Posts Tagged ‘Tech Education’

Bailout or Buildout?

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Dinosaur FossilsThis blog is not intended to air my political opinions, so I won’t get into the merits or not of the current bailout legislation being prepared for senate vote. I am however, a technology executive that would like to see America continue to lead the world in the tech arena.  As such, this recent Newsweek article caught my eye.

Daniel Lyons, the author postulates that unless we boost government spending on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), countries like China and India will eclipse the US (so did Tom Friedman in his book The World is Flat).  Companies like Apple, HP, Cisco and others will end up like Ford, Chrysler and GM.

While an extreme argument, this made me think that perhaps we are fighting to protect things that shouldn’t be protected at the expense of things that require focused attention to develop our future. 

As the US doesn’t actually have this bailout money, we will be financing this spending with debt.   One of my personal mantras on debt is – if it’s an investment – something that is going to grow over time – that’s a good use of debt.   If it’s to pay for consumables – well, that’s a foolish use of debt.   

As we look at the line items of the bailout, it seems to me that while we need to protect jobs, and bolster the economy, it would make sense to actually invest some of the nearly $1 trillion dollars in our future – so that we can see a return on the investment and be able to pay the debt as we profit from the investment.  I’d like to see further tax credits for R&D, government funds available for basic research, and a re-vamping of the curriculum of our schools toward the future.  This will also require funding for teachers qualified to teach these subjects.  In 2008, according to the TAG Education Collaborative, the Georgia Department of Education certified over 4,000 teachers to teach grades K-12.  Of those, only 8 were certified chemistry instructors and 3 received their certification in physics.  So, perhaps we need to use some of the bailout money for a buildout.  And not of roads and highways, but of our educational system, our technology infrastructure and our incentives for basic R&D. 

That seems to be what the competition is doing.

WebChallenge 2009

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

webchallengelogoI am involved with a local non-profit called The TAG Education Collaborative.  The mission of this organization is to strengthen Georgia’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce.  One of the things that that the organization has done for the last decade is to conduct a state-wide high school technology contest.  This contest is designed to inspire the kids to learn more about technology and pursue that field of study in high school and college.   You can check out our website at www.webchallenge2009.org.

If you work with a technology company in Atlanta, or frankly any company in Atlanta that has a requirement for strong technology resources, sponsoring WebChallenge is a great way to do something good for the community that will pay great dividends down the road.  Or you can just help me raise money :-)