Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Take Five: Ricardo Wilkins (Columbus)

Ricardo Wilkins is a member of our BDPA Columbus chapter. He has been a frequent workshop presenter at local and national level. Ricardo has been involved with the training of the high school computer competition (HSCC) team that represented Columbus, Ohio in the past few national BDPA HSCC championships. It is worth noting that his team was the most improved last year ... moving up 10 spots in the national rankings from 2009 to 2010.

We are pleased that Ricardo agreed to participate in our Take Five interview series.

  1. How did you get involved in working with BDPA? - A few years ago I got hit with the epiphany that I needed to stay connected with the IT community beyond the walls of my 9-to-5 job. I wanted to be able to share my experience with others in my field, as well as learn from other fellow IT professionals. In addition to a couple of other organizations, BDPA proved itself to be a good fit for my goals. Once I got involved, I heard about the HSCC program, and since I had experience teaching computers to elementary and middle school kids, I thought that might be a good fit. I think it was a good decision - I enjoy volunteering.
  2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with BDPA? - I love it when I feel I've played a part in helping someone figure out 'What's In It For Me' - i.e. how to take some knowledge and make it practical and useful for your own situation. I saw it happen when I gave a talk on social media techniques during a chapter meeting, and several folks came up to me weeks later to thank me and say that they had successfully put my ideas into practice. But I especially enjoy when I help the HSCC young people get to this moment. One moment I'll never forget was right after I finished a lesson on building websites, and one of the students asked a follow-up question - when I answered, I saw him rubbing his hands together like a mad scientist! It was obvious to me that he had just learned something that he could use in a practical way - let's all hope he uses his new powers for good, not evil. :)
  3. Do you have a favorite student that you've worked with in BDPA? Why? - No way can I have a favorite - each one has their own special talents and abilities. But if I wanted to choose a favorite, I'd certainly have plenty to choose from. Maybe my student who, as a freshman, outscored all his peers with a score of 27 on the ACT? Or my student who won a national award for women in technology? Or my student who does web design work as a part-time business? Nope, I can't choose - they're all great in my book.
  4. What would future evolution or change would you like to see in BDPA's STEM-based training? - I would love to see a Requirements Elicitation component in the competition - in the real-world, I think these students will find that the skills needed to figure out what their customers or clients need in the solutions they build will be just as important as the ability to build it. I'd also like to see us expand into the mobile development space, particularly Windows Phone 7, which utilizes a platform requiring skills that students can also leverage in the browser and desktop application space.
  5. Any advice for people considering donation to BETF? - Do it. :) Investing in youth and technology has a great ROI.

I gotta admit that I don't quite understand the 'requirements elicitation' stuff ... but, I hope that some of y'all that are truly experienced IT professionals do ... and perhaps you can let us know how we can get 'er done within BDPA.

You can follow Ricardo on Twitter or through his blog. Also, you can share your appreciation of Ricardo in a number of ways --- one of which is making a secure online donation to the BDPA Columbus HSCC Scholarship Fund!

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