The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Drew McAllister

Surrounding the models on the board in front of them, Spark! Technology Solutions students learn about empirical process control.

Technology Solutions

Students in Spark! Technology Solutions utilize technology to solve business problems and design products. Students are immersed in a professional environment tackling and solving real-world technical problems in the corporate world while working on client-defined projects and tasks. Through an internship with On Demand Painters, junior Eli Naig found an interest in data visualization and business analytics, a form of finding technical solutions.

met with Chris [Heerdegen], CEO of On Demand Painters. After the meeting, I got to work on data analysis for them,” Naig said. “While doing data analytical work, I enjoyed collaborating with fellow team members at Spark! I connected and learned about the field that I am passionate about. I initially joined Spark! to give me a better idea of what I wanted to study while at university, and it has pushed me in the right direction.”

Going into Spark!, Naig had plans to attend a four-year college and go into computer science. After starting activities in Spark! that required research and making calculations, Naig altered his future intentions.

“Quickly as time went on [in Spark!] I started to find my true calling, which is Mathematics. I will be going to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy [PhD] in Mathematics,” Naig said. “I still love computer science, but Spark! has shown me that I enjoy the research side of math and computer science the most.”

Unlike a typical class, students determine what skills they focus on and may change them throughout. Students pursue passions in many areas, including video production, app development, graphic design, cybersecurity, web development and game design all of which they showcase their learning through pitch competitions. Junior Dhruv Kadam believes pitch competitions helped him the most.

“Being able to attend and compete in [pitch competitions was] the most beneficial opportunity Spark! has given me,” Kadam said. “They were a great place to meet like-minded people and work on your public speaking and presentational skills.”

During the first semester, students applied the skills they learned from their industry partners to work on projects. Activities were conducted to assist students with real-world skills, like communication.

“Near the beginning of the year, we had an improv team come in for around two weeks, and they taught us how acting could help in a work environment,” Mahoney said. “We did ice breakers, and [It’s the] most fun activity.”

In the second semester, students focused on internships with technical and creative firms. At least one year of successful technical coursework or equivalent experience is highly recommended. Naig believes the experience you receive from internships depends on individual dedication.

“Spark! is a very unique experience, and what you put in is what you get out of it,” Naig said. “I am very pleased with as much as I have learned from Spark! And to take a step out of the classroom to pursue your passion is a gift in itself.”

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