The Biotech Frontier: Decoding Life

Corrections or additions?

This article by Gina Zechiel was prepared for the November 14,

2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Careers in Computing? It’s Never Too Late

Unless you are truly the last Neanderthal, you probably

use computer technology a dozen times a day. You use computers from

the time you roll out of bed to make coffee (maybe using an electronic

timer) or heat water in the microwave. Watching morning news on TV,

using a calculator to balance the checkbook, dialing up Aunt Em on

the portable phone — computers help you do all this before you

even think about doing a day’s work. You may not actually own a

computer,

but there is good news — you are (almost) never too late, too

old, or too dumb to learn how to use one, and to use it to make a

living.

Forget what you have read recently about the demise of the dot-coms.

If you are willing to postpone being a billionaire until you’re 29,

there is still a whole world of excellent jobs available in the

computer

field — providing you have the requisite skills.

First class training is available, and on Wednesday, November 14,

at 6.30 p.m., Mercer County Community College will host a free

"Careers

in Computing" open house at its West Windsor campus.

If you a high school student looking for job direction, a career

change

candidate, a 40-something looking to upgrade skills, or if you just

want to learn for pleasure, MCCC offers the opportunity to get

sophisticated

training at a reasonable price, as well as help in putting the skills

to use.

"We work hard at demystifying technology," says Winston

H. Maddox, head of the Information Technology curriculum for MCCC.

"Very few businesses today do not require some kind of computer

use, and people can come here and learn how to use computers in a

business-oriented environment."

With 50 computer labs, Mercer has the capability to teach almost any

motivated student. "These are people-friendly programs, designed

to help individuals learn to use technology at sophisticated

levels,"

says Maddox. "We can teach you how to program, how to disassemble

and rebuild computers, how to repair, how to use, manage, develop

and implement every aspect of the technology."

Maddox, whose friendly, low-key and encouraging attitude may be the

key to the success of these programs, graduated from the University

of Hartford, getting his master’s degree from Bowling Green. He spent

20 years in industry, mainly with GE and Digital Equipment, and

transferred

from personnel positions to technology with the help of in-house

technical

training programs.

"This training was a great opportunity for me," says Maddox,

"It was inspiring — I realized I could help people achieve

at a different level, plus I really enjoyed the technology." And

he makes it sound like fun. "There’s so much you can do with

operating

systems, like connecting two offices, allowing individuals to save

money and time, or using tools like Excel to do a business analysis

in 15 minutes instead of half a day!"

For those considering computer training, Maddox has some pointers:

Don’t be intimidated. You know more than you think you

do. "Don’t be put off by technology," he says. "For

instance,

people with a literary background, who can read extremely well, are

prime material for computer careers . With the ability to understand

a complex sentence, you are halfway there. It’s basically a matter

of understanding English."

Save on college fees. A transfer agreement between MCCC

and the New Jersey Institute of Technology allows students who finish

the programming degree curriculum with a B-minus average or better

to enter NJIT. "The degree curriculum costs about $5,000, as

opposed

to two years of college at $12,000 per year," says Maddox. "If

you have a smart kid, it’s a huge saving. Today, people who might

never have considered Mercer are taking a much harder look."

Specialize early. Information technology is becoming

increasingly

diverse, so you will benefit by becoming expert in a specific field,

such as database administration, network engineering, operating

systems,

spreadsheet and presentation applications, or website development.

Webmasters rule! Website development is booming as more

people use the Internet as a business avenue. The field of website

design and development is growing faster than the supply of trained

professionals. "It’s a cost-effective way of advertising that

is interactive and exciting," says Maddox, "and we teach

people

how to build websites, from a modest standpoint up to E-commerce

sites."

Learn network engineering. Anyone who has tried to get

technical help knows that skilled professionals are worth their weight

in gold. The MCCC curriculum offers Microsoft certification, and how

to install, manage, troubleshoot and upgrade computer networks. Good

network people are almost never out of work.

"You don’t need expensive, customized programs (or expensive

customized training) to be able to deal with the vast majority of

business requirements," Maddox believes. "Programs that are

readily available can solve almost any problem you can throw at them.

We teach people to apply technology to everyday situations."

— Gina Zechiel

Top Of Page
The Biotech Frontier: Decoding Life

Leroy Hood, director of the Institute for Systems

Biology in Seattle, speaks on "Decoding Life: Genomics,

Proteomics,

and Systems Biology," on Wednesday, November 14, at 4:30 p.m.

at Wolfensohn Hall on the campus of the Institute for Advanced Study.

The event is free. Call 609-734-8118.

A leading scientist in molecular biotechnology and genomics, Hood

will discuss how the Human Genome Project has led to a new systems

approach for biology.

Hood earned his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1964 and his Ph.D. in

biochemistry

from the California Institute of Technology in 1968. On the faculty

at CalTech, he and colleagues pioneered four instruments that

constitute

the technological foundation for contemporary molecular biology. One

of the instruments has revolutionized genomics by allowing the rapid

automated sequencing of DNA.

Later, working as head of the department of molecular biology at the

University of Washington, Hood applied the laboratory’s expertise

in DNA mapping to the analysis of human and mouse immune receptors,

and initiated studies in prostate cancer, autoimmunity, and

hematopoietic

stem cell development.


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