Hundreds of job seekers, students, teachers and tech professionals trekked to the 10th Vermont Tech Jam last Friday and Saturday at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction. They came to see more than 70 exhibitors and makers who participated in the annual career and tech expo organized by Seven Days and presented by NorthCountry Federal Credit Union.
Most of the companies exhibiting at the Jam were hiring.
On Friday, middle and high school students and teachers attended the Tech Jam School Maker Faire. Area robotics teams brought their creations. Vermont Drone brought its fleet of miniature unmanned aircraft. The game developers at Burlington-based Xemo brought a computer station where kids could play their robot simulation game.
Also at the maker faire, officials from the Vermont Agency of Education launched the 2016-17 3D Vermont competition, in which teams of students from across the state research a historic building in their town and make a 3D model of it. A nearby table held a map with past entries to the competition.
Meanwhile, upstairs in the presentation space, Pat Boera of the Career Collaborative at Champlain College moderated panel discussions on various tech career paths and on how to stand out in the hiring process.
On Friday afternoon, seven Tech Jam Award nominees gave short Lightning Talks explaining their ideas or innovations. Shortly afterward, representatives from Seven Days, BTV Ignite and the Vermont Technology Alliance announced the winners of the 2016 Tech Jam awards.
This year’s Ambassador award went to Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. The Newcomer award went to Sara Simon, a web developer at Vermont Public Radio. Health care innovation startup ThinkMD won both the Startup and Innovation awards. Read more about the awards here.
At the end of the day Friday, exhibitors and award-winners headed to the back of the hall for the Tech Jam After Hours party, featuring virtual-reality experiences and games made by participants in GameTheory’s recent game jam.
Republican lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, who’s running for governor this year, came to the party and tried on a VR headset. So did Republican Senate candidate Scott Milne.
The next morning, more than 50 women attended a Coffee and Confidence session, organized by Change the Story VT. Presenters offered interviewing, networking and salary-negotiation tips. Next, recruiters from Tech Jam exhibitors explained how to stand out in the hiring process.
Later that day, a standing-room-only crowd turned out for the final session of the Jam, which starred Vermont’s own Bina48, one of the world’s most advanced social robots.