Next month, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) will host its first technology conference, Impacting Rural Communities through New Age Technologies (IRCNAT). The three-and-a-half-day conference will focus on the importance of bringing new technology to rural and smaller populated areas, such as Southside Virginia.

IRCNAT will be particularly interesting to economic developers, K-18 educators, small business owners, and information technology professionals.

The IRCNAT conference will feature keynote addresses from IBM and Avaya, businesses that are directly involved in the technology field. Individuals such as George Newstrom, secretary of technology for Virginia, Lan Neugent, assistant superintendent for technology for the Virginia Department of Education, and Cheryl Garnette, director of the Technology in Education Programs Division at the U.S. Department of Education, are responsible for emphasizing the importance of technology in our businesses and classrooms.

U.S. Sen. George Allen and U.S. Congressman Virgil Goode also will give keynote speeches. Other speakers include Earving Blythe, vice president for Information Technology at Virginia Tech, Mike Thomas, chief of staff for Allen and former director of the Virginia Department of Information Technology, Anne H. Moore, associate vice president for Learning Technologies at Virginia Tech, and Steve Waltrich, senior manager, Avaya Executive Briefing Program.

In addition to keynote addresses, IRCNAT will feature exhibits and concurrent sessions highlighting a wide range of topics. Exhibitors will have booths where product information and services will be displayed; IBM will have their Thinkpad Mobile Unit for conference participants to visit. General session topics ranging from "Advanced Regional Networking Technology and Economic Development" to "Technologies for Education" will be featured.

For more information on the IRCNAT conference, please visit The complete conference schedule can be found on the website, along with registration information.