The Center for Internet Research is one of five independent centers worldwide, each with a specialized focus for using the Internet. The Colorado center focuses on public education.
“Only one-third of those who start in the ninth grade graduate (in Colorado),” said Dr. Reid Cornwall, director of the Breckenridge-based center. “Another one-third needs remediation. The Internet offers an opportunity to put collective wisdom on the Net and make it available to kids. We lose our kids in K-6. (Education) is going to hell in a hand basket. Who caused the problem is irrelevant.”
Cornwall said he believes the school system would benefit from a software program that grades tests. He said a quick turnaround for test results equals a better and faster learning process for students.
He also said the school system is not embracing the amount of time students use the Internet outside of the classroom. The Internet should be a strategy, not an extra, he said.
“Many schools create prohibitive rules that keep kids from using the Internet (on site),” Cornwall said.
If students don’t have personal computers because of household financial restrictions, that may soon change.
“Someone at MIT is working to develop a personal computer that costs just $100,” Cornwall said.
His concern about the education system is related to the 35 years he spent as a high-tech corporate headhunter.
“If we don’t do something about education, we won’t have engineers and scientists, and there won’t be businesses if we don’t have people trained,” he said. “I don’t believe government can solve the problem. I don’t think education can solve the problem. Asking for reform is like letting the fox guard the henhouse. We’re fast turning into a Third World country.
“We are capable of solving this education problem. It shouldn’t be political – the center can bring together the best minds to solve it.”
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced the recipients of a grant that encourages regional collaboration with public and private entities for the purpose of researching and devising strategic plans to develop highly skilled work forces.
The Denver metro area received $15 million of the $195 million total of a Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development grant to develop the region’s high-tech industry during the next three years, according to a news release from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s office. The grant will “enable a regional coalition to research and produce a long-term strategic plan to prepare local workers for high-skill, high-wage jobs in industries, including aerospace, bioscience, energy, information technology and finance.”
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said the WIRED initiative encourages “regional communities to partner together and leverage their collective public and private sector assets and resources to develop a more highly skilled work force that can act as the linchpin to attract new economic development and employers.”
In December, Denver responded to the WIRED grant application process with a proposal that was approved by Gov. Bill Owens and then sent to the DOL.
“Colorado and Metro Denver, like other regions, are caught in the Colorado Paradox: growing economies with workers educated outside our borders,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. “Growing our own work force for high paying, quality jobs for Coloradoans can transform our economy and set us apart in the global competition for the rarest of commodities – brainpower. This grant reflects our regional approach to job creation, our remarkable partnerships with education and work force training institutions. Here in Metro Denver ‘regionalism’ is the way we do business, not how we wish to do business.”
The Denver Office of Economic Development, which includes the Division of Workforce Development, will act as the fiscal agent for this grant. Counties benefiting are Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, Jefferson and Larimer.
The Denver metro area is one of 13 regions selected for the WIRED grant.
Jo Ann Miabella Galvan submitted a WIRED proposal on behalf of the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology for the Springs area. Galvan said she learned about the grant just two weeks prior to the deadline. The governor also submitted CAMT’s proposal.
Colorado Springs-based SMI International LLC, which provides products and solutions for information technology systems, engineering and analysis and communications infrastructure, was awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command to provide communications and information systems support at Fort Carson.
The contract term is for four years with an estimated value of $12 million, according to a news release.
SMI International is a subsidiary of Aleut Management Services, which also is headquartered in Colorado Springs. AMS provides a broad range of government services.
“As a local provider of government services in Colorado Springs, we are extremely excited about being a part of the U.S. Army team working side by side in support of the U.S. Army’s Directorate of Information Management mission at Fort Carson,” said Charles Schwalier, SMI president and chief operating officer.
Marylou Doehrman covers technology for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.