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By Stacey Askew

Ryerson hosted the first Connect IT Conference last Wednesday, where faculty, alumni, and current Information and Technology Management (ITM) students gathered for workshops and presentations.

The program is looking to balance technology with function. “We interact with technology in so many different ways. We have to change the way we interact with it, get beyond the gadgetry,” Zaker Khan, conference chair and third-year ITM student, said. CBC anchor Evan Solomon was the event’s keynote speaker. His presentation addressed the divide between advanced technology and functional design and development.

“You can give people technology, but you can’t predict how they’re going to use it,” Solomon said.

“You can have all the technology in the world but unless you have social ingenuity (the ability to see what society needs), the technology doesn’t work.”

Solomon encouraged students to understand the motivation for developing new technology. “If you know the ‘why,’ the ‘how’ takes care of itself. Focus on the ‘why,'” he said.

His message was well received. “I connected with the ‘why,'” ITM student Maryam Hossein said. “I’m not a big techy person myself and I’m in ITM. It was reassuring to know I’m on the right track.”

Solomon told the students it is the ability to see what society wants that will get a person ahead in the technology industry, not necessarily technological expertise.

“We used to be in a society where knowing things was valuable. Now, your job in IT is to understand what’s changing on a profound level,” he said.

Students were encouraged by Solomon to travel, not insulate themselves, and realize the technology they know and are learning is just the beginning.

Khan said the idea of the conference was to have an event that would showcase the ITM program, and help students understand there is more than just technology to consider in their business.

Ryerson’s ITM program was launched in 1999. Organizers had begun developing the event, the first of its kind at Ryerson, last August.

“It was helpful because some of the issues that were presented to us were the things we’ll have to deal with when we get into the workforce,” Terrence Ho, a fourth-year ITM student, said.

“Good design respects the stupidity of the user… Most people that use technology have other things to do,” Solomon said.

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