As Factories Fade, Rural District Builds Makerspace to Fill Talent Gaps

I met Trevor (name has been changed) when he was a high school senior in 2014. From a coal mining family in western Kentucky, he’d just suffered a major family crisis and his mother was struggling with mental illness. Understandably, his grades were beginning to suffer and he was missing class regularly. At the time, I was the homeless education program manager for Paducah Independent School District in Paducah, Kentucky. Trevor’s teacher pulled me aside, concerned and frustrated. She filled me in on the particulars. He was struggling scholastically, experiencing a difficult situation at home, and was at risk of …

Moving Forward to Grow Talent in Technology

Here’s the latest on our K-Career Technology Pipeline. This past October, we even took it up another notch and put everyone in the room together to hash out our local talent development issues in emerging industries. By everyone, I mean the Kentucky Department of Education was talking to industry leaders, secondary and higher education professionals and leaders, and economic development leaders. It was an exhausting all day event, but we made headway. We learned that: we must get those closest to our students (teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, family advocates) to become the most informed about the new realities of work and industry. …

The Work Ready Project

They asked for “out of the box,” and so we delivered. After working for over 18 months on this concept from user experiences to analogous research in and out of state, to many, many, many industry conversations, I present our Work ready concept as the Paducah Regional Innovation Hub. The executive summary sums it up nicely or you can just watch the slide presentation below it. The University of Kentucky Paducah Campus, the Paducah Public Schools, WKCTC, Murray State University, Paducah Economic Development, Computer Services, Inc., the city of Paducah, and an additional and growing number of public/private regional partners …

Growing Talent in Two Worlds

About a month ago, I took a storytelling workshop online through IDEO U. My goal was to find a more compelling way to share the results from 9 months of implementing our technology pipeline. There’s no bullet points, bar charts or executive summary. My hope is that you get the essence of what we tried to do, why, and where we are headed next. My greatest intention with this project was to end up with an empathic design that reached the kids who needed it the most. To do this, every step centers around starting early with play, building relationships, and having coaches …

Hackable Cities – Re imagine Your Neighborhood

Hackable Cities is a way for a anyone to get about the business of making their community a better place. This project was my first attempt as an agile scrum master, and I fell in love with the process immediately. Using agile, we produced this book in about 8 weeks. I had a star cast of the brightest people I have ever had the privilege to work with. Fellow community developer, Jonathan Rewers, and I did final edits and helped lead the team through the actual the process in the Eixample neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain. We ended up winning a Design for …

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Growing Talent – The Nudge

Last month I experienced one of the most powerful things we’ve done so far to connect students and teachers with industry. I’ve described in recent posts how in our journey to build talent in tech, we’ve started the conversation with school leaders, industry, and higher education. We’ve examined the student journey to see where we connect and disconnect. But none of this has gotten the traction or even the power to change attitudes so quickly as our most recent endeavor which was to get out of the building and put the target customer (aka the student) in the space. We created a …

Growing Talent – Understanding the Student Experience

As an experience designer, research that involves understanding and communicating the student journey is my favorite. In that journey are the key motivators and insights into student behavior. Surprisingly many tend to skip this research phase. I think this happens for a few reasons. One, we think we already know. Why ask when I can just assume? It’s less time consuming and of course, I’m probably  right anyway! If you take this point of view, you will design something for that little world in your head and be left wondering why no one is responding to your great new initiatives. Rule #1: Don’t …