The Roux Institute at Northeastern University, a new graduate school coming to Maine this spring, is a game-changer for Maine employers, people and our state’s economic future. With a focus on high-growth technology fields, specifically, the practical application of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the digital and life sciences sectors, the Roux Institute has the potential to make Maine a new hub for the innovation economy.

The institute will help keep Maine talent in Maine, attract new people to our state, help grow a stronger Maine workforce, help Maine companies grow and likely attract new employers to Maine employers in rapidly growing, high-salary sectors. The Roux Institute will join a dynamic group of Maine higher education institutions who are constantly developing innovative programs to match the needs of learners and employers. Together, all of Maine’s higher education institutions are essential to addressing the talent needs of our state.

To maximize the promising opportunities the Roux Institute offers, Maine must ensure our youth are well-prepared for the institute’s areas of study and, ultimately, jobs in its target sectors. Expanding two existing efforts are top of mind.

The first is to expand initiatives to make sure all Maine students, from pre-K through grade 12, have access to quality computer science education — the kind of education that will prepare them to succeed at institutions like the Roux Institute and in great jobs in an innovation economy. Project>Login, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, and the University of Maine’s Center for Research in STEM Education are a few programs leading the way in Maine, offering professional development in computer science for educators, making sure computer science learning opportunities are offered in every grade level in every Maine school as championed by the CS4Maine Coalition. Growing these programs is key to a strong education and workforce pipeline. We have seen tremendous success through partnerships with organizations like, Microsoft, Center for Curriculum Redesign, and Maine’s higher education institutions to support students and teachers. The Roux Institute is uniquely positioned to partner with pre-K-12 schools as well.

The second is MaineSpark, a coalition of organizations working to increase both the quantity and quality of Maine’s workforce by connecting people with the education, training, jobs, programs and resources they need to succeed. The Roux Institute is a critical piece in meeting MaineSpark’s state-based attainment goal that by 2025, 60 percent of Mainers hold education and workforce credentials that position them for success. To achieve the 60 percent by 2025 goal, one of MaineSpark’s key focuses is on Maine’s youngest learners. Kids who have a solid start in life do better in every grade, graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education. Let’s expand on the great work being done to make sure every Maine child gets a strong start.

For Maine people to reach their highest potential, Maine must invest in strengthening the pathways for Maine students to be prepared to meet the mission of the Roux Institute, which in founder David Roux’s words, “is to train a next generation of talent with the skills necessary to participate fully in the innovation economy, and to attract and help grow a group of companies here in the state, who will come here, who will grow here, who will stay here.”

The Roux Institute, especially in combination with its unique partnerships and collaboration with education and business partners, is a transformational investment in the future of Maine. This is incredibly exciting for all Maine people and employers.

To make the most of the opportunities the Roux Institute brings, we strongly urge increased support for efforts that strengthen Maine’s ability to compete and succeed. That means investing in Maine people, beginning with a strong educational foundation for our youngest learners, and making sure computer science education opportunities exist for every Maine child. That way, Maine youth will be prepared to pursue higher education and great jobs and careers, right here in Maine.

These investments, along with the Roux Institute as a new anchor in Maine, will solidify Maine’s place and success in the modern innovation economy.

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