Technology

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If you work in Wyoming, chances are you’re in energy, agriculture, or tourism. For decades those three industries have been the backbone of Wyoming’s economy. But more recently Governor Mead’s administration has been working to add a new industry to that list: tech. A big part of that effort is the state’s multimillion-dollar project to upgrade Internet infrastructure.

istockphoto.com

The 2014 Wyoming Forum kicked off yesterday with a discussion of Wyoming’s tech scene between Governor Matt Mead and two prominent California entrepreneurs. One big topic was whether the Cheyenne-Laramie area or Jackson was the most promising for growth. 

Bob Beck

Last week, Governor Matt Mead attended a cable cutting for a new biogas-fueled data center in Cheyenne. It’s a zero emissions demonstration project built in collaboration with Microsoft, the governor’s office, the University of Wyoming and the utilities industry. Cheyenne LEADS is an economic development group that helped coordinate the project.

The group’s CEO Randy Bruns says many solid waste plants around the U.S. create biofuel to control the methane build-up they produce and to power their facilities. But no one has ever tried powering a data center with this kind of energy.

Miles Bryan

Outsourcing government functions to private companies has long been a popular idea here in Wyoming. Now the state is leading the nation in taking that trend into the digital age. Wyoming will soon transfer much of its public data to the care of private companies, which will host it on the internet. State officials say this so called “cloud” hosting is cheaper and more efficient than state owned data centers. But putting all that public data in corporate hands has some privacy advocates nervous.

Aaron Schrank

As Wyoming teachers gear up for another school year, there’s more emphasis than ever on improving so-called STEM education in the state. STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As Wyoming Public Radio’s Aaron Schrank reports, the number of jobs in these fields is rapidly rising in Wyoming, and the state’s education leaders are working together to prepare.

Olly Moss, blog.camposanto.com

Picture this. You're a park ranger living in a watchtower in the Wyoming wilderness. No cellphone, no internet, no co-worker to keep you company. Your only human contact is with your boss on a handheld radio. But when unexpected events occur, you’re faced with exploring a wild and unknown environment…and that's where a new video game set in Wyoming begins.

Sean Ellis via Flickr

A Data Center celebrated the grand opening of its massive expansion Wednesday in Cheyenne.

Green House spokesperson Wendy Fox says Wyoming’s cool climate allows the data center to regulate its temperature only using the outside air.

Green House spokesperson Wendy Fox says Wyoming’s cool climate makes it uniquely suited to the data center’s needs.

An effort to enhance Wyoming’s broadband effort and bring higher speed internet access to the state is moving forward.  The Governor’s office announced that Advanced Communications Technology and CenturyLink have been awarded contacts to build out what is being called the Unified Network.    

Mead said he’s excited about the opportunities it will open up for Wyoming.

The first rare earth minerals mine to open in the U.S. in decades could be here in Wyoming. Permitting gets underway this week for the Bear Lodge mine, near Sundance. Rare earths are a group of metals that are critical to high tech devices like smartphones and lasers. They’re currently mined almost exclusively in China. Rare Element Resources’ George Byers says the company is hoping to change that.

Wyoming is aggressively working to attract data centers to the state.  The industry magazine Expansion Solutions recently recognized the Cowboy State’s efforts to accommodate companies looking to build or expand their computing operations.

Wyoming Business Council CEO Bob Jensen says his organization targets trade shows, real estate directors and data management industry publications to promote Wyoming’s offerings, including a cool climate, cheap power, and lots of space to build.

Jensen says Wyoming has a lot of competition to attract these businesses.

Scott Beale / Creative Commons

Teton County's commissioners are seeking new regulations on cell phone towers in the county due to concerns that new towers could impede scenic views.


 

In the meantime, they’re considering a moratorium on all applications for new towers.


 

Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium / University of Wyoming

More than 500 girls from across Wyoming will gather at the University of Wyoming Tuesday for the annual Women in Science Conference.

The Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium hosts the event, during which the middle- and high-school students learn about various applications of science, technology, math and engineering. In past years, students have identified animal skulls, developed computer games, and learned about anatomy in UW’s Human Cadaver Lab. Many of the scientists leading the programs are women.

Bob Beck

Figuring out cost effective ways to upgrade rural health care is the goal of all hospitals and medical providers in the state. But it’s especially tough for the smallest rural facilities.  The numbers of doctors are small which can lead to mistakes and specialists are at a premium.  But thanks to electronic records and other forms of telemedicine… things are starting to improve.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

(sound of hospital)