Taking a page from advertising strategy, DARPA is hoping to get 'em while they're young. The military's mad-science wing wants various organizations to put manufacturing equipment in 1,000 high schools around the world, part of a new program called "MENTOR" — Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach. The partnership will include new prize-based challenges to inspire a new generation of defense manufacturers.
President Obama has been pushing to increase student interest in science and engineering, announcing earlier this week that he wants 1,000 new STEM teachers. The MENTOR program addresses that need, but it's also part of DARPA's Adaptive Vehicle Make program, which is intended to speed up development of future defense vehicles.
Challenges will involve designing and building things like go-carts, mobile robots and small unmanned aircraft, according to the DOD. While the program is aimed at bolstering the U.S. manufacturing industry, DARPA wants international students to participate as well.
Potential contractors would have to offer programmable manufacturing equipment that can be used for a variety of tasks, like 3-D printers or other platforms that can build cyber-electro-mechanical systems. Ten schools will be involved within two years, with 100 by the third year and 1,000 by the fourth, according to the draft solicitation.
DARPA also wants to encourage students to collaborate in clusters, using social media and social networking sites.
The $10 million program is targeted at small businesses, non-profits and academia.
One generations plants the trees, the next enjoys the shade.
Very smart of DARPA, but I wonder how safe it is to expose the youth to manufacturing equipment.
I think it would be foolish for a young American to study science and engineering. Most new jobs in the technology field are being outsourced to lower wage countries. Salaries for those American's still involved in technology have stagnated for the last decade and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
A young American has a much brighter future studying finance and getting a job on Wall Street or as a bureaucrat in Washington DC. The compensation for bankers and bureaucrats continues to increase rapidly, while the salaries of engineers and scientists stagnate at best.
Actually, it a quite good idea.
Youngsters will work with enthusiasm and without burden of everyday problems that grownups have.
They build a interesting toys, we mount a Gatling on it and we have our self a nice combat ready bot :)
Go get them boys and girls!
Yeah, well. Maybe I prefer to contribute useful things to society rather than be one of the writhing mass of leeches that suck money and vitality from it.