17 companies tap more than 100 UIC students to tackle tech challenges

UIC’s Break Through Tech Chicago 2022 Sprinternship Workshop April 9, 2022. (Photo: Jim Young / UIC College of Engineering)

More than 100 women and nonbinary students pursuing undergraduate degrees in computer science, data science and other tech disciplines at the University of Illinois Chicago will team up with 17 Chicago and national companies to help solve technology-related business challenges.

The students are participants in Break Through Tech Chicago’s annual Sprinternship, a micro-internship program designed to transform the career trajectories of women (cisgender and transgender) and nonbinary individuals by offering the foundational work experience that prepares them for the tech workforce.

These industry-academic partnerships aim to address the long-standing gender imbalance of the tech workforce.

The internship begins May 9 and is a true three-week “sprint” ending May 27. Students, typically organized in teams of five, will present the results of their challenge project in their final week of Sprinternship.

“While statistics on the scant representation of women in the tech workforce and leadership ranks can at times be overwhelming to absorb, Sprinternship offers a solution that is within reach of every company and every student,” said Amita Shetty, director of the Break Through Tech Chicago program. “The results of investing in this program speak for itself, not just in Chicago, but across multiple sites.”

While more than half of all undergraduate degrees awarded in the US go to women, only 1% of women are graduating with degrees in computing. The program’s primary goal is to advance gender diversity by improving students’ access to full-length summer internships sooner in their academic journey.

The Break Through Tech Chicago partners for the 2022 Sprinternship are:

  • Adams Street Partners
  • Amazon Web Services, Inc.
  • Aon plc
  • Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd.
  • Cisco Systems
  • CVS Health
  • GE Healthcare Inc.
  • KPMG
  • Littelfuse Inc.
  • McDonald’s Corporation
  • Morningstar Inc.
  • NielsenIQ
  • Northern Trust Corporation
  • Optum
  • PEAK6
  • Relativity
  • UIC

Sprinternships are tailored by the organizations that host them, so each one is unique, but all include a team-based approach that focuses on a tech challenge project, a career immersive experience and hands-on mentorship. Last year’s projects ranged from analyzing the digital customer experience to predicting machine failures to addressing the Chicago digital divide. The 2022 Sprinternship projects are expected to similarly inspire and prepare the next generation of technologists and leaders.

“The tech world of tomorrow will look different. There will be more diversity: in gender, in background, in ways of thinking. It will be that way because of the important work we are doing here today, ”Shetty said.

More information about hosting Sprinterns in 2023 can be found at chicago.breaktrhoughtech.org or by contacting btt@uic.edu.

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