This blog series features senior corporate executive from the 100 CIO/CTO Leaders in STEM publication sharing their insights on business and innovation from a technology and information perspective. Today’s Leader is Tony G. Werner, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Comcast Cable.
Tony G. Werner
Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Tony G. Werner is responsible for developing and guiding the company’s technology strategy and evolving network architecture, including supporting next-generation consumer systems and technologies, infrastructure and engineering, network integration and management tools, and technical standards.
Under Tony’s leadership, Comcast has completed major platform investments, including DOCSIS 3.0 and the all-digital transition, and is delivering more product innovation faster than ever before. Among those innovations has been X1, a cloud-enabled platform that brings customers a next-generation, integrated entertainment experience.
Prior to joining Comcast in 2006, Tony served as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Liberty Global, Inc., in Englewood, CO, where he led the company’s global strategy for video, voice and data services. He has more than 25 years of engineering and technical management experience, having also held senior management positions with Qwest Communications, Aurora Networks, TeleCommunications, Inc. (TCI)/AT&T Broadband, Rogers Communications, Inc., and RCA Cablevision Systems.
Tony serves as Vice Chair of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE).
A graduate of Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, MN with a degree in Telecommunications, Tony resides in Philadelphia.
About Comcast Cable
Comcast Cable is the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand as well as to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build a sophisticated network that delivers the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is a global media and technology company.
Engineering the Workforce of Tomorrow with a Focus on STEM
From the window of my office at One Comcast Center in Philadelphia, I have a front-row seat to the construction of the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, a 59-story vertical tech campus that will join our headquarters atop the Philadelphia skyline. As I think about that building, which will be filled with the brilliant engineers, developers and designers who will create the technologies of tomorrow, my attention turns more and more to the importance of STEM education.
Science, technology engineering and math education is the fuel that powers the innovation economy. Comcast has evolved as a media and technology company thanks in large part to the countless contributions of the STEM-educated technologists who invent our products and architect our network.
Advancements like the X1 Entertainment Operating System, voice remote and our forthcoming Gigabit Gateway to name just a few, are the results of countless hours of development, engineering and testing by some of our more than 1,000 engineers, virtually all of whom began their technical journeys by studying math and science in school.
We’ve been fortunate to hire some of the brightest technology minds in the business, but it is also increasingly clear that demand for technology talent is on pace to overtake supply.=
In a fully connected, digital world, every company is a technology company, and all of those companies are competing to hire from the same static pool of STEM-educated technologists. If we’re going to continue the exponential innovation and growth that has marked the past decade, we have no choice but to make that pool deeper.
It all starts with STEM education. We know that when you get kids involved with math and science early, you light a spark that has the potential to grow into a burning lifetime passion for the field. Not every child who competes in a robotics competition, or goes to coding camp, or participates in an afterschool science club, goes on to become an engineer, but a great number of them do.
Our commitment to supporting early stem education takes many forms. Two that we are particularly proud of are our longtime commitments to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and FIRST Robotics.
In 2014, we supported 54 FIRST teams nationwide, four of which qualified to appear in the FIRST National Robotics Championships in St. Louis. In 2013, we expanded our engagement with FIRST by sponsoring out first annual Media & Technology Innovation Award, which is now in its third year.
Not far from our headquarters in Philadelphia, we also recently donated $8 million to rebuild the Boys and Girls Club in the Germantown neighborhood . The new facility, named for Comcast founder Ralph J. Roberts, will be home to an Internet Essentials Lab, Digital Literacy Center, and perhaps most importantly, a STEM lab.
STEM as a Lifetime Pursuit
STEM education shouldn’t stop at the schoolhouse door. While it’s important to light a spark early, what we’ve found is that it’s equally important to keep the fire of curiosity and innovation burning later in life if you want to inspire the outside-the-box thinking that fuels innovation.
Three times a year, we encourage our engineers to take a break from their day jobs and spend a week working on projects that interest them. At the end of each week, teams from across the company present their findings at the Lab Week Science Fair, which has grown into a much-anticipated tradition.
We held our first Lab Week seven years ago, and have witnessed firsthand how these events energize and engage our technologists in ways that reach far beyond a one-week project.
Sometimes Lab Week projects turn into finished Comcast products – as was the recent case with Kids Zone [http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/welcome-to-the-kids-zone] – and sometimes they don’t, but they always inspire new thinking and creative solutions.
There’s no single “right” approach to strengthening STEM education and engagement. What’s needed is for companies, organizations and governments to understand the challenges we face, and to make real, sustained commitments to addressing them. Every child that we expose to STEM opportunities has the potential to become our next great inventor, and every adult we encourage to follow their curiosity holds the promise of a critical advancement.
When we all commit to doing something to support STEM, the sheer volume of our efforts will tip the balance in favor of the next generation of innovators.