Chattanooga is serious about its gigabit city, and not just about the bandwidth it offers. In addition to delivering a high-speed network, supporting several startup incubators and declaring a new Innovation District in town, Chattanooga now hosts a learning center designed to train the city's younger generation in creative and technical skills.
The new TechTown facility (gigabit provider EPB Fiber Optics is a sponsor) opened this summer with several camps for children between the ages of seven and 17. The goal of these camps? To support not just STEM learning (i.e., science, technology, engineering and math), but STEAM, with an added "A" in the middle for art. TechTown's motto is "Build Something Amazing," and it's giving kids the tools and resources to do just that.
Part of the appeal of the program is the access to high-tech toys. However, it's not just about having that equipment on site, but also having people who know how to use the technology. Camper Kaden Llewellyn at TechTown acknowledged that his school actually has its own 3D printer, "but no one knows how to use it."
Fortunately, TechTown isn't just hosting camps for the summer. It also plans to offer courses during the school year starting this fall. There will be a combination of after-school programs, field trip opportunities and longer-term partnerships with schools that want to take advantage of TechTown's resources and expertise.
This is a positive development for students. Camper Dorisha King told Light Reading that TechTown is about more than just building tangible products. "As we're building," said King, "we're building confidence."
That confidence and skill is what Chattanooga hopes to breed more of in the coming years. After all, these are the kids who will figure out what's possible with a gigabit network. It's their work that will make the network infrastructure Chattanooga has in place now even more valuable in the future. (See EPB: 10Gbit/s Service Feasible Within a Year.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading