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‘Tech-ing’ in Turlock
Bay Valley Tech turlock event
A panel of local tech experts — Melinda Murillo, Lourdes Ovando, Nick Showalter, Siegfried Güntensperger, Lucas Philips and Taylor LaMar — answer questions from a crowd of nearly 100 people at an informational and networking event hosted by Bay Valley Tech and the City of Turlock on Thursday at the Carnegie Arts Center (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

According to the Pew Research Center, 97% of Americans use mobile devices regularly. Additionally, 71% of businesses have websites and 77% use social media, according to Forbes. Even the latest cars have interactive screens installed on dashboards.

As more people and organization’s use technology and as it advances, Modesto-based coding academy Bay Valley Tech estimated that 1,000 students participated in their tuition-free code academy, digital skills bootcamp and tech internship program in 2023 — a figure expected to double this year.

A trend that Bay Valley Tech president Phillip Lan and other local businesses have noticed is that many people from the Central Valley tend to move away from the area. On Thursday evening at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock, Bay Valley Tech and the City of Turlock hosted an informational and networking event to help community members discover the possibilities that lie in their backyard.

Roughly 100 people attended the event, which allowed them to ask questions to a panel of local industry professionals, participate in interview workshops and network with area businesses and like-minded individuals.

Sitting on the panel was Melinda Murillo, and IOS developer for; Lourdes Ovando, a data analyst for the Google Developer Group; Nick Showalter, information technology director for the City of Turlock; Siegfried Güntensperger, software engineer for E&J Gallo Winery; Lucas Philips, software engineer for Tyler Tech and Taylor LaMar, CEO of LaMar Software. A common theme shared by the group is that most if not all businesses are heavily reliant on technology. And with that technology needs to be individuals available to implement, maintain and develop it.

“Software engineering is becoming blue collar work,” Güntensperger said.

Matthew Davies, 28, of Turlock has been in the tech industry for about 15 years. He is currently a senior software engineer at configure8, a company aimed at helping developers build software.

“Not everybody can walk off the street and have the skill set needed to do this work, however, it is becoming much more common that you be able to have that off the street just because of the world that we live in where technology is everywhere and there is a growing interest. I can definitely see how things can be trending in the direction of engineering becoming blue collar,” Davies said.

“I would say just the sheer number of people (in the industry) has been the biggest change over the years,” he continued. “This is 10 times more than the number of people that I've seen together for an event like this since I first started in the industry. To see the number of people interested in technology and learning is fantastic.”

Though the crowd of 100 consisted of dozens of young, ambitious students looking to break into the industry, there were also area business owners, some looking to network and recruit employees and others trying to learn more about how they can implement technology into their own work. It’s a sight that Lan was thrilled to see.

“We really want to pull from these businesses and community leaders and start a new coalition of people who really see the value of technology and hiring tech employees,” he said. 

In an April interview with the Turlock Journal, Lan spoke about Silicon Valley businesses recruiting from the Central Valley, saying, “Right here in Turlock, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento, Merced area, we are in a very enviable position geographically. We sit on the doorstep of Silicon Valley… There's 6.5 million people in the Central Valley right now with a huge labor force and a huge market for tech companies, so they're starting to look and explore this region.”

And although that remains true, he believes Thursday’s event was successful in proving that folks can develop their skills, get a job and live comfortably while remaining in their hometowns. According to the State of California Employment Development Department, there will be 390,460 projected openings for software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers between 2020 and 2030 in the San Joaquin Valley. If those projections hold up, it would be the largest growing industry in the region in that 10-year span.

“Many people think that you have to move to get a job and be successful. But our job is to give these people the skills and open the door to opportunities for them,” he said.

Bay Valley Tech’s code academy offers lessons on HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js and MySQL to prepare students for web developer, software developer and business analyst positions. Their part-time digital skills bootcamp offers lessons in digital design, digital marketing, tech sales and partnership development. In past years, Stanislaus State has hosted web development boot camps for computer science majors and provided students resume writing workshops and networking events. Additionally, Bay Valley Tech and the Turlock Unified School District joined forces to offer courses at the Turlock Adult School.
For more information on Bay Valley Tech or to apply for any of their programs, head to