“Come for an hour. Come for all nine. Come in your PJs. Come in your dapper suit. Or come in your Formal Hoodie. Come to learn about technology,” says an announcement for the Case Western Reserve University’s Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) fourth annual Link-State Conference.
Despite its playful advertising, the ACM’s all-day, signature fall event bills itself as the tech conference to rule all tech conferences, with ample opportunity for students to attend lectures on topics on computer software and hardware, learn about business and entrepreneurship and network with industry professionals and potential employers. It will be held on Sunday, Oct. 3.
Thomas Murphy, a fourth-year computer engineering student and ACM Link-State event organizer, said that the goal of the conference is “to have a summative event to have students come in and connect with individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses and to have a transfer of knowledge within our own community and between every one of the speakers we bring in.”
Knowledge transfer through networking is central to the Link-State conference. The conference takes its name from the computer networking concept of Link-State routing protocols, in which every node constructs a map of its network.
“Not only was [the name] a routing protocol, but it also signified the conference as a point of connection for all of the disparate groups of people who cared about computers in northeastern Ohio,” reads an online description of the event.
The entirely student-organized conference was born out of networking itself: Most of the speakers are returning CWRU alumni or the coworkers and employers, both past and present, of CWRU students. Using contacts in their professional networks, ACM students reached out directly to potential sponsors and solicited lecture proposals from speakers. This year’s speakers includes one of Murphy’s coworkers.
Though the CWRU ACM’s network extends across the computer technology industry nationwide, it has especially close ties with the Cleveland technology community, with speakers and sponsors from local companies like MIM Software, Lean Dog and GenomOncology. The conference has further links to the CWRU business community, including Blackstone Launchpad and the Career Center.
“There were more serious topics like internship experiences to others borne out of pure curiosity, such as how to bypass the Android software keyboard when using VNC,” said Alexander Grabanski, who is a third-year majoring in computer science.
Link-State offers plenty of opportunities for students to get a little closer to careers in tech; After attending Link-State, Grabanski interned over the summer at MIM Software, one of the conference’s sponsors.
The event costs $5 for students, and $10 for non-students. It begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. Participants can purchase their tickets at the Link-State 2015 Eventbrite page.