MCI chief to rock IT Resource benefit
March 21, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Whether Verizon or
Qwest prevails in the contest to buy MCI, Chicago's IT Resource
because Deborah Strauss, IT Resource Center executive director,
snagged MCI CEO Michael Capellas to keynote her annual benefit
dinner Thursday at the Hyatt Regency.
Capellas sits in the
middle of the year's most controversial tech deal. He's a veteran
CIO turned CEO who sold Compaq to HP. Capellas is also known as
the rock 'n' roll CEO for picking a song of the day to motivate
MCI employees. He also has played 1970s rock prior to Wall Street
"He's known to
bound up to the podium with his MP3 player playing rock songs,"
Capellas should draw
a full house to support the IT Resource Center, one of the tech
community's most vital assets.
Founded in 1983 and
backed by the Chicago Community Trust, the IT Resource Center
provides two critical services. It assists nearly 300 not-for-profit
organizations with low-cost technology training and consulting
services. It also helps close the digital divide by providing
grants and training to more than 100 local community technology
technology for efficiency, accountability and communications,"
says Strauss. Often they can't afford the technology. Her center
helps non-profits stay focused on their mission rather than worry
about the technology.
Thanks to Capellas,
the IT Resource Center will be rockin' on with its mission in
heads in the wrong direction" is how Small Times magazine
describes nanotech in Illinois. The magazine ranked Illinois No.
7 on its new list of the Top 10 Nanotech Hot Spots.
The rap is that Illinois
has the scholarly might but not the entrepreneurial chutzpah to
transform research into startups. We're just not cashing in on
all that gold in our universities and federal labs, and that foreshadows
fewer jobs and less wealth in Illinois down the road.
Whatever happened to
Gov. Blagojevich's 2003 plan to make Illinois into a Silicon Prairie
starting with nanotechnology?
Seems the governor
shifted his focus to support Illinois firms in the homeland security
business. Last week he announced two $100,000 grants for employee
training and development to Arlington Heights-based TechAlt Inc.
and Burr Ridge-based Midco Inc.
TechAlt provides solutions
for secure communications for first responders. Midco provides
technology for integrated communications across multiple technology
platforms to secure voice and data networks.
With all the investment
the federal government makes in nanotech research in Illinois,
wouldn't it be smart to push for more commercialization of nanotech
too? Just asking.
compete at UIC
Basketball isn't the
only form of March madness. Robots will battle this weekend at
the University of Illinois Chicago Pavilion. Thirty-seven teams
of aspiring engineers from high schools across the region built
the robots to compete in the eighth annual FIRST Midwest Regional
Robotics Competition. The winners vie for national honors in Atlanta
IIT Vice Provost Dennis
Roberson, Motorola EVP Dennis Carey and former Baxter CEO Vern
Loucks are big backers.
our region is one of the strongest in the country," says
Roberson. "Teams from Rolling Meadows and Hammond are among
the top 10 out of nearly 1,000 teams nationally."
Roberson is particularly
excited about a team this year from South Shore High School. The
good news: Chicago's robots don't need steroids to compete. They
just need smart engineering.
Judy Baar Topinka announces the first three investments for the
state's $50 million Technology Development Fund
today. Three Illinois venture funds are expected to receive investments.
Topinka plans to invest $15 million to $18 million this year,
with the entire $50 million committed over three years.
Callaghan, CEO of Opus Group, won the Rising Star Award
at the Illinois Information Technology Association's City Lights
awards. John Jasper, CEO of SEI Information Technology,
Oak Brook, won the Lighthouse award.
Association CEO William Archey comes to town
tomorrow to talk about America reclaiming its competitive edge
and the challenge for science and technology.
Krauss is a Chicago-area tech writer and consultant.