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Engineering a STEM mentoring moonshot

The following post was originally published in The Hill

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid out an ambitious goal for our nation – to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In doing so, he inspired a new generation and helped ensure U.S. global leadership in technology for years to come.

Today, we have an earthbound, but no less important, challenge. We face a massive skills gap — by 2018, our nation will have 1.8 million unfilled jobs requiring technical skills. Our nation’s business community is uniting to address the challenge.

We need to make sure that students of all backgrounds have the skills and opportunities to pursue a career in STEM– Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This requires a national strategy, a chief component of which is STEM mentoring by STEM professionals.

Why mentoring? Because students won’t do what they can’t see. It’s one thing to teach math and science in the classroom. It’s another thing to build, explore, and engage the incredible world of science and technology that is transforming our society in real-time. Hands-on learning is the way to get a diverse group of students excited about STEM.

STEM mentors at Cisco

Participants with Techbridge Girls visit Cisco’s San Jose, California headquarters during a STEM mentoring event in February, 2015.

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Cisco Volunteers Build New Home for Texas Disaster Victims

Employees from Cisco’s Richardson, Texas campus were pleased to attend a dedication on July 21 for the new owners of the Habitat for Humanity house that Cisco funded in West, Texas.

You may remember back in April 2013, a fertilizer plant exploded in West, killing 15 people and injuring more than 300. A nursing home, apartment complex, schools, and private homes were destroyed.

At the dedication this week, new homeowner Gloria Alamos and her daughter Breanna accepted the keys to the house that Cisco volunteers spent 551 hours working on for 6 months. This was the first Habitat for Humanity house funded following the fertilizer plant explosion, and Cisco was the first corporation to contact Waco Habitat for Humanity about the rebuilding process within 48 hours of the blast.

Homeowner Gloria Alamos and Cisco employee Dan Weaver, who attended every volunteer build except one.

Homeowner Gloria Alamos and Cisco employee Dan Weaver, who attended every volunteer build except one.

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#CiscoChat Recap: World Youth Skills Day?

Though it sounds cliché, technology seemingly does move at the speed of light. And as a result of these rapid evolutions that define the industry, “tech talent” is in extremely high-demand. Yet the number of technical-related positions continues to trend higher than the actual number of individuals available who can fill them.

But the industry is making changes! And against the backdrop of the United Nations’ World Youth Skills Day, our latest #CiscoChat celebrated the event, sparking meaningful conversation on how to encourage the passion and interests of young people who can actually fill these tech roles.

During our #CiscoChat, poignant questions from host Cisco Networking Academy  and participant insights reignited hope for our increasingly connected economy and the generation whose skills can fulfill its promise.

To kick-off the discussion, understanding just how connected our world is becoming was key.



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Why Cisco, Why Solar, Why Now

In the past year, Cisco has significantly ramped up its use of renewable energy with a focus on solar.  We’ve been sharing these activities in press releases, blog posts, videos and our annual CSR report, but we haven’t talked about why – and these reasons are deeper than just a commitment to the environment.

Here’s a short summary of some of our recent activities with renewable energy:

  • Signed an agreement with NRG Renew LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG), to purchase the output of a 20 MW solar energy facility located in Blythe, California for our San Jose headquarters and surrounding Bay Area locations
  • Completed 4 on-site solar projects at our sites in Texas, Massachusetts, and Bangalore, India taking our total solar production capacity over 2 MW (see photos below)
  • Launched a solar discount program for employees and contractors, along with their friends and family, to simplify and reduce the cost of installing solar panels on their homes leading to over 50 installations totaling over 250 kW in less than 1 year
  • Joined the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles supporting the increase in accessibility to renewable energy along with many of our peers in the technology industry
Free standing solar PV array in the parking area of Cisco's campus in Boxborough, MA

Free standing solar PV array in the parking area of Cisco’s campus in Boxborough, Massachusetts

Solar PV array on top of Cisco’s data center in Allen, Texas

Why have we undertaken these activities?  Certainly, each of these actions are helping bring more renewable power on line, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving us toward a better environment.  But any company, in any industry, can make the same claim.  To be authentic, it has to hold a special significance related to why Cisco exists.

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5 Ways Cisco Celebrates Youth World Skills Day All Year

Today, July 15, Cisco will join the United Nations in observing the first annual World Youth Skills Day — a global conversation about youth unemployment and the importance of giving young men and women around the world the skills to thrive in any workplace.

Through social media and the power of the Internet, we can bring awareness to this critical problem, which left more than 74.5 million young people without jobs in 2013. After analyzing the data, the United Nations General Assembly established World Youth Skills Day on November 11, 2014, and today, you can be part of the conversation by using the #wsyd hashtag.

Cisco Networking Academy students in Cambodia have access to online courses and interactive activities.

Cisco Networking Academy students in Cambodia have access to online courses and interactive activities.

Although this issue won’t be solved in a day, Cisco is committed year-round to helping young people develop valuable IT skills and launch their careers in this increasingly connected world.

Every day, our programs and partners are creating social change around the world and helping to close this growing skills gap:

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