Home Career Services Perimeter83 Gives Local Tech Startups Access to UAT’s Resources
Perimeter83 Gives Local Tech Startups Access to UAT’s Resources

Perimeter83 Gives Local Tech Startups Access to UAT’s Resources


Written by Sara Klein from an interview with Valerie Cimarossa, Vice President, Marketing & Technology, Chief of Staff, University of Advancing Technology

Perimeter83, open since October of 2018, is a new business-to-business (B2B) workforce development arm and co-working space located on the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) campus in Tempe, Arizona. Valerie Cimarossa, the Vice President of Marketing and Technology and the Chief of Staff of UAT, discusses the new initiative, which was the invention of President Jason Pistillo and Provost Dr. Bulman, and how it will help the world of technology, especially in Arizona.

Perimeter83 offers pre-programmed or custom workforce development training and according to its website (www.perimeter83.com), through the co-working space, provides “access to production work, programming talent, rapid prototyping technology and more to get your product market-ready faster.” The need for Perimeter83 arose because the Greater Phoenix area is a hub for startups but does not have enough tech talent.

UAT, a 35-year institution, has over 20 technology-focused degree programs. It’s a place where people who are very passionate about technology come together to hone their skills.

“[President Jason Pistillo] refers to the school as the Julliard of Tech,” Cimarossa explained. “Just like with Julliard, you don’t go there to learn how to dance; you go to Julliard to perfect your skill. Even though our students can learn code from scratch here, they come here because they’re already passionate about it.”

Perimeter83, named for the fact that it encompasses the entire perimeter of the campus and the school was founded in 1983, offers a co-working space where local tech startups can come in to use UAT’s resources.

“Local tech startups can get into the building and utilize the resources that we’ve made available to our students and the students as resources themselves and basically find the support that they need to take their tech from startup mode into full-on business mode,” Cimarossa said.

The curriculum is totally project-based for the students, so the students are able to work and help these startups with their technical needs.

“The magic is with putting an entrepreneur who maybe doesn’t have the funds available to hire a full staff of programmers into a building with a bunch of highly skilled programmers who have to do apprenticeships to graduate,” Cimarossa said. “Combining these two under one roof and then throwing in a bunch of the unique and hard-to-come-by tech that we have on campus suddenly makes their business’ success attainable.”

The location of Perimeter83 is on the UAT campus in Tempe, Arizona. There are spaces on the second floor of the school’s building that companies can rent that are office spaces, but in actuality, the entire campus is Perimeter83.

“[We felt that] the campus itself is such an asset and such a resource for tech-focused people that we really wanted to set it up so that the entire campus was available to them and it was more than just a space to sit in with a desk and a computer. Somebody could just come and essentially pay rent and sit downstairs in the commons, which is the life center of campus, with the students. In this open gathering space, students meet to work on projects, develop apps and games, run scrum sprints and socialize, and on Friday evenings students kick off their 48-hour ‘jams’ where they’ll regularly take a product from idea to working prototype in one weekend,” Cimarossa explained. “The computers in the commons are loaded with all the software and applications UAT students of all majors need to develop real-world tech skills.”

The whole purpose of providing the co-working space is for start-ups and technology-interested people to be able to become a part of the greater UAT community and the entire student body through networking.

“[Companies and students work together] mostly organically. We hope that by spending time here they’ll come across students and talk to them. We encourage companies to post projects that are happening that they may need some help on to our Career Services Department. Then we keep the students informed,” Cimarossa described.

There are many benefits to clients who use Perimeter83, but the biggest is arguably the access to the technology and the talent.

“We have some pretty unique tech here that’s not found in a lot of other commercial spaces. Almost every computer on campus is Blockchain and Virtual Reality capable right now. We have a plethora of 3D printers. We have a cyber warfare range. We have VR technology and mind control technology,” Cimarossa said. “These things for a startup would be really expensive or impossible to acquire on their own. And we, of course, have the standard run-of-the-mill services, like print, mail, and reception.”

With 750 students both online and on the residential campus, the university has Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degree programs. Being a premier technology school, Perimeter83 made sense to help fill the workforce gap in technology and to help provide workforce training to tech businesses in need.

“We created Perimeter83 to provide the education, courses, and the things that we’re already teaching to our students to the greater community. We reconfigured what we’re already doing so that we can provide that training to local tech companies and their employees,” Cimarossa said.

“So if you have an opening for 40 programmers, and instead of having to hire 40 new programmers, which is an almost impossible task, you could train up the 30 that you already have, send them through the B2B style course here, and then you’d only have to hire 10.”

Although Pistillo and Bolman came up with the idea of Perimeter83, it was actually the result of observations the executive team made from going to different workforce development meetings in the area. The team noticed a need for technology to be a focus on workforce development, which would help Arizona stay sustainable in the tech industry.

“It just occurred to us that we have the tech and we have the ability to do the training so why don’t we do that? We’re putting out some of the best graduates in the tech industry and people who are getting trained here are becoming great tech leaders, why don’t we just expand that?” Cimarossa said.

The corporate or workforce training Perimeter83 puts together can be tailored to the client’s needs, or it can be one of the modules or certificate programs already developed for the graduate classes. Some basic programs covered include blockchain, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, application development, game production and development, technology startup, technology leadership, tech to market, and digital maker and fabrication. The topics can be customized, as can the training site.

“We have the ability to teach the course live in class and then have it recorded for live streaming, so they can watch online from somewhere else. We also record that stream and send it out later so that anybody who is unavailable during the window can still watch the class afterward. That’s how we teach our grad classes,” Cimarossa explained. “But we, of course, leave it up to the discretion of the employer. If they say they want all the employees in that classroom, then we don’t live stream the class to them.”

Perimeter83 also provides industry subject matter experts, for different sessions, and hosts them right on site.

“We had somebody come in a couple weeks ago who did a digital branding and video production session. We’ve had people come in and do contract law. [Clients] can tell us what they need, and we’ll go out and find the local subject matter experts, bring them in for a talk. [The companies are] the ones driving the content, because they’re telling us what they want to see and who they want to meet,” Cimarossa said. “We benefit from this by charging other people to attend the event. However, if you are a customer of Perimeter83 it’s either free or heavily discounted.”

Another benefit to these sessions are to the students, who can attend for free. In addition, they get to see the startups work through from start to finish, and get to witness any issues in the process, so they can be trained for their futures in the field.

An additional opportunity UAT provides are events, where groups can host one-off events at UAT and have access to the resources. This has been something UAT has provided to the community from the start, but now is being marketed so the community knows more about the asset they have in their midst.

Besides the abundance of technology available to use, there are other benefits to customers, such as a restaurant on site and the option to stay or host guests in the dorm. There also are some unique student-provided services, like penetration testing, network assessments and video production.

“Perimeter83 clients don’t have a full network because they’re here using ours, but if they’re working on some kind of security product, our students can test it, and our students can do security evaluations for these companies. They can check their practices and get everybody aligned now before the company grows,” Cimarossa said.

Lastly, Perimeter83 offers access to a plethora of high-level talent across many skillsets, which is a game changer for many companies.

For example, “UAT Game Studios, LLC is the largest independent game studio in the state of Arizona just by headcount. That, of course, is made up of all of our game suite students, such as programmers, graphic designers, digital artists, developers … all that talent is found within the building. We have more programmers under our roof than I think any organization in the state and the bulk of it is really the students and the student talent that is required to do project work to graduate,” Cimarossa explained.

To be able to become a Perimeter83 customer, the first qualifier is the company has to be a tech startup. There are a number of startups they’ve helped, such as a company called Juuice, whose mission is to make power more accessible; a robotics company on campus called 10Imaging, that is doing artificial intelligence and robotics as well as running summer camps for young women interested in robotics; a few small mobile and web app development companies; and a woman who has a small computer science-focused firm who actually teaches at UAT now.

We’ve given [the students] access to faculty who are not just right out of the industry, but they’re currently working in the industry, which helps us to continue to make sure that they’re getting the most forward-thinking, advanced education so that they’re super hirable when they graduate,” Cimarossa said.

Renting a seat in a college computer commons area isn’t always immediately seen as a resource to some. A goal for Perimeter83 is to change that viewpoint to become more accepted.

“We’d really like to see an increase in the number of people who are renting space and benefiting from sitting in our computer commons next to the talent and face-to-face with the tech. So, we’re focusing on having that be a normal thing to do and we really want to see some startups benefit from that,” Cimarossa said.

A long-term goal they have is to actually start seeing a change in the workforce skillset in Arizona, starting with some more grants coming through.

“Within the next 5-10 years we want to see a noticeable difference in Arizona’s workforce, with the discussion changing to how much more skilled the workforce is and seeing how much more enticing this technology community is in Phoenix,” Cimarossa explained. “It’s like another Silicon Valley. We really want to have an impact on changing this fledgling tech workforce into something that’s really substantial.”

Valerie Cimarossa

VALERIE CIMAROSSA  in her role at the University of Advancing Technology oversees UAT’s Technology, Marketing and Campus Facilities functions and has broad responsibilities for staff and leadership development. Bringing over a decade of business and customer service experience to the UAT team, Valerie has been building her leadership game and helping others do the same for the entirety of her career.

Valerie has been at the University for over five years, having moved into higher education from the sustainability industry. She earned her bachelor’s in Business Management and Administration from Arizona State in 2011 and an MS in Technology Leadership in 2017. Outside of the office, Valerie enjoys traveling, music and hiking with her dalmatian.

Contact Information: Valerie Cimarossa // Vice President, Marketing & Technology // Chief of Staff
University of Advancing Technology // vcimarossa@uat.edu // https://www.uat.edu



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *