Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and AIM get spooky with technology at SpookTechular

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Tech Education, Youth

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and the AIM Institute will host the Halloween-themed tech event SpookTechular this Saturday at the AIM Brain Exchange. Kids and families will get to experience a variety of fun, tech-related activities like playing with the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift and piloting drones. The event runs from 9 am to 1 pm and is free and open to the public.

Kenzie Pavlik of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska said the event aligns with BCBS-NE’s core values. 

“Blue Cross is always looking for opportunities to get involved with the community that we serve,” Pavlik said.

Dana Siek, Systems Analyst for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, added that STEM skills are vital to the company. Blue Cross is therefore committed to promoting access to technology experiences for youth. The company has partnered with AIM in the past to ensure such access.

Events like SpookTechular help spark an early curiosity toward tech and STEM. AIM has found that if kids fail to develop an interest in technology by middle school, they probably will never develop that interest.  

Here is a list of activities youth will have the opportunity to enjoy at SpookTechular:

  • Experience Virtual Reality with Oculus Rift 
  • Program Dash the Robot to go trick-or-treating
  • Make your own LED pumpkin light
  • Build a pumpkin spice marshmallow structure
  • Create a flying Ghost Rocket (weather-permitting)
  • Create an animated pumpkin using Javascript
  • Fly a Drone Spider

AIM hopes to see you at SpookTechular tomorrow. Make sure to register now!



2019 AIM Tech Celebration Fosters Connections, Creativity’s Most Important Element

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community

The source of every new idea is the same…a network of neurons in the brain, and then the network shifts. All of a sudden, electricity flows in an unfamiliar pattern…But sometimes a single network isn’t enough. Sometimes a creative problem is so difficult that it requires people to connect their imaginations together; the answer arrives only if we collaborate” (Lehrer 139).

Imagine, Jonah Lehrer’s 2012 book about creativity, explores the science of creativity as the confluence between talented individuals and prime social conditions. In our increasingly complex world, Lehrer argues, some problems can only be conquered through collective imagination–the singular mind is vital but not sufficient to breakthrough creativity. To stay ahead of the curve, companies need to foster group problem-solving that encourages the collision between diverse perspectives.

That’s why the AIM Institute seeks to grow, connect and inspire the local tech ecosystem through a variety of career development and education programs. AIM recognizes the importance of building connections between IT professionals, educators, students, community organizations, startups and larger enterprises. Every year, AIM Tech Celebration cultivates these connections.

Part awards ceremony, part networking event, Tech Celebration gives IT professionals the opportunity to meet new contacts, reconnect with old ones, share ideas and ideate collaboration, that inextricable element of creativity. Doug Durham, CEO of Don’t Panic Labs and co-founder of Nebraska Global, is on record with Silicon Prairie News lauding Tech Celebration for its ability to bring the community together.

Above all, Tech Celebration helps organize the local community around a shared vision of a thriving tech ecosystem, said Susan Courtney, Vice President of Operations, Business Process and Shared Services for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, in an interview Courtney conducted with AIM for a recent Strictly Business article.

“Tech Celebration helps to get folks that live in the tech world together to recognize accomplishments, get to know each other better, dialogue and harvest ideas,” Courtney said. 

In 2012, Courtney received the Tech Leader award for her work at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska and for her leadership in the wider community. She has been a Women in IT Initiative task force member for UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology and was recently honored by the Women’s Center for Advancement at the 2019 Tribute to Women luncheon.

Sponsored by Cox Business, the 2019 AIM Tech Celebration will be held Nov. 14, 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Center for Advanced and Emerging Technology on the MCC Fort Omaha campus. Tickets are free and open to the public

Additional sponsors include Valmont, Kiewit, FNTS, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mutual of Omaha, Union Pacific, Wells Fargo, Team Software, Google, Predictive Technology, Buildertrend, and CRI.


M.U.D. Donates 15 iPads to Support Youth-in-Tech Programs

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education, Youth

Representatives from Omaha’s Metropolitan Utilities District visited the AIM Brain Exchange Thursday to donate 15 iPads in support of AIM’s youth-in-tech programs. The iPads will help AIM expand its free tech education outreach to a wider audience, particularly underserved students who might not get to experience technology otherwise. In this way, M.U.D. and AIM are helping build tomorrow’s tech workforce and closing the local IT talent gap.

These iPads allow students to gain early experience controlling technology. Early tech exposure helps demystify a field that might seem out-of-reach to underserved youth. Such youth often face structural barriers to developing the technical skills that would help them break out of the cycle of poverty.

“We want to get our kids excited about being content creators, not just content consumers,” said Jonathan Holland, Senior Director of Educational Programs for AIM.

To that end, the AIM Brain Exchange helps youth explore, learn and do technology. Students gain hands-on experiences with virtual reality, programmable robots, and Piper Computer kits. A mobile outreach unit also travels to area schools, providing free tech education to students aged 7 to 17.

Holland continued: “We’ve found that if you don’t get kids interested in technology before middle school, they might never be interested. That’s too bad. People who choose a technology career tend to make $1 million more over their lifetime than they would if they didn’t go into tech.”

How You Can Help Build a Stronger Tech Community

As an innovative not-for-profit that helps grow, connect and inspire the tech talent ecosystem through education and career development, AIM relies on the support of partner organizations and community donations to sustain the services we offer to the community. Please consider making a small donation to support our youth-in-tech programs.

Even a modest, tax-deductible donation of $5 will help us reach more youth.

Whether you choose to donate or not, we’d love to see you at the 2019 AIM Tech Celebration awards ceremony. Tech Celebration is an annual awards ceremony recognizing businesses, individuals, students and educators that help shape the future of technology. The event acts as a connective force in the IT ecosystem, providing valuable opportunities for networking and collaboration. This year’s ceremony takes place Nov. 14, 5:30 to 8:30pm at the Center for Advanced and Emerging Technology on the MCC Fort Omaha campus. 

As always, Tech Celebration is free and open to the public. Come meet new people, reconnect with old colleagues, and celebrate technology in our community!

“Cooler than the Oscars,” 2019 Tech Celebration Continues Tradition of Recognizing Excellence in Technology

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education

The first Academy Awards ceremony took place May 16, 1929, to celebrate excellence in movies. Ninety years later, the Oscars are still going strong.

Less prominent than the Academy Awards, but probably no less important, AIM’s Tech Celebration awards ceremony began in 1995 to recognize excellence in technology. Since then, AIM has honored over 140 businesses, individuals, educators and students that have work to shape the future of IT. 

Sponsored by Cox Business, the 2019 AIM Tech Celebration award ceremony will continue this tradition, with blue-carpet pageantry, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, entertainment and networking opportunities rounding out the evening. The ceremony will also feature a DJ set by Kethro, aka Keith Rodger, acclaimed music producer at Make Believe Studios.

We’ve got a few other special surprises in the works, possibly involving drones. That’s all we’ll say.

A Connective Force in the Tech Talent Community

Tech Celebration will be held Thursday, Nov. 14 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Center for Advanced and Emerging Technology on MCC’s Fort Omaha Campus. As AIM’s main fundraising event of the year, Tech Celebration is open to the public and free to attend, thanks to the generosity of donors and sponsors. 

Tech Celebration’s 2019 sponsors include Cox Business, Valmont, Kiewit, FNTS, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mutual of Omaha, Union Pacific, Wells Fargo, Team Software, Google, Predictive Technology, Buildertrend, and CRI. Table sponsorships are selling fast. Free tickets are still available.

Tech Celebration acts as a connective force in the local IT community, according to Doug Durham, CEO of Don’t Panic Labs and co-founder of Nebraska Global.  

“The Tech Celebration event helps put us all in the same room, allows us to develop relationships, share experiences, and get to know one another a little bit better, because in our day-to-day lives we don’t often interact with each other,” Durham said.

Silicon Prairie News recently published a profile of Durham, himself a 2016 Tech Celebration winner in the Tech Innovator Category.

“I think only good things will come from seeing ourselves as neighbors in this ecosystem…and will create opportunities for connection, for new ideas, for innovation and collaboration,” Durham said.

Hopefully, we’ll see you at the ceremony.

Can’t Make It?

Help us keep building tomorrow’s tech talent community. Consider making a donation to AIM’s youth-in-technology programs or sponsor this year’s ceremony today!

AIM Institute Launches AIM Code School, formerly Interface: the Web School, to Meet Demand for Tech Talent

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Press Releases, Tech Education

The AIM Institute is pleased to announce the opening of the AIM Code School, formerly Interface: the Web School. AIM Code School is the region’s only federally accredited nonprofit code school, offering night classes in web development, full-stack programming, data science and corporate training. AIM Code School also provides job placement services for each student via a dedicated tech career navigator.

Although operating continuously since the AIM Institute acquired the school in 2017 (then known as Interface: the Web School), AIM Code School’s rebranding signals its alignment with the array of services that AIM provides to the community. (AIM an innovative not-for-profit that grows, connects and inspires the tech talent ecosystem through career development and educational programs.)

Omaha faces a serious shortage of tech talent workers. A March 31 article in the Omaha World-Herald gathered testimony from multiple businesses in the area regarding the difficulty of finding enough skilled tech workers to satisfy demand.

Dr. Kandace Miller, Executive Director of the AIM Institute, said AIM Code School helps organizations meet that demand by developing the necessary talent, and then directly connects that talent with businesses that need it.

Dr. Miller said: “Businesses continue to express their concerns about the lack of skilled tech workers in our region. The tech talent gap often deters new businesses from investing here. At the same time, we have too many underemployed individuals working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. That’s not right. AIM Code School helps solve both of these critical structural problems: closing the tech talent gap for organizations, and outfitting workers with the skills and connections necessary to find a higher-paying job, earn a living wage and improve their quality of life.” 

Unlike other code schools, AIM Code School actively partners with community organizations to find individuals who need new job skills. AIM Code School Director Krystal Rider has developed partnerships with multiple agencies working to improve the quality of life for all people, including Heartland Workforce Solutions and Urban League of Nebraska.

“Our community connections, our teachers, and our tech career navigators distinguish us,” Rider said. “Technology touches everything. Understanding how technology works, and participating in its development, is increasingly vital for people, especially for those in search of a rewarding job and a sustainable future.”

Keith Station, Director of Business Relations for Heartland Workforce Solutions, said, “Code schools are an underrated educational training and certification opportunity, and we have one of the finest programs out there, right here in our backyard.”

Heartland Workforce Solutions has been working with AIM Code School to develop 3 registered apprenticeship programs for in-demand tech positions: application development technician, database technician, and help desk technician. These programs will allow participants to learn on the job while pursuing additional specialized training through AIM Code School. 

Station praised AIM’s versatility as a tech industry representative, workforce development stakeholder and educational training provider. He said, “The intersection of these three roles has produced a really innovative strategy to create a boot camp pipeline that trains, certifies, and ultimately makes direct connections between career-seekers and high-demand tech career pathways, a true win-win for all involved.”

AIM Code School courses range from 10 to 14 weeks, twice per week, and are held at the AIM Brain Exchange, located at 19th and Howard Street. Course information is available online at Questions about AIM Code School may be directed to  

For media inquiries, contact Tom McCauley at


Check out our new Tech Talent Ecosystem tool!

Posted on - AIM Newsroom, Community, Tech Education, Tech Tips

The AIM Institute exists to forge a stronger tech ecosystem in the Silicon Prairie, a region gaining considerable attention for its undersung role in tech innovation.

Since our inception, we’ve implemented programs designed to generate new tech talent, match existing talent with employers, and celebrate technology and the minds who make it.

Now, we are becoming the one-stop shop for tech. Recently, we launched a Tech Talent Ecosystem resource tool to help jumpstart your career in technology.

Drawing on our extensive, communitywide connections to all things tech, Tech Talent Ecosystem features an ever-growing list of resources that will help you no matter where you find yourself in your tech journey.

Here’s a quick overview of the tool.

Education – Our Education page aggregates information about tech programs at higher education institutions, as well as some helpful resources for educators themselves.

Youth in Tech – Our Youth in Tech page assembles several activities geared toward K-12 students, including after school programs and summer tech academies.

Community – Our Community page leverages a list of scholarships and funding opportunities to help you embark on a career in tech.

Internships – Our Internships page helps connect you to internship programs that give you valuable, on-the-job experience.

Professional Development – Our Professional Development page lists the conferences and events you won’t want to miss, whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned tech professional.

Workforce Development – Our Workforce Development page is especially helpful for those who want to attend code school, find a job or change careers.

Head over to our Tech Talent Ecosystem resource now, or share it with someone who wants to start or advance their career in technology.