Geek Shortage As Security Risk

DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) is worried about the declining numbers of ‘geeks’ (see Wired):

Sure, we’re all plugged in and online 24/7. But fewer American kids are growing up to be bona fide computer geeks. And that poses a serious security risk for the country, according to the Defense Department.

The Pentagon’s far-out research arm Darpa is soliciting proposals for initiatives that would attract teens to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with an emphasis on computing. According to the Computer Research Association, computer science enrollment dropped 43 percent between 2003 and 2006.


The agency doesn’t offer specifics on what kinds of activities might boost computing’s appeal to teens, but they want programs to include career days, mentoring, lab tours and counseling.

Of course, Darpa’s launched student-oriented publicity stunts before. But events like last year’s red balloon hunt were directed at pre-existing geeks — the balloon-finders were a team of MIT aces.

And from Fast Company:

But the big elephant in the room is the American culture of science education. How can you really get kids into these careers when most of America views evolution on par with intelligent design; when so many science teachers can barely communicate the lesson, much less the broader value of the disciplines they’re teaching; and science is still looked as the providers of grinders and dweebs?

There’s some more on the red balloon hunt here.

I’ve not heard of anything similar in the UK, in fact university budgets appear to be in for some serious slashing…

Picture credit here.


One Response to Geek Shortage As Security Risk

  1. […] unconventional and surprising solutions to difficult problems. In particular DARPA, partly to raise awareness, developed the red balloon challenge, which was solved by a team from […]

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