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Local tech industry’s success tied to education

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(Above: CSRA’s Integrated Technology Center at the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City will be home to 800 IT employees by 2018.)

According to local technology experts, the future of the area’s industry hinges on education.

A panel of experts from the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC), CSRA, and Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) were on hand to discuss the state of the area’s burgeoning tech industry at the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce’s “What’s Happening?” Breakfast at the Shreveport Convention Center Wednesday, Jan. 11.

The correlation between tech jobs and education was underscored by all the parties. Director of the CIC Craig Spohn particularly painted a stark picture by saying, “The nation is heading towards a cliff in regards to engineering and science…The technological innovation that allowed military dominance will go away. You can see those dominoes fall, they fall slowly, but that’s what we’re faced with (if we don’t get more students engaged in math and science).”

Spohn said that is why National Integrated Cyber Education Research (NICERC) was established by the CIC to create a curriculum that would grab students attention.

“It’s in all 50 states now and the numbers are growing incredibly fast. This is an end-to-end curriculum gives teachers the access to training in courses they will be teaching students,” Spohn explained.

CSRA, which delivers next generation technology, is seeking employees to fill the remaining jobs in its newly-opened Integrated Technology Center at the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City.

Mimi Hedgecock with CSRA said the company is directly involved with partners — Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC), Louisiana Tech, and Northwestern State University (NSU) — to create curriculum that would provide students with training in industry tools and technologies.

“We’re working to create students so they are job ready and can come into our workforce and be a productive worker,” Hedgecock explained.

“When it comes to our workforce, we need IT workers. As we get those jobs, we’ll be able to produce more. As we produce more, we can put out more bids and bring more jobs here,” said Hedgecock. “We have a commitment for 12 years and an option for another 12 years. That’s a generation. A generation of change and diversification to our economy.”