Keynote Presentation: Preparing For Success

The new president of the Minnesota High Tech Association is working toward a bright future.
Keynote Presentation: Preparing For Success

As I join MHTA as its president, I’m excited by the opportunities my new role offers, especially the opportunities around education and work force development. I needed some enlightenment in that area when I was a kid. I come from a hardworking family that farmed near Mankato. I fell in love with the Minnesota River valley and was pretty sure I would spend the rest of my life on the farm.
 
My father saw it differently. He made it clear the first place I was headed was college. He had faith that college, wherever it led, would bring about a better life.
 
My dad and his eighth-grade education weren’t unusual a generation ago. Minnesota hasn’t always been the best educated or most prosperous place. But our state’s leaders believed a strong future would include a smart and highly productive work force. Like my dad, they sacrificed and made education a priority.
 
Out of the seeds of that vision grew a more advanced economy and a higher standard of life. As more Minnesotans worked with computers, organizations like the Minnesota High Tech Council and the Minnesota Software Association became the first places where techies could get together to talk through challenges and dream about the innovations of the future.
 
Those seeds are still at the root of what we now call the Minnesota High Tech Association. Once an organization joins MHTA, all of its employees become members. As our ranks continue to grow, so does our collaboration on the best ways to share technology and form partnerships to educate our future work force.
 
Our members are big and small. We are the IBMs and the 3Ms, but we’re also the accountants, attorneys, and investors who help entrepreneurs develop their innovations into thriving businesses. And we are educators, from high schools, the University of Minnesota, and public and private colleges across the state.
 
MHTA has long celebrated the technological breakthroughs that improve lives across the globe. Nonin Medical, Inc., a small Plymouth company, received a 2009 Tekne Award from MHTA for inventing a pulse oximeter that can be operated remotely. Recently, rescuers used Nonin’s oximeter to monitor the 33 trapped Chilean miners as they were carefully lifted back above ground.
 
MHTA supports science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education as an engine that will drive Minnesota’s future economy. Thanks to a recent $750,000 grant from the ADC Foundation, the Minnesota High Tech Foundation will increase the number of scholarships offered to students pursuing STEM careers. The grant will also provide for marketing STEM careers to middle- and high-school students and their parents.
 Also, I am excited to help build Minnesota’s next generation of business technology leaders through the Ace Leadership Program. MHTA and its partners will help them prepare for their important roles with training in teamwork, mentorship, and negotiating.
 
The economic slowdown has job seekers, employers, and educators examining the need for new job skills. It strikes me that we are often having the same conversation, but not always speaking the same language. I want to see the Minnesota High Tech Association build on its mission of collaboration. We can be an organization that convenes our region’s broad range of interests, skills, and talents, and aligns them in the best interests of our future.
 
For example, the GetStem-mn.com Web site has connected hundreds of STEM professionals with STEM educators so students can see the fulfilling careers to which math and science skills can lead. The getSTEM partnership is supported by Ecolab, Mircosoft, Avtex, 3M, Honeywell, and Thomson Reuters. We will build upon the program’s success by licensing getSTEM in Arizona, and we will expand to help connect educators with STEM professionals across the country.
 
Minnesota has long been a place where we value the power of our people. I look forward to contributing to that tradition.