By Aila Boyd
Botetourt’s own Ken Ferris was inducted into the 2019 Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) Technology Hall of Fame on May 3 at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.
Ferris explained that he was surprised when it was announced that he would be joining the hall of fame because he hadn’t been informed about it beforehand.
“I felt honored,” he said. “I never thought I would receive a recognition like that.”
He went on to say that he views his induction as a recognition of all of the volunteer hours that he has put into the council.
Currently, he co-moderates two roundtable discussions that the council facilitates.
Ferris has been a part of the council since its inception in 1999.
The honor was especially poignant considering that the council is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The plaque that Ferris received reads, “Ken has cultivated a meaningful connection to the region and encompasses the spirit of integrity and innovation that serves as an inspiration to other companies and entrepreneurs. This high honor highlights and celebrates his achievements as an inductee to the RBTC Technology Hall of Fame.”
Ferris currently serves on the RBTC Advisory Board. He previously served on RBTC’s Board of Directors.
He holds an undergraduate degree in electronic engineering from Virginia Tech. For 10 years, he worked at a federal research and development facility. He was brought to the Roanoke Valley because of a job at ITT. He has also worked at Millennia Systems and Luna Innovations.
The hall of fame induction ceremony was part of the council’s annual TechNite. During the event, hundreds of business leaders and innovators gather for networking opportunities, an awards dinner, and the opportunity to hear from a keynote speaker.
This year’s keynote speaker was Michael Fleming, the co-founder of Torc. Founded in 2005 as a two-person start-up, it now has nearly 100 employees.
As for the future of technology in the Roanoke and New River Valleys, Ferris said that this is the most exciting time he has experienced because so many companies are looking to hire technology workers.
“We’re in a good place,” he said.
The challenge for the area, he said, will be getting and retaining skilled employees for the technology sector. He noted that the potential shortage has a lot of people’s attention. One of the solutions that has been floating around, he explained, is to attract people who grew up in the area but moved away in order to pursue opportunities back to the Roanoke and New River Valleys.
Ferris explained that the hall of fame was started to recognize the people who had been part of the council for the “long haul.”
Marty Muscatello was also inducted into the RBTC Technology Hall of Fame.
The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council is a member-driven association working to promote the growth of the Roanoke-Blacksburg technology community.