You need smart citizens (here's how to start with smart schools)

There’s no doubt that education matters more than ever. Manufacturing jobs in advanced industries now practically require some higher education. More than three-quarters of workers in those fields today have attended some college. In 1980, that statistic was flipped.

And there are implications for the future of your city. A recent LinkedIn report found that cities that are growing are full of smart people who attract the best and brightest from around the country — or even the world. Shrinking cities, meanwhile, have a regional — not global — job market and they risk losing their top talent.

The stakes are high, but there is a lot that you can do to develop the workforce that your businesses — and your city — needs to thrive. Current, powered by GE, a Global Lead Partner of the Council, has compiled some innovative ideas that you may want to put to work in your schools. — Kevin Ebi


By Andrea Vullo, Current, powered by GE

Smart cities can create equity in economic growth opportunities when there’s talent in place to connect infrastructure, understand how it’s communicating and use analytics to compute all that can be possible. City officials should look for solutions that cultivate that talent from within their community, from the passionate people that want to make their city a better place to live, work and play.

To do that we need to rethink how and what we are teaching our youth by exploring two distinctive paths. First, it’s critical to expose all children to computer science, technology, engineering and math education in our classrooms to ignite curiosity. Second, smart cities must provide extended learning opportunities to fuel the fire of curiosity and unlock the future.

Current, powered by GE recognizes this and continues to work to engage youth in educational STEM programming from simple online teacher tools to student hackathons where new companies are born.

Open learning for all
The time is now for innovative public private partnerships that connect educators and business experts to bridge gaps in curriculum for students in urban centers. Current by GE became a founding partner of Cleveland’s MC2 STEM High School which provides an open enrollment model that allows all students in Cleveland or surrounding suburbs access to quality STEM education. The path to success for this first-ever high school on a corporate campus, was the steady engagement of GE employees who mentor, tutor and provide hands on learning and business relevant content to the students throughout the school year.

Recently, Current has begun to pilot a more turnkey approach to open learning that provides simple educational content for teachers to engage their students in brainstorming activities to think about the “what if” in their community if it happened to be a smart city.

Advanced learning opportunities
City officials in many of the country’s leading Smart Cities are taking the education challenge further with programming designed to extend baseline learning for those most interested.

During the 2016-2017 school year, Current partnered with Games for Change as the Future Communities theme sponsor, bringing educational background on LED, controls and digital to students and staff at schools in New York City, Pittsburgh and Dallas.

New York students visited one of Games for Changes’ “Game Jams” where Current shared information on smart city technology. Students from the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering participated in a live video discussion with Current engineers to prepare them for their game design.

The Current by GE platform for smart cities provides real-time and historical data via RESTful API, creating endless opportunities for entrepreneurship as developers leverage data to build solutions. Student Hackathons such as CBUS Student Hack and GE Digital CSU Challenge have already uncovered incredible concepts like Parkix, a parking analytics and enforcement web app. These would never have been possible had these students not been given both the baseline education, the opportunities to extend their interests and the support of civic and business partners.

Moving into the new school year Current is designing a series of short educational apps and ideation contests to be used in partnership in key cities.

Today, we live in a dynamic, problem solving world. City officials need partners who can help provide students with learning opportunities to participate and succeed. It is our hope that one by one, or class by class, students can leverage the infinite tools available to them to collect, communicate and compute data to help both communities and themselves realize their true potential.

Andrea Vullo, Manager, Public Affairs, Current by GE, is a graduate of Denison University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, a 15-year veteran of GE and a thought leader for STEM education.