a product in our students. Companies are seeking the technology, the innovation that our students are bringing forward,” says Kathryn Miller, Vice Provost for Academic Support Services.

The fair increased from 13 companies in 2016 to 29 in 2017 and 53 companies who had signed up by Monday for 2018. Open to all Polytechnic and state university system students, as well as Polytechnic alumni, the event will help attendees find jobs and meet internship requirements.

“We do have a variety of career fields [represented] with a concentration on engineering, computer science, logistics and data analytics,” she says. “That directly aligns with our curriculum.”

Among the companies signed up are Accusoft, Baycare Health system, Citrus Connection, the city of Lakeland, CognitutorDronePhD and Publix Super Markets.

The event is slated from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the campus Innovation, Science and Technology building designed by architects Santiago Calatrava and Albert Alfonso. Eligible students and alumni are asked to email Miller to register.

The university, established in 2012, opened in August 2014 and attracted nearly 1,450 students by fall 2017 semester.

Read on to learn about more career fairs in the Tampa Bay area.

• if you’re looking for a job as a certified nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse or registered nurse, check out the Rehabilitation and Health Care of Tampa Job Fair. The fair runs for three days at Rehab and Healthcare Center of Tampa, 4411 N. Habana Ave. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14; Thursday, Feb. 15; and Friday, Feb. 16. Attend, meet the management team, and tour the facility. On-the-spot interviews will be given. Register online.

• Sales professionals can learn about opportunities in a variety of career fields at Career Showcase’s Tampa Job Fair from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Tampa Marriott Westshore, 1001 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event specializes in careers in the pharmaceutical, medical, IT, business development, financial services, customer services/call center and marketing industries. It’s open to everyone from recent college graduates to executive level candidates. Pre-registration is required.

• Kaiser University is holding its annual career fair for students, graduates and members of the community. The free event is planned from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 5002 W. Waters Ave., Tampa. Among the employers anticipated are Quest, New York Life Insurance, Spectrum, Cognizant and Computer Generated Solutions. Learn more.

• Interested in part-time seasonal work at Raymond James Stadium? Aramark will be doing interviews for a variety of jobs from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb.21, and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 3, at the stadium. Reservations and resumes are required. Learn more.

• Norwegian Cruise Lines is hiring staff for its ship Pride of America. It is holding two information sessions on shipboard employment on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at Hilton Tampa Downtown, 211 N. Tampa St. Attend either at 9 a.m. or 2 p.m. Sessions begin promptly at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. following registration; an interview follows. Norwegian is looking for candidates with recent experience in a number of jobs including Asian Cuisine Sous Chef, Assistant Chief Butcher, Broadcast Technician, Entertainment Technician (Audio/Stagehand), Pastry, Restaurant Steward (Busser/Server), Stateroom Steward (Hotel Room Housekeeping), and Utility Galley (Dishwasher). Register online.

• The Pasco County schools are looking for teachers. Their Spring Instructional Job Fair is slated from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Dr. John Long Middle School, 2025 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. They’ll be holding Teacher Certification Information Sessions so candidates without certification can learn what steps to take. The 20-minute sessions are scheduled at 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Pre-register here for this free event.

• Mark your calendars for March 14: a live recruiting/hiring event is slated from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Doubletree by Hilton Tampa Westshore Airport, 4500 W. Cypress St., Tampa. Plan to register, upload your resume, attend with plenty of resumes, and be hired. The event by National Career Fairs is free.

• Coast-to-Coast Career Fairs is holding its Tampa Career Fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore Airport, 700 N. Westshore Blvd., Tampa. The free event features hiring managers from small to large companies representing a variety of industries including biotechnology, chemical, communications, electronics, entertainment and recreation, green technology, information technology, journalism and media, health and medical, real estate and sports. Learn more.

• Jobseekers in the Sarasota and Bradenton areas can meet and interview with employers at a career fair by Nations Joblink and Florida Joblink. The event is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, at Homewood Suites Conference Center – Sarasota Lakewood Ranch, 305 N. Cattlemen Dr., Sarasota. Top companies will be represented in a wide variety of career fields including advertising, beauty and cosmetics, financial services, fine arts, legal services, manufacturing, motion pictures and video, transportation, and web services. Candidates are advised to be ready to be hired at this free event. Register online here.


Tampa company works to cut power costs for businesses

The Tampa-based COI Energy Services has gone live with a platform designed to cut energy costs from 6 to 30 percent for commercial and industrial users. Among its first clients are the University of South Florida Research Park and an undisclosed Tampa-based utility.

We’re getting a lot of attention from utilities. This is definitely a problem that has not been solved [previously],” says Founder and CEO SaLisa Berrien. “It is a unique solution.”

The company is preparing for growth by raising seed capital to pay for 12 additional staff members needed to serve more than 1,000 customers. It’s hiring people in software engineering, marketing, business development, and customer’s experience within the next quarter.

USF Research Park was to be the first to use the platform. That installation was completed Thursday, Feb. 1, with training following.

The park also lined up a $1,650 rebate on a 150-ton air conditioning unit.

“Energy sustainability is an important issue at the University of South Florida Research Park, and we are proud to be one of the first customers for COI and explore how this new technology can provide us greater insight into how we use energy,” says Allison Madden, director of USF Research Foundation Operations.

Site inspections for some 100 users are required before the utility can utilize the system. “It will save in time and cost to support the grid. Simply put, our platform saves time, saves money, and saves the environment for both the utility and its business users,” Berrien says.

Another major customer is PBS39, a key account for Pennsylvania Power and Light.

A public demonstration is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9, at the Galleria of USF Research Park. It is expected to attract investors, potential customers and partners. “Anybody that is interested in clean tech is welcome to come,” she adds.

The 2-year-old company helps energy users save in three key ways: 1) by alerting customers when are able to cut waste, and 2) notifying them about potential rebate programs they qualify for, and 3) facilitating the sale of renewable energy into the grid. It is designed for businesses with a peak use of at least 50kW.

“We can predict their bill, based on how they are using their energy now,” Berrien says. “If they’re fine with the way the bill looks, they can continue operating as they are.”

COI Energy already has outgrown its three-person office space at USF Connect in the Research Park. The staff is using communal office space at the facility while the company waits for a larger office. It also is considering space in Channelside.

Additionally, COI Energy has been participating in the climate economy innovation accelerator, Accel-VT, in Montpelier, VT. It is slated to complete the three-month program, aimed at helping with capitalization, next week.
 


Synthetic body manufacturer grows in Tampa

The Tampa manufacturer of synthetic bodies for medical testing and training is in a growth streak. SynDaver, located near Tampa International Airport, has acquired the London area-based Lifecast Body Simulation, which specializes in making life-like mannequins, and a $186 million contract from the U.S. Department of the Army.

“Our bodies are made of a proprietary mix of water, salt and fiber,” explains Kevin King, the company’s VP of marketing. “It’s the closet thing ... to a real human for the medical training market.”

SynDaver, which handles management and assembly in Tampa, expects to merge the companies’ capabilities to create ultra-realistic, next-generation synthetic human and animal bodies. The models will include fully functioning anatomy and life-like tissues; humans will appear realistic enough to replace stuntmen in films.

“We’ve been making such great tissues from the skeleton on up,” King says. “Lifecast we thought was the world leader in the exterior.”

SynDaver did not release details about the acquisition made Sunday, Jan. 14.

Its models, distinguishable from cadavers because they don’t have a grayish cast caused by preservatives, are designed for use in anatomy and funeral science instruction, surgery simulation, clinical training, consumer product testing, automobile crash testing, TV and movie production, medical device testing and military product development. They are replacing live animals and cadavers.

“We want to continue driving the notion of patient safety and patient care as far as we can take it,” King says. “It’s all about the patient. As long as the focus remains there, we believe we are going to be successful.”

The company, which derived its name from the words synthetic and cadaver, is expected to supply both virtual patient simulation systems and whole body patient simulators for human medical and veterinarian training through its new government contract. Mark Owens, head of the company’s new Global Government Business Unit charged with overseeing the Army contract, described the deal as the "largest single award from DOD [the Department of Defense] that SynDaver has received."

Under the five-year contract with the Department of the Army’s Joint Project Management Office for Medical Modeling and Simulation, SynDaver is expected to deliver an indefinite number of simulators inside and outside of the United States for the training, evaluation and certification of medical personnel. The models will be used to train surgical personnel for both humans and canines.

Owens is one of seven recent hires in leadership roles, according to its website. "We are hiring nonstop right now for production and sales and also hiring in engineering," Founder Christopher Sakezles says.

Started in 2004, the company is experiencing rapid growth. “We’re growing at multiples of the compound annual growth rate of the industry,” King explains.

Among its clientele are industrial clients like Apple and Google, educational clients like the University of Florida and University of Saskatchewan, government customers like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and media customers like CBS, NBC and PBS.

The company’s models range in cost from $8,000 to $100,000 depending on the features sought.

SynDaver also is screening potential investors of $100,000 or more for its next private offering.

The technology used in the synthetic bodies dates back to 1993, when UF was involved in initial studies to create synthetic tracheas to replace live animals when testing airway devices. The materials developed are now used in the industry to mimic simple veins and arteries.

Sakezles, the president, chief technology officer, and chairman of the Board of Directors for SynDaver, is a Tampa native who earned a master’s in Materials Science and Engineering and a Ph.D. in Polymer Science from UF. He earned a bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Florida.

Sakezles is expected to investigate live tissue replacement such as artificial hips or knees in the future. “We believe can play a role in the medical device and replacement arena,” King says.

For now, the company with strategic national and international flight access is working on new animals; a cat is coming out in the spring. They’re also working with a horse model. “We are driving toward rats and mice as well. They are being used so prevalently in testing,” he explains.

While the synthetic bodies are expected to replace real animals in surgeries like gastropexy, used to treat a life-threatening condition involving the stomach, they aren’t life-like enough to use in movies because they have no fur.

But Lifecast already has supplied human synthetic bodies for films like Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator, for which it won an Academy Award.

There are no plans for SynDaver models to be paired with robotics to do mundane tasks like clean house or pick fruit. “It’s just not something that’s in our wheelhouse, nor is it in our short term roadmap,” King says.

If something like that becomes a reality, he says, “it won’t be our stuff.”


USF, TIE Tampa Bay enter collaboration agreement

The University of South Florida has entered into a five-year collaboration agreement with TIE Tampa Bay, the local chapter of a global nonprofit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, to further the development of Tampa Bay’s economic ecosystem.

“We’ve seen in the small steps we’ve made ... how much that increases the startup ecosystem,” says Valerie Landrio McDevitt, USF associate VP for technology transfer and business partnerships. “My expectation is that we're going to be able to see greater interaction.”

The collaboration began informally about a year and a half ago as an experiment.

“We tested out this relationship without any paperwork,” says TIE Tampa Bay President Ramesh Sambasivan. “We wanted to make sure that we didn’t start off with things that we will not be using.”

The USF agreement involves its Tampa Bay Technology Incubator, which helps early stage technology companies succeed and grow, the incubator’s outreach arm USF Connect, and the Student Innovation Incubator. They are located in USF Research Park, which acts as a front door to the Tampa campus on Fowler Avenue.

TIE, founded in Silicon Valley in 1992, has 13,000 members in 61 chapters across the globe. It seeks to help entrepreneurs through mentoring, networking, education, incubating and funding.

Founded in 2012, TIE Tampa Bay is run by successful entrepreneurs who volunteer their time to help other entrepreneurs. In early 2017, angel investors from TIE formed the TIE Tampa Bay Angel Fund with the goal of attracting and retaining talent in the Tampa Bay and North-Central Florida region through capital and mentorship.

Sambasivan expects to see a closer collaboration now that the agreement is formalized. “What we want to see unfold is a closer collaboration in terms of bringing potential mentors to the startup companies, founders and USF incubator space,” he says. “We want to be able to give the startup companies a pathway to capital, whether it is through TIE’s network in Tampa or through TIE globally. The pathway just doesn’t happen on its own.”

He also expects TIE members who are investors to become more active in the incubators.

McDevitt credits Sambasivan for helping to bring the collaboration into being.Ramesh is essentially one of the catalysts of it,” she says. “My group and him work very well together, that whole group.”

“The TIE group is a critical component in the ecosystem,” she explains. “The local group has tremendous talent and then they also have an international reach.”

Established in 1956, USF serves more than 49,000 students in three locations on an annual budget of $1.6 billion. In the last year, TBTI has served some 77 companies that either hired to retained 360 employees and raised more than $54 million externally.

The two groups have collaborated on six projects including the Startup Shuffle, which gave startups a chance to pitch to venture capitalists, among them Dr. Kanwal Rekhi of Silicon Valley.


Tampa Bay job fairs match people with jobs; one caters to veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, CareerSource is holding its annual Florida Paychecks for Patriots Career Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, at The EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College, 13805 58th St. N., St. Petersburg.

“Paychecks for Patriots has made a difference in the lives and careers of thousands of veteran candidates and military family members in the past four years," says CEO Ed Peachey of CareerSource Tampa Bay and CareerSource Pinellas, which are hosting the event. "We expect the fifth year to continue that tradition, so Florida can continue to be the most military and veteran-friendly state in the nation.”

For the first hour, the fair will be open exclusively for the military transitioning to civilian life, veterans, and their families, giving them the first opportunity to meet with potential employers. The event opens for the general public at 11 a.m.

At the event, information also will be provided on training and development programs available through CareerSource centers, such as the TechHire, CyberSecurity, CareerReady, and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs.

Over 30 employers will be present at the event seeking to fill over 200 positions,” Peachey adds.

Among the job openings are positions for bus driver, caregiver, customer service representatives, fulltime sales, housekeepers, insurance agents, line cooks, mechanic, respite and servers.

The annual event is hosted by many of Regional Workforce Boards across the state.

Job candidates who want help preparing for the event can contact their local job center. Assistance is available with job applications and resumes. There also are Employability Skills Workshops (including Resume Development and Interviewing Skills Training).

Walk-ins are welcome to this free event, but attendees are encouraged to register in advance at either CareerSource Tampa Bay or CareerSource Pinellas.  Click on Career Seekers and then Career Fairs to access the webpage. Jobseekers also can also visit the CareerSource websites for more information on employers attending the opportunities available.

Here are some other career fairs you may want to check out soon.

  • Biz Bulls Connect gives students at USF St. Petersburg an opportunity to connect with potential employers from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at Lynn Pippenger Hall Atrium. Learn more on Handshake.
  • The Fall Instructional Job Fair, an event for teachers interested in working for Pasco County Schools, is slated from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at J. W. Mitchell High School, 2323 Little Rd., New Port Richey. Attendees can meet with principals, attend information sessions on certification, learn about the district’s benefits, and be hired for substitute or permanent positions. The event is free. Learn more and/or register here.
  • The Black Excellence Business Expo and Job Fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at Pinellas Technical College, St. Petersburg Campus, 3548 11th Ave. S. General admission to the event, organized by The Community Development And Training Center Inc., is free. Register online here.
  • The Tampa Bay Job and Career Fair held by The Tampa Bay Times is slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13, at Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore, 700 N. Westshore Blvd. Tampa. Admission and parking are free; no pre-registration is required. More than 50 local employers will be there. More information and online registration is available by visiting here.
  • The JobNewsUSA.com Job Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14, at St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N., St. Petersburg. There are hundreds of job opportunities in various fields. The event is free and job candidates are encouraged to register online. Click on Search Career Fairs.
  • Interested in a job with a cruise line? Norwegian Cruise Line is holding a Cruise Ship Job Fair in Tampa. It’s looking to hire for a variety of positions, including assistant chief butcher, assistant cook, assistant waiter, broadcast technician, restaurant steward, stateroom steward and more. Bring your resume! There are two information sessions, one at 10 a.m. and one at 3 p.m., on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Hilton Tampa Downtown, 211 N. Tampa St., Tampa. On-site registration is held one hour beforehand; the doors close at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. Interviews follow the sessions. More information and online registration are available here.
  • The Florida Joblink 2017 Career Fair is slated from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov 16, at Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center, 9331 E. Adamo Dr., Tampa. The fair, which serves jobseekers in Tampa, Brandon, Lakeland and the surrounding communities, is free. Career advice and resume assistance are available at the fair. Learn more and/or register here.

Author proposes pilot education project for adult learners

A Tampa author is gaining traction with an idea for a pilot education project to enable adults to attend college without encumbering a lot of debt. Vinny Tafuro, an economist and author of Unlocking the Labor Cage, appeared on the Tampa Bay Arts and Education Network last week and expounded upon his idea.

In a studio fireside chat with Debbi Stone, VP of Education for The Florida Aquarium, he continued to build on his proposal to fund adult learners through reserves corporations may have routed overseas to avoid taxes.

“Now it’s been broadcast on somebody else’s channel, not my own,” he quips.

What Tafuro is proposing is a pilot project that could mitigate the risk for adults who want to return to school in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. At that point, they’re likely giving up a salary they need to pay bills.

A college-educated, employed individual is more likely to make money for companies like Facebook, he says. Those students may even be inspired to become an entrepreneur -- and an advertiser. They also might be more likely to leave reviews, which is critical to Amazon’s sales model.

Instead of competing with a bunch of other cities offering similar amenities for Amazon’s new headquarters, Tafuro believes this pilot project is something unique Tampa Bay can bring to the table -- while skirting the competition from other cities. It could potentially fund 49,200 students nationwide.

It could appeal to Amazon, Facebook, Google or Microsoft, enabling them to boost their earning potential by increasing the education level of their users and bettering society.

“We’re the only community making the proposition,” he points out.

By convincing businesses to invest their reserves, or repatriate the money as Tafuro says, the pilot project might even help make things easier for former college students saddled with debt. “Right now there’s no incentive for the college loan industry to soften its edge,” he says.

Originally from Long Island, Tafuro has lived in the Tampa Bay area for nearly 26 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Tampa.

His book, released on Amazon in July 2016, introduces the concept of using cash reserves to fund education. Read an excerpt here.


Tech Bytes: BarCamp planned at USF, other events in Tampa Bay Area

Artificial intelligence. Wearable technology. Robots and drones. These topics -- and a whole lot more -- will likely be topics of discussion at the 10th BarCamp in Tampa Bay Saturday, October 21. Dubbed the unconference, BarCamp is about anything tech. Those who attend sign up to give classes in their areas of expertise.

“The best presentations are not prepared,” says Ken Evans, a board member for organizer Technova Florida Inc.  “PowerPoint loses its passion.”

One of the more “famous” presentations was about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, from a techie/engineer point of view, he says.

“We love narrow topics because that’s where you get the real in-depth discussion around solving problems,” he explains.

BarCamp will be at the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. Guests may park nearby at the SunDome.

The fun officially begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast. Speaker signups are open until 8:45 a.m., with sessions running from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Lunch is at noon.

General admission to the event, expected to attract some 700 to 800 people, is free. “You can just show up. We really appreciate it if people register,” he adds.

Technova is building the tech community through events that help people learn, share, connect, and collaborate with peers.

Check out more Tampa Bay Area tech news below.

  • Applications are open for the Tampa Bay WaVE accelerator program. You’ve got until November 1 to apply to build, launch or grow your company and tap into the WaVE’s bank of 100+ mentors.
  • “Accounting for Success” is the topic of October’s Tech Talk by Tampa Bay Innovation Center. Paul Hays, Ginny Veit and Gretchen Whalen of CliftonLarsonAllen will hold an interactive roundtable discussion for the tech and startup communities. The program is slated at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 10, at Microsoft Headquarters offices, 5426 Bay Center Dr., Suite 700, Tampa. The event is free, but registration is advised because of limited seating.
  • Learn how digital media can help you grow your business from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, October 16, at USF Connect, Oak View Room, 3802 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa. The program looks at the shift from Search Engine Optimization to Paid Advertising -- and how to position yourself for success. Featured are USF alumni: Eric Ortiz,
  • Executive Director of Sales and Acquisition, and Alex Andrews, Director of Content and Creative Strategy, both from McKay Advertising + Activation in Tampa.
  • • October 21 is Computer and Electronics Shred Day. If you have old hard drives, cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices, and you’d like to be sure the data on them is obliterated, bring them to Tampa’s Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library at 3910 S Manhattan Ave. between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. It’s free – and you can even get a Certificate of Destruction. Just ask. The event is part of national Cyber Awareness Month.
  • The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization is holding its 2017 Global Conference and Pitch Competition, “Stop Dreaming, Start Doing,” October 26 through 28 at Hilton Tampa Downtown. The event, which kicks off at 11 a.m., gives collegiates an opportunity to network with entrepreneurially-minded students and hear presentations from seasoned entrepreneurs. and other experts.
  • Potential Unleashed is holding Innovation Gathering 2017 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 26, at USF Connect Galleria, 3720 Spectrum Blvd. Attendees will find out what’s happening in the Innovation District. Tickets are $50 for adults and $15 for students.
  • Tour the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator with the local area networking group, HomeBrew Hillsborough.  Mark your calendars for 8 a.m. Friday, October 27 at 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa. FIBA helps develop successful Israeli tech companies in Tampa Bay.
  • Knack, a South Tampa tutoring service using an app to match students with tutors who have aced the class they need help with, was the winning startup at Challenge Cup Tampa Bay.  The event, hosted by Tampa Bay WaVE in Sepember, featured 20 firms who competed in a two-minute pitch for a cash prize and a chance to proceed to nationals.
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