Why You’ll Probably Want to Hire this College Freshman in a Few Years

ICIF grant recipient Michael Hannum spent the summer before his freshman year in college learning integration and gaining plenty of AV and project experience.

Michael Hannum probably didn’t expect to be spending the summer before his freshman year at Cal Poly Pomona doing research, design and installations of AV systems for Cibola Systems, but the computer science major says he’s glad he did — and he got a lot out of the experience.

Hannum, 19, is among this year’s class of grant recipients through InfoComm International‘s International Communications Industry Foundation (ICIF) program.

Hannum worked 32 hours a week this summer with design project lead JoAn Kenmotsu, whom he has known since his preschool days.

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“We took a really critical look at the [ICIF grant] program after last year to make it more useful to the industry and the students,” says Betsy Jaffe, senior VP of member services for InfoComm and executive director of the ICIF program.

She’s excited to have more involvement this year after only five students worked at InfoComm member companies under the ICIF grant program in 2015.

“A lot of people want to see something successful before they get involved with it, so last year was more of a proof of concept,” says Jaffe.

“We’re seeing different people benefit from the program this year in several different ways.”

InfoComm sometimes recommends schools or provides contacts to companies that want to get involved in the ICIF program, but they don’t pick the students, says Jaffe.

It’s up to the employer — which contributes half of the $4,000 price tag — to choose the best fit for their business, although InfoComm has webinars and a handbook for those who have questions about ICIF.

“Whatever makes the most sense for the InfoComm member is who they’ll recruit,” she says.

InfoComm also recently partnered with Valencia College in Orlando to offer InfoComm courses as part of the college’s entertainment design and technology program.

That means Valencia’s AV Event Production specialization, currently being developed for a fall 2017 launch, will include InfoComm’s Essentials of AV Technology course, the AV Technologist exam, live events coursework and assorted online classes.

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InfoComm’s first official higher education partnership launched in 2014 with Columbia College in Chicago and includes a course on the basics of AV integration.

Taught by Jeremy Caldera, InfoComm’s 2016 Educator of the Year, the Columbia College course provides students access to free InfoComm workshops.

Hannum had worked on sound systems, lighting and projection for his high school’s theater group, but he’d never given much thought to installing AV equipment for actual clients. Kenmotsu was pleased with the “energy” and “fresh look” Hannum brought.

“My hope was it would benefit Michael, because I knew some of the more technical things he learned here weren’t things he’d learn at Cal Poly,” she says.

“What I’ve found is he’s influenced the rest of the company. It forced them to look at the bigger picture and helped the different departments understand this industry better.”

Let’s go Back Stage to hear from Michael Hannum:

Craig MacCormack: How was your experience working at Cibola Systems?

Michael Hannum: “A lot of AV involves programming so I was expecting that part to be what I liked most, but I really enjoyed going on the site installations.”

CM: What was the best thing you got out of your experience?

MH: “My previous AV experience was on the user end, so [working at Cibola] really expanded my view and opened a whole new world. It gives me a better understanding of corporate work vesus retail and other services.”

About the Author


Craig MacCormack is the former executive editor of Commercial Integrator (2011-2021). He's a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience covering local and national news and sports as well as architecture and engineering before joining Commercial Integrator.

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