IDF Opening Keynote: Are you listening, Washington?

IDF Opening Keynote: Are you listening, Washington?

Summary: Intel chairman Craig Barrett, introduced as the company's chief ambassador, delivered the opening keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum this morning, highlighting technological innovation and its impact on the globe - just as you'd expect him to do. But Barrett - with a quick apology for briefly jumping into politics - also had a subtle message for Washington.

TOPICS: Telcos, Intel

Intel chairman Craig Barrett, introduced as the company's chief ambassador, delivered the opening keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum this morning, highlighting technological innovation and its impact on the globe - just as you'd expect him to do. But Barrett - with a quick apology for briefly jumping into politics - also had a subtle message for Washington.

The U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world. No big secret there. We've known for some time that other countries are kicking our butts when it comes to advanced technology. But technology wasn't what he was talking about. It was education. "Nations are as strong as their educational systems," he said, noting that in his travels to emerging countries around the globe, technology and education seem to go hand-in-hand. There are countries, he said, that are just coming out of the dark ages but recognize that a quality education and the influence of technology are the keys to building a solid future. There's only one country on the globe that doesn't think that way, he said. And it's the United States.

TechRepublic: Will Intel’s Craig Barrett replace Bill Gates as the new ‘IT industry ambassador’?

"We don't focus as much as we should on education," he said. And when we do, we push standardized tests instead of extracurricular activities that - as proven by on-stage guests - spark innovative products and services that benefit real people and real business. Barrett welcomed Brian McCarthy, a teenager from Hillsboro, Ore. and finalist in Intel's 2008 Science Talent Search, to the stage to talk about his project.

Brian's project was an investigation of plastic solar cells as a new option in solar energy technology. Headed to MIT (instead of Stanford, Barrett noted with a wink and a chuckle), Brian said he hopes to be part of a team developing new sources of energy. That's all great - but Barrett wanted to know what drove Brian to tackle such a subject as solar energy technology. Brian's response: science and physics teachers who encouraged him to tackle projects and go after internships where he could challenge his thinking and pursue uncharted territories.

So, does a teenager from Oregon have any any advice for the members of the audience - or legislators in Washington who probably aren't listening? "You read in the newspapers how math and science scores are down but I think there's too much focus on test scores," Brian said. Students don't excited about taking tests, he said. They want the experience, through internships and after-school programs. "Unless we change that perspective, I don't think we're going to see that shift in a positive direction."

I recently had a chance to chat with a high school math teacher, who accompanied his wife to a conference I attended. We chatted briefly about technology in his classroom and extra curricular opportunities to get these kids excited about careers in technology. That's when he told me that budget cuts have pretty much eliminated after-school programs and that all of the energy in the classroom is spent preparing for standardized tests. Some kids, he told me, slip through the cracks - but it's not the ones who are failing that go unnoticed. The kids who get excited about math and science are bored and unchallenged in the classroom, where teachers spend the bulk of their time helping kids who are falling behind in test preparation. Unfortunately, he said, that means the kids who have potential to excel don't get the attention and encouragement they need.

Of course, there are exceptions out there - Brian is a great example of one. But unless the U.S. starts changing the way it thinks about technological innovation and Washington starts recognizing the global impact that Silicon Valley technology has, this nation will continue to fall behind the rest of the world - in economics, jobs and innovation. On that note, we're off to the rest of the conference to see what great things developers have created using the latest in cutting-edge technology.

The Intel Developer Forum begins today in San Francisco and continues through Thursday.

Topics: Telcos, Intel

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  • PURE BS!

    Look, I KNOW several people with advanced degrees in the sciences and math. Guess what? They have been laid off and replaced with offshoring and H1-B workers.

    Tech companies like Intel want to point the finger? Fine, hand them a mirror...

    We won't even go into how removing 10,000 jobs out of the US (to other countries) effects wages and the tax base to pay for the public schools.

    Barrett harps on the "horrible condition" of the US public school system when the truth is he is one of the key players in destroying it!
    • Get a clue

      Everything Barrett says is correct except the cutting budget stuff. The US Gov't is at fault for our educational system. They do stress standardized testing that gets students no where in the end. I pulled my kids from public schools years ago and they are now getting a much better education in private school because the teachers to not have to spend most of their time disciplining students. The countries that excel in math and science such as China and India do not worry about every student getting a good education. They only worry about the smart students getting a great education. The world needs dirt diggers and when the US learns to except that fact our educational system will improve. No child left behind = all children left mediocre or average.

      Not sure which advanced degree people you know that are unemployed. I know many including myself and they are all gamefully employed in high paying careers. The unemployment rate in IT for advanced degree people is less than 1%.

      In the end, finxing the US educational system is like fixing all other issues in this country, the answer is not PC and very unpopular. This means the issues will never be resolved with our current political climate the way it is.
      • Tell you waht

        Look at the taxes Intel paid 10 years ago and compare it to today. Yeah, there is a reason most schools are in financial straights.
        • Actually...

          ...the vast majority of school taxes are the result of property taxes. Think about it this way. You send a kid to private school. A good private school costs up to $1000/month. Pretty good chunk of change, right? That would be 9k per school year since 3 months of the year isn't charged for, although in some cases it is billed the entire year round to make it easier to pay. So a private school is delivering, without a doubt, a better education than a public school with only 9k/year roughly per student. How much does a "good" school district get per child? An average of about 20k/year in wealthier areas, dipping into the 15k/year in the poorer areas. So schools that are getting less money produce better educated children.

          Is this a miracle? Nope, it's exactly what was talked about in the blog. Focus on standardized testing, teaching to the lowest common denominator. That is the biggest problem. I was bored out of my mind in school just a few years back. Why? Because something I would catch onto in minutes it would take the slower kids in the class several days worth of lessons to even begin to comprehend. Because they can't leave a child behind it screws over intelligent people by babying the ditch diggers. It's as simple as that.

          Ron Paul had the best idea. Give an 18k voucher per student and the parents can decide where their money and child goes to school. That is the real way to fix the education system. And we have to stop coddling people who lack the intelligence to do remedial math while holding back the kids who should be into advanced calculus and physics by the end of their HS career. It's sick.
  • Extracurricular activities

    [i]We don???t focus as much as we should on education,??? he said. And when we do, we push standardized tests instead of extracurricular activities that - as proven by on-stage guests - spark innovative products and services that benefit real people and real business.[/i]

    That's total nonsense. US schools have some of the best extracurricular after-school programs in the world. Football, basketball, baseball, golf, swimming, tennis, -- it's a very long and well-funded list.

    Those programs are essential to getting kids high-paying jobs later in life. Without the contacts and experiences on the golf course, a young lawyer's or MBA's prospects are nowhere near as good, and those are the fields where the USA leads the world. Loser fields like technology and medicine are for foreigners who can't cut it in law or business.

    Have a look around Barrett's company and you can see the way the game works: huge numbers of mostly Asian engineers get moved around like cattle, with a quota each year being sacrificed for the good of the herd. The management, on the other hand, is mostly US-born with some Europeans.

    Just [u]try[/u] to find a Chinese- or Indian-born partner in Intel's lwa firms. There might be one or two, but it's not hard at all to tell the management and the lawyers from the grunt engineers just by skin color.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Sadly, there's a lot of truth to this

      Sadly, there's a lot of truth to this. However, it's not unique to the USA. Japan is facing record shortages in Engineers because the best students know that the money isn't in Engineering. They know that to get rich, you get an MBA, you become a lawyer, you become a banker, run a hedge fund, become a financial analyst if you're a mathematician, etc.

      Those first generation Chinese- or Indian-born that immigrated here don't have the language or the contacts to get in to those high paying jobs so they study engineering to get good (not great) paying jobs. But their children will likely become more like the white or Europeans and go after the non-engineering high paying jobs.
      • RE: IDF Opening Keynote: Are you listening, Washington?

        You never appreciate i'm sorry? Is better in favour of physically, be fond of <a href="">zoloft</a>.
    • ? for YaGottaBeKidding

      YaGottaBeKidding when you relate the earlier comment about extra curricular activities that contribute to higher education referring to football, baseball, soccer, golf - et al... right..??

      I think the intent was more along the lines of advanced activities beyond what are offered in the typical school day.. Extra studies, competitive academic events, debate, etc...NOT sports, and the social networks that result from such activities - and often result in inferior hires in terms of qualifications, intelligence, etc. simply because "Bubba" was one of the best quarterbacks my high school has ever seen - so therefore I should give him the job over someone VASTLY ore qualified...

      Seems as though YOU might be a large part of the problem - PLEASE don't encourage others to follow in your misinformed footsteps...
      • Score!!!!

        Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Why bother with academics?

        Ever hear of JD Hayworth> Ex-jock, sportscaster ... parlayed it into an election win for the House of Representatives.

        Why bother learning?
        Tsu Dho Nimh
  • One more thing, the "sciences" SUCK for jobs.

    Ok, Ive been an engineer (mechanical) for over 30 years. When I first got into the game there were a lot of FUN jobs. It was all about building a better mouse trap, introducing new ideas and products, even (gasp) doing some R&D. Today it is all about cost cutting and eliminating people/jobs. Very hard to go into the offie and look around a factory and play ennie meenie with whose job you are going to eliminate today. Simply put, not a desirable job at all.

    When it comes to IT, I see much of the same thing. Go to school and get a degree in CS to go around and blow out PCs or help Sally find the Enter key for the hundreth time? Ugh... IT is a thankless job and I know of no one that is really happy doing it anymore. I think every person I know in IT would take a new job tomorrow if it was offered to them. AMny would do it even if it paid less.

    I have grandkids soon to be college age and there is no way I would encourage them to go into IT or engineering. Heck, get an MBA, make 10 times the money and not sweat bullets everyday just trying to stay even with the game.
    • agree with NoAxToGrind

      As a field engineer who got into the business back in 1975 - while still in high school, believe it or not (gasp) - I wholeheartedly agree with what No_Ax had to say...

      Granted - it was a headier day back then as all the technology we take for granted now was still largely bread-boarded...or at best coming off hand soldered assembly lines with a 40-70% failure rate and wiring and wire wrap jobs that cause even myself to cringe when looking back - but the fact of the matter is that it was our job to make the stuff work...and we did it DAMN well...Never mind that everyone I knew back then thought I was some kind of an other-worldly freak for being able to do what I did - it was exciting, and satisfying beyond anything I've seen in the last 25-30 years to pull the proverbial "silk purse out of a sows ear" and deliver the products that started the technological explosion that revolutionized this country in the following quarter century.

      Sadly, corporate management...themselves only qualified by the fact that they hold a piece of paper proving that they figured out how to pass tests - (and 90% with absolutely NO technical background - after all, they're "managers" - they don't need to understand the lowly technical crap) rather than proving that they actually had some knowledge of how to remedy the myriad of problems that fall "outside the box" of institutional brainwashing - have established control over hiring practices covering positions that they cannot even begin to comprehend - much less to understand the knowledge and experience required to successfully resolve problems involving the complex interaction between machines that are in some cases much smarter than us...and users too ignorant in some cases to do much more than find the power on switch and follow a list of 1 to 10 if we're lucky.

      Sadly, I ran my own consulting business from the late 80's until 2002 - when Multiple Sclerosis sidelined me for a number of reasons - and my son was surrounded by hundreds of systems from age two on up until I sold my business in 2002 - when he was 16. He is EXTREMELY talented in all aspects of systems, networking, internet connectivity, frame relay, T1, switch backup, et al... but I beg him daily to NOT try to follow in my footsteps and make a choice to follow a career in IT consulting - as it has been driven by the paper tigers to the point where it is a MISERABLE existence... That old adage about "we the willing..being led by the unknowing.." except that now engineers are being lead by ignorant people who have absolutely NO CONCEPT of what it takes to be successful at delivering a working product and maintaining satisfied customers in the technology marketplace...ALL they can see is a VERY narrow minded, blinder restricted, view of that almighty bottom line...

      Perhaps that could have something more to do with the US's fall as a technological leader...Regardless of the quality of the product you put out - if you cannot supply the customer with what they perceive to be the best quality service, support. and probably lastly a working product - they WILL go elsewhere to find it... And todays "managers" simply cannot, or will not, understand and accept the value of the guy/woman in the field who puts out all the fires before they start burning THEIR asses...

      I say we go back to promoting technical management from technical positions - better to train an extremely competent engineer with the skills required to be a manager - than to put a "manager" in charge who has NO understanding of the technical and customer relations side of this business...
  • Hey, Craig!

    Here's an Intel/US golf event. Notice anything?
    Yagotta B. Kidding