Our industry is undergoing a sea of change – but there’s one transformation that is often left out of these conversations.

Yes, we’re seeing a plethora of new technology entering the scene, which is impacting how we do business. But the industry is also experiencing a transition when it comes to staffing. The bulk of the industry is operated by Baby Boomers, who are quickly moving toward retirement. About one-quarter of respondents to a National Association of State Chief Information Officers survey indicated that between 21% and 30% of their employees would reach retirement age within the next five years – and that was in 2011.

7x24 Exchange and Cal Poly: Working Together

7x24 and Cal Poly logos

Increasing awareness and investing in recruitment efforts are crucial to attract younger generations to careers involving the design, construction, operation and maintenance of mission-critical enterprise information infrastructures.

Taking a step in this direction, 7x24 Exchange NorCal (the northern California chapter of 7x24 Exchange) is working closely with engineering faculty and administration at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) to help match interested students with the mission-critical industry and its career opportunities.

Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, public university located in California. It offers academically focused students the opportunity to participate in hands-on educational experiences to prepare them for today’s scientific and technical world. Its College of Engineering promotes “project-based learning,” which links theory with hands-on practice.

Download our 10 Steps to Holistic Data Center Design white paperThe 7x24 Exchange, the leading knowledge exchange for professionals involved with mission-critical enterprise information infrastructures, was developed in 1989, first known as the Uninterruptible Uptime Users Group. The founders had noticed that IT and facilities professionals worked in separate silos, missing many opportunities to improve business operations – and they wanted to do something about it.

The organization’s mission at the time was to bring IT and facilities professionals together with the consultants and vendors that support the industry, and that mission still holds true today. By facilitating interactions among these groups, professionals gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by their peers and find ways to work closely together for the benefit of their businesses. The organization also offers a way for members to pass on their decades of experience, wisdom, skills and best practices to young, aspiring engineers.

This partnership between 7x24 Exchange NorCal and Cal Poly has resulted in two components: a student mentorship program and a scholarship fund.

7x24 Exchange/Cal Poly Scholarship Fund

To support and facilitate the success of future engineers currently enrolled Cal Poly, the scholarship fund provides financial support to students who demonstrate the skills, drive and motivation that are necessary to become successful contributors to the mission-critical industry. 

7x24 Exchange/Cal Poly Mentorship Program

mentor helping students

The mentorship program offers students the opportunity to learn about data center fundamentals. Then, to put what they learn into action, the students participate in a data-center design competition. The designs created may even be considered for Cal Poly’s new data center, slated for late 2017.

How to Get Involved

The creation of a 7x24 Exchange satellite chapter at Cal Poly will help students from a variety of engineering disciplines gain exposure to the mission-critical industry – and receive education from the experts involved in the 7x24 Exchange community. (Interestingly enough, many of these experts are Cal Poly graduates themselves!)

As the director of social responsibility for 7x24 Exchange NorCal, I’m closely involved with the partnership between our organization and Cal Poly, and I am very excited to watch the number of professionals drawn to our industry grow as students are exposed to mission-critical technology opportunities.

Belden is passionate about reaching out to the next generation of industry professionals, providing financial support for the 7x24 Exchange NorCal/Cal Poly partnership. If supporting the next generation of data center professionals is something that you or your organization is passionate about as well, I encourage you to consider making a donation to the scholarship fund.

Checks can be made out to: 7x24 Exchange/Cal Poly Scholarship Fund and sent to the 7x24 Exchange Treasurer at the following address:

XL Construction
Attention: Ed Barajas
851 Buckeye Ct
Milpitas, CA 95035

To learn more about Belden’s role in the data center industry, and what we're doing to support future professionals, visit our data center resources.

Are you noticing a shortage of data center professionals due to retirement? Share your experience with us in the comments section below!