Last night, AIM Tech Celebration welcomed over 300 of the Silicon Prairie’s tech professionals and supporters to Founders One|Nine in downtown Omaha for an awards ceremony recognizing those who have made a profound impact within the local tech community.
The uplifting evening was made possible by generous sponsorships and donations from the local community, and presenting sponsor Cox Business.
Comedian Chris Kovi emceed the evening, and Omaha Street Percussion made a surprise appearance to warm up the crowd. In total, nine awards were handed out to individuals and companies who have made outstanding achievements in tech over the last year.
The evening also acted as AIM’s fundraising gala to support their Brain Exchange program, which serves traditionally underrepresented youth in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) fields.
“Our community leaders have identified a shortage of more than 2,500 tech workers which, if not filled, will have an estimated negative economic impact of more than $102 million,” said Scott Rowe, Director of Digital Innovation at AIM. “Now, more than ever, AIM needs support to meet the needs of the community to provide the programming required to see Omaha become the thriving community that so many of us envision and can be seen on the horizon.”
The Brain Exchange helps fill that future need with its youth-focused programming.
“From robotics to programming to digital art, these programs cover all aspects of STEAM,” said Rowe. “Our free programs are designed to ignite a passion for tech and provide youth with future upward mobility, regardless of their economic background and current access to technology.”
Nancy Williams, AIM Board member and President at No More Empty Pots, recalled her time working at the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands and said AIM brought them the opportunity for kids to learn about and work with robotics.
“What AIM does really does work,” said Williams.
Award winners came to the stage one-by-one and thanked family and colleagues for supporting their journeys through the tech world.
Emily Kenney, recipient of the college tech student award, thanked her colleagues at Mutual of Omaha, where she interned and is now an applications developer.
“Very few things are done by one person, and this is no exception,” said Kenney. “Being recognized by AIM is a true honor.”
“I’d be lying if I said I do everything I do alone,” said Guillermo Rosas, College Tech Education winner, and instructor at Metropolitan Community College. “I’m fortunate to work with wonderful people who support me.”
Nichole Niebur, winner of the K-12 Tech Educator Award, talked about the importance of creating opportunities.
“I feel really passionate about tech education,” said Niebur. “I’ve worked hard to make sure Burke students have had those opportunities, and that those opportunities are open to students of diverse backgrounds.”
The Vanguard Award winner Jay Garren also talked about the importance of creating paths for the next generation of leaders.
“Find that person and help them out,” said Garren. “I [have been] a very big fan of AIM, for many years. The number of lives they’ve affected is ridiculously large. It’s why AIM is such an icon in Omaha.”
2018 Tech Celebration Winners
The Vanguard – Raymond (Jay) Garren
High School Tech Student – Yash Fichadia
College Tech Student – Emily Kenney
High School Tech Educator – Nichole Niebur
College Tech Educator – Guillermo Rosas
Tech Innovator – Mike Wolf
Tech Leader – Gautham Pallapa
Exemplary High Growth Business – Buildertrend
Exemplary Enterprise Business – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska
The 2018 AIM Tech Celebration was made possible by presenting sponsor Cox Business.
AIM Institute is the parent company of Silicon Prairie News.