It’s no secret that hockey fans in Pittsburgh are passionate about their NHL team, the Penguins (Pens for short). What might be lesser known is the team’s passion for STEM education. 

In 2022, CGI partnered with the Penguins to create a STEM program unique to students in the Pittsburgh area who might otherwise not have access to tech-driven opportunities. Thus, was born the Pittsburgh Penguins Tech Academy Powered by CGI – an opportunity for students to learn from leaders in sports and business technology and get exposure to careers in technology.

On March 9, the program’s “puck drop” began on home ice at PPG Paints Arena, with an opening day gathering of over 50 students from 5 counties, Penguins staff and a team of 25 CGI employees, which included instructors, leaders and mentors

Students learned about the Penguins and the fan experience at six different sports and technology stations. The stations, led by industry experts from CGI and the Penguins, included topics such as Human-Centered Design led by CGI, Control Room, CRM & Ticketing, Mobile & Digital, Penguins Analytics & Research and Sports Science. Throughout the day, everyone involved shared messages about teamwork, collaboration, innovation, and connecting business, sports, and IT. After this initiation, student teams were sent off to solve a challenge at the intersection of IT, business, and sports.

For two weeks following opening day, students worked to solve the challenge, “What technology would you suggest to develop/improve the Penguins game/fan experience?” CGI mentors virtually coached the teams to understand how to use a consultative approach to develop their innovative ideas and proposals. They were judged by leaders from CGI and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the winners presented their proposals at PPG Paints Arena before the Penguins Game on April 14.

That night, the PPG Paints Area was abuzz as students, parents, mentors, leaders from the Penguins organization, community partners, and CGI leaders gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the winning student team.

A pre-game ceremony kicked off with remarks by Jack Tipton, Pittsburgh Penguins Vice President of Partnership Sales, followed by CGI President and CEO George Schindler and CTO of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Erik Watts.

And the winner with the best overall project? Team Crosby from Trinity High School became the Academy’s first-ever Technologists of the Year. The team’s four students won a VIP Penguins experience and $10,000 in technology upgrades for their school.

Team Crosby’s winning proposal was called “Pens Play,” a solution that offered new ways to engage fans with in-game fantasy sports and trivia options. The idea improved on an existing option embedded in the Penguins App, Pens Predictor.

After the ceremony, attendees watched the Pens beat the New York Islanders 6 – 3 and capture their 16th consecutive playoff berth to top off the evening.

“I am so proud of these students and all the students who participated in our program's inaugural year,” said Deb Mohapatra, Senior VPCS, Pittsburgh Banking Sector Leader. “The team is already thinking of ways to scale the program to have an even bigger impact on students, members and the community in partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins.”

Learn more about how CGI is supporting STEM education across the United States.