Obama Calls For 'Sputnik' Response
12:00 pm
Tue December 7, 2010

Obama Calls For 'Sputnik' Response

President Barack Obama told a crowd in Winston-Salem on Monday he will continue to fight for investments in education and innnovation - a move he says will help continue the country's economic recovery.

The president's words were welcomed be students and staff at Forsyth Technical Community College.

Hannah Kiger is a 19-year-old student at Forsyth Tech. She was lucky enough to get one of the few available tickets to President Obama's speech Monday in the school gymnasium.

"It's actually me, my mom, my brother and my sister-in-law all here at the same time so, it's a family affair."

That helps explain why Forsyth Tech has record enrollment this year - about 10,000 students.

President Obama was invited to Forsyth Tech to help the school celebrate its 50th anniversary. He praised the school for giving students the skills and training needed to get good jobs.

"We want to create and sell products all over the world that are stamped with three simple words: 'Made in America.' That's our goal," President Obama told the crowd.

"And meanwhile, your unique partnerships that you're building with advanced manufacturing and biotechnology firms will ensure that the businesses of the future locate here, they come here, they stay here, they hire right here in Winston-Salem."

Winston-Salem and surrounding communities no longer have the traditional manufacturing jobs they used to. In the 1940s more than half of the local workers were employed by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company or in textiles working for Hanes.

Today, the area has stakes tied to Winston-Salem's Piedmont Triad Research Park, where more than 50 life science and technology organizations are located.

Forsyth Tech President Gary Green says President Obama's visit and tour was exciting and proves the school is doing something right:

"We're very fortunate at Forsyth Tech to be able to have outstanding faculty and staff who have worked very hard over the years to create programs that really are preparing people for the jobs of tomorrow," he said.

Mr. Obama used his visit to Winston-Salem to call for a new "Sputnik" moment. He said around the time Forsyth Tech opened the Soviet Union beat America into space by launching the Sputnik satellite. He says America needs another wake-up call to boost education, innovation and infrastructure - no matter the cost.

Forsyth Tech student Liana Toe liked what she heard. She's hoping to enter the school's nursing program. The 20-year-old Liberia native says her family brought her to North Carolina in 2002 for a better life and a better education. Toe says she was inspired by Mr. Obama's speech and hopes here classmates were as well:

"I hope they all get inspired to do their best in school, outside of school, just inspire others to go to school, get a good education and get a better job."

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