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Being Globalization Ready

The generation of kids who are now in high school could be hurt by globalization.  Craig DeLuca founded The Global Challenge to give these kids a better opportunity to be beneficiaries rather than victims of a closely-interconnected global economy.  Students enrolled in The Global Challenge use Skype, IM, and email to work as part of international teams entered in a worldwide competition.

2600 students from around the world competed in the 2006-2007 challenge.  Winners will be honored a barbeque here in Stowe (I’m looking forward to meeting them) and get to spend a week at Governor’s Institute on Engineering at the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, University of Vermont.  They get cash awards for scholarships as well as travel expenses paid.

From The Global Challenge website: “Many in the US consider globalization and foreign competition to be a threat, …Adjusting to this new dynamic is challenging for the citizens and workers of developing countries as well as developed countries.

“But we believe that the changing global landscape creates an opportunity for all nations to strengthen and expand global understanding and cooperation and to solve the world’s most intractable problems, including global climate change, poverty, and disease. Through The Global Challenge, students begin to think more about these problems with applied math and science skills before they graduate from high school.”

Craig, who like me is semi-retired in Vermont after selling a couple of businesses and is a non-golfer, told me what made him found The Global Challenge.  He was on the board of a high tech company.  He wasn’t surprised to find that the company was outsourcing its manufacturing to China; he was surprised and appalled to find out that it was also planning to outsource engineering – not based on cost so much as a lack of qualified engineers here in the States.  At the same time, he knew that the local school was preparing to save money by cutting the budget for science books.  And he’d just read Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat. “This is an educational problem,” Craig concluded.  Craig’s an engineer.  To engineers problems, once identified, need to get solved.

The pilot project linked kids in Stowe and next door Morrisville to students in several other countries.  It succeeded well enough to attract an $891,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and some other funding and grew to this year’s much bigger program.  Always the entrepreneur, Craig is talking about how to expand to 26,000 and then 260,000 students while drastically lowering the cost per participant.

This year’s challenge required students to work on the design and business plan for products to combat global warming with an accent on practical invention.  Since the teams are global, using communication tools as well as the Internet as an accessible resource is a huge part of the lesson.  The program is limited by necessity to those with a broadband connection – at least at school - and those who speak English.  Neither restriction has prevented many kids from India, China, Korea, Mexico and other countries from participating.

If there’s anything to quarrel with, it’s starting with an assumption that global warming is anthropogenic and can be reversed by decreasing the use of fossil fuels without identifying this as a working assumption rather than a fact.  Kids already have a problem with science education, as Craig has correctly diagnosed; part of their expanded education should be to remember to question almost everything.  This is a quibble, though; most of their projects were as useful for reducing dependence on oil – good idea for a whole host of reasons – as reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Should you be so inclined, you can help The Global Challenge with a donation or you can encourage someone to enroll in next year’s program.

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Comments

Faxin925

Hello I am now a student in Jr. High and I just read a book by your father. I am now filling out a paper about him and i was just wondering if you could tell me(what city) he was born in and the name of one of his screenplays/documenteries. Thank You

Globalizaed

I have a computer science degree and industry won't touch me without 5 years of specialized experience. I would say about half the people I knew that graduated around 2001 with engineering or science degrees are out of the field. Even worse, why invest in America when you can cut your R&D costs by over half by moving to a foreign country like China or India?

The truth is this generation is very smart to stay away from engineering and science. If you are an average student, which is normal, and you are in competition with an average student in a foreign country you automatically lose. You won’t have a job because their market costs are lower compared to ours. These new markets also have massive amounts of people to sort through so they can find the best natural talent; after all we are talking about 2 billion people.

In many ways it would be like asking me, who is an average person, to take basketball classes so I can go and compete with Michael Jordan in his prime years. I could take basketball classes until I am an old man, but on a pure talent level he will always be better than me and there is nothing that can be done about that.

In summation, if we have an average science student and they have an average science student our student loses and will be out of work simply because of market costs. So the next time you hear about having a lack of science and engineering students remember to look for the term, “Unqualified Applicant” that is normally thrown along with it to justify the foreign labor arbitrage.

Ken

The lean manufacturing guys at Evolving Excellence have really been going after companies that outsource.

http://www.evolvingexcellence.com/blog/outsourcing/index.html

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