Project>Login, a program of Educate Maine, became a Maine Science Festival partner before we had our first festival in 2015. Project>Login is dedicated to connecting Mainers to careers in Computing + Information Technology. The MSF recently had a Pop-Up event with Project>Login – the Maine Digital Festival – where we caught up with the Project>Login team, and asked them to tell us a little bit more about themselves.
MSF: What does Project>Login do to connect Mainers to careers in computing and IT? How long have you been around?
P>L: Project>Login works closely with K-12 schools and higher education institutions to connect Maine students with opportunities in computing, IT, and computer engineering careers. We often host campus networking receptions and community meetings, so students can interact with employers. We partner with Live and Work in Maine to help students and adults understand the wonderful opportunities available here in Maine. Project>Login began in February of 2013 as a program of Educate Maine.
MSF: Why are you focusing on computing and IT in Maine? Is there a big need for people in those fields?
P>L: Our program was first established by a group of CEO’s of many of Maine’s largest companies who identified a workforce shortage in computing and IT jobs in the state. The labor statistics showed these jobs would only increase in the future, so they initiated Project>Login to help address this workforce shortage. Currently, there are more than 1100 open IT jobs in Maine. The need is significant.
MSF: Can you give us some examples of companies or organizations who rely heavily on computing and IT expertise – ones that we may be surprised about?
P>L: Companies in every industry need people with strong technology skills. Cianbro, MMG Insurance, The Jackson Laboratory, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, WEX, IDEXX, MaineHealth, and Maine Medical Center are examples of companies needing strong technology talent. From construction to insurance to healthcare, all of these industries use technology as a central part of their work.
MSF: We recently had a Pop-Up event together. Can you share some details about the day, and the audience you reached?
P>L: On December 10th, we hosted the Maine Digital Festival, a MSF Pop-UP event, as part of the Maine Robotics STEM Expo at the Augusta Civic Center. We organized hands-on computer science activities for students age 6 and above. Almost 150 students were reached during the day. A variety of Project>Login partners facilitated the workshops including Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, Code.org, Maine State Library, University of New England, University of Maine, and 4-H.
MSF: You’ve been a fantastic partner to the MSF, and had a presence at our first two festivals. Why have you been so enthusiastic to be part of the MSF network?
P>L: Our organization is committed to reach students and adults of all ages to connect them with STEM opportunities in Maine. The Maine Science Festival brings together thousands of people with interests in STEM, and we have been thrilled to be one of many partners to support this effort.
MSF: Do you have any other events planned in the coming months?
P>L: We support the Tyler Technologies’ Maine App Challenge each year. This challenge provides high school students with the opportunity to design an app and compete for $10,000 in scholarships. Tyler Technologies is hosting an open house in Falmouth on January 17th from 6:00-8:00pm for students interested in learning more about the Maine App Challenge. Project>Login will be a partner in this event. Students can sign up for the open house
MSF: If you could share just one piece of information about computing and IT with our readers, what would it be?
P>L: We would encourage parents and schools to provide greater access to computer science for students. Free resources and curriculum materials are available at www.code.org, so students can explore both during the school day and beyond. Project>Login works closely with schools to implement computer science and would love to hear from additional schools interested in providing meaningful computer science instruction to their students.
MSF: Are there any misconceptions about computing and IT in Maine that you’d like to break apart?
P>L: IT and computing jobs are accessible to a variety of individuals in Maine. Many of the employers are looking for adults with demonstrated technology skills rather than only adults who have gone through four-year college degree programs. Project>Login is one of the lead TechHire Maine partners, which is an initiative to match job seekers with technology positions based on their skills regardless of where those skills were attained.
MSF: If our readers want more information about Project>Login, what’s the best way to reach out to you?
P>L: The best place to start is our website, where you can find information about Project>Login and Educate Maine’s other programs. You can also reach out by email to our Program Director, Jason Judd.