Advancing innovation through the U.S. Department of Education’s new Experimental Design and Advanced Research Projects Accelerator
Career and technical education (CTE) is preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs — and also helps adults gain the skills they need to access rewarding careers. That’s why the U.S. Department of Education is building on its ambitious past work to accelerate the development, implementation, and adoption of innovative strategies, practices, and technology under the comprehensive heading of Experimental Design and Advanced Research Projects Accelerator (ED ARPA).
This week, we’re delighted to announce that Luminary Labs has been awarded a five-year contract by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). We’re honored to continue supporting the Department’s efforts to increase capacity and improve student outcomes — lowering barriers for underserved communities and creating meaningful opportunities for all learners.
We are already beginning work on three initial call orders awarded under the blanket purchase agreement:
- CTE CyberNet Expansion Accelerator: A future-ready cyber workforce is critical to our national security, competitiveness, and infrastructure — and CTE plays an important role in building a strong cybersecurity ecosystem. Given the preliminary success of CTE CyberNet and its initial cohort, an expansion has the potential to produce even stronger results and grow a more robust network. After designing and managing the first year of CTE CyberNet, we are energized by the opportunity to continue building the capacity of CTE teachers and administrators to provide high quality CTE cybersecurity programs of study.
- Adult Education Technology Innovation Challenge: Adult learners are an underserved population that’s often unsupported by traditional education models, but digital tools can help remove barriers for learners who need more support. We are energized by OCTAE’s goals to support development of skill-building and career navigation apps and are thrilled to be designing and producing an open innovation challenge for the development and implementation of technology solutions for adult learners.
- Annual CTE Challenges: CTE is essential to helping 21st-century learners gain 21st-century skills. Previous school-based challenges, such as CTE Mission: CubeSat, have illustrated the power of open innovation to advance CTE by engaging students, teachers, and administrators. At Luminary Labs, we’ve worked with hundreds of schools and dozens of sponsors through programs of different scales and structures. We know what works for school communities — and we’re excited to apply our knowledge and networks to a new, streamlined process that scales ED’s capacity.
Luminary Labs began working with the U.S. Department of Education in 2014 when we were awarded a five-year contract to design and produce public prize competitions and explore emerging technology. Since then, we designed and produced Ed Prizes, the Department’s series of prize competitions to develop new products and services that both increase access to, and expand the capacity of, CTE. Six challenges inspired solvers to break down barriers to apprenticeships, bring space missions to students, advance rural technology education, develop VR and AR simulations, design makerspaces to strengthen career and technical skills, and develop mobile apps for career pathway exploration. Beyond Ed Prizes, we designed and managed the Power in Numbers initiative, a three-year program to build and scale engagement with edtech for adult education. We also designed and managed CTE CyberNet, a national cybersecurity teacher professional development initiative with three inaugural academies. More than 30 private-sector partners — from Microsoft and Blue Origin to Arduino and Snap-on Incorporated — have supported these programs.
The new ED ARPA contract means that Luminary Labs will continue to help the Department explore and develop innovative approaches to enhancing education. In addition to prize competitions, ED ARPA may also use crowdsourcing, pilots, technology prototyping, strategic design, citizen science, and other tools to pursue the rapid development of technological solutions, cultivate strong STEM education ecosystems, and offer accessible and inclusive learning opportunities.