Friday, April 12, 2013

SQL Server event brings free training to local developers

Attendees listen to a presentation at the 2012 SQL 
Saturday event hosted by the Arizona chapter of 
Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS).
Joe Barth is an application developer and new to Arizona. When he arrived eight months ago, he sought out a SQL Server user group to begin to build his professional connections. He had started a group in Rochester, New York and found it to be a great resource for not only networking but to trouble shoot, brainstorm and bounce ideas off other members.

The user groups are supported through the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), which was created to help educate and connect SQL Server users around the world. On April 27, the Arizona chapter will host their annual SQL Saturday, a free training for professionals and those wanting to learn about SQL Server.

The conference isn’t just for those involved in technology. SQL (a programming language designed for managing data) is an umbrella name for a number of services and is the power behind applications like Microsoft Excel and Access. Being informed about SQL capabilities might inform a business or financial professional about new ways to present information and data.

“It’s an opportunity for those who are curious or not sure about something in SQL Server to get a feel for a topic or to vet their questions without getting too deep into it,” said Robert Miller, a two-time presenter at the event.

Barth sees it another way.

“I get to see great professional presentations from those I wouldn’t have heard otherwise. It gives those who don’t have the money, or small businesses who have minimal professional development budgets, the opportunity to get high-level training for free,” said Barth.

The event has sessions for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels in technology as well as other topics, including how to manage a team of technical professionals and what is the best disaster recovery solution. Attendees get the equivalent of five years of monthly meetings to choose from, all compressed into one day.

“It’s an intense, one-day knowledge transfer,” said Miller.

SQL Saturday is one of the few local events that Microsoft will send employees to, according to Miller.  Microsoft works with PASS to develop the program which draws out-of-state presenters like Stacia Misner, author or co-author of several books covering different components of the Microsoft SQL Server database and business intelligence platform.

The event location on Chandler-Gilbert Community College’s Pecos campus also allows students get exposure to the field and meet database industry experts. The facility is ideal with enough classrooms equipped with computers and audio visual equipment to accommodate the nine sessions offered each hour.

“With the many technology businesses located in the area, it’s fitting that we host SQL Saturday and contribute to the ongoing educational and professional development needs of our local workforce,” said Patricia Baker, CGCC computing studies faculty. 

The college offers a wide variety of courses, degrees, and certificates in information technology, including database operations, programming and systems analysis, networking, and hardware maintenance.

“Creating opportunities to connect our students with professionals in the database field allows them to learn firsthand the kind of environments they will experience once they enter the workforce,” said Baker.

Barth agrees that the networking opportunity is invaluable.

“It’s a bit scary being the new guy. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and building some connections as well as attending the sessions and applying the information to my work.”
Attendees can earn certificate of participation for non-credit training by completing paperwork at the event.  For more information about SQL Saturday, visit

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