ICNOTNE N RC EC OTNI N OENC T I V I T Y
TECHNOLOGISTS OF TOMORROW
How three local educational partnerships are green-lighting greatness
by TA R A N I E U W E ST E E G
Increasingly, companies and schools in Dallas-Fort Worth are finding new opportunities to collaborate, working together for remarkable results that also pave lasting educational pathways. The road map is wide open, with technology in constant flux and the landscape ever changing. With training, early top-tier students are learning valuable skills and getting industry knowledge in tandem. Whether it is a summer boot camp, a boundary-busting community college, or a traditional university, the opportunities prove to be winning combinations—not just for the companies, schools, and students, but for North Texas too.
At Mark Cuban Foundation’s Artificial Intelligence Bootcamp, DISD high schoolers learn how to identify artificial intelligence in their daily lives. Some are surprised to learn that this particular kind of futuristic-sounding technology can be found in the applications they use on a daily basis. Ever wonder how Netflix predicts what a person might enjoy based on programs he or she has watched in the past, or how Spotify provides targeted music recommendations? It’s all in the AI. At the weeklong boot camp, the lessons move fast. By their last day, the students form groups and create prototypes that leverage what they’ve learned. A model that identifies whether an X-ray contains a fracture was just one of many impressive projects. Jesse Stauffer, a machine-learning engineer who works for Cuban, helped write much of the curriculum for the most recent Artificial Intelligence Bootcamp, held in August. “It’s about helping kids who may not have been exposed to technology learn what kinds of things will be available for them in the future,” Stauffer says. “It’s been really cool for us to see the amount of knowledge they leave with—there’s a lot of light bulb moments along the way.”
In 2016, Pathways to Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) launched at Eastfield College in Seagoville. The program, founded in New York, helps students earn high school diplomas and tuition-free associate degrees while gaining industry experience. “In recruitment, we’re looking [for students] with motivation and tenacity,” says Janice Hicks, dean of Educational Partnerships at Eastfield College, “and who want to do something different and change the trajectory of their family and their community.” Today, 18 DISD campuses, in participation with seven community colleges across the Dallas County Community College District, offer P-TECH programs. Industry partnership is a critical component. Codestream Studios has previously partnered with the programs at Seagoville High School and Roosevelt High School. Using a project-based curriculum, Codestream helps students understand how technology is created. “Most people don’t even know what these kids’ workforce will look like, and what types of jobs will be available to them as careers,” co-founder Roxayne Strong says.“They all have to have a fundamental understanding of how technology is created, no matter which pathway they take.” Today, P-TECH has had more than 70 industry partners, including AT&T, Microsoft, Amazon, Southwest Airlines, and Bank of America.
A partnership between State Farm and the University of Texas at Dallas has created a successful talent pipeline. The Illinois-based insurance broker had long been searching for talent-rich areas in which to expand, says Rob Stogsdill, technology director in State Farm’s Enterprise Technology Department, and Dallas proved to be a good fit. By 2016, an inaugural class of eight students made up the first State Farm Campus Development Team. Today, the program includes a 1,000-squarefoot on-campus office—State Farm’s CityLine hub is conveniently nearby— that can employ 24 students as well as one full-time State Farm employee, who serves as a direct supervisor. “By having a facility right here on the UTD campus, students can complete an internship with State Farm, learn those lessons you only learn by direct engagement with industry, and do it in a place where they can fluidly move between that and their classes,” says Director of Corporate Relations Pete Poorman. Stogsdill says that many of the participating students go on to fulltime employment at State Farm after graduation. “The work we’ve got them doing is anything from coding, to java, to testing, to cloud-based research,” Stogsdill says. “They’re truly helping us out.”
D A L L A S I N N O VAT E S | 2 0 2 0 E D I T I O N
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF DALLAS-FORT WORTH
HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS $13.3 BILLION
IN BUSINESS ACTIVITY IN THE REGION BY DFW INSTITUTIONS ANNUALLY
$925.5 MILLION ECONOMIC IMPACT (54% RETURN) FROM CONSTRUCTION INVESTMENT ($600 MILLION)
$7 TO $1 RETURN ON ECONOMIC IMPACT OF DFW RESEARCH SPENDING ($810 MILLION)
$67.4 BILLION OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY IN THE REGION COMES FROM GRADUATES OF DFW INSTITUTIONS, TOTALING 15%
The Future is Here. The People and Companies You Need to Know in Dallas-Fort Worth.