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First Callers to Coders cohort graduates

Six local professionals graduated from the AIM Callers to Coders program on Friday. 

This was an opportunity that Physicians Mutual provided for their employees. 

Emily Matis, director at Tech Education at AIM Institute, said, “The people that you have are the people that you need to invest in.” 

The year-long program was held entirely virtual due to the global coronavirus pandemic. But, this helped students to remain successfully working full time at Physicians Mutual, while they took modular based classes at AIM! 

Nathan Coberly, Vice President of Enterprise Architecture Development at Physicians Mutual and AIM board member, addressed the crowd at the virtual graduation ceremony. He explained how AIM helped frame up the opportunity to upskill Physicians Mutual customer service agents into IT workers. “AIM has been with us from day one, every step of the way,” he said. 

Coberly also spoke highly of the graduates, noting this was not an easy task. 

“I’m so excited for the opportunities that lie ahead for our six participants,” Coberly said. “This is really a beginning for them now, as they consider different opportunities at Physicians Mutual to leverage their training and affect these career transitions. I’m already excited about what’s coming together.”

The Callers to Coders program helps remove barriers to entry for technology careers. The curriculum participants studied included: Computing Foundations; Introduction to Programming with Python; Business Intelligence; Foundations of Web Development; and Programming Intermediate (Java). 

Before the graduation ceremony started, participants were working together to code, and solve problems. During the graduation ceremony, students shared what they were taking away from the course, everything from learning to code, better communication skills, talented teachers, and formalizing mentorship relationships.

The graduates include: Jasmine Wainwright-Henry, Nicole Perry, Catherine “Cat” Wilber, Marissa Homan, Charley Greenfield, and Alexander “Alex” Mares. Each student had the option to speak, and they all did. 

Marissa Homan said, “I feel thankful! I’m excited to utilize the new technical skills I learned. We were all able to follow along with what they showed us.” Catherine “Cat” Wilber said, “I had an absolute ball. I learned so much!”

Lead instructor Vanessa Kasun added, “I wish you every happiness. Masters and experts don’t know everything.” She added a quote from Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda, “Much to learn you still have.” 

To discover more about AIM Code School, visit our website or contact Emily Matis. To learn more about AIM’s custom training opportunities, contact Tony Veland, Business Development Director. 

Congratulations to the graduates!

AIM Institute and Omaha STEM Ecosystem Launch New STEM Community Platform

The Omaha STEM Ecosystem and AIM Institute announced the launch of the online STEM Community Platform, presented by Cox. The mission of the STEM Community Platform, stemplatform.org, connects youth, parents, educators and professionals to an online hub of high-quality STEM programs, resources and events in the Greater Omaha area. The website is the first of its kind in Omaha to have a comprehensive list of STEM programs all in one place.

“Nebraska is currently faced with a critical shortfall of professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Julie Sigmon, Director for the Omaha STEM Ecosystem. “In order to grow the region’s talent pipeline, we must provide opportunities needed to be successful in learning, scientific thinking, and examining potential career paths. The site would not be possible without our generous sponsors, Cox and Facebook, and our partnership with AIM Institute, which is fueling the technology behind the new website.”

“AIM is so proud to be part of this effort to strengthen the Omaha area STEM community and program pipeline,” said Kandace Miller, Ph.D, President and CEO of the AIM Institute. “Partnerships like these are crucial to building a strong, diverse tech and STEM community.”

“We understand the important role STEM plays in the development of our youth. This platform provides access to hundreds of programming options and learning opportunities for everyone in our community, we couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of this new learning ecosystem,” said Kim Rowell, Cox Vice President, Omaha.

“STEM skills are important for the next generation of the workforce to thrive here in Nebraska and across the country,” said Matt Sexton, Community Development Regional Manager at Facebook’s Papillion Data Center. “We are elated to help make this innovative resource a reality for students and families in our community.”

Together, and through the STEM Community Platform, education, government, nonprofit and business entities can help the Omaha STEM Ecosystem create a robust and vibrant STEM community that is equitable for all.

The website offers easy functionality for the user to find kids camps, career listings in STEM career fields and informational resources for elementary aged children to adults. There also is an online quiz available to help narrow areas of interest. Organizations and community members now have the ability to view and add STEM resources, opportunities and events by visiting stemplatform.org.

Founding and supporting community partners that made the STEM Community Platform a reality include, Cox, Facebook, AIM Institute, Clarkson College, CyncHealth, First National Bank of Omaha, Iowa West Foundation, Nebraska Department of Education, Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and University of Nebraska at Omaha.

AIM Tech Awards celebrate impact of technology leaders during unprecedented year


The role technology has played during the pandemic gave the 2020 AIM Tech Awards special meaning at the AIM Institute’s signature annual event on Thursday, Dec. 3. In a virtual format, the AIM Institute, a nonprofit organization committed to changing lives through technology, celebrated the contributions and dedication of tech leaders, educators, students and businesses to the tech community through the presentation of six awards. Scholarships also were awarded to area college students. 

AIM promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in the tech sector by making outstanding educational opportunities and career training accessible to all, from elementary school through adulthood. Proceeds from the event support AIM’s mission to grow, connect, and inspire the tech community in Omaha. Presented by Cox Business, the AIM Tech Awards recognized the following individuals for their impact in the Silicon Prairie’s tech sector:

Tech Leader of the Year: Kim Whittaker, President FNTS

Whittaker is a passionate leader recognized for her continued focus on cloud technology, which is more important than ever as remote working and learning are a necessity due to changes brought on by COVID-19. She leads FNTS’ Women in Technology initiative and events, inspiring youth to consider future careers in technology. Under her leadership, FNTS launched a job shadow program to give students and career-focused professionals opportunities to learn various IT and tech-adjacent roles.


Tech Innovator of the Year: Mike Douglas, Director of Delivery Engineering, Lunavi
Douglas has more than 20 years of experience in leading delivery teams and providing mentorship for multiple client engagements. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in innovation trends and technologies to Lunavi, a provider of IT consulting, managed services and software development.

Tech Educator of the Year: Rios ‘Tony’ Gunter, Principal, Kennedy Elementary School
Gunter goes above and beyond to provide technology opportunities to his staff and students. He led the implementation of technology upgrades at Kennedy Elementary that included the integration of Promethean boards, iPads and robotics into the classroom. 

Tech Student of the Year: David Salazar, University of Nebraska-Omaha
Salazar is completing a doctoral degree in the department of biomechanics at UNO, where he has developed 3D printed anatomical models for surgical planning. These anatomical models are exact replicas of organs or body segments created from CT scans and the latest in additive manufacturing.

Tech Startup of the Year: Retail Aware, accepted by Keith Fix, company founder and CEO

Fix and Retail Aware have combined hardware and software to bring data to the grocery shelf in a way that hasn’t been done before. Retail Aware provides real-time shelf analytics through micro sensors to track product engagement, audience and footfall, dwell time, temperature, motion and alerts for product needs.


Community Builder of the Year: Urban League of Nebraska

In 2019, Urban League of Nebraska began partnering with Heartland Workforce Solutions and the AIM Code School to host the Careers in Tech Bootcamp. Through this class, students gain the specific skills they need to become employable in tech careers. This collaboration is bringing low-income and underrepresented groups into the tech sector. In just under a year, this partnership has helped 11 students graduate with technology skills, and half are now employed in the tech sector.


AIM Institute/ Association of Information Technology Professionals Scholarship recipients:
Each year AIM and the Omaha chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals award scholarships to deserving students. The following recipients received their scholarships in fall 2020 and are excelling in their respective studies:

Kaeli Clark, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Nathan Perkins, University of Nebraska-Omaha
Pranav Rajan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Raikes School of Computer Science
Abdulnaser Sheikh, University of Nebraska-Omaha


Chad Nourse Memorial Scholarship recipients:
The Chad Nourse Memorial Scholarship was established to remember and honor a tech champion in the community. Chad Nourse, who worked for TEAM Software, was a dedicated tech professional with more than 20 years of experience in software development with a passion for developing and recruiting talent at TEAM Software. The 2020 Chad Nourse Memorial Scholarship recipients are: 

Tessa Brazda, Doane University
Travis Munyer, University of Nebraska-Omaha
Sabaythip Phongsavath, Northeast Community College

“This year’s award winners and scholarship recipients have made a profound impact to strengthen our local tech community and make it more inclusive and accessible for everyone during a challenging year,” said Itzel Lopez, AIM’s Vice President of Advancement and Community Relations. ”AIM Institute is proud to honor and celebrate their achievements and excited to see how these individuals continue to innovate, shape and push the Silicon Prairie tech sector forward.”   


For more information about the AIM Tech Awards or how you can support programs that impact thousands of students, job seekers, professionals and companies in the Omaha metro area, please visit https://aiminstitute.org/.

You can watch a recording of the event on AIM’s YouTube channel.

AIM’s second all-virtual Emerging Tech Leaders Academy cohort celebrates graduation

More than 20 local and international tech professionals graduated from the AIM Institute’s fall Emerging Tech Leaders program on Thursday. 

This was the second cohort held entirely virtually due to the global coronavirus pandemic. But the virtual nature meant the program’s footprint could reach overseas for the first time ever, with three participants from the U.K.

The five week program gives professionals an overview of best leadership practices tailored to the tech industry, with goals to nurture future talent and allow participants to discern if they want to pursue a leadership track in their career.  

“Today’s tech professionals are dealing with many challenges. Effective management and leadership skills are needed now more than ever. I hope you take all you’ve learned and start implementing it in your workplace and your homes.” said Monika Philp, AIM’s director of tech leadership development, when she addressed the graduates.

During the graduation ceremony, participants shared what they were taking away from the course, everything from formalizing mentorship relationships to strengthening team communication.

Darvy Ceron Gomez, a solution consultant at Lunavi, said he learned many tactics that he will take into his burgeoning role as a company leader.. 

“I always thought leadership was like yoga, trying to develop my skills, find my weaknesses and improve those,” Ceron Gomez said at the graduation ceremony. “That’s a good thing to do, but I learned in the program that the best thing to do is use your strengths, and rely on those.”

Sarah Little, of TD Ameritrade, said she especially appreciated learning tools and strategies to handle difficult and delicate conversations. 

“That will be very useful for me in the near and far future,” she said.

To learn more about AIM’s Tech Leadership programs, visit our website or contact Monika Philp

Congratulations to the graduates!

Pam Anderson, Tenaska
Halvdan Barret, TD Ameritrade
Matthew Barry, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Sarah Berkebile, Bryan High School, Omaha Public Schools
Jason Borgmann, TD Ameritrade
Darvy Ceron Gomez, Lunavi
Dan Ebert, TEAM Software
Dennis Howe, Gavilon
Shane Limbach, Boys Town
Andrew Lisowyj, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Sarah Little, TD Ameritrade
Emily Matis, AIM Institute
Rucha Mayekar, Careerlink, LLC
Tony Mehner, Tigerpaw Software
Tony Newton, TEAM Software
Leonardo Rasile, TEAM Software
Indranil Saha, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Vidhya Sathyamurthy, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Peter Shipstone, TEAM Software
Allison Sillik, DoSpace
Sydney Urzendowski, Gavilon
Christoper Witt, TD Ameritrade

Union Pacific Foundation grant enhances AIM Code School career placement services

AIM Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to changing lives through technology, received a $15,000 grant from the Union Pacific Community Ties Giving Program. The funding helps the AIM Code School, which provides technology training for people of all skill levels and at all stages in their careers, with resources for career counseling and job training and placement.

The Community Ties Giving Program prioritizes funding for workforce development programs that seek to build foundational skills for youth, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); raise awareness, educate and prepare young adults for middle-skills jobs through career training programs, workforce readiness initiatives and programs that assist with job placement; and “up-skilling” the existing workforce by providing training and resources that enable them to reach the next level of their career.

The funding provides resources for AIM to offer its students one-on-one career advising and counseling at the end of each course offering with Emily Matis, director of the AIM Code School. It also enhances the nonprofit’s ability to introduce its students to tech employers and gain valuable insights and exposure to the vast opportunities in the Silicon Prairie’s tech sector.

“AIM and Union Pacific are aligned in our goals to support career training, development and advancement opportunities for in-demand technology jobs in our communities,” Matis said. “Union Pacific’s support of our Code School gives our students a clearer picture of what is involved in the day-to-day workings of a tech career, and allows them to network with current tech professionals to learn how to present themselves as future tech professionals. It sets our students up for success in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

Matis said the funding provides more time to learn about resume-building, honing and understanding the skills they are gaining from coursework, how to search for jobs in technology, get connected with employers and practice for job interviews. In addition to the grant funding provided by the Community Ties Giving Program, Union Pacific has supported AIM’s mission by providing internship opportunities to high school graduates AIM supported through its Code School.

“This grant is just one of many examples of Union Pacific supporting our mission to grow and develop the tech talent pipeline in the Silicon Prairie, giving our students life-changing learning experiences, and invaluable experience in the field,” Matis said.

Learn more about the opportunities available at AIM Code School on our website.