It looked like a science fair this afternoon at Armstrong Atlantic State University, but the stakes were high for students from five local colleges. The people checking out their work represented local technology companies who may be their future employers.
Savannah's first Tech Fest was organized by economic development group the Creative Coast to get several local companies together with students from Armstrong Atlantic State University (2005 host), Georgia Southern University, Georgia Tech--Savannah, Savannah State University, and South University.
"For those of you who thought you would have to leave Savannah when you graduated, I'm here to tell you and the companies are here to tell you, there's great work in Savannah, they're doing great things, and best of all, they're doing it in a great place," said Creative Coast director Chris Miller.
The projects ranged from a cell phone game set on the Armstrong campus to a system which uses radio frequency identification to help the visually impaired organize their wardrobes.
"I see a lot of businesses that may want good programmers," said Chris Childers, a senior at AASU. "We got a pretty diverse set of things that they're doing here."
Not only was this an opportunity for dozens of students to show their stuff in front of local companies, but the educators that participated say they're learning just as much as the students.
"We have to work closely with business, especially in information technology," said James Bradford, dean of the College of Information Technology at Georgia Southern. "Things are changing so rapidly that if we don't work constantly with business, and if our students don't get those kinds of experiences, there's a very real danger of drifting out of touch."
Organizers hope the students will also keep in touch with local employment opportunities. Many students were simply unaware of the opportunities for high-tech work available locally.
"All the students here, they work really hard," said Childers. "And they pretty much think that you have to go other places to get a job...we're here, we just need contact with the employers."
And that's just what they got today.
The Creative Coast plans to hold the event at least once a year at campuses around the area. For more information of those events and others the group organizes, visit http://www.thecreativecoast.org.