Indiana’s tech sector added 2,547 jobs last year | Columnists

Indiana’s information technology employment grew by more than 2,500 jobs last year, according to the Cyberstates 2020 report by CompTIA, a leading information technology trade association.

With 8,750 tech businesses, the state’s $15.6 billion technology sector accounts for 4.8% of its economy and 5.7% of its workforce, according to an April news release on the report.

The report showed Indiana ending last year with 2,547 additional information technology jobs, for an increase of 1.4% from 2018.

That growth capped a decade in which the state’s technology labor force expanded by about 31,500 workers, with Indianapolis adding 14,263 of those IT positions.

The Indianapolis IT labor force grew by 23.8% and Indiana’s IT labor force grew by 20.7% from 2010 through 2019.

“Technology powered job growth and economic gains in the past decade in Indiana and across the county while delivering countless benefits in how we work, communicate, create and share,” Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, said in the release.

“Looking ahead, the need for professionals from all backgrounds to develop, support, and protect these technologies will continue to grow,” he said.

“In these trying times it is often difficult to think beyond today, but we must remain committed to preparing the workforce of tomorrow for success in whatever the future may hold.”

Among the nation’s 50 states, Indiana ranked 21st in tech employment and 27th in the number of jobs its technology sector added last year.

BAE contract to grow up to $1.1 billion

The Fort Wayne operations of BAE Systems Controls Inc. have been awarded a five-year option period modification of up to $1.1 billion on a contract for consumable and depot-level repairables for multiple weapon systems platforms.

The option was exercised on a 10-year base prospective price redetermination contract with firm-fixed price requirements and a five-year option period.

In addition to Fort Wayne, contract performance will take place in Texas, Arizona, California, New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire, with a performance completion date of March 22, 2025.

The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation in Richmond, Virginia handled the contract for the agency as well as the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

In other BAE news, the company’s Fort Wayne operations will perform a small amount of the work from a $7.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a contract the Air Force had awarded previously to BAE Systems Controls, Inc.

The contract announced earlier this year covers the cost of non-recurring engineering related to CV-22 Forward Defense Weapons Systems cockpit controls as well as a cabin intrusion reduction effort for the tiltrotor aircraft.

A little less than 89% of the engineering work will take place in Endicott, New York; 11% will take place in Fort Worth, Texas and the rest will take place in Fort Wayne.

The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Maryland handled the contract modification for the Air Force, which expects the work to be completed in June 2022.

Techapalooza student winners announced

A couple of information technology majors in their senior year at Purdue University Fort Wayne‘s School of Polytechnic won the 2020 Do it Best Techapalooza Student Project competition.

Sara Larson and Francisco Bolivar won the competition and a $1,000 prize for their “Drone Scanning for Inventory Management” project.

Instead of offering presentations in person at the annual Do it Best event, students adapted to COVID-19 restrictions by preparing video presentations for their project, which were evaluated late last month.

“We learned a lot about teamwork, communication, project management, and overcoming obstacles which has only made us grow into better students and IT professionals,” Larson said in an announcement earlier this month.

“We can’t thank Do it Best or Purdue Fort Wayne enough for this tremendous learning opportunity.”

Do it Best is a $3.5 billion, Fort Wayne-based, member-owned hardware, lumber and building materials cooperative with thousands of members in the United States and more than 50 other countries serving the home improvement industry.

“Working with Do it Best was a great and valuable experience that we will continue to feed into future opportunities. We learned to work as a team and leaned on each other’s strengths,” Bolivar said in the announcement.

“We did experience some challenges and changes, but we chose to adapt and push forward. Our goal to complete this project was driven by determination and commitment towards the team and the end result.”

The winning entry by Bolivar and Larson demonstrated how drone technology could improve an inventory process, providing a glimpse into the potential future of global supply chains.

At Do it Best, “our team is continually impressed with the students’ creativity, innovation and results,” John Mergy, the cooperative’s IT vice president, said in the announcement.

“This year was no exception. The students demonstrated their professionalism and determination working through such an exceptionally challenging time.”

Program moves small businesses online

Indiana University‘s Kelley School of Business has started a program to help move small businesses online.

The Kelley Hope Digital Project is offering a no cost technology consulting service to help small businesses establish or improve an online presence or otherwise bolster their digital capabilities.

The program also will provide paid internship opportunities for IU students in partnership with Small Business Administration development centers as well as chambers of commerce and economic development centers across Indiana.

“COVID-19 is having a tremendous impact on the state’s economy,” Bipin Prabhakar, information systems graduate programs chair, said in an announcement. “Particularly hard hit are small businesses that have traditionally operated in person, not online. For some, going online will be a lifeline.”

“Businesses may not have the time, knowledge or resources to implement an online model quickly,” Alan Dennis, internet systems chair, said in the announcement.

“Even after stay-at-home orders have been lifted, many consumers will still prefer to go online. We want to help these companies by offering a no-cost service to alleviate the operational barriers created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The program’s consulting projects could involve establishing or modifying e-commerce sites or other forms of an online presence, upgrading information security or improving remote operating capabilities.

They will be completed within two weeks under the guidance of a faculty member or an alumnus volunteering as a professional mentor. They will benefit many IU information systems students who have had summer internships canceled or shortened as a result of COVID-19 business disruptions.

“Due to the COVID-19 situation, the need for support is greater today than ever before,” Idalene Kesner, Kelley School dean, said in the announcement.

“Our dedicated faculty and engaged students are ready to apply their expertise and skills to help our state in its efforts to recover from the pandemic.”

The program will start at the Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech Community College and the South Bend ISBDC before spreading to the rest of the state’s ISBDC locations.

It has a goal of serving at least 100 companies and any small business is welcome to apply. The school and its partners plan to evaluate the program’s impact to decide whether to continue it this coming fall.

Veteran reporter Doug LeDuc joined Business Weekly in 2006 and primarily covers banking and finance and technology. You can send information for his weekly column to dleduc@kpcmedia.com or call 260-426-2640, ext. 3309.

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