On November 9, nearly 100 industry professionals and students turned out for “Data Center Day @ Villanova.” Co-hosted by the College of Engineering, Villanova’s NSF I/UCRC Center for Energy Smart Electronic Systems (ES2) and the Delaware Valley Chapter of the 7X24 Exchange International, the event was designed to inspire engineering students to pursue careers in this thriving industry. The day began with a keynote address by George Clement, senior solution architect with the Intel® Data Center Manager team, which was followed by a panel of industry experts who discussed data center career paths. After a networking reception, students were invited to stay for a 7X24 chapter meeting.
Speaking on “Future Trends in the Data Center Industry,” Clement began his presentation by describing data as “new gold” and data centers as “new gold mines.” Simply put, data centers power the cloud and serve as the backbone of our internet-based economy, as well as our social media lives. “Data centers are at the crossroads where innovation and opportunities meet,” said Clement. He went on to address what modern data centers mean to our global economy, from ecommerce and cloud security, to medicine, research and entertainment. Clement then spoke to Intel’s role in the industry, which he defined as hardware, solutions and leadership. For the students, he concluded his presentation by sharing what the company looks for when recruiting: innovation, diversity in ideas and viewpoints, and demonstrated passion and excitement for technology.
Careers in the data center industry were further discussed by the day’s panelists: Bobby Williams, mechanical engineering manager, Whiting-Turner; Tom Reusche ’83 EE, executive vice president, Bala Consulting Engineers; Gary Aron, founding partner, Asset Vue; and Gary Hill, president, Data Center Solutions, DVL Group. After sharing their personal career paths, moderator Dennis Cronin ’74 VBS, founder of 7X24 Exchange, asked panelists about the skills and knowledge base required to enter the data center industry. Reusche pointed to specific courses, including thermal studies and power distribution, as well as the need to be computer savvy and have strong communication skills. He added, “It’s not all about your GPA.” Williams emphasized problem-solving and people skills. Hill said he looks for experience and demonstrable passion. He also noted the importance of collaboration. Aron asked for outside the box thinkers. Finally, the panelists were asked which personality traits are desirable in the data center industry. Among the answers: self-starters with leadership experience, honesty, positive outlook, ingenuity and perseverance.
The day concluded with the 7X24 Exchange chapter meeting, which included a state-of-the-art university data center virtual tour and discussions on the increasing importance of data centers in the world of higher education.