Sunday, April 27, 2014

Guests of Honor at the Blacksburg Rackspace Grand Opening

Two days following VTHacks, we got a call from one of the Rackspace VTHacks judges, Zack Lytle, inviting the boys and us to the Rackspace Grand Opening later in the week. They had built a brand-new building (awesome workspace) in the Corporate Research Center. Here's a story about it.

The kids have a bit of history with Rackspace. About three years ago, the VP who heads up the Blacksburg Rackspace location, Doug Juanarena, invited the kids to tour their offices and learn more about what they do. I met Doug at the Weight Club and we'd chatted about the kids' interest in programming.

Kids in front of Rackspace poster they got at the tour three years ago!!!


The kids were enamored with the place and vowed to try to intern or work there as soon as they were old enough. Since then, they have worked really hard on programming skills and projects. So for them to return as invited guests to the Grand Opening was pretty awesome!!!

We learned from Zack that one of the reasons they won a Rackspace prize was their ability to work together as brothers, and the fact that Spencer described picking a project that he knew his brother could contribute to. Definitely a proud parent moment for us!

Doug acknowledged Spencer and Grant during his remarks, showing the tie between the company and the community. Rackspace contributes enormously to the community, not only through things like VTHacks, but the "Let's Code Blacksburg" program that offers programming workshops, making their facilities and resources available. Spencer and Grant are now in the pipeline to help TA and eventually perhaps teach courses of their own as part of that program.

We are enormously grateful to Rackspace and folks like Doug, Tweeks, Zack, and Sam for giving Spencer and Grant a place in the community, and validation that their skills matter. Middle school years can be a tough time for finding your place, but thanks to some key people (including their mentor Kevin) they have certainly found it!!

Doug, Spencer, Grant, Tweeks, and Zack

Crowd forming for the dedication

Awaiting the start

Tweeks showing an Arduino robot

Nice photo of Grant!

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