IN THE SPOTLIGHT
ITS contributes to student employee success
University of Colorado student Mike Burr’s first trip abroad this summer landed him in Cairo, Egypt. In between the camelback rides and exploring the bazaar district of Khan el-Khalili, Burr spent time delving into one of his passions: technology. Burr participated in the 2009 Imagine Cup as one of the top-10 information technology (IT) student competitors worldwide.
Currently in his fourth year at the university, Burr also works as an ITS Operations student employee, which helped prepare him for the challenge, he said. “A lot of the high level concepts that I have learned from my managers at ITS contributed to my success with the Imagine Cup, and they have helped me grow in the areas of professionalism, organizational management, and political thinking.” Now in its seventh year, the Microsoft-sponsored competition drew about 300,000 high school and college students from more than 100 countries, all looking to showcase their ideas, creativity and technical abilities.
This year’s competition required challengers to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems—such as eradicating poverty and expanding accessible primary education—as outlined in the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. As the sole United States representative competing in the IT challenge at the world finals, Burr’s challenge involved a hypothetical nonprofit organization that develops technological skills for underserved areas in third world countries. While he created a business proposal for the second round, the final round required the CU student to implement part of his proposed IT infrastructure. Other final tasks included answering a series of multiple-choice questions on micro technologies, as well as solving various one-hour challenges testing different skills, such as setting up Microsoft Exchange and the appropriate servers in order to send the judges an email. “It was really challenging,” said Burr, who finished eighth. “I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, and the time crunch was definitely overwhelming.”
While Burr plans to compete in the next Imagine Cup (the 2010 finals take place in Poland), he is considering entering the Game Development portion as well. Adopting a similar theme, the competition will require participants to propose and develop a game that explores how technology can make the world a better place. In the meantime, Burr will continue to study accounting with minors in applied mathematics and economics. He plans to apply for the concurrent bachelor and master’s accounting program, which would allow him to graduate with both degrees in spring 2011. Burr hopes to one day serve as a chief information officer and research computational intelligence and its application in business.
Richard Gist, another ITS Operations student employee at CU, also found success at this year’s Imagine Cup. The CU junior and his team ranked in the top 30 software design teams in the country when they participated in the national competition in Boston in May.
About 125 students work for ITS on the CU-Boulder campus. Susan Dorsey, IT professional and manager of the student operations team, said her department has gradually increased its expectations and responsibilities for student employees. For example, students have played a critical role in developing documentation systems and central databases that store information so
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