When we started Bio::Neos 14 years ago part of our company goals and values were a commitment to positive involvement with our community and providing education opportunities for students interested in technology and computer science. We have remained committed to these goals through the years, and are proud to see that other local organizations are rallying around these ideas in recent years.
One of these organizations is the newly formed ICR Iowa. The goal of ICR is to promote the opportunities currently available for both businesses and individuals in the region, as well as combine the efforts of the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City economic development organizations. The initiatives started by ICR are intended to promote new growth and workforce development to support the local businesses. I became involved with ICR Iowa through my position as the co-chair of the IT Sector Board. It seemed like a natural progression to start working with ICR to promote problem based learning for students, and the IT Sector Board is very supportive of this combined effort.
A couple weeks ago, the 5 main committees that are focusing efforts for the ICR came together to discuss progress. Each group presented our goals and strategies for our areas and we discussed several topics including integrating computational thinking into existing curriculum, increasing work based learning, increasing job shadows and internships and ensuring that teachers have resources to attend externships. Participants in these efforts include local businesses and educators, so I believe everyone left the discussion with some ideas of what we might want to do to continue these efforts. I will update this post with the official goals for each area, once the groups have finalized their 2 year plans.
I enjoy the opportunity to work with other leaders that are invested in the success and growth of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids area. We at Bio::Neos have been strongly invested in our local community for many years and are very excited to see others starting to take note. We are very excited for the future as we will get to see some of these initiatives build momentum and progress towards our goals. If you are a business owner in the area and want to contribute to the efforts, contact us to find out how you can get involved!
Update (Oct 22)
ICR Iowa has released the goals for 2020, including those targeted by the Computer Science committee that I have been participating on. Here are the details:
Did You Know? Iowa has 4000+ computing jobs and Iowa had only 364 computer science graduates in 2015; only 14% were female.
Increase the number of middle and high teachers who complete training in computational thinking and computer science.
(partners: NewBoCo, GWAEA, UNI, University of Iowa)
Increase the number of middle and high school students who take a computer science class.
Increase the number of middle and high school students who are explore to computer science through an in-school activity or program.