High schoolers get an inside look at Eugene's tech industry

Lane County high school students took tours of local technology businesses Thursday. They visited CBT Nuggets, IDX Broker, and RAIN Eugene. (SBG photo)

EUGENE, Ore. -- More than 100 high school students and teachers took an inside-look at Eugene's ever-growing tech industry Thursday.

The students, from schools across Lane County, toured CBT Nuggets, IDX Broker, and RAIN Eugene.

"It gives students the opportunity firsthand to see really how great the tech community is," Josh Cramer from CBT Nuggets said.

The tours were part of Technology Association of Oregon and Elevate Lane County's Experience Oregon Tech program to introduce kids to the tech industry.

"You can't walk through a door you can't see, so coming into CBT Nuggets really opens their eyes and they say, 'Oh my gosh, we really do have something like this right in our backyard,'" Erin Maloney from Connected Lane County and Lane STEM said.

CBT Nuggets does online training for IT professionals.

"Some people think of us like the Netflix for tech training," Cramer said.

They got to show off what they do, and the students were all for it.

"While we were doing the tour, we asked, 'Where can we put in our applications?'" North Eugene freshman OB Castro said.

This technology field trip is right up his alley.

"I've been into games basically as long as I've been alive. I started playing on Play Station 2, so yes, old school," Castro said.

He said he can see a future in the industry: "I'm kind of wanting to be a coder and gamificate stuff."

These kids have some technology-based programs in their school, but this is a new opportunity.

"There's a bit of a push for getting more tech programs in classes, but it's still kind of in development. So I feel like having stuff like this really does actually give us a lot better view of what it's like in an actual company," Thurston High senior Eric Leslie said.

Organizers said with more than 400 tech companies in Lane County, it's the perfect place to foster young talent.

"It's just that time. It's kind of a magical time for Eugene when you see these great companies that have been growing over the past few years that's now booming," Allison Weatherly from the Technology Association of Oregon said.

Organizers say it's also a chance for teachers to take what they learn back into the classroom.

And they're working to expand the program beyond tech, to other industries and opportunities as well.

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