HV Tech and IBM team up at April Meetup to focus on people

“What makes Silicon Valley different is that they’re not isolated in silos. They create a fabric of ideas… That’s what we want to do here in the Hudson Valley.”

This inspiring idea is how Michael Lyons, software engineer, explained why IBM rolled out the red carpet for Hudson Valley Tech Meetup this week. In today’s interconnected and ever-changing world, no tech company can thrive in isolation. Focusing on people, not just brands or companies, was the name of the game at this month’s gathering on the IBM campus in Poughkeepsie.

Mainframe computers on view at IBM.
Mainframe computers on view at IBM.

The first of the evening’s two demos came from Julie Roche, founder of Burbio, a new community calendar platform that syncs to all of your devices. Calendars for activities like children’s sports, the PTA, community classes, Scout meetings, and other local events are scattered across different apps, websites, and even print flyers, making it difficult for anyone who wants to get involved to keep track of the details.

Burbio founder Julie Roche laughs with HV Tech and EMN founder Dan Stone.
Burbio founder Julie Roche laughs with HV Tech and EMN founder Dan Stone.

The goal of Burbio is to simplify that process, by providing an easy way to condense all your activities into one Burbio calendar that syncs across all your devices and notifies you automatically of updates or changes to event details. They also work with towns and cities to help them simplify and automate their event listings, by aggregating all of their community activity details into one Burbio calendar. Built on Ruby on Rails, Burbio is free to use, and several community organizers at the Meetup were on board with bringing Burbio to their cities and organizations. That’s the kind of connection we love to see at HV Tech!

Our second speaker, Sheila Appel, U.S. Regional Manager of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs at IBM, touched on a different kind of community involvement—the involvement of a big company like IBM with the global community. “Our brand is great,” Sheila said, “but our people are our greatest asset.” Those people, who Sheila called “the best and the brightest” in the field, are more than just IBM employees—they’re smart, creative innovators with a huge range of tech knowledge, and the best way to spark that innovative creativity is to apply to a problem. That’s what IBM is doing with several initiatives, including the Corporate Service Corps, the Smarter Cities Challenge, and IBM’s Watson initiatives. (Remember Watson, the question-answering computer system that dominated on Jeopardy! in 2011? Now IBM is using that complex technology to help doctors gain access to a huge bank of medical data and to work with teachers to create tailored learning tools.)

Sheila Appel explains IBM's community and global initiatives.
Sheila Appel explains IBM’s community and global initiatives.

And last but not least, Sheila described IBM’s work with P-TECH or Pathways in Technology Early College High School, a 6-year STEM-focused program that allows students to simultaneously complete high school and earn their Associate’s degree, increasing graduation and higher education rates for underserved populations. Industry partners such as IBM and Central Hudson provide support via internships, site visits, and employment consideration (IBM Poughkeepsie’s P-TECH partner is Newburgh’s Excelsior School). Though P-TECH’s flagship location in Brooklyn only began in 2011, two students who graduated early have already been hired as IBM employees. Programs like these are how IBM demonstrates its desire to use the complex technology it’s developing—and its global influence—to make the world a better place.

Michael Breslin demos the Talsona platform.
Michael Breslin demos the Talsona platform.

The next speaker, Michael Breslin, began his demo by quoting Sheila’s statement that “people are a company’s greatest asset.” That’s the idea, he explains, behind Talsona, the “people discovery” platform that he co-founded to allow companies to use science and data to make better recruiting decisions. Using a rubric based on psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory of personality, Talsona takes a candidate’s answer to a series of questions and quantifies those answers into scores in both the talent and persona categories. Talsona’s team believes that expertise is not the only thing that makes a successful job placement—personality is just as, if not more important, and their software provides companies with the data they need to make more informed decisions about the development of their company culture.

And finally, the Meetup audience enjoyed a description of IBM’s new “LinuxONE” server, an efficient, powerful Linux platform released in 2015. Linux, an open-source operating system, basically dominates the tech world—in our building on Wall Street alone, there’s 25 Linux servers, and languages and environments like Python, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, and Docker can all be compiled on Linux. What’s special about the LinuxONE server is that it can scale up to 8,000 virtual machines in one super-efficient, super-secure mainframe package. Traditionally, mainframe servers aren’t built to run Linux, so LinuxONE opens the door to run the operating system, and all its associated environments, on a mainframe scale.

Bryan Foley, during his presentation on LinuxONE.
Bryan Foley, during his presentation on LinuxONE.

Co-founder Kale Kaposhilin closed this months meetup with a simple summary and thought: “HV Tech exists to connect people. You are all doing great work here in the Hudson Valley and we thank you for sharing it with everyone, each month at Hudson Valley Tech Meetup. Let’s bust some silos, together!”

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“This guy.” The EMN and Digital Empire teams set up for April’s Meetup.

Thank you to IBM Poughkeepsie for hosting this inspiring Meetup! Want to get your learning—and your networking—on here in the Hudson Valley? Join us next month in Kingston! Find out more on the HV Tech Meetup page.