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Reaching for the Stars Starts in a Classroom

by: Anthony Russo, President, CIANJ

THE GIRL SCOUTS OF Northern New Jersey now offer 30 new national Girl Scout badges exclusively for girls ages five to 18 at CIANJ member County College of Morris (CCM), a nationally designated center of excellence for cybersecurity education. Nine of the 30 new Girl Scout badges focus on cybersecurity, which is one of the focuses of this issue (see page 40).

The badges—which recognize the study of cybersecurity, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science and space exploration—were made possible by CCM’s designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. CCM is the only community college in New Jersey to hold that designation.

“Career opportunities in this well-paying and rewarding field are growing, as the need for protecting information only becomes more critical,” explains CCM President Dr. Anthony J. Iacono. “Teaching girls about this field at an early age is one of the most effective ways to increase the number of women in cybersecurity.”

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields are predicted to increase 17 percent by 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth in non-STEM-related occupations. In anticipation of its 60th Anniversary next month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gave $1.4 million to help minority-serving colleges—including CIANJ member Passaic County Community College—develop new STEM courses.

Passaic County Community College’s “Takes Flight” curriculum will focus on avionics technology and will revise the college’s existing “Introduction to Engineering” course to include basic avionics concepts such as navigation and landing systems, weather radar, transponders and flight control systems.

NASA’s Innovations in Space Technology Curriculum awards align with the priorities of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering new technologies and capabilities the agency needs for current and future space missions.

In addition, NASA recently selected 20 research and technology proposals—valued at $15 million—from 19 American small businesses. Each is partnering with research institutions for Phase II of NASA’s competitive Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

STTR supports NASA’s future missions into deep space and benefits the U.S. economy. Selected proposals will sup-port the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, science, human exploration and operations and space technology. The awards are for small companies partnering with research institutions from across the country—including New Jersey.

“Our STTR program focuses both entrepreneurs and leading research institutions on NASA’s long-term goals, bringing the latest in aerospace research to our programs,” says Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator for STMD.

Small businesses have created approximately 55 percent of all jobs in the United States since the 1970s. The STTR program encourages small businesses and research institutions to develop innovative ideas that meet the specific research and development needs of the federal government. The program is intended to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, increase the commercial application of research results, encourage participation of socially and economically disadvantaged persons and women-owned small businesses, and foster technology transfer through cooperative research and development between small businesses and research institutions.

From NASA’s big ideas to more everyday applications of technology for businesses, the future of the economy is being driven by the STEM fields of study. That’s why this issue’s Annual Higher Education Roundtable (see page 26) focuses on this area, and why colleges and universities continue to invest in the degrees that will address the careers of a new generation. Reaching for the stars literally starts in a classroom.

 

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