Honor to be presented during TechPoint’s Mira Awards gala on April 23

The need to develop a diverse pipeline of Indiana tech talent has been a top priority for Indiana tech leaders for the past few years, but it’s been the sole focus of the Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce (iDEW) program since 2015.

Working in eight Indianapolis high schools and with education and industry partners, iDEW has taught tech skills and provided career opportunities to more than 2,500 girls and students of color,  groups that are underrepresented in the state and national tech sector.  Nearly 80 percent of those students are college bound, pursuing science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degrees.

The program’s consistent efforts and successful efforts have earned iDEW its second TechPoint Mira Award. iDEW will receive the TechPoint Foundation for Youth Bridge Builder Award during TechPoint’s 23rd annual Mira Awards gala honoring the best of tech in Indiana on April 23. It won Mira’s Tech Educator of the Year Award in 2018.

Watch the Gerry Dick, Inside Indiana Business interview with Mathew Palakal, senior executive associate dean and professor, Informatics, IUPUI.

“When we launched seven years ago, we focused on the nuts and bolts of the project material used in the classrooms, but it didn’t take long to see that student interest came alive through the multitude of interactions planned and executed by Vicki Daugherty and Tina Rice. It was abundantly clear that our secret sauce was providing a sense of belonging among the students that was authentic,” said Jim Lyst, an iDew organizer and lecturer at Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, where iDEW is housed. “We are incredibly honored to  receive this award from TechPoint Foundation for Youth, which is also making a big impact in helping Indiana youth find their way to great tech careers.”

The iDEW Team: (clockwise from top left) Vicki Daugherty, Tina Rice, Jim Lyst and Mathew Palakal.

The Bridge Builder Award recognizes visionary leaders who are helping underserved student populations in Indiana gain access to experiential learning opportunities that inspire the pursuit of STEM careers.

“iDEW’s mission falls directly in line with our Foundation’s vision of ensuring access to STEM learning and career opportunities for young Hoosiers who haven’t been proportionally represented in Indiana’s tech workforce,” said George Giltner, the Foundation’s President and CEO. “Their team is dedicated to this important work and are truly deserving of this award.”

Browse Photos from the 2022 Mira Awards Gala.
Watch Acceptance Speeches from the Award Winners.
Watch Winner Interviews with Gerry Dick of Inside Indiana Business.
See All Award Winners from the 2022 Mira Awards Gala.

Mathew Palakal, executive associate dean at the School of Informatics and Computing, said the Bridge Builder award is a perfect descriptor of iDEW’s approach to its work.

“iDEW’s work doesn’t end in the classroom. The team facilitates campus visits, certification training, industry visits, end-of-semester project showcases and conference outings ahead of career counseling,” he said.  “We feel a deep sense of responsibility to them.”

Palakal also credited iDEW’s partners for the program’s success.

“Collaboration is central to the  iDEW approach. Bringing local communities, industry and high schools together helps us welcome students of all backgrounds into these great opportunities, which helps develop a successful and diverse workforce to power the digital economy,” he said.

Also during the Mira gala, TechPoint Foundation for Youth will launch a fundraising campaign to support growing k-12 students’ interest in STEM careers by expanding its successful State Robotics Initiative into the classroom. The Foundation relies on the annual Mira Awards gala to help raise awareness and funding to support statewide programs that address critical needs in the Indiana tech and STEM talent pipeline. Those interested in supporting TechPoint Foundation for Youth can visit the Foundation’s donation page: bit.ly/supportTPYouth

About iDEW: iDEW’s workforce development initiative opens opportunities for underrepresented minorities by providing them with skills that meet the needs of tech employers in Indiana and nationwide. Launched in 2015, the program is the result of a partnership between academia and Indiana corporations and organizations and is led by high schools teachers, with training and support provided by IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI faculty, staff, and near-peer mentors.

About TechPoint Foundation for Youth: TechPoint Foundation for Youth is the leader in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education efforts for the state of Indiana, and has been inspiring students through STEM programming since 2001. The Foundation ensures Indiana’s underserved and underrepresented, K-12 students have access to experiential learning opportunities that increase STEM knowledge and inspire STEM career exploration. Learn more here: https://www.techpointyouth.org/