The Central Valley’s Technologically Minded Converge At DevFest


Photo by: Marco Rosas

DevFest atendees follow keynote speaker Claire Slattery in a superhero pose exercise in BitWise Industries’ auditorium on Sunday, Oct. 22.

Story By: Marco Rosas, Entertainment Editor

California’s Silicon Valley may be well known for being a hotbed for tech startups, but the Central Valley is no slouch when it comes to uniting tech savvy and ambitious people.

At least a hundred of those people were present at the fifth annual Valley DevFest on Oct. 22 at BitWise Industries in downtown Fresno.

“DevFest is a tech conference; it is also the largest Google event in the Central Valley,” conference director Nancy Mohamed said.

According to Mohamed, DevFest season is in effect, meaning several conferences similar to the Valley DevFest are happening around the world from now until December.  

The event is meant to help spread knowledge among Google Development Groups, like the one in Fresno, on the latest in the tech industry through presentations known as sessions.

“Speakers all applied to speak and our committee sat down and reviewed all the sessions and voted on which ones would be most appropriate for our event,” Mohamed said.

This year’s DevFest kicked things off with a presentation in BitWise’s auditorium by Speechless Learning Experience Designer Claire Slattery.

Speechless is a startup based out of San Francisco. Their mission statement is to help improve a business or individual’s presentation.

“Whatever the scale, you’re a performer, and so we want to empower you with the skills, techniques, and preparation to be able to rise to the occasion,” Slattery said.

Slattery led the audience members in the auditorium in a series of exercises meant to loosen them up, emphasizing the importance of preparing for presentations and letting go of inhibitions.

“Improv allows us open up those creative, iterative, innovative parts of our brain and really shut down self criticism,” Slattery said.

The entire auditorium, including Slattery, joined in a series of verbal and physical exercises that consisted of making funny faces, meaningful conversations with strangers and imaginary scenarios at Chuck E. Cheese.

“She got all of us riled up to get the day going,” said event attendee and business entrepreneur Melody Boates. “She was very experienced and able to get all of us engaged.”

Following Slattery’s opening speech, a series of sessions were held in various rooms throughout the building.

Ranging from how to create revenue streams, to augmented reality for the classroom and developing with cyber security in mind, attendees had a wide variety of sessions to attend.

The event closed with a raffle drawing and conference wrap up at 3 p.m.

Librarians, software engineers, tech support specialists and people of all different background were all present and appreciated at this year’s DevFest.

“It’s really an honor and I’m so grateful to have a tech event that’s so inclusive, not just in with gender and race but also professional backgrounds,” Mohamed said. “After all, it takes many different types of professionals to run a tech company.”