August 26, 2015

FIU inaugurates $3 million Tech Station in community event

 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/technology/article32486670.html#storylink=cpy

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From left, John Aguilar, Kelly O’Connell, Renee Brown work in a hardware laboratory in Florida International University’s new Tech Station at its main campus in west Miami-Dade County. The $3 million center will serve as a hub for student innovation and preparation for technology jobs. Below, Caitlin Lima, right, and Diana Gonzalez in a study hall at Florida International University’s  Tech Station. Photos by PETER ANDREW BOSCH MIAMI HERALD STAFF

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

With a ribbon-cutting and an open house with executives from South Florida’s largest technology companies and promising startups, Florida International University inaugurated its $3 million Tech Station on Wednesday.

The new 8,000-square-foot College of Engineering and Computing facility, 16 months in the making, includes high-tech classrooms, team rooms, advisory centers for mentoring, research and computer labs, a maker garage, event spaces for community events, workshops and hackathons, brightly colored co-working areas and a café.

The classrooms, where big data, cybersecurity, cloud computing and other subjects will be taught, include mobile desks and in-the-round instruction, and they are complemented with smaller team rooms decked out with 70-inch screens where four people can hook up their laptops and collaborate on projects, said Steve Luis, director of technology and business relations for the School of Computing and Information Sciences. He spearheaded the Tech Station project, located in the first floor of Parking Lot 6.

“We know that this community and state need our talent,” FIU President Mark Rosenberg said in remarks at the event, attended by more than 150 community members, FIU faculty and students. “We also know FIU graduates have the highest starting salaries of any university in the state. Let’s keep the momentum going.”

Much of the talk during a panel discussion involving executives from IBM, Citrix, Ultimate Software, Game Changer Tec, Alta Systems, Refresh Miami and Rokk3r Labs was about how corporations can collaborate with universities to help turn out talented students not only for big companies located here, but who also will create their own companies as part of South Florida’s startup ecosystem.

“Citrix, quite frankly, has had to import a lot of our talent. We have to look here first — the talent is right here,” said Chris Fleck, vice president of emerging solutions for Citrix. “We think there is more we can do to step this up.” Fort Lauderdale-based Citrix recently bought a South Florida startup, Virtu.al, and Fleck reminded the crowd of the power of an ecosystem – Citrix’s first 10 employees came from IBM.

Also announced on Wednesday was Ultimate Software’s $1 million donation to help fund Tech Station. Part of the funding will go to expand the existing Ultimate Software Academy, which trains high school teachers and students. “We want to scale this out with Miami-Dade Public Schools to bring in as many teachers and students as we can for advanced training, workshops and programs,” Luis said, adding that the “Innovation Garage” maker space will host hackathons, coding clubs and programs like Girls Who Code.

Ultimate Software, homegrown and based in Weston and now with 2,600 employees, began an internship program with FIU in 2007 and has hired more than 100 FIU engineers into full-time jobs, said Adam Rogers, Ultimate’s chief technology officer. He said the college listens to suggestions and is quick to improve the curriculumn.

Rogers said the partnership goes beyond the financial contribution. “We think the bigger contribution is embedding ourselves with [FIU’s] faculty and students for years to come.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

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Shadeh Ferris Francis, left, demonstrates a version of "RoboCop," which would enable disabled police and military officers to remotely conduct patrols, at FIU’s Tech Station on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015.  PETER ANDREW BOSCH MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article32483427.html#storylink=cpy

 

August 21, 2015

MDC unveils animation, gaming center

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Photos of MAGIC's opening Friday by Peter Andrew Bosch

By Nick Nehamas

Put down your controller. Pick up your pencil. The test is about to begin.

Miami Dade College is launching a new academic program in animation and gaming at its downtown Wolfson Campus when school starts Monday.

About 80 students have signed up for the two-year associate’s degree track, according to Mauricio Ferrazza, chairman of the program and a former animator at Univision.

A 20,000-square-foot facility called the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) will house the $5.7 million center on the ground floor of the college’s existing Emerging Technologies Center of the Americas. MAGIC contains a motion capture studio, design labs, audio engineering and color suites, and other spaces for students.

The sophistication of the equipment there is “mind-blowing,” said Michael Marante, 24, a student who is part of MAGIC’s inaugural class.

Marante says his dream is to work at Walt Disney Imagineering, the global giant’s design arm.

He graduated with a degree in business administration from MDC last year but knows he needs more experience in design.

Earlier this summer, an adviser from the college suggested he visit the new MAGIC facility.

“I was enraptured,” said Marante, who grew up in Hialeah. “The incubation rooms, the motion capture room, the audio engineering studio. They blew me away.”

Video games aren’t just for fun these days. They’re a serious business. But local gaming studios — a small but growing industry in South Florida — often complain about how hard it is to find qualified workers in the area.

And the techniques used to make a Call of Duty solider jump out of a helicopter are spreading to other industries.

“Other fields are using the animation techniques developed in gaming,” Ferrazza said. “We’re seeing it in architecture, aviation, medicine, science and forensics.”

Educators in South Florida are also using computer games to teach students about complex topics in a trend called “serious gaming.”

The new program fits into a wider priority for political and business leaders in Miami-DadeCounty: diversifying the local economy, which leans heavily on construction and tourism.

“Having a state-of-the-art program like this helps us grow as a technology and creative design community,” said Jaap Donath, senior vice president at the Beacon Council, the county’s pub" v:shapes="_x0000_i1025">lic-private economic development arm.

Donath said Miami-Dade has about 1,500 jobs in animation and related fields and that he expects that number to grow.

“That’s why it’s so important to have an institution like MAGIC in place,” he said. “It’s a major asset.”

The Beacon Council is pushing for more job creation in certain industries that pay well but do not require a bachelor’s degree. Among them are creative design and information technology.

MAGIC will ultimately have room for about 600 students.

The majority of the program’s funding comes from the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation. The animation studio PIXAR contributed $100,000 in software. Locally based custom PC manufacturer Alienware established a $50,000 scholarship fund that will fund eight students for the coming academic year.

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August 19, 2015

Venture for America adding 2nd class in Miami, with Knight support

Vfa sigVenture for America, a national nonprofit that recruits, trains and places top college graduates with startups, will send its second class of Fellows to Miami in August with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The eight new Fellows will join six current Fellows for a two-year program working for Miami-based startups.

The Fellows, who will undergo a  five-week training boot camp at Brown University before joining the startups as core team members, are recent graduates of Columbia University, University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University, Notre Dame and Morehouse College. They will be working at local firms Rokk3r Labs, AdMobilize, Kairos and Venture Hive.

The first class of VFA Fellows in Miami has already resulted in a new startup: Tracks, led by Princeton graduate Seth Forsgren.

"The right mix of talent and opportunity is essential to making Miami a global innovation hub," said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami, which provided a $240,000 grant to fund the program’s expansion. "Venture for America is pushing us toward that goal by seeking out high-impact startups and connecting them with the talent that will help these businesses scale and grow right here in Miami."

VFA believes one of the best ways to accelerate the path to entrepreneurship for young graduates is through apprenticeship. VFA offers training, mentorship and access to capital. Each Fellow is hired as a full-time employee by a startup in one of the VFA cities at a starting salary of $38,000 a year plus benefits.

Since its founding in 2011, Venture for America has placed 300 fellows in 15 cities, including Baltimore, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Providence, R.I. Venture for America partner companies have added an average of 5 jobs within a year of hiring a fellow and 72 percent have experienced net job growth. Both fellows and startups go through a VFA vetting process. For more information, visit ventureforamerica.org.

Meet the 2015 Fellows

Muhan Zhang, Kairos: a Boston College graduate with a Computer Science degree, is an aspiring engineer who measures good software by lives touched. He is the creator of Noggin, a Google Glass app that helps users with speech and paralysis disabilities communicate via head movements. Designed under the guidance of assistive technology veteran James Gips, Noggin was a finalist for the Blackwood Student Design Award, competed in various business plan competitions on campus and was published by Springer in their Computer Science Proceedings this year. Previously, Muhan has spent time interning in foreign policy, management consulting, and studying Mandarin Chinese abroad as a Fulbright scholar.

 Jide Adebayo, Rokk3r Labs: Jide is a born and raised Memphian who decided to spend his college years in the big city. Jide graduated from Columbia University in New York with a BA in Philosophy and Economics and a Masters in Public Administration through an accelerated 5-year program. Jide has worked in various fields ranging from software development to public policy and founded two companies while attending Columbia. Jide’s first company was a non-profit that provided college mentoring/tutoring services for local high schools and middle schools in New York. The second, Univate, helped students and alumni transform class projects and side projects into startups.

Willem Prins, AdMobilize: Willem graduated with a Biomedical Engineering degree from Columbia University and a Biophysics degree from Elon University. Within research he has worked in several labs, including both attended universities, UNC, and at Pfizer. Willem believes in the future of a world health system with highly personalized healthcare.

Ben Weinstein, Venture Hive: Hailing from Mount Kisco, New York, Benjamin graduated from Connecticut College in 2015 with a Computer Science major. He spends a lot of his free time playing soccer with Conn’s club team and performing improv and stand-up comedy. He has just completed his minor in Philosophy, to appeal to his logical side and strengthen his creative, critical thinking abilities.

Garrett Ransom, Venture Hive: Garrett is a Bay Area bred life enthusiast, who graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in Business Administration. Growing up not too far from the Silicon Valley, he was always surrounded by budding start-ups, but spent most of his college experience networking within Wall Street, interning two summers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in their investment banking division.  Although he still loves to invest, he now spends a bit more time in the Atlanta Tech Village.

Jinesh Shah, Rokk3r Labs: Jinesh graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Information. His key field of study is user experience design. Last summer, he interned as a designer for Chalkfly, a Detroit-based VFA company that sells office supplies. Working for Chalkfly fueled his entrepreneurial spirit, and he plans to merge his passions for design, information, and technology to start his own company.

Mary Cornfield, Rokk3r Labs: Mary, a NJ native, graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a major in Finance and minors in Entrepreneurship and Constitutional Studies. She interned all over the world, from San Francisco to South Bend, from New York to London. She loves learning about new industries and the challenges they face as evidenced by the fact that all of her internships have been in different industries including business risk consulting, consumer goods, and even a mayoral campaign. Currently she works at Notre Dame’s Investment Office and a startup in the incubator Innovation Park.

 Jesse Golomb, Rokk3r Labs: Jesse graduated from Vanderbilt University with majors in Literary Studies and Communication Studies and a minor in Corporate Strategy. A New York native, he has been passionate about journalism, media and technology from a young age. In addition to interning at VICE Media, ESPN, Newsday, Steiner Sports and doing editorial and digital marketing consulting for a variety of small businesses, he has led several teams in a series of entrepreneurial projects on campus and is a feature writer for his school newspaper. Long term, he hopes to make a career developing technologies that help us communicate, share and learn in meaningful ways.

 

 

August 18, 2015

MDC to inaugurate MAGIC facility on Friday

Miami Dade College will inaugurate the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at the Wolfson Campus on Friday.  The first facility of its kind at a public higher education in Florida and one of only a handful nationally, MAGIC is essentially a replica of the facilities seen only at major motion picture studios.    

MAGIC will strengthen and better position Miami as the new hub for the animation and game development industries, by providing an educational foundation to support these growing fields. Animation enthusiasts from all over the world, along with animation studios executives, top software gurus, artists, and others will convene at this one of a kind facility. 

The Florida University system produces very few if any graduates in modeling, virtual environments, and simulations related degrees. As with many of our other program offerings, MDC will provide real solutions to address our nation’s most pressing workforce challenges.  MAGIC will bridge the gap in affordability and accessibility by providing quality programming and the very best facilities at the fraction of the cost compared to private competitors.   Facilities at MAGIC mimic the production pipeline from PIXAR Studios.

MAGIC will roll out an Associate in Science degree in Computer Programming and Analysis with concentrations in Animation and Game Art, or Game Development and Design. Students in the intensive, hands-on two-year program will develop skills in modeling, lighting, motion, sound, and storytelling, as well as gain command of the technical skills required in today’s highly competitive animation industry.

MAGIC will also host the acclaimed MIA Animation Conference & Festival this fall, an industry conference focused on computer animation, gaming, visual effects and motion graphics, film, web design and visual arts.   The gathering has been designed to be a forum for networking with a strong commitment to and emphasis on education while developing and nourishing new talent.  Students, professionals and members of the community will also participate in competitions such as Pitch-to-Industry an animation and gaming design competition and Game On, the first ever indie game competition, which encourages independent game development and fresh voices in the video game industry. 

The inauguration of MAGIC will feature top national speakers, demonstrations and tours. 

 WHAT:           Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex Inauguration

 WHEN:            Friday, August 21, at 10:30 a.m.

 WHERE:         MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E.  Second Avenue Miami, FL  33132, Building 8 

- Submitted by Miami Dade College

Read more about MAGIC here. 

August 15, 2015

The winners of Wyncode Pitch Day VI? Our community

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Kito.co pitches, and later wins, at Wyncode Academy's Pitch Day 6, in front of a record crowd at The Lab Miami. Photos provided by Wyncode.

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Juha MikkolaBy Juha Mikkola

As a truly global city, Miami needs an economy that is as strong and diverse as its people. This requires that its workforce is equipped with the skills of the 21st century to attract and retain companies that create the jobs and opportunities that help build a robust middle class. In 2015, this increasingly means knowing how to write code — the language behind the technologies that fuel our daily lives. At Wyncode we’re doing our part to build a workforce that is helping transform South Florida from a tourist destination to a leader in global innovation, commerce, and entrepreneurship.

Our nine-week coding bootcamp equips students from all walks of life (most of whom had little to no prior programming experience) with the computer programming needed to launch their careers as web developers with long-term growth potential or their own start up companies from scratch. Miami was just named the country’s second leading startup city and the 28 graduates of our most recent cohort embody the spirit of South Florida’s new economy behind this accolade.

At Thursday’s Pitch Day VI, the newest class of Wyncoders presented the web applications they built with their teammates—after learning Ruby on Rails, HTML, CSS and JavaScript over the last three months—to a panel of judges who selected a winner, as well as a standing room-only crowd of nearly 300 members of Miami’s tech community. The exciting web apps that were presented last night are paving the way for a more vibrant and innovative community. Among the apps presented were:

  • * Cluborate.co: A social network for activist groups and social causes
  • * TheBulk.co: A crowdsourcing tool for shoppers to purchase in bulk
  • * Wynning.co: An online life coach and project management tool
  • * Cookio.co: An Uber for personal chefs
  • * Libro-Club.co: A social network-based book club
  • * Parlayvous.co: Online raffles to help non-profits fundraise
  • * Tailorup.co: One of our WynTank submissions, our program to connect Wyncoders with local entrepreneurs, made by Wynwood jeans maker Caveat, is a personalized tailoring service right in your mobile phone.
  • * Kito.co: Kito helps landlords better manage their properties and tenants
  • * MDCPE.co: Another WynTank submission, MDCPE.co integrates with Miami-Dade County’s API to help users procure estimates for building permits
  • * Delight.co: An online dating app integrated with Yelp to help you plan your next date created by graduates of Wyncode’s part-time iOS program


At the end of the evening, the panel of judges, which included Jeff Fudge – VP of Technology at Sato Global Solutions; Cristina Solana – Sr. Web Developer and User Interface Engineer at Enspire Commerce; David McVicar – Independent Ruby on Rails Consultant at Living Social, Metro Star Systems, and Mobikaze; Josh Perez – Software Engineer at AirBnB; and Chris Alper – Director of PDIS Training and Employee Development at Ultimate Software, selected Kito.co, which was created by Sean Selleck, Ariel Peralta, and Angelica Rodriguez, as the best presentation of the night.

 A highly educated workforce is the backbone of a strong society and economy. This is precisely what we work toward everyday at Wyncode as we seek to achieve Miami’s true potential. This is why the true winners of Pitch Day VI weren’t just the students; it was our entire community.

Juha Mikkola is co-founder of Wyncode Academy.

Read an earlier post about Wyntank here. 

 

August 14, 2015

Miami Dade College designated as 1st Ashoka U Changemaker Campus in Southeast

Miami Dade College  has been designated as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus for being a leader in social innovation education and is the first and only public institution of higher education in the Southeastern United States, joining the world’s largest network of universities focused on social innovation education - the Ashoka U Changemaker Campus network.

Building on Ashoka’s vision for a world where Everyone is a Changemaker, Ashoka U takes an institutional change approach to impact the education of millions of students, including the 165,000 at MDC.

“We are humbled to receive this distinction from such a renowned organization and it affirms the diligent work we have been doing for so many years to provide our students the comprehensive tools for lifelong success and to serve as catalysts for change in our community,” said José A. Vicente, president of the Wolfson Campus at MDC and Ashoka Institutional Champion. “We take the responsibility of being ‘changemakers’ very seriously and look forward to reporting on our progress.” 

As an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, MDC will advance educational pathways that develop interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial and solutions-oriented skills for students. It will launch a college-wide initiative to infuse social innovation into the fabric of the college and create a defined path for all students to become changemakers.

MDC’s Changemaker Campus plan has three key objectives: (1) provide an applied learning environment that will allow students to find their passion while giving meaning to their education; (2) equip students with changemaking skills that are highly valued workforce readiness skills; and (3) design a mechanism to measure impact and success of MDC changemakers. 

This summer, the College launched the “It Takes One” campaign to empower and challenge students, faculty, staff and other members of the community to become changemakers. Campaign activities and events will be announced at various MDC campuses.  

 Ashoka U is regarded for catalyzing social innovation in higher education through a global network of entrepreneurial students, faculty, administrators, staff, and community leaders. Ashoka U Changemaker Campuses include Brown, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, George Mason, Johns Hopkins, Middlebury, and Tulane, among other top institutions worldwide. 

- submitted by Miami Dade College

 

August 13, 2015

Wyncode launches WynTank to partner Wyncoders with entrepreneurs, local businesses, nonprofits

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“Have you ever had an app idea but you didn’t know where to start?” asks Juha Mikkola, co-founder of coding bootcamp company Wyncode Academy. “After just seven weeks at Wyncode, our students can build it for you.”

Wyncode Academy, with campuses at The LAB Miami in Wynwood and General Provision in Fort Lauderdale, has launched WynTank, a program that matches Wyncode students with local entrepreneurs, businesses, and nonprofits to help them bring their app ideas to life.

The participants with the best ideas will be invited to pitch their app concepts in front of Wyncode students who will vote on which apps to build for their team projects during the last two weeks of the course. To enter WynTank or for more information on the judging criteria and process, aspiring entrepreneurs can submit their ideas via http://wyncode.co/wyntank/

The completed, full stack web apps developed in WynTank will be presented and voted on by a panel of judges during Wyncode’s Pitch Day II on August 27 at its Fort Lauderdale campus within General Provision.

“We believe in the South Florida tech ecosystem and hope that WynTank projects can spur new businesses and build a stronger local and regional economy,” said Juha Mikkola. “A cross-community partnership between entrepreneurs, local businesses and nonprofits will allow some of our city’s up-and-coming coders to build apps that can really make a difference.”

The idea for WynTank was sparked when a Miami tech community member was invited to collaborate with a team of students and have their app idea built for Wyncode’s Pitch Day V.  The project, called Outnix, not only won Pitch Day V, but one of the students on the development team raised $50,000 for the company. Outnix joins a group of eight other startups that have originated in the Wyncode program.

A WynTank beta was held at the Miami campus on July 27 in preparation for Wyncode’s Pitch Day VI on August 13th. Two concepts from community members were selected. Stacy Glover of Caveat pitched the first concept, referred to as the Uber of tailoring. Mike Sarasti and Ernie Hsiung of MiamiDadeCounty pitched the second concept for an app aimed at simplifying the Miami commercial permitting process.

See the results at Thursday evening’s Pitch Day at The LAB Miami. See more information here.

 

August 07, 2015

Ironhack’s new Miami headquarters location announced. And it is ...

  Building
 Photo by Bonomotion

Ironhack’s Miami HQ and classroom will be based at Building, one of Miami’s newest co-working centers. The partnership was announced at Friday night’s Ironhack Hackshow, where the top five projects from its third cohort were demo-ed on stage.

Ironhack is a web development school that teaches  coding -- Ruby, Javascript and HTML/CSS specifically -- to students of all backgrounds, creating a new talent pool of junior web developers here in Miami. “We are very excited that they’ll be a core member company at Building, and that together we will be helping to build the MiamiTech ecosystem,” said Jose Rasco, one of Building's co-founders.

Through this partnership, Ironhack will run its web development bootcamps from the 3rd floor of Building. Ironhack students will have access toall the benefits of Building – including all 3 floors of meeting space, the rooftop patio and free drinks and snacks. In addition, all members of Building will get discounted access to Ironhack’s courses and free “Learn to Code” events. “Not to be overlooked is the  unique ability for Building members to get a first-hand look at the growing talent that Ironhack develops during each cohort, with the potential to scout new hires from each class,” Building said in its blog post announcing the event.

Building, started by the entrepreneurs behind Straat Investments and .CO Internet, is 16,000 square feet and recently opened in the west Brickell area. It already has a dozen member companies, including Neustar, Pop.co, Instacart and Boatrax.

IronHack co-founder Ariel Quiñones moved to Miami from Barcelona last year to set up the Spanish company’s new U.S. base, which was located in Pipeline Brickell before moving and expanding in Building. Ironhack expects its fourth cohort, which starts in October, to include up to 20 students. More information here.

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August 05, 2015

National Urban League hackathon: 'We're going to do this every year. We're going to make it bigger and better'

Hackathon

 

By Michael Hall

Hosted by the National Urban League in partnership with Digital Grass, the two-day “TechConnect: Hack-A-Thon for Social Justice,” presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, was held on July 30-31, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale. On Day 1, team formation and concept introductions were made following motivational words from Stonly Baptiste of Urban.us and CodeFever's Felecia Hatcher.   Following a full day of coaching, brainstorming and designing, Day 2 ended with 7 young, energetic and tech-savvy teams taking the stage to the to share their tech solutions to improve civic innovation and quality of life for the core urban community.

The winner of the $2,500 cash and $25,000 in prizes was MyVillage presented by members of the Jacksonville National Urban League Young Professionals (pictured here).

Hackwinners
 

MyVillage is a platform that gives political snaphots about political incumbents and candidates.  The main objective of MyVillage is to provide "quality education" allowing voters to know exactly who they are voting for. The application provides voters with a centralized location for viewing Candidate’s agendas, platforms and fundraising totals. “We’re not going to just tell you to vote, we’re going to create a platform to educate you & let you know what you should be voting for,” said Ronnie King of My Village. The application has already been implemented in Jacksonville and plans for expansion in Gainesville are underway. 

Although this was the National Urban League's inaugural Hackathon, it will not be the last.  

“I am amazed at the power of technology...the ability some of you have to create it; to envision how it’ll change lives... We’re going to do this every year. We’re going to make it bigger and better.” says Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League.

Expressing his satisfaction with the event, David Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast NBC Universal, said, "I think we’ve created a new tradition for our annual conference.”

 “History was made today. This was a major step for the National Urban League and positions them to be a voice and conduit to introduce people within the African American community to the power of technology and how it can be used to address social issues. It's time to focus on being not only consumers of tech, but producers," said LaToya Stirrup, President of Digital Grass Innovation & Technology.

Digital Grass worked directly with the Urban League to facilitate and organize the inaugural event. 

Michael Hall is the founder of Digital Grass, which is dedicated to establishing a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Florida.

July 29, 2015

The Idea Center launches MarketHack, a new digital marketing program

Submitted by the Idea Center at Miami Dade College

The Idea Center at Miami Dade College (MDC), Miami’s hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, is launching a comprehensive professional training program in digital marketing called MarketHack.  Registration is open now at theideacenter.co/markethack

The program, which will include workshops and public events, will tap into top industry experts and use real-life group projects to teach participants how to influence customers in the digital era, create connections, sell products and ultimately grow their businesses.

MarketHack aims to fill the gap in the South Florida marketplace for highly skilled and broadly knowledgeable digital marketers, a key discipline for any enterprise.

“Miami is a creative city with top marketing and advertising agencies, but there has not been a place to learn about the latest digital marketing tools and techniques—until now,” said Leandro Finol, Executive Director of the Idea Center at MDC. “With MarketHack, we are creating a talent pipeline for the marketers of the 21st century.”

The first MarketHack course, a 16-week introductory course in digital marketing, runs from August 25 through December 15, 2015. The course will cover the techniques and tools used by digital marketers to generate and sustain conversations with their customers and, more importantly, conversions. It will feature guests from the top creative agencies to expose students to state-of-the-art techniques in this fast-moving industry. 

MarketHack courses will be taught by two top digital marketing professionals: Dan Grech, Vice President of Marketing at Offercraft, and Mike Schott, Director of online marketing at Open English.

“We have been hearing from employers across South Florida that they simply cannot find local talent in digital marketing.  We aimed to solve that,” said Grech.

The program will build relationships with local companies and creative agencies to create a pipeline for internships, apprenticeships and jobs. “República is committed to being a leader in South Florida's innovation ecosystem. As Miami emerges as the tech hub for the Americas, we are thrilled to partner with The Idea Center at MDC to launch MarketHack, a groundbreaking program that will cultivate some of the best and brightest digital marketing professionals in the country," stated Jorge A. Plasencia, República's co-founder, chairman and CEO.

Subsequent courses and workshops, with deep dives into specific topic areas, such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will roll out starting in 2016.  The course costs $1,499 for community members, with an early-bird price of $999 until August 21. Current degree-seeking Miami Dade College students pay $249.

For more information, please contact Leandro Finol at lfinol@mdc.edu.

WHAT:            MarketHack: Introduction to Digital Marketing

WHEN:            Tuesdays, August 25 thru December 15, 6p.m. - 9p.m.

WHERE:         MDC, Idea Center Building 8, Fifth floor, 315 NE 2nd Ave