OpenWest event doubles its numbers

2013-05-05T11:25:32Z 2013-11-27T08:48:25Z OpenWest event doubles its numbersCathy Allred - Daily Herald Daily Herald
May 05, 2013 11:25 am  • 

OREM -- Director Victor Villa had an aha moment just a few days before the Utah Open Source Foundation's 10th annual conference at Utah Valley University.

"I have got to be honest with you, it was a Field of Dreams moment for me," Villa said.

In 2012 there were 481 who participated in the conference and Villa had made a goal for 700 this year.

How well did he and others who helped with that goal do?

A few days before the OpenWest Conference, online registration spiked. Organizers capped registration at 760, and a conservative estimate of those in attendance including speakers and volunteers is 840.

"This has been a huge increase for us. We reached out to several communities -- the Women Tech Council offered an executive track. We reached out to the open hardware community and so these different tracks appeals to that interest that people have," Villa said.

He credits other organizations such as UVU, Xmission, Bluehost and Adobe with helping to get the word out. And then there is the small army of volunteers and core foundation members who make everything work.

The Women Tech Council helped raise the bar for female attendance, one percent in 2012. Even with the overall number of attendees nearly doubling, there were five to seven times the number of women this year.

"I know the Women Tech Council was very encouraged and pleased with the work we had done. They gave us more information as to what we could do to improve that number next year," Villa said.

He has also had contact with the Alpine School District and Canyon School Technology for Higher Education to make inroads there. Villa envisions a track for high school aged children at the conference on Saturday.

One of the more popular workshops presented at the OWC was on home automation. The workshop was so well attended, they had to divide the workshop into two separate sessions to accommodate everyone in the large classroom.

Launchup #40 also drew a very sizeable crowd.

"In the Open Source community there are a lot of great ideas they just don't know how to translate that into a business. One of the things we tried solve this conference was to provide them with resources so they can launch their business," Villa said.

An attorney and a certified public accountant each took a session to answer questions and provide insight into the world of business for startups as part of Launchup #40.

"We have an amazing abundance of classes. The Open Source community has really stepped up and all the different groups have been able to share what is important to them. We have some great topics out there," said Jason Hall, Bluehost sponsor representative.

There were also some "toys," open source hardware such as the Elefu 3D printer control board Tim Anderson brought to let participants learn about and use. DC 801 and The Transistor sponsored the room with hardware and also the Capture the Flag hackers' contest.

There was also something at the conference for the little guys. "Beginner Python for Kids" was presented by 10-year-old Corban Villa. It was his first workshop.

Among all the children were a few adults to help with the workshop but there were big "kids" too.

Jared Smith, director of Open Source Outreach at Bluehost, was sitting in the classroom for his own interest.

"My kids are in Virginia, otherwise they would be here," Smith said, smiled and then gestured to Corban Villa.

"This kid right here knows more about Python than I do." he said.

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-- Cathy Allred covers 11 cities and towns in north Utah County and is responsible for Our Towns announcements. Send your school, civic, city and business news to for Daily Herald publication. You can follow her blog at
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