Investing in technology requires deliberate steps
Cheyenne – “Wyoming is really trying hard to position itself as a leader in technology in all different areas,” said Sen. Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower. “I have been gifted to be a part of blockchain and BeefChain in Wyoming.”
Following a look at the future by renowned Futurist Michael Rogers, a panel at the Governor’s Business Forum looked at the future of technology in the state of Wyoming in a discussion titled, “Cryptocurrency and Computer Science: in the Cowboy States; How Wyoming is Pioneering Digital Frontiers.”
A panel of technology experts, including Gannet Peak Technical Services CEO Erin Moore, Green House Data CEO Shawn Mills, Western Wyoming Community College Associate Professor of IT Carla Hester-Croff and Rogers, looked at the future of continued technology investment in the state.
Driskill continued, “We’re working really hard for Wyoming to be a fertile environment for technology.”
In the next year, two courthouses in Wyoming will be completely digitized, using blockchain, to create a better business environment.
The digitization has been accomplished through public-private partnerships, and Driskill said, “Wyoming is a great place to make this happen.”
Future digitization of state agencies, banks and more will continue to advance Wyoming as a cutting-edge leader in digital technology.
“Wyoming has a strong potential for playing a strong role in the tech scene, and we need to make sure that happens,” said Moore.
“The question is, how do we keep this edge?” Driskill commented.
Mills noted, “Developments in computer science and computer science education is extremely critical in Wyoming,” Mills asserted
With 1.4 million competing jobs in the U.S. and not enough people to fill those positions, Hester-Croff said the hardware Americans use every day require people to make them work.
“We are implementing computer science in K-12 core education programs to teach the next generation,” she said.
Mills continued, “Bringing computer science to the school system is critical.”
Currently, Mills said a priority has been on training to ensure the workforce has the necessary skills to position companies to succeed into the future.
“We need to keep training our employees to be the employees of the future,” he added.
Hester-Croff said it is also important to keep students in the state of Wyoming and working in Wyoming businesses.
“Right now, we are meeting like crazy to work on computer standards in the state, from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade,” Hester-Croff said, noting the progression of learning technology and computation are both included. “We’re also doing a lot of teacher training to help teachers be able to teach these concepts.”
Starting with a small group of teachers creates a buzz that quickly expands, explains Hester-Croff.
“We started a small computer science certification with 20 teachers in our pilot group,” she said. “We’ve reached out to districts and let them know we’re willing to do more training. We have to start small and let it grow, and I think it’s moving faster than some people would like.”
“The technology is here and moving quickly,” Hester-Croff said. “We can’t keep up sometimes.”
Moore added the rapid nature of technology change means that often, students have a higher level of knowledge than their teachers.
“The honest truth is, our students don’t have the luxury of waiting,” Moore said. “We are already behind, even though we are driving this conversation of K-12 education. We have to empathize with our teachers, understand where they’re coming from and support teachers while also giving our students the access to education resources they need to be prepared when they graduate high school.”
Moore emphasized there are a lot of cool technology projects going on in Wyoming, but because tech companies tend to be “anti-social,” those stories aren’t necessarily being heard.
“There is so much going on,” she said. “One of the biggest things we have to do is support what we have going on and highlight those to encourage bigger growth. We also need to have an open mind for tech that is coming down the pipelines and how we can drive that, in both utilization and development.”
Looking at how to focus on those developments in terms of artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing and software, as well as supporting the tech companies that invest in Wyoming, will be critical in the future.
Recruiting tech talent to come to Wyoming is another key step for the future, Rogers commented.
Mills noted Wyoming’s quality of life offers a great recruiting tool for those looking for the best place to position their tech jobs. He emphasized that tech jobs can find their home anywhere, so Wyoming provides a great place for families to relocate to.
As families are looking at the state, Mills said one of the very real questions they ask is the quality of the education system of the town.
“We also need to consider internships, as well,” Hester-Croff said. “There are a lot of smart, knowledgeable people in the state. Once we train them, they can build our experience level.”
With new technologies, including blockchain, Rogers said, “Blockchain security is what is coming up next.”
Blockchain, he said, provides a whole host of new security issues beyond those associated with just the internet.
“If I was funding something in the blockchain world right now, I would be funding a security start-up,” he added.
While Wyoming has accepted blockchain and many other technologies, Moore said the state must continue to broaden its scope, being thoughtful and paying attention to what is on the forefront.
“Artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning are coming down the pipe at us,” Moore explained. “For us to think that we can relax now that we have passed blockchain legislation is false. If we’re going to be successful, we have to be prepared to keep up with the churn of new technologies.”
Paying attention to the forefront of research and discerning what should be immediately adopted and what should be analyzed further will become top priorities, she continued.
Mills said, “If we can drive conversation, we can be the platform the rest of the country looks at in adopting their own legislation.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.