ROCKY GAP — The Western Maryland IT Center of Excellence will present “Tech at the Gap: Igniting Innovation” at Rocky Gap Casino Resort on Oct. 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Registration and breakfast begins at 7 a.m.

This is the third year for the conference, which offers a day of professional development and networking opportunities for developers, system administrators, network and security specialists, data analysts and others who work in the technology industry. 

The Western Maryland IT Center of Excellence, led by Autumn Becker, director of workforce development at Allegany College of Maryland, links regional IT industry leaders with economic development leaders to encourage business retention, expansion and the attraction of new business within the IT sector in Western Maryland.

The center is funded in part by the state of Maryland’s EARN Maryland Grant program, administered by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz will deliver brief opening remarks at the conference.

This year’s event features two keynote speakers and multiple breakout sessions in data, innovation and security tracks.

Maja Kazazic, an internationally recognized motivational speaker, will deliver the morning keynote presentation. Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Kazazic’s home was destroyed by genocide that killed 250,000 people and injured millions. When she was only 16 years old while sitting with five of her friends, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded, killing all five of her friends. She was severely injured and had to have her leg amputated without anesthesia.

Kazazic moved to Cumberland and attended Allegany High School. She will share the impact that technology has had on her life and the lives of millions of others, including her Great Dane, Rosie, also an amputee. 

Marlon Attiken, a partner within IBM Services, will present the afternoon keynote session on the convergence of emerging technologies and implications for the future. Attiken leads IBM’s Internet of Things offering for the U.S. Public Service, and he focuses on client transformation through digital technology and platforms. He has held a variety of roles at IBM in the strategy and digital domains where he advised clients on financial and operational transformation, emerging technology strategy and systems implementation. His presentation will include insights on creating new opportunities to improve operations, enhancing user experiences and transforming business models.

A former consultant for Price Waterhouse Cooper, Attiken is a certified public accountant and holds a master’s in business administration with concentrations in financial instruments and markets from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

A complimentary welcome session is scheduled Oct. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. for all attendees, presenters and sponsors. The event offers an exclusive opportunity to talk with Kazazic, who will be in attendance with Rosie. The evening includes live acoustic music, food and giveaways.

For more information on the speakers and sessions or to purchase a ticket, visit


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