Obama Visits Intel HQ and Talks Tech, Education, and the Future

Today at 11:35 PST, President Obama gave a speech in Oregon, commemorating Intel’s plans to begin construction on a new, state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing plant in that state, and lauding the jobs that will come with it. President Obama then delved into the state of the nation’s education, and what must be done to turn the country around. As it turns out, Intel’s been pretty busy on that front, too.

Before the president came on to address the Intel employees gathered in Oregon today, Intel CEO Paul Otellini addressed the crowd, giving some more information about the new factory, dubbed D1-X. When completed in 2013, it will be the only 14 nanometer microprocessor factory in the world, and one of the most advanced facilities of its kind anywhere. He went on to extol Intel’s commitment to America, stating that Intel still retains three-fourths of its workforce in the United States, and praising the president’s commitment to funding tech and innovation in his budget proposal. Intel has been making headway in education with their Teach program, providing tutoring, job fairs, and science fairs to students of all ages, prepping them for a career with Intel as skilled employees. Otellini wrapped up with another major announcement: another 14 nanometer silicon processor facility on the way, this one to be built in Arizona.

President Obama came to the stage, joking around a bit about his experiences in the Intel plant and a high school science fair. The president cracked wise about how far he was out of the students’ league, before getting down to business about what America needs to do to survive in the 21st century. Praise was given to Intel for keeping most of its workforce in the United States, but more so for their tutoring and training programs that have created homegrown employees from Oregon’s top colleges. President Obama noted the need to invest in America’s future, rather than focus solely on cuts to fix the deficit, acknowledging that America can no less afford to fall behind as an innovator. In order to do that, of course, we would need to turn our failing education system around.

The president gave some sobering statistics as he opened up the part of his speech about education, mentioning that one quarter of American students do not graduate high school, and warning that in the future, most new jobs created will require a college education He mentioned the growing concern of tech companies over not being able to find qualified work in the United States, forcing them abroad. His solutions: make higher education more affordable, and make teaching the honored profession it should be in the United States. He mentioned initiatives and tax credits that will help make college more affordable (vital, considering how costs have spiraled upwards in the last decade). The president then promoted his Race to the Top program, and how it has forced public schools to innovate and become more effective by rewarding the best performing schools with more funding.

Lastly, though, Obama commented on the supreme importance of what Intel has done in education, putting in their own time and money towards educating future employees that will fit their needs. Most Intel employees actually volunteer on the side as tutors, for this purpose, which is a pretty huge step towards real apprenticeship that has gone by the wayside in many of America’s internship programs. He praised Intel’s involvement in Change the Equation, an organization made up of several companies to change the way career education is presented in America.

From the looks of things, Intel will be making big strides in the United States in the years to follow, erecting two state-of-the-art facilities, the likes of which have never been seen before. If Intel’s commitment to educational support is followed, they could provide a pretty solid model for American companies to support American growth in the future.

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