Thursday, May 03, 2007

Education, Direction & Discipline: You Reap What You Sow

As much as possible - this will not be a post bashing the Thug Millionaires who are depicted in on the magazine pictured above. Instead this is a real life tale of my real life experience on Tuesday.

I work for a large communications company. As part of the conduct of my professional services consulting duties I work with certain customers, assisting them in implementing next generations communications technology that we all will use some day in the future. In this context - one of my accounts is a top notch research university. The event on Tuesday afternoon represented the finish line of a long and complex task in which students were provided with an advanced technical platform on which they would build a custom set of services that would allow individuals to collaborate in ways that are beyond what is possible today. There were approximately 10 teams of students competing for a total of $100,000 in prizes and scholarship money for a total of approximately 30 students.

As I went around to each booth and received a demo of their projects I was impressed by the amount of time that they have spent on learning the technology and then programming the resulting solutions in order to make the system work as a whole. The learning that these students are receiving in this controlled environment will no doubt pave their way into a fulfilling job in the future.

To underscore this point - the company that I am employed by provided funding as well as telecommunications facilities in support of the competition. A large global equipment provider provided a good portion of the hardware that was used in the project and several smaller companies seeking to gain positioning as the industry transforms over to this next generation system of networking contributed their products and engineering in support of the competition. The best and the brightest that show themselves during this project have already made themselves prequalified for employment with these various firms. They are already doing what my other commercial clients are positioning themselves to do in the years to come.

As I left for the day I thought to myself "This is where we as a people are missing out on the action with respect to paving the pathway for our future which will be different from today". My job exposes me to a significant set of ideas and trends before they ever hit the street. If I had more time and/or had access to young, trained and hungry resources necessary to bring these ideas into the market place. The skills that these young people brought to the table contained all of the foundational elements - written communication skills, math skills, computer skills and a certain level of discipline which allowed them to forgo other activities that could have consumed their time and interest and instead focus on this endeavor which satisfied their particular interests and provided them with employable skills that are in high demand for the value that is contained within.

I was motivated to walk over to the campus bookstore to pick up some books on the subjects that I saw in play and commit myself to carve out enough time to actually read and master the subject. I talk about these concepts as a consultant, now it is time to get my hands dirty in actually doing some of the things (programming, integration) that I saw on display.

As I browsed the magazine section of the bookstore I could not help but notice the image projected from the cover. Young Jeezy and some other hip hop artists have a goal of putting forth an image that is 100% foreign and incompatible with what I saw in the "science lab" environment just a few minutes prior. Where as Jeezy and others will no doubt be CONSUMERS of this advanced technology that is on display, most of them could careless as to the detailed efforts that were invested to bring this technology into the palms of their hands. I again thought - "This is where we are losing the battle as a people".