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Geekend is gearing back up and we’re ready to geek-out in 2017! This year’s conference takes place January 27-28, 2017 at The Guild Hall, located at 615 Montgomery Street in Savannah.

“What is Geekend?” you ask. It’s Savannah’s only geek-fest that brings together coders, innovators, entrepreneurs and designers via an interactive two-day conference designed to expand attendee’s horizon’s, both technically and professionally.

We will be kicking off the weekend with Friday’s evening session, “Pitch Circus”. This event will showcase five of Savannah’s hottest tech startups. These five entrepreneurs will have a chance to pitch their companies “Shark Tank” style to a panel of judges, and in front of an audience of potential investors. Past presenters such as Ian Nott, co-founder of Aetho, caught the attention of an angel investor during his pitch and was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity.

This year’s keynote speaker is J. Cornelius, president of Nine Labs, an experience and strategy consultancy based in Atlanta. Cornelius has lectured throughout the country on topics ranging from software-development to the psychology of customer experience. He has worked on technical projects with companies including Mattel, Pantone, and General Electric; served as a mentor at the Georgia Tech’s ATDC; and acted as an advisor to the computer science department at Texas A&M University. In other words, J. Cornelius is a geek’s geek.

Notable speakers at this year’s Geekend include G. Michael Lester, technology transfer partnership manager for the NASA Kennedy Space Center. Michael has a professional history of engineering, project management, business development, and strategic planning accomplishments for the U.S. military and NASA space programs. He currently works on the development of new technologies for space exploration and will be presenting on the latest NASA-patented technology and their applicability to the modern geek (non-space edition).

Also taking the stage will be Erica Stanley, founder of Acire Studios and co-founder of Women Who Code. Erica will be discussing diversity and its inclusion in tech, as well as the goals that should impact our local tech community. She has 16 years of tech experience, including web, mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and human-centered computing.

Another fascinating speaker is John Wallace, director of innovation and retail solutions at Emerson Climate Technologies. John will be sharing his perspective on how start-ups and corporations can work together. With his master’s degree in electrical engineering, John has spent more than 20 years working with design and development of electronic control systems and he holds several patents related to control of HVAC and refrigeration systems.

Local techie Larry Patterson, director of Advanced Computing Technologies at Gulfstream Aerospace, will join John Wallace in explaining how corporate innovation works and how start-ups and corporations can work together. Larry joined Gulfstream in 1997 and has held a range of technical positions throughout his career, including project engineer, director of e.Gulfstream, IT strategist and senior business engagement manager.

Academic Russ Clark, senior research scientist at Georgia Tech’s School of Computer Science, will host a discussion panel that will present ways for Savannah to become a smart city by integrating IT with the Internet of Things (IOT). Dr. Clark teaches mobile development, networking and IOT to hundreds of Georgia Tech students each semester. He emphasizes innovation, entrepreneurship and industry involvement in student projects and application development. In addition to his research, Dr. Clark also serves as the co-director of the Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center which supports research efforts across campus, and he finds time to be the principal leader of the Convergence Innovation Competition which pairs students and industry sponsors on novel projects.

In addition to the noted speakers, the conference will host a variety of industry professionals with the hopes of enriching, enhancing and enlightening the geeks of the Coastal Empire.

Geekend is presented in partnership with The Creative Coast, Savannah’s creative hub of entrepreneurship and innovation, and ATDC, which helps grow technology companies in Georgia.

Tickets to the geekiest event of the year are available online at www.geek-end.com. Pricing starts at $250 for a Regular Bot, $550 for The Geek Curious, and special student pricing offered at $39. The website also includes information on becoming a sponsor, registration for volunteering, and a variety of opportunities for charitable donations. All further questions can be directed to geekend@thecreativecoast.org.

Blake Ellis is a board member at The Creative Coast and has been involved in dozens of Savannah-based start-ups including Color Maria, CommerceV3, Rails Machine and RappidApp. He recently served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Georgia Tech’s ATDC technology incubator. Blake can be found online via Twitter at @blakeellisjr or via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/blakeellis.

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