Kyle Oppenhuizen is the Business Record’s Technology beat reporter.Have an idea or tip? (515) 661-6086 | kyleoppenhuizen@bpcdm.comTwitter: @KyleOppenhuizen
Kyle Oppenhuizen is the Business Record’s Technology beat reporter.

Have an idea or tip? (515) 661-6086 |

Twitter: @KyleOppenhuizen

STEM council to recruit business involvement in schools

This year is the year to get things done for the Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Council, said director Jeff Weld. The council spent 2012 building its structure. Now it’s time for action. “This is our moment,” Weld said recently. “ ... I don’t know how long the sun is going to shine on STEM. ... When the spotlight is on us, let’s not waste time.”

The council will seek much more involvement from the business community, he said. “I think we’re not really going to get this job done until we have 1,000, 2,000 industry partners. At least one in every community where there is a school,” Weld said. That includes not just having businesses donate money, “but with talent, with bringing in the human resources that occupy Iowa’s manufacturing and business sector into schools, and getting them connected to teachers and students.”

Other goals include:
  • Get several schools to adopt, enforce or deepen a STEM focus.
  • Create a program that allows teachers to get a STEM license, rather than just being qualified to teach specific topics such as chemistry or physics.
  • Work to make sure every school in the state has broadband access.

What’s next in technology for businesses

Mobility. Cloud. Data.

Those are the three buzzwords that Microsoft Corp. technology strategist Brian Donaldson says describe how businesses will think about technology this year.

“Those aren’t necessarily three separate things,” he said. “There’s a lot of overlap, and the reason one is on the list is probably because others are on the list.”

Businesses want to give employees mobility, he said, allowing them to easily access programs and documents through multiple devices such as personal computers, smartphones and tablet computers. And the market is getting closer to a day when people will be able to use a tablet device as a laptop, through touchscreen devices that can plug into a keyboard and have the same functionality as a traditional computer.

Employees need to to communicate with people across time zones and continents, which they can do with more user-friendly conference call software and increasingly through using social media-type programs within businesses.

Companies will gain more mobility partly by using cloud technologies, Donaldson said, which give them more access – in both quantity and availability – to data that can be used across multiple platforms.

Before businesses can truly start moving forward with mobility, they must make sure that their data is secure, Donaldson said. He foresees more focus on securing data itself, rather than devices, as more and more data lives in the cloud and not on a particular device.