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Addressing the Cyber Workforce Shortage and Supporting FIRST Tech Challenge

By John B. Wood •  March 19, 2019

As someone who has been in the technology industry for over 25 years, I have witnessed the impact of the cyber workforce crisis firsthand. At times, it can feel like finding people who have the right technical skills for the job and the interpersonal skills to effectively communicate with their team – is like finding a unicorn.  There are many layers to the problem of the cyber and technology workforce shortage, and many theories on how to address it.  If you’re interested, I get into some particulars in this recent article.

One solution that addresses the problem many years before an individual enters the workforce is the need to incorporate the STEM disciplines early in a child’s education. This is certainly not a silver bullet solution for our shortage of tech talent, but it does foster curiosity and interest in technology at an early age, and introduces students to career opportunities they may not have known otherwise.

That’s why Telos encourages and supports student teams that participate in STEM competitions, like the Gearbox Gators, who recently competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge.

The FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) invites students (grades 7-12) to compete with robots of their own design, while also developing business skills such as fundraising, branding, and community outreach to meet the competition requirements.

The Gearbox Gators pose with their finalist award at the second FTC qualifier at Centreville High School.

The Gearbox Gators, a team of Briar Woods High School students from Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, created the first FTC team at their school. After visiting local businesses to ask for sponsorships and donations, the team then had to meet the FTC requirements of local community outreach and education, branding and social media presence, and the creation of a robot that could complete the qualifying challenge.

The team hit a few snags along the way – but they used those obstacles to learn what worked, what didn’t, and what they needed to do differently to achieve a better outcome. They also found great comradery at their first competition, when another team stepped in to help them with their robot’s technical issue. In the second qualifier, after adapting their robot, the Gearbox Gators made it to the final round and won the finalist award.

Telos is proud to support students taking the initiative to learn more about STEM and to participate in related competitions.  Congratulations to the Gearbox Gators for competing in their first FIRST Tech Challenge!

It’s clear that students like the Gear Box Gators will be the next generation of engineers and executives leading the charge in Silicon Valley and the Dulles Technology Corridor.

John B. Wood

John B. Wood

John B. Wood is the chairman and CEO of Telos Corporation. Follow him on Twitter: @john_b_wood See full bio...

Telos CEO John Wood blogs about business, education, and the values that guide us.

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