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Cisco STEM Mentoring Events Aim to Inspire Students

By 2018, it is estimated there will be 1.2 million U.S. job openings in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. While that sounds like good news, there is an acute shortage of qualified applicants to fill these jobs. The students in our schools today simply don’t have the skills and desire needed to compete for these jobs, which means that our country won’t have the necessary workforce to fill critical roles in one of the strongest sectors of the economy.

Research shows that for kids to become interested in STEM careers, they must feel inspired. They need some sort of connection or a role model to look to for guidance. This is where Cisco sees a need that can be filled by its employees.

Cisco is a founding leadership partner of US2020, an all-hands-on-deck initiative that aims to connect more STEM professionals to students from kindergarten through college. As part of the US2020 initiative, Cisco will build on the expertise of its workforce and culture of giving back, with the goal of having 20 percent or more of employees volunteering at least 20 hours a year as STEM mentors by the year 2020.

Cisco's US2020 mentoring initiative gets underway in San Jose, California

Cisco’s US2020 mentoring initiative gets underway in San Jose, California

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Three Cisco Employee Volunteers Recognized as “Citizen Teachers of the Year” by Citizen Schools

Three Cisco employees were recently named “Cisco Citizen Teachers of the Year” by Citizen Schools, one of Cisco’s longtime nonprofit education partners.

More than 125 volunteers from Cisco have stepped out of their jobs as engineers, sales executives, and technology professionals to become mentors and “Citizen Teachers,” leading groups of students in 10-week “apprenticeship” classes. Thanks to their commitment to the program, over 700 students have had access to caring mentors and developed an interest in pursuing future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

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Cisco and MIND Research Institute Are Reimagining Math Education

This post is derived from the 2012 MIND Research Institute Annual Report.

When Tylicia transferred to third-grade at Occohannock Elementary in Virginia’s Northampton County, her teachers described her as polite but extremely quiet in class. She was failing math, but wouldn’t ask questions when she needed help.

Two months into the school year, Tylicia had what her teacher describes as a breakthrough moment. She had created her own place value chart on a white board to work through a series of ST Math problems on the computer. “It wasn’t a strategy any one had given to her, and she was able to explain to me how she was using this tool she’d created,” says third-grade math teacher Jenna Bassette. “She was problem solving independently.”

Tylicia is one of 6,000 Virginia students who began piloting MIND Research Institute’s Spatial Temporal (ST) Math program in 2012 with a grant from the Cisco Foundation. ST Math is a web-based, self-paced software program that uses language-free animation to help students grasp key concepts.

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If Broadband has a Sputnik Moment, What Will it Look Like?

Howard Baldwin - PhotographBy Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

Those of us who cover broadband frequently bemoan its two steps forward, one step back progress, and the idealists among us yearn for a “Sputnik” moment that will galvanize regulators and carriers alike to leap forward into the future. Will broadband have such a moment, and if so, what will it look like?

Sputnik, of course, was the satellite the Soviet Union launched into orbit in early October of 1957. According to NASA, it was about the size of a beach ball and travelled at five miles per second 359 miles above the surface of the earth. It was a technological marvel that proved to be quite embarrassing to the United States, which at the time thought it was the leader of technological marvels.

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Girl Scouts Wowed by Cisco Technology

Members of my Global Delivery Center (GDC) Public Sector Team at Cisco’s campus in North Carolina recently spent an evening with more than 60 Girl Scouts, who all have a passion in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Girl Scouts, North Carolina Coastal Pines (GS-NCCP) serves girls and adults in 41 counties in central and eastern North Carolina. Through this program, girls develop leadership skills while learning the important of personal responsibility, the value of goal setting, the spirit of teamwork, and the thrill of accomplishment.

RTP_GS_1

The girls visited Cisco on July 18, when 15 Cisco employees and college interns gave them a tour of Cisco’s lab, TelePresence technology, and Security Operations. The Public Sector team led the TelePresence portion of the night, during which Cisco’s TelePresence technology was shown off to the girls with an exciting game of charades and Pictionary.

RTP_GS_2At the end of the game, we shared with the girls how the TelePresence technology is used during our day-to-day lives at Cisco. They were amazed to hear that we were able to meet with people in other states and countries all over the world with such ease.

Cisco’s Chief Technology and Strategy Officer, Padmasree Warrior, recently wrote “Girls at a young age must have something that sparks their interest in technology or science.” As the Girl Scouts entered the conference room to see another group of Girl Scouts in another building on three large screens, they shouted out beyond disbelief, “Oh! They can hear us?” By the end of the night, with quotes like “I want one of these at my house!” it was easy to see that Cisco definitely sparked every Girl Scouts’ interest in technology.

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