Hickenlooper, Colorado House Announce High-Tech Grant Legislation

More focus on economic development announced today from the incoming Democratic-controlled Colorado House, Gov. John Hickenlooper, and even some cooperative Republicans. As FOX 31′s Eli Stokols reports this afternoon after a press conference:

The legislation, introduced at the Capitol Monday by Gov. John Hickenlooper and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, supports the state’s advanced industries, which include bioscience, aerospace, electronics and information technology with grants ranging from $150,000 for research and development to $500,000 for infrastructure funding.

The governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade would manage the grant program.

Incoming Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, called the proposal, dubbed the Advanced Industries Accelerator Act, a “strategic investment in economic development.”

Supporters of the bill say they want to take advantage of the research institutions and federal labs in Colorado to spur collaboration with private-sector funders.

Stokols reports the Democratic sponsor will be Rep. Dave Young, and Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou will co-sponsor. With this bill, both the incoming Democratic-led House and Senate have announced clean “jobs and economy” legislation as their lead-off agenda items.

Given the inevitably high profile of civil unions, and other bills whose passage was made a certainty by the GOP’s loss of the House, making jobs the first big push is a smart idea.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gray in Mountains says:

    but the corollary is missing. May come later. There is a need in this country, within 10 years, for 100,000 tech teachers, those teaching science, math and the tech that leads to students studying engineering.

    Interestingly, to me anyway, is that the studies showing our deficiencies show knowledge of history to be even lower. There is no great push to address that. I’m reasonably sure the Rs would oppose it  

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      Money is nice but the giant shortage is qualified employees.

      And along with science & math we need programming taught in High School.

      Any student majoring in engineering or a science enters college having taken a year of biology, chemistry, & physics – at a minimum. And they are up to calculus in math.

      Any student majoring in music has spent years on an instrument. Any student majoring in theater has been in years of productions.

      But programming students… Many enter college having never written a program.

      • parsingreality says:

        It sure was at one time. The best educated in the nation in terms of degrees, IIRC.  Or maybe after Mississippi or something…….

        (Still the least obese state, too! I’ll bet this has some correlation to the high education level.  It certainly tracks to the fattest are also the least educated.)

        If Colorado has the need for tech employees, they will move here.  Not that we shouldn’t be doing some homegrown, er, apologies to 64.

        • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

          Wen there’s a surplus of skills one place and a shortage another, then people move. But when there’s more jobs than qualified people worldwide, then you have a shortage everywhere.

          The problem is there’s a shortage of very very good programmers. There’s a glut of average programmers.

      • Tom says:

        seems like a great idea. I see the biggest roadblock to that being a lack of expertise from teachers– if you’re qualified to teach it, chances are you’re qualified for a much better paying gig. Moreover, you gained your programming knowledge through more lucrative work in the first place. Since there isn’t an established way for programmers to gain the skills to teach or for teachers to become programmers, then you tend to have an ad-hoc patchwork of folks that aren’t very good at one or the other.

        Perhaps it’s time for the Dept of Ed to look into establishing a licensure path for tech teachers. There’s already some standards that encourage the use of technology in all classes, but that almost always translates into endless use of Powerpoint rather than anything deeper.

        • Meiner49erMeiner49er says:

          Far better approach would be for teachers to reach out to those in the private sector and enlist them as subject matter experts (SMEs) to support and judge student projects.  

          The simple fact of the matter is that for every teacher who “could” be making more money in the private sector if they were more experienced (which in many cases, is debatable) , there is a private sector employee stuck in a Dilbert job who would find the value of working with students a rewarding addition to their hum-drum work days for higher pay.

          In the Bay area, high tech companies are requiring their employees to get involved in schools as SMEs.  It improves employee morale and  helps with recruitment down the road.  Rather than fund a training program, I suggest the State look at a similar requirement for those who receive AIA grants:  a tax on company “time” rather than employee “dime.”

      • Hell, I had programming classes in high school back in the mid ’80s. Actually, I was lucky – I was programming in middle school, but that wasn’t available to the general school population.

        The skills needed from math to really understand “normal” programming (i.e. Algebra) aren’t taught until 5th grade according to the state standards.

        Most children don’t learn to compose music until they’re in college. They haven’t worked on writing and directing plays until at least high school.

        Playing music you can begin to learn by wrote and work up in competence – without ever really knowing how music works. (I learned music theory in college after starting to play and sing music as a 4 year old. I sang semi-professionally without knowing anything about music theory.)

        Being in the school play you can develop your social acting skills, follow the directions of the school staff who put the whole thing together, and learn the trade of acting – without ever needing to know how the play fits together as well as it does, or how to create your own.

        Programming requires understanding. It needs algebra, and logic, and organizational planning (and, in my opinion, a bit of creative genius). It needs, in other words, a similar ramp-up to that high school biology or chemistry class.

        If you want to pretend that programs are like playing music, then you’ll wind up with a bunch of talented game players. Which I think we already have…

        • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

          But it would be good to start in with:

          9th grade – html, web design, and at the end PHP.

          10th grade – Python and basic programming concepts.

          11th grade – Take them through object oriented programming with Java or C#, data structures, mobile platforms, etc.

          12th grade – go crazy in depth in whatever interests them.

          And tie this to the math class that goes with each.

          • Looking back at my programming career, I think I’d order my programming curriculum as follows:

            1) Foundations for programming. Simple functional programming foundations – teach the basics of flow control, conditionals, etc.  This should be a few weeks at the beginning of a serious programming class – you can add more language features as the class continues.

            2) Object-oriented programming. Move quickly into developing OOP style, with all of the college CS bells and whistles. The reasons for not programming OOP are mostly legacy – not enough processing power or memory and crappy compilers, or legacy programmers or programs. OOP should be the bulk of a full year of any HS programming class.

            I’d probably suggest Python as a first language; it’s flexible, yet it encourages some good programming habits.

            You could add simple HTML design to the class – nothing beyond form design and response, IMHO. Or you could use Qt and do some simple windowing control. Basic data storage is also probably useful in a full-year class.

            If this seems like a lot, take a look at what various programming books and CS1 classes are teaching and in what time frame.

            Call that Year 1 (9th grade).

            3) Event-driven programming. Most programming now is event-driven. JavaScript, most Java, most mobile and PC applications, games… This would necessarily cover some basic data structure concepts (queues, stacks, lists).

            4) MVC programming. No time like early on to teach good programming habits. I’m not a fan of strictly following any CS course guidelines, but good habits are good to have, and MVC creates good habits when thinking about separation of code, giving students some time to clarify any confusion they might have had about how to design OOP classes and methods.

            Stick with Python and Qt and you can teach application programming. Switch focus to JavaScript and CSS to make it more web-based, without fully changing language stack.

            These two would be Year 2 (10th grade).

            I don’t have much to add to your Years 3 and 4. At least one “more serious” language (e.g. Java, C#, C++, Objective C, or plain old C) should be on the agenda. Schools of some size might offer a slate of electives – graphics programming, low level network programming, data storage topics (advanced SQL, NoSQL, distributed data storage), understanding machine language… Or, as you note, it might be possible to have each student do an individualized in-depth dive or three for their full-year class.

            (Note: I’m not really sure about speed. The above feels right, but I have no experience teaching high school students nor in teaching CS classes. For all I know we could jam the first two years into a single year like they do with college CS 101 and CS 102 classes.)

            There aren’t really specific corresponding math classes to these. Algebra and the formal proofs of geometry (is that still 9th grade?) are the end of the math line for basic programming – and the proof structure of geometry is more of a way to gain rigor in logic flow than a prerequisite; trig is a function call away, calculus isn’t really a computer thing, statistics and probability (what you learn of them in HS) are one library call away, and you don’t learn matrix algebra until college.

            I wouldn’t bother with PHP as a first language, nor would I recommend switching languages too quickly. For a formal class I’d probably go with window-driven application design over web design – the split nature of web programming can confuse people when they’re learning. (Note: this from a person who isn’t a Python programmer, spends at least 10% of my time developing in PHP every month, and has at least in the past spent 100% of my time doing web programming.)

            • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

              But I think for most people, they would drop out pretty quickly. I was talking with a C.S. professor at Mudd and they tried switching their first semester C.S. class to Python where they focused on projects that the students could complete quickly.

              It more than doubled the number of kids that continued on to additional programming classes. And doubled the number of female students who decided to go for a C.S. degree.

              That’s why I think the first 2 years should be focused on accomplishing lots of interesting projects. Teach what you can in the process, but first priority is interesting & fun.

              • I’m not getting where what I posted and what you responded with are different. Perhaps the formal naming of programming concepts? Look at a state curriculum guideline sometime – the formal specs could glaze the eyes of a college graduate. Nothing in what I wrote prevents the curriculum from doing quick fun programs.

                If it’s early entry in to OOP, then you probably come from the same era of programming technique that I did – straight-line and/or functional programming. OOP is easy, esp. if you learn it early on. OTOH, set someone up as a functional programmer and it’s a pain to shift gears into OOP later on.

                If it’s web vs. app, let me note that it’s easier to write form type applications in Tcl/Tk than with HTML and Python. I suspect that QtQuick is probably as simple (it’s a bit newer than my Qt exposure…)

                • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

                  Ok, I guess maybe we are mostly agreeing then. And yep, I did come from the old old days (we only had zeros, no ones). I do suggest they talk to Mudd as they’ve done a lot of work finding what works best.

                  • I wondered where all of my zeros went to – we only had ones. Would’ve been a whole lot easier with zeros.

                    My wife had a horrible experience when she took CS 101 that reminds me of your caution. The school had just gone to OOP using C++ and RogueWave libraries – they’d previously taught C. She was the guinea pig for the newly designed curriculum, and it was pretty horrible. Didn’t help that the lab professor and the class professor weren’t coordinated with each other for lesson plans, but part of it was that they dove in headlong to OOP with no real ramp-up. Started with real applications rather than short simple projects. Not pretty.

    • Sir RobinSir Robin says:

      Geriatric physicians and nurses. The estimate is that we’ll need 30,000 in the next 20 years.

  2. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Get stock for the money you invest in companies. If you aim wisely the program will become self funding.

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