Best of the West: Building tech talent pipelines; treating brain disorders with microrobots; Hollywood in Montana; western runners shipping up to Boston

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on the latest news in the West. Here are the top stories for the week starting April 18, 2022. (Photos courtesy of 
Alex Kotliarskyi, Charlie Leight and Nancy Lane)

As growth in the technology sector accelerates throughout the West, many companies are facing workforce shortages, the "biggest barrier to 64% of emerging technologies," according to the technological research firm Gartner. To address the issue, many western companies are expanding apprenticeships and skills-based training programs to help foster tech talent pipelines - a strategy Western Governors have strongly advocated for as part of WGA's policy resolution Workforce Development in the Western United States

Code Girls United, a program in Montana that offers girls free computer coding and programming courses, received a $50,000 state contract to implement a tribal computer coding project that incorporates culturally relevant content. North Dakota is investing $15 million in workforce development through Gov. Doug Burgum’s ‘Accelerate ND Plan,’ including a $3 million grant to grow the state’s Technical Skills Grant Program. SEMI, an international association that represents electronics manufacturing companies, received a $1M grant from the California Apprenticeship Initiative. The company will use the grant to fund apprenticeship programs for the microelectronics industry at Foothill College's Krause Center for Innovation. Apprenti in Washington aims to fill the workforce talent gap using an ‘advanced technology cluster’ to promote the growth of advanced technologies like quantum computing and blockchain technologies.

Tech companies are also taking it upon themselves to expand apprenticeships and skills-based training. Bitwise, a tech hub out of California, is expanding operations into ColoradoNew MexicoWyoming and Texas as part of its workforce and software development model that trains people in computer coding, software platforms and entrepreneurship. More than 8,000 nontraditional tech students have completed training, with 80% moving onto careers in tech. After expanding its Oregon campus with a $3 billion factory, Intel is offering two new recruitment programs, including a two-week ‘Quick Start Program' that prepares participants for entry-level semiconductor technician jobs and a Registered Youth Apprenticeship Program. New Apprenticeship, a Texas-based program that’s an authorized training partner with Amazon Web Services, recently concluded training for the program’s first Cloud Computing cohort. Strivr, an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) training platform out of California that helps clients like Walmart and Verizon address workforce challenges, recently received investments from Accenture Ventures and Workday Ventures to support workforce development through skills-based strategies.

Mechanical Tree: Arizona State University is planting a ‘mechanical tree’ that can remove up to 200 lbs of carbon each day. Its unique carbon capture technology doesn’t require blowers or fans — making it passive, lower cost and commercially viable. The University collaborated with Carbon Collect, a company in Ireland, to cultivate the tree. “Our passive process is the evolution of carbon-capture technology, which can be both economically and technologically viable at scale in a reasonably short time frame," said Pól Ó Móráin, chief executive officer of Carbon Collect.

Brain curing microrobots: California startup, Bionaut Labs, announced human trials for treating brain disorders by injecting ‘miniature robots’ inside the human skull. A computer linked to magnets will safely guide the robot to the affected area of the brain, where doctors hope the technology will be able to pierce fluid-filled cysts. If successful, the apparatus could treat Dandy-Walker Syndrome — a rare brain malformation that impacts children.

Hollywood in Montana: After filming the fourth season of Paramount television’s hit series ‘Yellowstone’, the MEDIA Coalition of Montana announced that production added $70 million to the state’s economy and 527 permanent jobs, not including the 624 Montana residents who found jobs as extras on set and made a combined total of about $300,000. “A second kind of indirect impact comes from the public relations value of having a television series distributed to a global audience that uses Montana as an integral part of the story," a report from the MEDIA Coalition of Montana, read  

Representing the West: Nell Rojas from Colorado was the first American woman to finish this year’s Boston Marathon — elevating her to the sixth all-time U.S. women’s performer. Fan-favorite distance runner Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce from Arizona placed 12th overall in the women’s race. Scott Fauble from Oregon was the first American to complete the men’s race and finished seventh overall. The strong finish and personal best placed him ninth on the all-time all-conditions U.S. list. CJ Albertson from California also ran a strong race and finished 13th overall in the men’s race.

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