Recognizing that about 85 percent of adults on the autism spectrum are underemployed or unemployed, LexisNexis Risk Solutions recently hosted the inaugural iRISE2 ECL Code Camp.
Held at the Boca Raton office, students with autism worked with data scientists and senior developers to learn ECL — the language used with the open source HPCC Systems platform — analyzed data, identified trends and shared their findings.
They also participated in a team-building, friendly competition where they used their new-found coding skills. The first day ended with an award ceremony with Chelsea Morgan and Madiha Syed tying for Best Project.
Led by Dr. Flavio Villanustre, vice president of technology, along with many of the company’s key senior developers, the two-day program was both an ECL code camp and a career development workshop for students participating in the iRISE2 Mentoring Program at FAU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.
Day two focused on skill building, job search readiness and career development. Students worked with tech professionals to learn interview techniques and then participated in mock interviews. They also learned resume and LinkedIn tips and ultimately began to understand what a career in technology might entail. The camp culminated with a tour of the data center to further help students understand the inner workings of how LexisNexis Risk Solutions uses data.
“This camp was a great opportunity for us to kick-off an ongoing relationship with the IRISE2 initiative in Florida Atlantic University to provide lessons in ECL coding and offer individualized mentoring that will benefit these students for years to come,”Villanustre said. “The technology professional of the future must be driven by innovation, curiosity, a willingness to solve problems and develop the right solutions. It was our desire to help these students see that many of their talents match what LexisNexis Risk Solutions does every day.”
Over the past several years, technology employers have recognized the advantages of hiring people with autism, many of whom have strengths that lend themselves to working well in technology careers, such as the ability to remain focused for long periods of time and perform repetitive tasks with accuracy and creatively problem solve.
“Our students, if given the opportunity, can be great technologists,” said Darius Murray, program coordinator at iRISE2. “This camp was a tremendous launching pad for those with an interest in technology who just need guidance, resources and a chance to learn new skills. I can’t tell you how excited they are about discovering how they might use their interests for potential opportunities in tech.”
The camp attendees, whose ages range between 16-25 years old, left armed with news skills and knowledge — and confidence — to help them pursue a career in technology.
To help guide and direct even more intellectually curious youth and young adults toward sharpening their skills, iRISE2 needs more male volunteers and mentors. There are plenty of opportunities available to make a difference. If interested, please contact dmurra23fau.edu.