Global tech firm gives Arkansas students in-state opportunities

Fox 24

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — A global tech firm that opened this week in Fayetteville could benefit engineering students from the University of Arkansas.

Affirma, a Washington-based company that works for Microsoft and other worldwide Fortune-500 companies, had a grand opening Wednesday that was attended by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The firm will aid Arkansas businesses with websites, development and technology.

“They had looked at Austin [Texas] besides Fayetteville, so I said, ‘well, if you choose Fayetteville, we’ll be just as thrilled as we can be,'” said Steve Clark, the city’s chamber of commerce president.”

The hub on Dickson Street is intended for interns to do their work, and Paula Wetzel, the company’s site manager, said Affirma will expand to 100 employees over the next few years.

Wetzel said part of Affirma’s goal is to keep the brightest young minds from leaving the state after graduation.

“They want to stay here, and there just aren’t enough jobs, especially in computer science and engineering, to meet the demand of graduates that the university is putting out,” Wetzel said.

Benjamin Allen is a sophomore student in the University of Arkansas’ engineering department, and he’s interning at the new hub. He said the experience is unlike anything he could get from a college setting.

“It’s absolutely nothing like what you study in class,” Allen said. “I’m assigned a task of varying degrees of difficulty. Sometimes it’s a bug-fix task.”

Allen said he’s more likely to stay in Arkansas now that companies like Affirma are moving into the area.

“Places like Affirma are really, really cool because they’re beginning to set up shop in Northwest Arkansas and providing more opportunities for students here,” Allen said. “I believe that the chances of me staying in Arkansas are higher than they’ve ever been.”

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