Community-Building and Info-Sharing in RI's Tech Hub

Img Tech JWU Tech Club 170x150Corey Cantrell won’t graduate from JWU’s School of Technology until May, but his inbox is already full of job offers thanks to RI Nexus and a spate of similar IT collectives around the region. “I’ve made a lot of great contacts,” says Cantrell, who works as content coordinator for the RI Nexus Web site.

“RI Nexus is about community building and info sharing in the digital media and info tech sector in RI,” explains ThoughtCap principal Jack Templin, an Internet strategy consultant who leads the program for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. (RIEDC).

Templin also co-founded Providence Geeks. The group meets monthly at AS220, a nonprofit community arts space, and brings in speakers from local startups. Nexus currently has more than 1,500 on its mailing list and Geeks gatherings regularly draw at least 100 participants.

“I believe that creating a culture where geeks can connect and collaborate is essential to making the city and state a center of digital innovation,” says Templin.

As the state tech sector’s growth spurt continues with more than 15,000 people working in IT and digital media and earning more than $1 billion annually according to the RIEDC, JWU’s students and faculty are thriving right along with it.

Tech organizations in Providence have been a boon for JWU’s School of Technology. “We try to find leading-edge spaces for the kids, and the chances for that happening are better with the opportunities now available outside the school,” Dean Frank Tweedie '95, '98 MS says.

Members of JWU’s School of Technology faculty are also involved in techcentric initiatives. SofT instructor Brian Alves was on the host committee introducing AS220 Labs, a digital media venture the nonprofit is launching with partners including JWU, MIT, Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design. All recognize that Rhode Island’s students are as valuable a resource to the IT community as the collectives are to their education.