Science & Technology
Demand for Computer & Software Jobs Offers 2nd Career Opportunity PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 08 April 2013 14:38
‘You Don’t Have to be a Math Whiz to Learn,’
Says Trainer/Programmer

There are plenty or good jobs to be found on sites like Monster and Craigslist, says Mark Lassoff, a self-described computer geek and founder of LearnToProgram, Inc. ( The problem is, the glut of unemployed, college-educated professionals available to fill them aren’t qualified, he says.

“American companies will post positions for jobs like developing mobile apps and video games – good, high-paying jobs with benefits – but there just aren’t enough qualified computer programmers out there so, after a few weeks, they send these jobs overseas,” says Lassoff, who has trained employees at the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin and Discover Card Services.

Computer programming jobs are expected to grow by 12 percent by 2020, while software developer jobs are forecast to grow by 30 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, the median salary for software developers were earning more than $90,500.

There aren’t enough people to fill these jobs because technology and the job market are moving much faster than education in high schools and colleges, says Lassoff, who develops online courses, books and other materials for people who want to learn programming.

“People think you have to go back to school to learn programming and other computer skills, but you don’t,” he says. “There’s also the myth that you have to be some kind of math or science genius to learn it. Not true. You just need to learn the process, and then practice it. You can build a portfolio by doing volunteer work for a church or charity.”

What types of people are ripe for skills like web development through an online course – and landing a great new job?

• Career-hoppers with an IT background: Current and former Information Technology workers are fast learners when it comes to new computer skills. If their current job is in customer service or corporate support, getting the tools to unleash their creativity may be the ticket not only to better pay but to a more gratifying career.

• Retirees: The cliché is that older folks are so far behind on tech knowledge, they struggle with email. However, many retirees are highly motivated, curious and have plenty of time for the business of learning. They may even have worked with early computers in their careers. “I know seniors who learned programming later in life and they like staying stimulated and challenged, and having an in-demand skill,” Lassoff says.

• The kid who plans to study computer science: Junior high and high school curricula are still woefully behind when it comes to preparing kids for careers in computer technology. Ambitious kids who want to take their relationship with technology to the next level are thoroughly engaged by web, mobile and gaming code classes – and they do very well.

• The good-idea person: Very often, someone has a great idea for a mobile app, but no idea what to do with it. A basic understanding of mobile app coding can start turning that great idea into an entrepreneurial adventure.

Courses for these training programs do not have to be expensive – high quality yet affordable programs can be found for less than $200, he says.

About Mark Lassoff

Mark Lassoff is the founder and CEO of, Inc. Lassoff majored in communication and computer science in college, and later worked in the software and web development departments at several large corporations. While his contemporaries were conquering the dot-com world, Lassoff fell in love with training. He’s a top technical trainer whose clients including the Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Discover Card Services and Kaiser Permaente. For people who want to dip a toe into programming, he offers free tutorials on his website.

Is Your Organization Protected Against the Risks of Technology? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Janet Dufour   
Friday, 05 April 2013 10:04
Midland Communications  Explains the Right Way to Invest in Communications Technology Today

DAVENPORT, IA - April 4, 2013 - Making the right investment decision is critical, especially in challenging economic times. It can mean life or death for any small to mid-sized business (SMB). This includes the manner of investing in new technology, because technology brings with it two embedded risks - obsolescence and unforeseen cost.  Technology is a depreciating asset and business 101 teaches us to never pay cash for a depreciating asset. Plus, there is an ongoing and unknown cost to technology after it is implemented within a company. Midland Communications understands these risks and has a unique solution known as the Current Technology Assurance Plan (C-TAP) to overcome them.
C-TAP is designed to increase an organization's profitability and give it a competitive advantage. This technology investment vehicle fixes the cost of technology by bundling together hardware, software, unlimited training and all of Midland Communications' professional services. It's a method of acquiring technology that gives businesses a brand new element of flexibility that is much needed in today's world.
The biggest benefit of the C-TAP program is that businesses no longer face the frustration of paying cash for a depreciating asset. After purchase, it is only a matter of time before new technology becomes obsolete and this program has taken that into account.  Business owners have more control over their technology budget than ever before, because C-TAP allows businesses to add in new hardware, software, equipment, or installation without increasing monthly expense. In the traditional model, businesses do not have this flexibility. For example, if a business was stuck utilizing antiquated PCs and obsolete phone systems, the business owner would simply have to purchase all new equipment via a large capital expenditure. Under C-TAP, companies can add new computers, phones or other technology solutions, while keeping their monthly cost the same. Furthermore, Midland Communications waives any labor or installation fees that would normally be incurred.
"The growth of the C-TAP program is self-perpetuating," stated Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications. "It's a much simpler way of acquiring technology, and our customers love that. Businesses are continually evolving and infrastructure needs to shift with these changes in order to remain competitive. When our customers are able to get the technology they need without being 'nickeled and dimed' and we are able to earn our customers' business month after month, both parties win. We firmly believe that the best way to win our customers over is to enhance their productivity and increase their bottom-line profitability. By partnering with our customers, we see them succeed and that turns into a positive result for everyone."


Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit


Unanimous, Bipartisan Vote Puts Iowans First Bill would level playing field for farmers to generate renewable energy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Gregg Heide   
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 09:47

As it heads to a possible vote in the full Iowa Senate, farmers and clean energy advocates in Iowa are touting the benefits of a farm-focused wind energy bill passed in a rare unanimous and bipartisan vote by the Iowa Senate Agriculture Committee (eight Democrats and five Republicans).

The measure, Senate File 372, would require utilities to pay Iowa farmers the same rate for electricity that they pay themselves for wind from their own assets. It establishes a “feed-in tariff” for distributed wind generation on agricultural land, changing current policy so that Iowa farmers can receive income for wind energy that they supply back to the grid.

“These senators should be applauded for putting Iowans first,” said Gregg Heide of the Iowa Farmers Union. “This is a common-sense measure that protects our rural heritage and maximizes our renewable energy economy at the same time. We hope their colleagues in the Legislature show the same commitment to Iowa’s farmers.”

Federal law requires utilities to connect small renewable generation facilities to the grid. Iowa, however, does not require utilities to offer feed-in tariffs. Currently, a mix of state and federal laws allows Iowa utilities to pay individuals a lower price for electricity than what they pay themselves for energy from their own wind farm assets. This financial disparity all but financially locks out many farmers who could otherwise participate in Iowa’s robust renewable energy economy.

“This could be a win-win for Iowa – homegrown renewable energy that strengthens and diversifies our rural economy,” said Ed Woolsey of the Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew).

Senate File 372 passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on March 7. The legislation is currently eligible for a floor vote by the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate. If enacted into law, it would be the first legislation of its kind in the Midwest, and one of only a handful of similar laws nationally. Under the measure, Iowa farmers could ultimately generate up to a collective 60 megawatts annually.


Governor Quinn Launches Cyber Challenge PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Richard Martin   
Monday, 01 April 2013 12:27

Competition Connects Veterans and Students with Careers in Cybersecurity

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by the Cyber Aces Foundation to announce the Illinois Governor’s Cyber Challenge, a statewide competition that will fill mission-critical jobs in the emerging cybersecurity workforce. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase public safety and help Illinois residents find employment. The Cyber Challenge is designed to provide a pathway of learning and workforce training for Veterans and students.

“As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, the threat to our nation’s cybersecurity continues to grow,” Governor Quinn said. “Connecting our highly-skilled Veterans and students with these 21st century jobs is a solid way to increase national security and create another pathway to employment.”

Illinois is one of the first states to hold a Cyber Challenge. Federal officials are quickly expanding cybersecurity forces to counter evolving threats from abroad. For example, the Defense Department’s Cyber Command plans to increase its workforce to 4,000, up from 900. Private sector opportunities in cybersecurity are also rapidly expanding. Currently, cybersecurity careers are the second-fastest growing positions in information technology (IT). They also are among the most secure and the highest salaried in the IT field.

The Cyber Aces Foundation is utilizing Governors’ Cyber Challenges across the country to help identify individuals will the necessary skill set for cybersecurity jobs in order to help meet the growing demand for the profession.

“Similar to our shortage of fighter pilots at the start of World War II, we now have a critical shortage of skilled cyber defenders,” Cyber Aces Founder Alan Paller said. “And like the pilot training programs of that era, Cyber Aces initiatives, such as the Illinois State Championship, are how we will create the specialists we need.”

The cyber initiative includes advanced online training in cybersecurity at no cost to Illinois residents, a special Veterans Cyber Camp for the top performing Veterans and the championship competition to identify the state’s top cyber talent for public and private sector opportunities.

To ensure Veterans know of this opportunity, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will use its system to contact more than 20,000 Veterans. is the state’s help-wanted job board that helps employers identify new hires, and ensures that business owners are aware of available state and federal tax incentives as well as other programs designed to help grow our economy.

Veterans who believe they have the skills and aptitude for cybersecurity are invited to take a free entry-level education and testing program that focuses on fundamentals with emphasis on three critical modules: networking, operating systems and system administration. A tutorial is included in each module and registration is open today. The quiz competition is April 16-29. Top-performing Veterans will be invited to the Summer Cyber Camp. Another entry-level testing competition will occur in the fall and be open to Veterans, students and other job seekers. A state championship event featuring top-performers from both quiz cycles will occur in the spring.

About Cyber Aces

The Cyber Aces Foundation is a not-for-profit working to discover talent and provide a pathway to employment in critical cybersecurity jobs. The foundation challenges students, Veterans and jobseekers with training and competition, develops their abilities with cybersecurity education and prepares them for cybersecurity careers. It is a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit

About U.S. Cyber Challenge:

U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) is a program of the National Board of Information Security Examiners (NBISE), a 501(c)(3) organization, and has the mission to significantly reduce the shortage in the cyber workforce by serving as the premier program to identify, attract, recruit and place the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. USCC's goal is to find 10,000 of America's best and brightest to fill the ranks of cybersecurity professionals where their skills can be of the greatest value to the nation.


Governor Quinn Launches Blue Waters Supercomputer at University of Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Erin Wilson   
Friday, 29 March 2013 09:13

State Invested $60 Million to House Largest and Fastest Supercomputer on Any University Campus

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN – Governor Pat Quinn today joined the National Science Foundation, officials from the University of Illinois and other state and business leaders to launch the Blue Waters Supercomputer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Today’s announcement comes as part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to drive the Illinois economy forward and ensure that the state’s universities are at the forefront of 21st century science. The largest and fastest supercomputer on any university campus in the world, Blue Waters will offer unprecedented capability for advanced science and engineering applications.

“The University of Illinois continues to be a national leader in innovation, research and engineering progress throughout the world, and today’s launch of Blue Waters will allow users to process some of the largest and most challenging problems in science and engineering,” Governor Quinn said. “This revolutionary supercomputer will also provide opportunities for private industry, serving as a powerful economic engine by allowing the development of less costly prototypes.”

The state of Illinois invested $60 million to construct the Petascale Computing Facility that houses Blue Waters. The National Science Foundation funded the purchase of the computer itself, investing an estimated $350 million to purchase the hardware, pay for five years of support services, power and cool the computer, and provide their own staff to support the system and work with scientists who use it.

Blue Waters is a collaborative effort of the United States Congress, the National Science Foundation, the state of Illinois, the University of Illinois and the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation. It is the most powerful system supported by the National Science Foundation, and gives the university a unique opportunity to perform groundbreaking research that would otherwise be impossible.

“Blue Waters is a truly extraordinary computing system that will enable the nation's researchers, as well as our innovative companies, to achieve breakthroughs in a broad range of science and engineering,” Thom Dunning, director of the university’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications said. “Blue Waters is also a unique resource for the University of Illinois and the state of Illinois, enhancing the path-finding role that Illinois has played in supercomputing for more than 25 years."

“For 146 years the U of I has been bringing solutions to the grand challenges of the world,” University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise said. “Each of our new discoveries has built on the ones before it, creating a chain of knowledge and experience that informs and drives the next idea. Blue Waters represents the next link in that unbroken chain,”

Blue Waters completes quadrillions of calculations every second and is designed to help researchers find insights buried in massive quantities of data. This has crucial applications for astronomy, physics, chemistry and engineering. Blue Waters can simulate how the cosmos evolved after the Big Bang, help design new materials at the atomic level, forecast the behavior of hurricanes and tornadoes, assist with genetic mapping to combat disease and simulate complex engineered systems like the power distribution system and experimental aircraft.

Blue Waters is part of the University’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). It was built from Cray hardware, operates at a sustained performance of more than 1 petaflop (1 quadrillion calculations per second) and is capable of peak performance of 11.61 petaflops (11.6 quadrillion calculations per second). It would take one person millions of years to complete this many calculations with just a calculator. The system also provides “big data” capacity: 1.5 petabytes of working memory, 26 petabytes of disk and 300 petabytes of tape storage.

“Our university and our state will share an enduring link to the life-changing breakthroughs that Blue Waters yields, discovery that holds promise for accelerating medical advances, predicting the behavior of catastrophic weather events and producing more food to feed a growing world,” Ed McMillan, a member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees said.

The system is now available for the NCSA’s industry partners, a group of 26 companies and organizations that includes ADM, BP, Boeing, Caterpillar, Dow, GE, John Deere, Procter & Gamble and Rolls Royce.

In commemoration of today’s announcement, the governor also proclaimed March 28, 2013 as Blue Waters Supercomputer Day in Illinois.


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