Editor’s note: WRAL Local Tech Wire has added another feature with the launch of the "Innovation Exchange." Noah Garrett, former executive director of communications for the North Carolina Technology Association, is a creative spirit, from writing music to news stories, who recently launched NGC Communications. The focus of the Innovation Exchange is just that – creating a Web community through which people can exchange ideas and foster creativity.

Participate in the Exchange. Send ideas and feedback to: noah@thinkngc.com

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The word for the week is, wow! The Innovation Exchange and NGC Communications last week announced the Start Doing for STEM Contest to help develop a logo and branding concept to coincide with a national media campaign this summer promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiatives. Based on the positive response and the sheer number of inquiries from you, we have decided to extend the contest deadline by two weeks.

Entries are now due by June 1. Whoever can develop the best logo and branding tagline for NGC’s new STEM campaign will receive one month’s free consulting service from NGC. The top three entries will be publicly shared the week following the deadline. From there, the final three will be judged by you, with the winner and the new campaign announced on June 15.

The nature of today’s globalized work force and the needs of our industries have changed and continue to change daily. An understanding of scientific and mathematical principles, a working knowledge of computer hardware and software, and the problem-solving skills developed by courses in STEM are necessary for most jobs.

This contest is open to parents, companies, students, and anyone else who is concerned about the future of our education system and our nation’s future work force.

Participants can draw something on paper, scan it, and submit it that way. You can do an elaborate digital design. Or, you can just write something down in an e-mail. Whatever you come up using any form of communication will be accepted at noah@thinkngc.com. Please enclose your daytime contact information with each entry. All entries become property of NGC.

Some of you have asked if NGC’s logo needed to be included in the new STEM logo concept. That is not necessary, but you can if you want to. Also, others have reported an interest by other organizations to get involved via sponsorship, which didn’t occur to me at first. This is a great idea. So if you and/or your company are interested in sponsorship opportunities for this contest, please contact me directly to discuss. It would be sweet to give away some prizes to go along with a month of free consulting.

Overall, I’m fascinated and excited about the possibilities of promoting the importance of STEM education, and I thank everyone who has already submitted an entry. You can enter as many times as you like, by the way. So get to work and think about these two ideas: How can we get more people involved with STEM education, and how do we leverage public opinion, especially the media, to start paying more attention?

This may be just a simple and fun contest, but this is a real issue that needs our help immediately.

Good luck.