Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Digit All Systems IT skills prep on Ars Technica; is certification a true path?

Should STEM-focused nonprofits train students in programming and 3D printing, or in networking and other skills learned via computer certification courses?

Lance Lucas in 2013.

Digit All Systems founder Lance Lucas says his nonprofit has given away 3,000 laptops since its founding.

Full disclosure: Betamore cofounder Mike Brenner is a partner with Technically Baltimore, which works on occasion from the Federal Hill incubator.

One way to broaden awareness of Baltimore STEM work is to make sure national tech reporters who live locally get introduced to that work.
National tech news site Ars Technica spent some bandwidth reporting on Lance Lucas, the founder of downtown Baltimore nonprofit Digit All Systems, which teachers computer networking classes and offers courses in IT certifications to high schools students attending Baltimore city’s public schools.
Lucas, the tall and affable founder, who was part of a cohort before Baltimore City Council Wednesday, caught the editorial eye earlier this year of Ars Technica IT editor Sean Gallagher, friend of Technical.ly Baltimore and longtime Baltimore resident who penned the piece.
In it, Gallagher teases out what’s a fairly common question for those engaged in the education of Our Youths with a technological bent: does it behoove STEM-focused nonprofits to train students in programming and 3D printing, as the Digital Harbor Foundation does, to try to anticipate what skills big tech firms will seek out in fresh applicants? Or is it more applicable for a swath of Baltimore’s impoverished, sometimes forgotten population to be set on a pathway to IT jobs, as Digit All Systems does, by training them in computer hardware and network skills?
Read the Ars Technica story here.
It’s something Technical.ly Baltimore examined in part three of our series on Lance Lucas and Digit All Systems.
At the time, Betamore cofounder Mike Brenner questioned the efficacy of such certification training, saying: “We’re creating a workforce of lemmings, not a workforce of thinkers. Put Google and Android and Mozilla in schools rather than CISCO and Microsoft.”
That seems to be Brenner’s approach with the new Betamore Academy, which focuses on such front-end and back-end development skills as Ruby on Rails, CSS and JavaScript.
But as Lucas told Technical.ly Baltimore in November 2012, there are many “dueling ideologies about how we should advance our technology education.”
“I think … it’d be best if  [Baltimore technologists] could come together to have talks about how to engage the city students. The education benefits the same group, every time, no matter what the different perspectives are.”
Technical.ly Baltimore’s November 2012 series on Lance Lucas and Digit All Systems:


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