Wednesday, February 21, 2024

DigiFest previews STEAM careers for students

by BIZ Magazine

Stacey Tinsley | Special to BIZ. Magazine

Students from across north Louisiana learned all about STEAM-based career opportunities at this year’s DigiFest South Expo in Bossier City.

STEAM education includes the incorporation of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

This annual educational event is hosted by the Bossier Arts Council (BAC). Kicking off the festivities on Friday, Sept. 13, visitors competed in a game development competition called DigiCode. From Friday to Sunday, college students spent 48 hours designing and developing a fully working video game.

On Wednesday, Sept. 18 and Thursday, Sept. 19, middle and high school students gathered inside the Bossier Civic Center for the expo event.

“Having the opportunity to showcase the area’s newest technologies to over 1,400 students is fulfilling our mission in a huge way. We are thrilled at the outcome for this year’s event,” said Robin Jones, executive director of the BAC.

During the expo, students learned about STEAM-based opportunities, such as collegiate degrees and career paths. 

“DigiFest not only allows students to learn more about a variety of STEAM careers and programs, but it also gives students the opportunity to explore subject areas that are new to them,” said Paul Spivey, assistant dean in the Division of Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics at BPCC. “DigiFest is a great community event that gives a platform for BPCC, other colleges, and tech companies to share about tech careers in our region.”

Organizations and businesses also showcased their projects, tools and advancements in technology to engage students, such as 3-D printing and demonstrations of drones in flight.

Students visit the Shreve Memorial Library table at Digifest 2019 Expo in September. (Stacey Tinsley/Special to BIZ. Magazine)

“The whole purpose is to showcase the technologies that are in our area — the people who are working in this area making a living at (that type of job), and expose the students to see these companies who have a STEAM related type of business. We show them the path to get there and the type of company that would hire them,” said Ceasar A. Marrero, chairman of DigiFest South and CEO of Xentient Technology. 

In 2011, DigiFest South was introduced to educate and expose students to the opportunities for digital artists. DigiFest South also shows students how to advance themselves into technology-based professions without having to relocate to markets outside of Shreveport-Bossier City.  

“There’s a lot of technology companies that are here that other people don’t even know exist, and these students have never even heard of,” Marrero said. “This is an opportunity for us to try to bring those companies here and say, ‘Hey, now’s the time to showcase what you have,’ and try to convince these kids that once you finish school, there are opportunities in the Shreveport-Bossier area.”

DigiFest South organizers are also beginning to see students who attended DigiFest years ago advance into digital professions and even return to DigiFest South as exhibitors.

Bryce Bretherton is the founder and owner of Laser Dragon Productions. He is a 19-year-old, graphic designer and comic book illustrator. Bretherton attended DigiFest in the past as a student and is now showcasing his company and teaching students how he incorporated STEAM into a career. 

“I came to DigiFest as a student to try to learn whatever I could and look at all of the different technology. I really wanted to see how I could incorporate technology with my drawing and make a career out of it. Coming to DigiFest when I was younger really opened my eyes to a lot of career opportunities that I could look forward to,” Bretherton said. “From being the student to now being a presenter at DigiFest teaching the students, I see it as coming full circle.”

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