Pilsen native eager to help others achieve
February 6, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
George Burciaga, CEO
of smarTECHS.net, was born
and raised in Pilsen near 18th and Carpenter. He graduated from
Kelly High at California and Archer in 1993, determined to make
a difference. While a student at Robert Morris College and later
at DePaul University, Burciaga took a part-time job at Union Beverage
Co. at 35th and California doing low-level IT jobs.
where Burciaga met his mentor, Richard Wallace, the operations
head at the beverage distribution company. "He saw I had
the drive and the will," Burciaga says.
"I was determined
to find a position where I could help myself and others,"
Wallace inspired Burciaga
to open his first company, Sunrise Technology Inc. in 1997. Burciaga
proved capable of both managing technology and recruiting clients.
Sunrise began by helping install networking gear, work stations
and software. If something broke, Burciaga came and fixed it.
His first client was
Nesbitt Burns Securities, a sub of the Bank of Montreal, which
owns Harris Bank.
"They hired me
to do IT coordination," Burciaga says. With Y2K on the horizon,
they soon had him trouble-shooting tech problems across the country.
The experience motivated
Burciaga to launch smarTECHS. net at 18th and Indiana, which employs
39 tech consultants.
"We help clients
with on-site tech service," he says. "We resell hardware
and software and we do Web development."
David Weinstein, president
of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, is encouraged by smarTECHS'
ability to break through and work for larger organizations, such
as Comcast and MB Financial Bank.
"George is a great
Chicago entrepreneurial story in the making," says Weinstein,
who also is impressed with Burciaga's civic commitment. "He's
making a concerted effort to give back."
The 31-year-old entrepreneur
started the "Follow Me Program." Burciaga visits Chicago
Public Schools, including Kelly High, urging students to go to
His company funds seminars
on financial aid and field trips to familiarize students with
Burciaga has a challenge
for Chicago's established companies.
"I'm willing to
work with any corporation that wants to make a difference in Pilsen
and Little Village," he says. "I'll do what I can and
try to match what they offer."
e-mail address is email@example.com.
for De La Salle
Tablet PC's are becoming
de rigueur for freshmen at De La Salle Institute, at 35th and
Wabash, according to Brother Michael Quirk, president of the private
Catholic college prep that boasts five of Chicago's mayors, including
the current Mayor Daley, as alums.
"We believe we're
the first high school in the city going to tablets," says
Quirk, who sees tablets as powerful and more flexible classroom
tools than desktops or laptops.
"Tablets are more
adaptable to daily student life," Quirk says. "We want
to assure our students continue to produce college caliber work,
and are ready for the rigors of a top university."
Quirk believes kids
living in the city deserve the best technology.
"We are trying
to make this affordable," says Quirk, who's spreading the
payment for the computers over four years. "We have a need-based
financial aid system that will help those who can't afford a tablet
corridor requires a strong supply of quality engineering students,"
says PCTEL CEO Marty Singer, who chairs the Midwest Council of
the American Electronics Association. Singer and the AeA launch
a new scholarship program today with the Illinois Institute of
The STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Scholarship Program aims
to provide funding and internships for 10 budding engineers at
IIT. Each student will receive a $2,500 stipend that is renewable
annually provided they maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
They'll also be eligible
for an internship opportunity with a Chicago area AeA member tech
to launch this program in Illinois," says Ed Longanecker,
executive director of AeA Midwest. "In other regions, like
the Pacific Northwest, AeA offers nearly 50 scholarships annually.
They're sponsored by companies like Xerox, HP and Intel. We hope
to grow the STEM program here to that level."
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.