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Date: 11-11-2014;

Mobile tech classroom sparks student interest...

Monday morning outside West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Emerging Technology Center, Samsung Mobile set up shop in a 100-foot technology-integrated mobile classroom full of Raspberry Pies.

Brandyn Potavin (left) of Gilbertsville, a visual communications major with information technology background, works on the computer systems provided by the Samsung Mobile U Tour on Monday at West Kentucky Community & Technical College' s Emerging Technology Center in Paducah.Brandyn Potavin (left) of Gilbertsville, a visual communications major with information technology background, works on the computer systems provided by the Samsung Mobile U Tour on Monday at West Kentucky Community & Technical College' s Emerging Technology Center in Paducah.A Raspberry Pi (pronounced just like the dessert) is a low-cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a monitor or TV and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. Samsung assembled a small fleet of these tiny circuit boards, connected them to a fleet of Samsung Chrome Books, and extended an open invitation for local students to use the devices and learn computation and programming skills. 

WKCTC was Samsung's first stop along its Samsung Mobile U Tour, an initiative designed to target community and technical college students and spark their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

"We do a number of STEM education support programs, but this program really stands for our vision to grow more homegrown engineers," said Cindy Chang, Samsung marketing manager.

"These students who graduate with engineering and technical degrees, they could ultimately become our future employees. It completes this pathway of support," she said.

The mobile classroom was open Monday to all students at every skill level. The program offers three curriculum routes: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Beginners can learn more about the general nature of how computers work, as well as the basic principles of computer programming.

"Coding is something that, if you haven't been introduced to it, can be very intimidating," Chang said. "But it doesn't have to be."

Students who take the intermediate route get to build their own program and modify the source code of existing games built in Python to change how the games work in real time. Python is an increasingly popular computer language used to build applications like Dropbox.

Advanced students are given the opportunity to create a web server on the Raspberry Pi and create and host a website on that server.

The national need for STEM skills is great, and is only expected to grow. Jobs in computer systems design and related industries are expected to grow by 45 percent by 2018, according to the National Math and Science Initiative.

In a 2011 report exploring the economic value of various college majors, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that of their 15 college major categories, engineering led to the highest median earnings. Despite that figure, the study found that less than 20 percent of students choose a STEM path in school. "This is an exciting thing for us to have," said WKCTC President Barbara Veazey of Samsung's mobile classroom. "For our students to see that a bigger job - like a job with Samsung - is a real possibility for them is huge. This is Samsung's first time to highlight the importance of the community college and STEM education as a pathway to a great job."

Veazey explained that WKCTC's Emerging Technology Center was built in hopes of remedying a very real problem - a lack of technically skilled workers.

"It didn't happen overnight," Veazey said. "It was a deliberate recognition of a need and a problem. We tried to address it as a community, and we did."

Both Chang and Veazey said they hope the Samsung Mobile U initiative will spark more student interest in STEM career paths.

"It's just amazing, isn't it?" said Tammy Potter, WKCTC dean of business and computer-related technologies. "Wednesday and Thursday we have almost every time slot filled with CIT (computer information technologies) and engineering students. I know they're really excited about learning to work in Python. For our students to see this type of technology is very exciting, because it gets them out of the classroom and enables them to see something new."

The Samsung Mobile U crew has prearranged class sessions with WKCTC students for Wednesday and Thursday, but said they won't turn anyone away. The mobile classroom, parked in front of the Emerging Technology Center, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.


The Paducah Sun


Obama wants Internet regulated like utilities; Sen. McConnell says move would stifle innovation

President Barack Obama said on Monday that because the Internet is as important in Americans' lives as electricity and telephone service, it should be "regulated like those utilities to protect consumers," Edward Wyatt writes for The New York Times. Obama said the Federal Communications Commission should make this change to keep broadband companies from slowing down legal content or allowing content providers to pay extra for a fast lane.

This discussion is especially important for rural areas, many of which do not have adequate broadband access to begin with. Also, innovation and start-ups can be particularly beneficial to rural people, so considering whether this change would promote that is important.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C.Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C.Many see the president's move as support of Tom Wheeler, F.C.C. chairman, who is working on a plan to protect open Internet—called net neutrality. "The debate may hinge on whether Internet access is considered a necessity, like electricity, or more of an often-costly option, like cable TV," Wyatt writes. Netflix, Democrats in Congress and consumer advocacy groups are the move's primary supporters, but leading providers of Internet access, Republicans and some investment groups do not like the idea and say this regulation is too heavy-handed and will hurt online investment and innovation.

Companies that make routers and servers, represented by the Telecommunications Industry Association, said they "strongly urge regulators to refrain from reclassification that will guarantee harm to consumers, the economy and the very technologies we're trying to protect." Senator John Thune of South Dakota said the effort "would turn the Internet into a government-regulated utility and stifle our nation's dynamic and robust Internet sector with rules written nearly 80 years ago for plain old telephone service."

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell sent a statement in response to Obama's announcement about the regulations. He wrote that the Internet currently allows innovators to create and sell products people like and makes jobs "without waiting around for government permission." The President's decision "to abandon this successful approach in favor of more heavy-handed regulation that will stifle innovation and concentrate more power in the hands of Washington bureaucrats is a terrible idea. The Commission would be wise to reject it." (Read more)

Written by Melissa Landon Posted at 11/11/2014 

Nov. 4, 2014;

MSU News: ‘Growing the Broadband Economy in East Kentucky’ slated for Nov. 10


MOREHEAD, Ky.---The Kentucky Innovation Network office at Morehead State University will host a conference titled “Growing the Broadband Economy in Eastern Kentucky, Monday, Nov. 10, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Morehead Conference Center.

Everyone agrees that rural Appalachia needs a high speed, broadband internet network to create a new economy in eastern Kentucky. But once the network is built, how will it best be utilized?  This question is especially important when it comes to creating more businesses and jobs in the region.

The goal of this meeting is to tackle one of the hottest topics in Appalachian Kentucky today: high speed internet and the way in which it can grow our region’s economy.

The conference, which is open to the public, will cover a variety of subjects and also will show entrepreneurs how the web can help grow their businesses.

Web development: companies and organizations will receive a free web assessment to determine if they should be on the web or if they need to improve an existing web presence.

Coding academies for youth: Eastern Kentucky has a real opportunity to create an emerging workforce of website, app and software developers. Kevin Smith, a founder of Rural Up, an emerging software academy for youth, will talk about this organization’s work to get young people excited about coding.

High speed food tourism: New attractions focused on food tourism are taking root across eastern Kentucky, including food destinations, entertainment venues, farm-to-table models, trail towns and more.  Too often, these attractions lack a strong web strategy that can draw in customers from other parts of the country.  Jessica Robinson, owner of Print + Pixel, a web development and marketing company located in Morehead, will discuss proven models that link local venues to a global customer base through the power of the internet.

The Potential for ISPs to Grow a Digital Economy: ISPs (internet service providers) have a major stake in seeing the internet economy grow.  The more demand for their product, the greater and more reliable their customer base.  How can ISPs work to increase demand for broadband services?  Are there new services and revenue streams they can create that will bring new customers onto their grid? These questions will be discussed.

Thinking Big about the Space Economy: In Morehead, one of the biggest players in the high speed internet economy is the emerging space industry, centered on the Morehead State University Space Science Center.  Whether it’s building satellites, navigating them in orbit, or pulling data from them as they circle the earth, the internet is vital to the center’s efforts.  The space program also is beginning to spin off new businesses.

What is the potential for this emerging, web-based economy in a small place like Morehead?  Dr. William Vartorella, a respected futurist, will present some of his ideas in a presentation titled "Exploiting the New Space Economy: Cryptocurrency, CubeSats, and Atypical Consortial Alliances in a Rural Broadband Setting."

SpaceTemp: With all the talent that’s being developed at MSU in the space industry, students now have the potential to work with space science companies located anywhere in the world.  One of the MSU Space Science Center’s top students will propose a new business model that will allow these students to be a part of a temporary staff for space companies across the globe.  By harnessing the power of the web, MSU students will be able to bridge the geographic divide and ultimately create global connections that will bring the growing satellite industry one step closer to eastern Kentucky.

With high-speed internet nearly at our fingertips, now is the time to figure out how to use it to build a new economy in eastern Kentucky. This event is a good place to start.

Additional information is available by contacting Johnathan Gay, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network office at MSU, at 606-783-9536.


Jason Blanton

Media Relations Director

Morehead State University

Phone: 606-783-2030


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