Are you a software designer or developer looking to connect with others in West Michigan? How about an owner of a software consultancy who would like some exposure to potential new employees? Maybe you lead a department of software designers and developers and would like to expose them to new ideas?
As human beings, we have a powerful need to belong. Belonging to communities help us stay healthy, motivated, and happy, and SoftwareGR is a great community for the software developers and designers in West Michigan.
What SoftwareGR Does
SoftwareGR started at Atomic way back in 2004 as an idea to bring like-minded people together. Today, it’s a non-profit group that exists to nurture and support the craft of software design and development. Our goal is to elevate our craft across West Michigan to the benefit of all designers, developers, and businesses.
We accomplish this in four ways.
1. Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference (GLSEC)
Every year since 2013, SoftwareGR has organized GLSEC, a day-long conference focused on a specific topic of interest. GLSEC has thrived while other local conferences have died out. The event is consistently well attended and brings together a diverse set of speakers to explore many dimensions on a specific topic. Sponsors enjoy the opportunity to connect to a variety of developers and designers.
The theme for our 2019 conference was Artificial Intelligence (AI). Specifically, we wanted to explore how AI is being applied to solve today’s problems. We had fourteen speakers, approximately 200 attendees, and 29 sponsors, and we consumed 135 ice cream bars. The feedback was positive, and we are already starting to organize next year’s event.
2. Speaker Series
The Speaker Series brings our community together once a month to learn from a professional in either the software design or development space. Meetings occur on the fourth Tuesday of the month, except for July, August, and December. Our goal is to find speakers from around the country, as well as from our local community. Meetings happen at Atomic Object’s Grand Rapids office.
For a software designer or developer, the Speaker Series is a fantastic place to practice your presentation skills. It’s a safe environment of friends who will listen and engage on a topic. It’s also a great place to network, share in the curiosity and learning of our craft, and connect with old friends.
Bitcamp is one of the most exciting activities we support. As a one-day event for seventh- and eighth-grade girls to learn how to write code, it aims to create an approachable and fun experience. The girls are taught by local software designers and developers who follow a pre-made curriculum.
With Bitcamp, we are fighting against the dismal trend of girls not pursuing a career in the STEM fields. Seventh and eighth grade is exactly when they start to lose interest. We try hard to make them curious, inspire them, give them positive reinforcement, and show them it’s a career they can obtain. This is the reason so many large companies like Amway and Spectrum Health run Bitcamps within their organizations.
4. The Software GR Alliance
If you’ve ever been to Meetup, you will find an almost infinite number of groups you can join. It’s very easy to create a local group around an idea, but harder to make it real due to tracking the money and the tax filing reasons.
The SoftwareGR Alliance is designed to provide basic assistance to make it easy to form and run a software design or development group. We help with the financial controls, tax filing, and non-profit exempt status. By handling all the difficulties of creating and managing a legal entity, we allow the group to focus on providing great content and experiences.
And the best part? There is no charge to participate in the Alliance.
Why Support SoftwareGR
Every business today runs on software. Every business has become dependent on it.
The Right Place has identified four strategic growth areas for West Michigan. These include:
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Food Processing and Agribusiness
- Technology and Communications
- Life Sciences and Medical Devices
Each of these areas depends on having talented software designers and developers involved.
By supporting a group whose focus is to raise the craft of software design and development, we can help to make every business more successful. We improve the talent in our marketplace, and we end up making West Michigan more attractive to outside businesses.
It is in your best interest to support SoftwareGR and become involved in its community.
A rising tide lifts all boats.