Students, instructor gain COMMON knowledge during IBM expo

Published 10.12.2022

Information Technology
Student News
Faculty & Staff
Engineering Technologies

Four Pennsylvania College of Technology students and an instructor were given a “life-changing opportunity” to attend the COMMON Expo 2022, an annual event to share knowledge, make connections and gain insight into the worlds of IT and IBM, held earlier this month in St. Louis.

“We received many applications from students wishing to attend the event, but could only choose four,” said Rick R. Crossen, instructor of information technology. “The students were picked based on a short description of what they hoped to gain from the event, as well as academic performance. Needless to say, the students that were chosen had an outstanding drive to learn and excellent academic standing.”

Students and faculty from Penn College's information technology program were fortunate to attend this month's COMMON Expo 2022 in St. Louis. From left are John M. Maize, of Riverside, information assurance & cyber security; Rick R. Crossen, instructor; Jake M. Compton, of Williamsport, software development & information management; Wendy Tapia Ayllon, of Kennett Square, network administration & engineering technology; and Andrew J. Graham, of Nicholson, network & user support. (Photo provided)Joining Crossen at the Oct. 3-5 event were John M. Maize, of Riverside, a senior in information assurance & cyber security; Jake M. Compton, of Williamsport, a junior in software development & information management; Wendy Tapia Ayllon, of Kennett Square, a first-year student in network administration & engineering technology; and Andrew J. Graham, of Nicholson, a freshman in network & user support.

The group began its journey early that Sunday morning and returned late Wednesday night, Crossen said, noting that the trip offered the opportunity to gain IT knowledge, travel across the country and view the Gateway Arch and other amazing scenery.

“The expo spanned three days and included over 20 speakers from all over the world,” the faculty member said. “We sat in on lectures from esteemed IBM employees, entrepreneurs and IT workers from other countries. Overall, the lectures had a large programming focus, but there were many others that covered such topics as cybersecurity or database technologies. We also sat in on very informative lectures talking about soft skills in the IT industry, such as communication and team-building.”

The students and Crossen were able to see the ins and outs of the business IT world, to speak one-on-one with many professionals in the industry and, most importantly, to build connections with like-minded IT professionals.

“I couldn’t be more happy with the experience I had at the IBM COMMON Expo and hope Penn College receives the opportunity to attend again next year,” the instructor said.

Three of the students offered testimonials, as well:

  • “Attending COMMON has been a great educational and professional experience for me. I found out that, not only is there an entire IBM community out there, but that those in the community are very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. I learned a lot from attending the sessions and networking with those in attendance. Specifically, I learned about RPG (role-playing game) programming and SQL (Structured Query Reporter) tips. I also found out that there are a lot of educational resources out there available through COMMON. There is even a mentorship program! I am glad that I had the opportunity to attend COMMON.” – Jake M. Compton

  • “I just came back from COMMON Expo 2022 the other day, and it was nothing short of incredible. The supporting community was welcoming and ecstatic to have all of us young students, and more than happy to share their wealth of knowledge with us. I know, personally, I learned more in three days than I could have learned in six months most anywhere else. That’s not even to mention all the other opportunities that presented themselves. If anyone – student, professional or somewhere in between – has the chance to see it for themselves, I would say, ‘Take it,’ because there is not a more knowledgeable and welcoming community anywhere.” – Andrew J. Graham

  • “Having the opportunity to attend the COMMON Expo was a life-changing opportunity, I learned a lot of new things and met a lot of smart and interesting people. As a woman in IT, I was nervous going to this event, afraid I wouldn’t meet anyone. But getting there – and seeing and meeting other women in IT that are successful – makes me believe that I, one day, can be like them. There were a lot of strong and smart people there; every speaker was a good presenter, and, overall, they were all really nice people. I thank everyone for giving me the opportunity to sit and listen to them, as well as to meet fascinating people. I also want to thank my sponsor, ImPower Technologies. All sessions were very interesting, but attending the SQL sessions had to be my favorite, as I learned many new ways to use indexes, as well as attending refactoring classes. All sessions made me see the IT world differently, and I am really thankful for this opportunity.” – Wendy Tapia Ayllon