Brian Roberts joins the CEOs of Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Symantec, Facebook and more in being named to the top 100 CEO leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and is featured in a special edition of STEMconnector. The publication profiles these CEOs including their views on the importance of a STEM workforce and how to best compete.
STEMconnector CEO Edie Fraser said that the 100 CEO Leaders in STEM represents the best thinking at the highest level, stating, "It is all about CEO commitment. We are collectively humbled by the caliber of the entries and salute and congratulate all of those included."
Selection was based on the following:
• Company’s STEM position within the industry
• Company’s specific items and lines of action around STEM
• CEO’s background and career
Read Brian’s Q&A on STEM below and click here to read more, including the complete list of the top CEO Leaders.
Q. Why do you believe STEM Education/workforce development is critical to our nation's future?
A. Math and science are really the foundation for technology innovation, and product and network innovation are fundamental to Comcast's growth. I’m reminded of something one of our engineers once told me..."If it’s not a natural resource, we probably have an engineer to thank for creating it." It’s also not enough to be users of technology. We need people in this country who understand how things work and have the creativity to dream up new things that we can't even imagine.
Q. How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM subjects, particularly women and underrepresented minorities?
A. I think working with community organizations, particularly diverse organizations, to help reinforce the real need for people with STEM skills is one way. This, combined with meaningful opportunities for people to get tech experience through internships, scholarships or funding for tech programs in the community is also important. We need to help these students recognize the importance of studying science, math and technology to advance in today’s digital age. That’s where corporate support of organizations like FIRST can help. FIRST was started by inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen to make science, technology, math and engineering fun for kids from kindergarten through 12th grade. Through FIRST, students are connected with mentors working at companies like NASA, Boeing – and Comcast – who can help them build science, engineering and technology skills.
Q. What traits do corporate leaders need to effectively support and advance STEM education today?
A. I think it starts with making a commitment to support education in general, and then making STEM functions a focal point. It’s really about providing the resources needed to help advance the next generation of technologists by creating real opportunities for students to gain experience.
Q. How has your corporation coordinated investments in education with future workforce needs?
A. We know that in today’s competitive marketplace, success comes from making significant investments in the future, which is why we offer technology internships where STEM students can work side-by-side with our technologists on meaningful projects. We’ve created a feeder system for STEM talent with internships that can start as early as high school and continue through college with the potential for entry-level employment after graduation. And, our recently launched Technology Research & Development Fund provides new resources to leading and emerging researchers at academic institutions to engage in long-term research into technologies and applications that can benefit Comcast, our industry and consumers.
We’ve been a partner with FIRST Robotics Competition for several years. This year, we’ve expanded our support to include funding and mentoring for 52 different robotics teams across the country. We’ve also worked with FIRST to sponsor a new Media & Technology Innovation Award.
Additionally, we invest in programs and nonprofit groups that share our company priorities of digital literacy, leadership development and service. In our hometown, Comcast was one of the first companies to commit to hiring students from the new Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School. As part of the Cristo Rey Work Study Program, 20 of the school’s 125 students spend one day per week at Comcast working in departments that include Engineering, Marketing & Operations, Business Services and Financial Operations. In addition to gaining real-world work experience, these paid internships help make a private, college preparatory education available to students who otherwise might face financial challenges.
Over the last 10 years, we have invested heavily in developing our broadband network, becoming the country’s leading broadband provider, which makes us uniquely positioned to help bridge the digital divide. Through our Internet Essentials program, we’re providing lower income families across the country the option to purchase a low-cost Internet service to encourage broadband adoption. Since the launch of the program in August 2011, we've connected more than 150,000 low-income families - or 600,000 Americans - to the power of the Internet at home, most for the first time.
Q. What area of STEM are you most passionate about?
A. I would have to say engineering, and software in particular. As more services and applications move to the cloud, the demand for talented engineers and software developers who can help create next-generation experiences both here at Comcast and in other places will only continue to grow.