The Naveen Jindal School of Management MS in Information and Technology Management program was the belle of the recent Technology Ball hosted by Digital Conduit. As the gala’s philanthropic beneficiary, the ITM program brought home fundraising proceeds and scholarships from the Nov. 10 black-tie gathering of the local technology community.
The ball at the Dallas Market Center capped a season of networking events in that community and culminated in the ITM program receiving $14,000 in scholarships awarded at the ball to 10 MS in ITM students.
Those students had entered a contest created by the ITM program and Digital Conduit, which plans and organizes events targeted to the technology community. Deloitte, the tax and professional services company, sponsored the inaugural Illuminated Mind STEM Scholarship.
MS in ITM student Nitin Malik won the competitive $5,000 scholarship and received an invitation to the ball. The other nine scholarship finalists were invited as well, and they were surprised, MS in ITM Program Manager Gaurav Shekhar says, when, in front of the ball’s more than 350 guests, they each picked up a check for $1,000.
Scholarship applicants were required to submit an essay about how they see themselves in the technology industry after they graduate. They also were required to submit a one-page idea on how to address the shortage in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) qualified job candidates using a solution that included technology.
“A managing director of Deloitte and one of the executive hosts of the ball, Jeffrey Blackwell, was the force behind the scholarship,” Shekhar says.
Malik says he based his STEM idea on experiences he gained working with the UT Dallas Center for Computer Science Education and Outreach (K-12) and with an organization called Apran, which he encountered when he worked at information technology consulting company Infosys in India.
“Working with these organization from last few years made me aware of the changes which can be brought in STEM education and promoting it to the next generation,” Malik says. “When you are directly involved with students in the field, you get the real picture and the importance of the change.”
Shekhar says benefits such as Malik’s scholarship began to accrue last spring after he launched a search to find more industry mentors for students.
Knowledge of the Technology Ball led Shekhar to develop a partnership between the ITM program and Digital Conduit, which has been running the ball and its related networking events in Dallas annually since 2011.
In the April to October ball season that preceded the gala, Digital Conduit periodically brought C-suite leaders together with top technology executives — vice presidents of IT, chief technology officers, chief information officers and others — in social settings to network for business and to advance the ball’s chief philanthropic goal, supporting STEM education.
In affiliating with UT Dallas, Digital Conduit named the ITM program its STEM education philanthropic partner.
“The power of social media is ultimately responsible for connecting UTD and the Technology Ball,” says Karen Krygowski Bruno, Digital Conduit’s founder and president. “Some students were participating in Tech Ball events through internships and mentorships, and from there, a philanthropic relationship emerged where students have had an opportunity to network with some of DFW’s most influential CIOs and other technology professionals.”
On a practical level, Shekhar says, “the new partnership not only has provided new mentors, it also has opened a new channel for the tech industry to engage with the Jindal School.”
Connections with ball sponsors and participants also have brought more industry speakers to classrooms, led to sponsorships for student competitions and resulted in more internship and job prospects for ITM students, Shekhar says.
“Technology Ball’s support for our students has been phenomenal, and Gaurav’s initiative in aligning us with the Technology Ball holds a lot of promise,” Dr. Mark Thouin, MS in ITM program director, says. “Going forward, we hope to grow the partnership to get industry professionals even more involved at the Jindal School, with competitions, hackathons, recruiting and more, so that others will recognize, as we do, the outstanding students we have.”
“Technology Ball is working with UTD to identify even more opportunities to work together and enrich the STEM education path for UTD students,” Krygowski Bruno says. “And we look forward to driving greater impact as we build the partnership.”
— Kristine A. Imherr