ND Living report
The Technology Council of North Dakota – referred to as TechND – is the state organization of business, government and education entities sharing a common interest in a strong technology industry in North Dakota.
Founded in 2000, as the Information Technology Council of North Dakota, the organization is now TechND, which continues the original mission of “promoting the use, growth and development of technology in North Dakota.”
TechND has nearly 65 members statewide, and is governed by a board of directors which meets quarterly. Committees are established, working on project priorities for the organization.
Jeremy Neuharth, principal technologist and co-founder of Sycorr, in Fargo, serves as the president of TechND. Sycorr provides security system software products and solutions, primarily in the banking industry. Neuharth indicates TechND’s advocacy role serves interests for, and beyond, technology enterprises.
“When people think about North Dakota, they don’t always think about technology, per se,” Neuharth says. “But I really feel North Dakota is in a very unique spot for leveraging technology.”
He points out that North Dakota now features some of the highest speed, most reliable, and affordable internet connectivity in the nation. “So it doesn’t matter if I’m out on my family farm, or in Fargo, or out in Bismarck, these tools are ready for us to use. And as we get better at using them, we’re just going to continue to be a bigger player and adding more diversity to our economy.”
Deana Wiese, Bismarck, is executive director for TechND. She says the organization continues to advocate for keeping the technology industry strong and growing. TechND was a leading champion of the past Dakota Fiber Initiative, to which the telecommunication companies responded positively, resulting in the extension of enviable gigabit broadband service to more than 75 percent of the state.
“Businesses need this connectivity to remain globally competitive, and North Dakota will be the first state to achieve 1-gigabit connectivity for all its school districts,” Wiese says.
NORTH DAKOTA COMPUTER AND CYBER SCIENCES EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Neuharth and Wiese both point with enthusiasm to TechND’s participation in the recent launch of the North Dakota Computer and Cyber Sciences Education Initiative (CCS Initiative). CCS has these dimensions and goals:
• CCS Initiative is led by the N.D. Department of Public Instruction (DPI), with TechND supporting DPI efforts to provide technology and security fundamentals for all North Dakota students by adopting K-12 computer and cyber science standards.
• Stakeholder supporters of the CCS Initiative, in addition to TechND and DPI: governor’s office, Department of Career & Technical Education (CTE), Education Standards & Practices Board (ESPB), University System (NDUS) and key legislative leaders.
• Computing occupations are the number one source of all new wages in the U.S. and make up more than half of all projected new jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. In addition to computing jobs, technology impacts virtually every occupation. Foundational technology and security knowledge is not just an opportunity for students, it is vital for any career field. However, to date, it has not been an educational focus. The aim of CCS Initiative is widespread provision of these foundations for students.
• CCS Initiative aims to dramatically increase numbers of high school students studying computer science, and numbers of college graduates in computer sciences area, including computer science teachers for N.D. schools.
• CCS Initiative will provide a foundation within K-12 for students to acquire the base technology and security knowledge vital for the state’s future workforce, no matter what career path is pursued. TechND’s role will be to advocate support for the CCS, among its members.
Neuharth says raising the emphasis on computer science education, by focusing on universal computer system foundations, and on cybersecurity operations, is a necessary direction. “We think this will give North Dakota students a real edge,” he says.