Curiosity is a powerful force that drives us to explore and learn about the world around us. It can ignite a passion that fuels our pursuit of knowledge and leads us to new opportunities and successes. In the digital infrastructure industry, this passion for learning and collaboration is essential for keeping up with the rapid pace of innovation and growth.

To explore this topic further, I spoke with Nabeel Mahmood, a technologist and futurist who is working to build the Nomad Futurist Academy, an educational platform that aims to inspire and equip the next generation of digital infrastructure professionals. Nomad Futurist is taking industry educational initiatives a step beyond anything that has yet been tried by launching the academy with the noble goal of unraveling the mysteries of the digital infrastructure industry and igniting a passion for it among the youth.

We discussed the challenges and opportunities facing the industry, the evolution of education, predictions based on trends he has observed, and how we can meet the rising needs for the future generation of data center enthusiasts.

Often discussed amongst peers, many of us have taken an indirect path into the data center industry that, for all its nuances, quirks, and challenges, feels like home. Driven by a combination of opportunity and curiosity, self-learning and continuous learning have been essential skills for success in the industry.

I believe this is where our love of resilience truly shows itself, as many of us have charted our own courses where no learning plan was available, tirelessly pushing the boundaries of our industry understanding and knowledge to build and achieve more. Nabeel suggests that we could have more quickly and easily learned the skills we needed to support industry growth, if only the education had been more readily available, something the academy aims to provide.

As our industry continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, we will need to provide the education to quickly bring our contemporaries up to speed. We face a rising generation with a need for more education, many of whom have not yet been inspired to begin learning about our industry. The spark of curiosity has not yet been ignited, or we have not fanned the flames. With the growth of our industry and the need for personnel to support it, the stark reality is that we are staring down a dwindling talent pipeline. If this were a sales or revenue pipeline, our organizations would be panicking.

Curiosity not only drove our passion, but now, that passion regularly drives us to share our knowledge with others. The good news is we are a body of people who love to collaborate, find new ways to integrate our technologies into the latest installations and applications, go on public stage to share our lessons learned, and more. If it weren’t for this passion to build, connect, develop, integrate, and learn, few of us would have succeeded as we have.

This collaborative approach to tribal knowledge will be critical to our continued growth as an industry requiring a large body of talented and trained workers to support it. For an industry so good at writing SOPs, formalizing our best practices and industry norms to provide this education should be a walk in the park. Lack of accessible education will no longer be a barrier to entry.

Nabeel stressed that we must also be willing to listen to the rising generation about how they learn and adapt our education and training methods accordingly. This means incorporating new technologies and approaches that align with the way people learn today rather than relying on outdated models. Instead of designing, building, and teaching the ways we experienced when our industry began, we need to be willing to do the research and put in the time and effort to really train for the ways we operate and learn today.

The education provided by the academy will rely on the latest and greatest digital learning tools, will be open and free to all, and will help learners to build their skills and be matched to open positions where they can make use of them. In addition, the education will cover the full scope of functions that need filling, which are much broader than technical and operational capacities.

“Our endeavor with the academy is to create an educational platform that gives rising talent both the experience and the exposure,” Mahmood said. “By providing accessible and comprehensive education, and by embracing new technologies and approaches, we can create a diverse talent pipeline that will fuel the industry's continued success.”

As we provide and promote these opportunities to chase knowledge and pursue passion for digital infrastructure, we should see a surge in interest and a widening talent pool of trained and enthusiastic minds, ready and willing to join forces in building a digital landscape and connected world.