The workforce of tomorrow is being created today. Technology is now a fundamental part of education even at its earliest stages, at the pre-school and elementary level. While this technology brings great power, it’s also important to ensure it is being used as effectively and positively as possible.

Education is less about just acquiring knowledge, and more about how to analyze, evaluate, validate and use the unlimited information that is available to us. We need to teach more about critical thinking and collaboration skills, while shifting the focus from teaching the answers to instead teaching students how to ask the right questions.

That’s why Cisco is working with the Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, California, to run an “Innovate Together” event for students in grades 6-8. The event, to be held March 22-23, will task students with researching and creating an idea that would positively impact their community by leveraging IoT technology.

At its core, Bullis Charter School is dedicated to helping students build interest and comfort level with technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and collaboration through personalized education and focused learning goals. The curriculum is centered on building the critical skills of problem solving, creativity and critical thinking. This type of educational construct aligns strongly with our philosophies and goals here at Learning@Cisco when it comes to developing the talent of today and tomorrow. Partnering on this event is a way to bring two very different entities together to accomplish a common goal and give back to the community.

“Innovate Together” is aimed at teaching students how to identify a problem, how to complete research to validate it, how to brainstorm solutions and effectively communicate a solution in a pitch format.

Mentored by Bullis faculty and Cisco innovation experts through our Services Innovation Excellence Center (SIEC), students will work together in teams of 10-15. Each team will pitch their innovative IoT idea to 10 industry experts from such entities as the Stanford University community, who will select a winning team. Winners will be awarded a $250 check to donate to the community charity of their choice.

Bullis Charter School’s innovative approach to project-based learning sets it apart from other schools, and this event to get students get thinking about how they can help their communities while also learning about leading technology applications in the Internet of Things.

Pairing with schools and education organizations is a fundamental part of the work we do at Learning@Cisco to advance skills development and prepare the workforce of tomorrow. Empowering students with these skills at an early age will go far in closing the current technology skills gap we currently face as a society.


Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn

Vice President and General Manager

Cisco Services