Columbus, Ohio is shaping the future of jobs… starting with its middle schoolers. In the wake of Amazon’s HQ2 (and 3!) announcements – of which Columbus was a shortlisted city – jobs are on the brain. How will the country prepare its newest generation for the next jobs overhaul, particularly for long-term disrupters like Amazon and as the STEM skills gap continues to plague the country?
Columbus, OH is already ahead of the curve for preparing its Gen Zers, but this comes as no surprise. The region has also led the charge for the Smart City revolution – it won the DOT Smart City Challenge in 2016 – and now it’s ensuring the innovative jobs it created will be filled by a strong, local workforce.
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Here are a few ways Columbus is making sure its newest generation can fill tomorrow’s jobs:
- Columbus middle schoolers challenged to build a smart city: The Smart City Design Challenge – presented by Smart Columbus – challenges local middle schoolers to reinvent mobility and create a solution by building a prototype and presentation utilizing the Stanford Design Thinking Process. The project focuses on empathy, ensuring students focus on how their transportation solution can improve access for real people who need it. Students will present their solutions to judges from Battelle, The Ohio State University, Honda and Smart Columbus in January. As of October, 75 teams of students were involved in the challenge.
- Columbus Region offers nation’s first-ever statewide network for STEM education: The Ohio STEM Learning Network (OSLN), which originated from Battelle and the Ohio Business Roundtable, joined hands with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the State of Ohio and dozens of other partners and stakeholders, to create the nation’s first-ever statewide network for STEM education. The Gates’ award ($12M), Battelle’s contribution of $17 million and Governor Strickland’s $13M STEM school allocation, resulted in the development of seven hubs, seven training centers and has assisted in the design, development and success of more than 20 schools in Ohio. Since 2008, OSLN has collaborated with more than 16 states to develop and expand the STEM activities in each respective state through STEMx.
- Columbus middle & high schools look to close STEM skills gap, regardless of socioeconomic background: Metro Early College Middle & High School is a small and intellectually vibrant learning community open to any student in Ohio, grades 6 – 12. Metro is designed to serve students who want a personalized learning experience that prepare them for a connected world where math, science and technology are vitally important (also enabling them to earn up to two years of college credit at no cost). Metro seeks students who are intellectually curious and motivated to achieve in a STEM environment. Since opening in 2006, Metro has sustained a graduation rate of 100% and students have received a total of $40,000,000 in scholarships.
- University majors adapt to jobs of the future: As middle schoolers continue to refine their skills now, Columbus-based Ohio State University is re-writing the majors of tomorrow:
- Ohio State Launches First-of-its-Kind Comprehensive Esports Program: The esports industry is growing quickly and The Ohio State University is leading in its development by forming the most comprehensive esports program to date (announced this October).
- Ohio State Digital Flagship: OSU deployed 7k+ iPads to all incoming freshman this fall with Swift, app development program, installed. The Chief Information Officer is working to develop and deploy professional development opportunities to teach students, staff and faculty how to leverage Swift to solve problems within their coursework and community. With 66k students enrolled at the university, OSU is democratizing access to computer science tools and concepts (a huge win for developing the workforce of the future).
- Hackathons – the new normal in college: On October 27th, HackOHI/O—the Ohio State University's largest hackathon—hosted more than 750 undergraduate and graduate students to design, build, and demonstrate projects to a live audience of students, faculty, and representatives from tech companies. HackOHI/O is put on by OHI/O, a student-led organization that aims to build and foster the tech community at Ohio State University.