Applications are now being accepted for a unique tech training program that aims to build a more inclusive tech workforce in Central Illinois. Illinois Reboot is a free, live virtual course created and presented by the University of Illinois Research Park, with sponsorship support from American Family Insurance. It provides participants with a foundation in data science literacy, along with coaching and mentoring from local tech professionals.

“This program aims to help those seeking to pivot in their career path and enter the Central Illinois tech economy, which may lead to high-paying, stable careers in data science,” said Laura Frerichs, executive director, University of Illinois Research Park. “We were thrilled with the results of the spring cohort, and can’t wait to welcome more students as together we work toward a more equitable and innovative tech workforce.”

The nine-week program teaches participants about coding languages and programs, specifically UNIX, GitHub, SQL and Python. It also connects them with career counseling and will network them with Central Illinois employers looking for qualified applicants for tech roles.

The Spring 2021 cohort was 53% female and 63% underrepresented populations in tech, with a 93% graduation rate. Individuals from groups that are underrepresented in the tech sector are highly encouraged to apply, including (but not limited to) women, Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans and those with disabilities.

Corporate partners, including Carle, Caterpillar, Wolfram Research and Yahoo, have been an integral part of the program by teaching topics and giving career advice.

“The directionality of where we are headed to be a more inclusive technical society is fantastic,” said Phil Rowell, vice president of clinical & business intelligence, Carle Health System, who actively participated in the program.

The program is free, thanks to grant funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Additional resources from American Family Insurance will allow Illinois Reboot to fund scholarships for students to pursue more training after successful completion of the course.

The third cohort is seeking applicants to start in June 2021. The training will be delivered via Zoom in the evenings throughout June and July. The deadline to apply is May 23.

More information is available at ILLINOIS REBOOT: A Coding Pre-Academy – Research Park