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September 11, 2017

ASU co-hosts IT Awareness Day at Tempe campus, one of a pair of job events focused on giving military vets meaningful work

Military veterans are disciplined, task-focused, team-oriented and get the job done.

These are the same traits required in the information technology field.

Arizona has one of the fastest-growing economies for IT careers, with more than 17,000 full-time career positions currently unfilled, according to experts at ASU and networking hardware company Cisco Systems. At the same time, there is strong need for career support for veterans transitioning to civilian life.

“Far greater than saying to a veteran, ‘Thanks for your service,’ is to hire a veteran and give them meaningful work,” said Benjamin C. Freakley, former commanding general for the U.S. Army and special adviser to ASU President Michael Crow for leadership initiatives at Arizona State University.

“I can train someone to fix a computer, but I can’t train them to show up to work on time, to be a valued member, to be a leader. The military trains and imbues all those positive traits in the men and women who served our country.”

Now ASU and Cisco are hoping to serve veterans by hosting the inaugural IT Awareness Day on Thursday, Sept. 14, at ASU's Tempe campus. This six-hour event starts 1 p.m. at the Memorial Union and will feature Cisco, Amazon, Intel and other prominent members of the community and tech sector. Panelists from veterans service organizations and career representatives from industries such as health care, manufacturing, energy, transportation and logistics will also provide insights into trends in IT, work culture and a look at what the future holds for professionals within the state of Arizona.

Designed with veterans in mind, the free event is open to the public and will be streamed for those who can’t attend in person. Registration is encouraged.

The IT Awareness Day will be followed up by a Nov. 10 hiring event at the Phoenix Convention Center, where job seekers can be pre-matched with jobs and potentially have interviews on the day of the event.

Steve Borden, director of the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, said pairing veterans with the IT and STEMscience, technology, engineering, math sectors is a seemingly natural fit, but a few gaps still do exist.

“Veterans get a lot of hands-on experience using high-tech equipment and are really primed for the IT field because in a lot of ways, it’s what they do in the service,” Borden said. However, he added, often what they are lacking is the civilian-equivalency certification to leverage their experience.

Borden said veterans are also not aware of the importance of branding and marketing themselves as they enter civilian life.

“Joining the military is seen as a selfless service, and an individual trying to advance themselves too openly is often looked down upon and usually does not do well in the military,” Borden said. “Helping veterans in that aspect of transitioning and appropriately advancing themselves in the civilian sector needs to take place.”

The two events were prompted in part by co-sponsor Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT and networking. Its leaders decided at a June 2011 meeting to make it a priority to hire veterans.

“The question asked at that meeting was, ‘We give hundreds of millions of dollars around the world for charitable causes, but what are we doing for our veterans?’” said Michael Veysey, director of veterans programs at Cisco Systems.

Veysey said Vietnam-era veterans such as himself were not often the beneficiaries of today's goodwill, but employers have changed their attitudes over time. He said companies like Cisco recognize the value veterans bring to jobs and are doing what they can to help.

He said Arizona’s veteran population, estimated around 650,000 people, can put the state at a great advantage by sending a message that vets can be a force after their careers in the military.

“We would like to establish Arizona as a national center of excellence for veterans in employment innovation.”

IT Awareness Day

What: A day dedicated to raising awareness of career possibilities in information technology, featuring industry panelists and hiring managers.
When: 1-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14.
Where: Memorial Union, ASU's Tempe campus.
Admission: Free and open to the public.
Details: Event schedule can be found here. RSVP here.

Reporter , ASU Now


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The road to evacuation: Escaping an unwelcome visit from Mother Nature

September 11, 2017

ASU transportation expert shares thoughts on the handling of evacuations in Florida

Still packing powerful rains and winds, the remnants of Hurricane Irma continue to wreak havoc in cities along the Gulf Coast after a destructive journey through the Caribbean and Florida. The former Category 5 hurricane forced mandatory evacuations throughout the Florida Keys. But with only two main north-south roads in and out of Florida — interstates 95 and 75 — Irma quickly became an exercise in preparedness for a storm described at times as “the size of the state of Ohio.”

Taking a closer look at the evacuation mandates and transportation issues that necessitated urgent calls for action in Florida at Irma’s worst, we asked Assistant Professor David King of Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning to share his thoughts on the handling of this weather-related emergency.

Question: What are the strengths and/or challenges of being in a densely populated area when Mother Nature strikes?

Answer: Clearly the biggest challenge is that people are in harm’s way. We can talk about urban design failures or urban sprawl as a culprit, but in events like Harvey or Irma there’s not much that can be done in the near term to protect these cities. Maybe more wetlands may have helped, but those wetlands have been gone for decades, and draining them made these cities habitable in the first place.

In the years ahead, there is no doubt that some cities will be more affected than others to climate-change-related weather systems.

The strengths of densely populated places is that they have lots of people to amortize their investment across, so even large structures like seawalls can protect many but only cost an individual a little bit.

Q: Are there areas or cities across the U.S. that you think are better or worse off in terms of preparedness for mass evacuations?

A: Evacuation may not be the best goal in all cases. An alternative strategy to evacuating people to a far-away destination is to build more hurricane shelters near population centers. These could be schools, arenas and the like, that are built to withstand anything. You see this type of thing in tornado-prone areas, and places like the Florida Keys have such structures.

One downside of evacuating everyone is that there are fewer people available to help with immediate cleanup. Overall, though, each city has its own challenges. While relying on everyone driving their own car out of the danger zone is problematic to some, this also allows people to evacuate to the greatest range of places, so no one receiving zone is overwhelmed.

David King

Q: What happens to people who rely heavily on public transportation and ride-sharing services in mass evacuations triggered by natural and weather-related disasters?

A: During Superstorm Sandy in New York/New Jersey, for instance, all trains had to get shut down for safe storage prior to the storm. This limits trains for evacuations. Sure each train carries lots of people, but all those people go to the same place, Philadelphia for instance, which doesn’t have hotels or accommodations for millions of people. There are advantages to decentralized transport systems.

That said, there is more we can do. I’ve been kicking around an idea about how ride-sharing apps — similar to what Uber and Lyft provide — can be helpful during an evacuation.

If FEMA could collaborate with companies like Uber, Lyft and traditional taxis, you could have coordination on both sides of the evacuation process — picking up the most vulnerable residents and getting them to safety along the least-congested routes. We saw with Harvey and we’re seeing now with Irma — people are happy to pitch in. 

Q: What is the reality for residents facing mass evacuation with a storm described as the size of Ohio bearing down? Is there really much that can be done?

A: Probably not in most cases, and it is probably not cost effective to make everyplace easy to evacuate. We need a mix of responses: evacuation, safe shelter locally, places to go. We also need to assess risk in terms of should we rebuild cities or parts of cities. This sounds absurd when talking about millions of people, but is somewhat common in flood-prone river towns in the Midwest, where the town gets rebuilt on higher ground and the old town is demolished.

I wouldn’t invest in Miami real estate these days, but those who do are confident that they will be covered by some type of insurance if they lose everything. Mostly, they count on the federal government to make up their losses. This is an area of public policy that needs to be revisited, and any changes won’t be easy. Even after Superstorm Sandy wiped out large communities, few households would accept the state’s offers to buy out their properties at pre-flood values. People wanted to stay where they were. That’s a really hard issue to overcome.

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications