Loudoun County, VA (Nov. 3, 2105) – “The future is this room.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe brought that message to The Loudoun Public School Challenge on Thursday, October 22nd, at the National Conference Center in Leesburg.
Sponsored by the Innovative Solutions Consortium and Raytheon, the Challenge asked students to develop innovative solutions in the areas of Safety and Security, Administrative Decision Support Systems, Developing the 21st Century Classroom and Technology and Tools to Support Education Solutions.
McAuliffe said such initiatives are the basis for Virginia’s economic future.
“Innovation technology is so important to the Commonwealth of Virginia. I talk every day about building a new Virginia economy. We have to do things differently. We used to be so dependent on the federal government…We’ve got to change the way we do business because of sequestration, potential government shutdowns…
“I want us to be the cyber capital of the globe. We have 456 cyber companies today in the Commonwealth of Virginia; we are leading the nation. But I need folks who are going to work in these companies. The White House is soon going to announce a new cyber campus; intelligence, defense assets. That’s got to be here in Virginia, there’s no other place for it.”
The future is not the only place high-tech jobs exist, McAuliffe added.
“Right now in Northern Virginia, I have 30,000 jobs open, right now…That’s an annual payroll of $3 billion a year…These businesses are not going to sit and wait for me to fill these jobs. They’ll go to another state. That’s why you’re being here with this creative problem-solving today…is spectacular.”
McAuliffe said Virginia has to diversify its economy at the same time it expands it. Doing that means changing the way the state delivers education. He said, for instance, there are too many Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. “Teachers teaching to tests and students learning to memorize doesn’t do anybody any good.”
The governor also took a moment to remind everyone present how lucky they are to live where they do. “Folks, you’re in Virginia. You could have woken up today in Pennsylvania, Maryland or Massachusetts; your careers could be over. You are in the greatest state in the United States of America.”
Eleven teams of students from Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) presented innovative solutions to problems facing the school division to a panel of judges that included LCPS Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams and School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger.
Among the solutions presented were systems for tracking the real-time location of students in a school building; expanding Wi-Fi connections using radio-station satellites; a security robot that would patrol school hallways; an app that would rate online resources available to students and staff; and a system to integrate the many technology platforms used by LCPS teachers.
Students had to defend their work in a question-and-answer session following their presentation. Questions came from local business leaders and their peers from other teams in the competition.
The teams represented in the LCPS Challenge included:
Liberty Elementary School
Liberty Flying Five
Stone Hill Middle School
The Tech Smarties
Smart’s Mill Middle School
Seneca Ridge Middle School
Mr. Peck’s Class
Loudoun Academy of Science
C.S. Monroe Technology Center
The Loudoun County Public School Challenge was attended by State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, Del. Tag Greason, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York and School Board members Jeff Morse (Dulles District) and Bill Fox (Leesburg District).