Columbia University To Present Big Data Management And Security Course

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A three-day course for professionals and executives that are interested in managing large amounts of data and the security and privacy implications.

Columbia University is proud to present Big Data Management And Security, offered by Columbia Engineering Executive Education, led by Columbia professors and big data experts Eugene Wu and Suman Jana.

Every year, hundreds of millions of sensitive records are compromised, and companies spend billions mitigating and responding to breaches.

This three-day course provides a hands-on introduction to data processing with big data, as well as security risks and privacy issues regarding big data systems.

Data processing topics include:

  • Key components of a big data processing pipeline
  • Data cleaning and preparation
  • Query execution
  • Modern data processing engines
  • Data Visualization

Big Data privacy topics include:

  • k-anonymity
  • l-diversity
  • t-closeness
  • Deanonymization attacks
  • Differential privacy

Designing security big data systems topics include:

  • Memory corruption attacks
  • Sandboxing
  • Understanding and using bug finding tools
  • Problems with data anonymity and privacy
  • Denonymization attacks
  • Differential privacy

For more information and to register, visit cvn.columbia.edu/content/big-data-management-and-security

Google’s desktop search results get a redesign

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Laptop open on table with the screen open to Google search

Google search pages are going to look different on desktops starting this week, according to the tech news website 9to5Google, which closely monitors the search engine and its related brands.

The change will make domain names, favicons and ad labels prominent in search result listings the same way the company has implemented these features on mobile device views in May.

The verified Twitter account, Google SearchLiaison, announced the design update Monday afternoon on Twitter.

“Last year, our search results on mobile gained a new look,” the tweet began.

That’s now rolling out to desktop results this week, presenting site domain names and brand icons prominently, along with a bolded “Ad” label for ads.”

The tweet included an attached mockup that shows how the search result pages will look going forward.

Favicons will appear first, followed by website domains in black font and clickable page names in Google’s iconic blue.

Updated look for Google search thread on a computer

Ad labels will lose their green hue but will be more noticeable with a distinct marker.

In an official statement, representatives at Google said this format will help people “better understand where the information is coming from” and “more easily scan the page of results and decide what to explore next.”

Additionally, Google’s redesign is meant to improve site branding since the favicons serve as an introductory logo.

Continue on to Fox Business News to read the complete article.

Cigna will now let you go to the doctor on your phone

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Close-up Of A Man Using Laptop To Communicate With Doctor

Health insurance company Cigna is launching a new video-based primary care service that will reach over 12 million people.

The company is partnering with MDLive, which already provides telehealth services to several hospitals including Humana and some locations of Blue Cross Blue Shield. However, this is the first time it has waded into primary care.

Due to fears that a whole generation of doctors will soon be retiring, reducing the supply of available doctors and therefore appointments, there is an increasing push from the medical community to conduct as many medical visits as possible online or at home. As it is, doctors feel overextended in their day-to-day practice, and burnout is recognized as a pervasive problem in the industry. Unless in-person presence is absolutely necessary, virtual care has the promise of making individual appointments more efficient, freeing up doctors’ time.

It is also a lot more convenient for patients. According to an 2019 Accenture survey, 29% of respondents said they’ve used virtual care, up from 21% two years ago. Cigna has been working with MDLive and its platform of 1,300 physicians for the past five years on 24-7 online urgent care services. The insurer has now added MDLive’s therapy and behavioral services to its client benefits and will roll out primary care in April. The hope is that by putting services online, Cigna will be able to get members who historically have not gone the doctor to finally go.

“There’s a whole portion of our population not seeking any care, and we need to find convenient and affordable ways for those patients to be accessing care,” says Julie McCarter, head of product solutions at Cigna.

The deal between Cigna and MDLive comes at a time when virtual care may finally be hitting the mainstream.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Here are the top tech trends of 2020, according to top experts

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computer technologies UI by Artificial intelligence (AI) hand touching low poly icon

In 2020, technologies will move toward the mainstream and begin impacting daily life. The next generation of wireless network, 5G, will begin to take hold, for example, and may work as a catalyst for other things like smart cities and smarter mobile and wearable devices.

Augmented reality eyewear, which places digital content in the context of the real world, will begin to appear, and may use fast 5G connections to the cloud to identify people and things for us. The role of AI will increase in business, and the public will become more aware of it.

Next year’s tech will appear in the context of a turbulent political scene and perhaps the biggest election in U.S. history, a warming planet, an inefficient healthcare system, and a growing skepticism that tech companies will do no evil. Tech companies (and their investors) will be more aware of the public’s expectation that new products solve real, non-trivial, problems.

We talked to venture capital pros and other in-the-know sources to get an idea of the technology that we’ll be talking in 2020 and beyond. Their statements have been lightly edited for clarity.

HEALTHCARE AND SCIENCE
Vijay Pande, general partner, Andreessen Horowitz:

AI has the potential to democratize healthcare. With a natural place in virtually all areas of care, from prevention to diagnosis to treatment, it can lower costs, provide greater access, and give everyone the very best doctor, leveling the playing field on a global scale.

Beth Seidenberg and Sean Harper, founding managing partners, Westlake Village Biopartners:

We believe gene therapy will continue to take shape as one of the most promising and exciting technologies to emerge in the treatment of cancer. The field has been validated with approved therapies for B cell malignancies and the goal is to apply the technology and therapy to the treatment of solid tumors such as prostate, pancreatic, ovarian, and other cancers that remain some of the toughest to cure.

Bryan Roberts, partner, Venrock:

Inscripta’s automated desktop gene editor, Onyx takes a single/low multiplex, laborious manual process of CRISPR gene editing to a highly multiplexed, automated, industrially robust workflow.

Bob Kocher, partner, Venrock:

Suki has created the most advanced, easy to use, and intuitive enterprise oriented voice application. Their product is a digital assistant for doctors that allows doctors to no longer type as they see patients and dramatically reduces the time it takes them to write notes and orders.

Joseph Huang, CEO, StartX:

We’re expecting medical device and biotech innovation to see increased attention, together with sustained interest in machine learning and AI in the coming year. My dark horse candidate for 2020? Biosensing. Imagine wearables measuring your temperature to predict that you’re catching a cold before you have one and then matching you with a distributed online pharmacy that delivers medicine straight to your door. Many exciting things coming in this sector.

Shez Partovi, MD, director of global business development for healthcare, life sciences, and genomics, Amazon Web Services:

As the country moves toward value-based care, artificial intelligence and machine learning, paired with data interoperability, will improve patient outcomes while driving operational efficiency to lower the overall cost of care. By supporting healthcare providers with predictive machine learning models, clinicians will be able to seamlessly forecast clinical events, like strokes, cancer, or heart attacks, and intervene early with personalized care and a superior patient experience.

Andrei Iancu, founder & CEO, Halo Industries:

In the coming year, we’ll see the beginning of a large-scale shift in focus from software to science-based innovations. Despite the additional technology risks involved in science-oriented endeavors, the upsides of market creation and defensibility will begin to outweigh them and significantly more capital will flow to the associated enterprises. This will lead to meaningful advances in the functionality and form factor for varied products such as next-generation consumer electronics, industrial hardware, vehicles and infrastructure.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Shomik Dutta, cofounder and partner, Higher Ground Labs:

We used to reach voters by calling them on their cellphones, [but] calling people is actually falling off a cliff. And I predict that texting will soon face a similar challenge. We’re starting to see diminishing returns there, in part because the electorate is going to start developing antibodies to texting. And so what we have to do is lean into a place where trust is still very high, which is amongst friends. The ability to use your phone and find your friends online and talk to them about a Democrat is a very influential channel that we’ve invested heavily behind, and we expect to see it scale the rest of the way in 2020.

Peter Rojas, partner, Betaworks Ventures:

As many have feared, in 2020 we’ll see the first malicious use of deepfakes and other forms of synthetic media with the aim of influencing the Presidential election. Though there will be at least one attempt that does initially cause a good deal of outrage, these efforts will largely fall flat. This will be due to a combination of greater awareness by the general public of the need to be more skeptical of video evidence circulating online, combined with publishers and social platforms employing detection tools to help them identify deepfakes and blunt their impact.

Chip Meakem, cofounder and managing partner, Tribeca Venture Partners:

An unnamed large search engine will face formal antitrust action claiming systematically using search data to build out content to retain a greater share of internet traffic is anticompetitive. Also, the incredibly resilient third-party cookie will finally die.

Dan Hays, U.S. technology, media, and telecommunications corporate strategy leader, PwC U.S.:

Undoubtedly the headlines in 2020 will be dominated by announcements of new 5G networks, expanded coverage, and new mobile devices which incorporate 5G connectivity. While we expect coverage at the start of 2020 to still hover in the single digits across the United States, this should rise rapidly in 2020 as new devices become available and demand increases. Look for more announcements at the global MWC Barcelona 2020 event in late February.

AI AND VOICE TECHNOLOGY
Omoju Miller, senior machine learning engineer, GitHub:

The public needs an introductory understanding of how AI works. They need a general sense of how data meets algorithm and turns into a decision. For example, facial recognition is being readily used in our smart home security systems, and for that reason we need to understand the abilities and limits of the technology to protect our loved ones.

Kuldip Pabla, senior VP of engineering, K4Connect:

As predicted, voice has had huge success in adoption by older adults. They like the ease of use and how they’re able to use the technology in a natural way. In 2020, voice technology will become an integral part of older adults’ lives with proactive voice. Current voice solutions require conversation to be initiated by an older adult. With the advancement in voice technologies and with the maturity of chatbots and custom digital assistants coming into the market, voice will bring a two way conversation in 2020.

[K4Connect creates tech solutions for older adults and those living with disabilities.]

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

The No. 1 job of 2019 pays $140,000 — and its hiring growth has exploded 74%

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pictured is a human hand touching a robotic hand

Career and job site LinkedIn released its annual “Emerging Jobs” list, which identifies the roles that have seen the largest rate of hiring growth from 2015 through 2019. No. 1 on the list: Artificial Intelligence Specialist — typically an engineer, researcher or other specialty that focuses on machine learning and artificial intelligence, figuring out things like where it makes sense to implement AI or building AI systems. Hiring for this role has been tremendous, growing 74% annually in the past 4 years alone.

Hiring for this role has been tremendous, growing 74% annually in the past 4 years alone. “AI has infiltrated every industry, and right now the demand for people skilled in AI is outpacing the supply for it,” Guy Berger, the principal economist at LinkedIn, tells MarketWatch. “This is the third year in a row a role related to machine learning or artificial intelligence has topped the list, and we can only expect demand to increase.”

The pay is impressive too, with AI roles often commanding six figures. Jobs site Indeed notes that artificial intelligence engineers in San Francisco, for example, rake in $120,000 to upwards of $160,000. Sometimes AI roles can garner pay of $250,000 or more.

LinkedIn isn’t the only company to highlight an AI specialty role as a job to watch. Indeed’s annual list of the “25 best jobs of 2019” named machine learning engineer as No. 1, citing a 344% increase in job postings in the past few years and an annual base salaries of $146,000, among other perks.

So what’s behind this rapid growth in AI jobs? Berger says that “almost everyone” is hiring for these roles from the obvious (tech and automotive) to the more surprising (higher education and sports).

And these offer a real opportunity even for people who aren’t currently in AI: “We’re in an extremely tight labor market so companies are really looking to hire whoever can get the job done,” says Berger — who notes that learning skills like TensorFlow and Python, as well as diving into machine learning and natural language processing, could help you land the role. You can often take these kinds of classes as certificate programs from local universities, coding schools and more.

Rounding out the top 5 jobs on LinkedIn’s emerging jobs report are robotics engineers (40% annual hiring growth), data scientist (37%), full stack engineer (35%) and site reliability engineer (34%). “While many of these jobs are tech roles, they’re not necessarily in the tech industry. Every company has had to embrace tech at some level and we’re seeing that reflected in these high-growth jobs,” adds Berger.

But interestingly, there are also a number of client-facing roles that are experiencing rapid hiring growth, such as customer success specialist and sales development representative. Many roles like this “are heavily reliant on relationships, so being skilled in things like communication, problem-solving and collaboration are key,” Berger notes, adding that for these kinds of gigs companies “will rely on people skills that can’t be automated, successfully complementing new technologies.”

LinkedIn’s Top 10 Emerging Jobs
1. Artificial Intelligence Specialist
2. Robotics Engineer
3. Data Scientist
4. Full Stack Engineer
5. Site Reliability Engineer
6. Customer Success Specialist
7. Sales Development Representative
8. Data Engineer
9. Behavioral Health Technician
10. Cyber Security Specialist

Continue on to MarketWatch to read the complete article.

You don’t need to be tech savvy to be a tech caregiver

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woman showing mother how to be tech savvy on computer

Kevin Hanna’s class on cyber safety in Upstate New York attracts adults of all stripes, from 40-somethings to those well into their 80s. Some are tech neophytes, drawn in by the need to video chat with children no longer living in the area. Others are retired computer programmers looking to keep up on the latest online and phone scams. What they have in common is relative financial security and the fact that they’re often too trusting. And now they’re targets.

Hanna is the regional director of external affairs for AT&T. He teaches this class because 95% of Americans age 60 or older have experienced a scam online, costing them an estimated $1 billion last year alone. For two hours, the students sit rapt as Hanna draws from local news and AT&T’s Cyber Aware website to identify the major themes, tactics, and tricks that scammers use: pop-up boxes warning of computer viruses or calls that imitate authority to trigger a sense of fear and urgency. “I get voice mail messages that I have warrants out for my arrest,” Hanna says. When he asks if anyone in the class is, like him, supposedly on the lam, “evading law enforcement,” many hands go up.

It’s not just seniors who are at risk. According to a recent survey sponsored by AT&T, 90% of Americans across generations have experienced phishing via email or robocall, while roughly 25% have discovered a virus or malware on one of their devices. So once Hanna gets home to his family, his workday continues. He advises his teenage son never to assume online strangers are who they claim to be and educates his mother-in-law that providing seemingly innocent information to a stranger over the phone is, in fact, over-sharing, opening the door to a nefarious follow-up call.

Hanna is on the front lines of a burgeoning cyber trend called “tech caregiving,” in which people give or receive help on tech matters from those close to them. Hanna points out that a tech caregiver does not require educating an audience like he does; it’s often an unwitting role. “Folks who have older parents are often caregivers but might not be familiar with the label,” Hanna says. “While people as young as 12 can play caregiver to grandparents on things as simple as sending a photo. If I had a question about social media, my wife would be the expert. We each play our role based on what we do online and use the technology for.”

HELP IS ON THE WAY

When it comes to cyber security, the role of caregiver is ever changing. “Scammers and their techniques and tactics are constantly evolving,” Hanna observes, citing the trend in social-media mining, in which scammers target people based on what they post in their feeds. “As our use of technology grows in its sophistication, scammers likewise use that against us.”

Neil Giacobbi, assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility for AT&T, acknowledges the challenges his industry faces in both cyber security and digital safety. “There’s overwhelming awareness that there’s a problem,” he says. “It’s evidenced by daily reporting on scams, parental anxieties, children’s self-esteem—I can go on and on with all of the social issues. [But] where do you go for help, and what form does that help take?”

The Cyber Aware website, which provides tips to consumers to keep them secure online and protect them from scams and fraud, is one such resource. Another is ScreenReady, an innovative pilot program in New York City that is training the company’s retail sales force to be digital-safety consultants. Consumers—whether they’re AT&T customers or not—can get free support on how to use parental controls and safety settings. The program has been so welcomed by consumers that AT&T is considering expanding it to all of its retail stores in 2020.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation Announces the Julio Iglesias Scholarship

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Julio Iglesias in tuxedo smiling clapping hands with joy

A Music Student with Financial Hardship Will Receive a Four-Year Scholarship, Worth up to $200,000 USD Toward a Bachelor’s Degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston

Deadline to Apply is April 10, 2020

MIAMI (DEC. 16, 2019)— The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation® announced today that it is accepting applications for the Julio Iglesias Scholarship from music students admitted to Berklee College of Music who are interested in Latin music. The four-year Prodigy Scholarship, which holds a maximum value of $200,000 USD, was created five years ago in an effort to support music education and Latin music genres, and will be awarded to a student who is exceptionally gifted and needs financial assistance to complete a bachelor’s degree in music starting in the Fall 2020 semester.

Julio Iglesias is considered an enduring star on the world stage and the best-selling Latin artist of all time. Recipient of a GRAMMY®, 2001 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year™ honor, and the Recording Academy® Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, the singer/songwriter has recorded in multiple languages and sold more than 300 million records worldwide.

“I’m proud to offer a promising student the opportunity of a formal music education at one of the best schools in the world through the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation,” said Iglesias. “Through this scholarship, I hope to expand my legacy helping to build the next generation of Latin music ambassadors.”

“We are pleased to announce our sixth annual Prodigy Scholarship in association with music legend Julio Iglesias,” said Manolo Díaz, Senior Vice President, Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation. “We are grateful for Julio’s support and commitment to inspire future generations of Latin artists to achieve greatness.”

Every year, the Foundation’s Scholarship Committee carefully evaluates applications from a highly competitive pool of aspiring musicians on a variety of skills and under rigorous policies. As of today, the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation has allocated a remarkable $5 million USD in scholarships, grants, musical instrument donations, and educational events worldwide. Previous artists who have co-sponsored Prodigy Scholarships include Enrique Iglesias (2015), Juan Luis Guerra (2016), Miguel Bosé (2017), Carlos Vives (2018), and Emilio and Gloria Estefan (2019).

For application, guidelines, and for the latest news, please visit the official website of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation at www.latingrammyculturalfoundation.com. As part of the process, students must complete two audition videos, submit two letters of recommendation and answer two essay questions. The materials can be submitted in English, Spanish or Portuguese. The deadline to apply is April 10, 2020, by 11:59 p.m. EDT. After reviewing the guidelines that can be found on our website, submit any questions to LGCF@grammy.com.

ABOUT THE LATIN GRAMMY CULTURAL FOUNDATION:
The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation was established by The Latin Recording Academy® to promote international awareness and appreciation of the significant contributions of Latin music and its makers to the world’s culture, and to protect its rich musical legacy and heritage. The Foundation’s primary charitable focus is to provide scholarships to students interested in Latin music, as well as grants to scholars and organizations worldwide for research and preservation of diverse Latin music genres. Take action in supporting our mission by donating today via our Facebook page. For additional information, please visit us at www.latingrammyculturalfoundation.com. For the latest news and exclusive content, follow us at @latingrammyfdn on Twitter and Instagram, and Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation on Facebook.

ABOUT BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC:
Berklee was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through the study and practice of contemporary music. For 70 years, the college has evolved to reflect the current state of the music industry, leading the way with baccalaureate studies in performance, music business/management, songwriting, music therapy, film scoring, and more. In June 2016, the Boston Conservatory merged with Berklee, creating the world’s most comprehensive and dynamic training ground for music, dance, theater, and related professions. With a focus on global learning, the Berklee campus in Valencia, Spain, offers graduate programs and study abroad opportunity, while Berklee Online serves distance learners worldwide with extension classes and degree-granting programs. The Berklee City Music Network provides after-school programming for underserved teens in more than 40 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. With a student body representing more than 100 countries, abundant international undergraduate and graduate student populations (33 and 53 percent respectively), and alumni and faculty who have won more than 360 GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY Awards, Berklee is the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today—and tomorrow. Learn more at berklee.edu.

ABOUT JULIO IGLESIAS:
Julio Iglesias is the most celebrated artist in Spanish and Latin music history. Recipient of a GRAMMY, The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year in 2001, and the Recording Academy™ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, Iglesias is the best-selling Latin artist of all time with more than 300 million records sold in 14 languages. Photo Credit: Jesús Carrero

Apple’s Siri Disagrees With A Weatherman – On Live TV…And Other Small Business Tech News

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iphone screen showing small text on it

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 — Siri disagreed with a weatherman during a live forecast.

This past week, Tomasz Schafernaker—a meteorologist with BBC—was wearing his Apple Watch and delivering a live forecast when suddenly Siri spoke up. While Schafernaker shared information about a snowstorm that occurred recently in Minneapolis, Siri gave an opposing forecast, discrediting his delivery immediately. Although the meteorologist attempted to continue after the comedic snafu, Schafermaker found himself as the punchline of his co-host’s jokes for the remainder of the broadcast. It is unclear what prompted Siri but—regardless—BBC and viewers laughed the moment off while having some fun at the meteorologist’s expense. (Source: PCMag)

Why this is important for your business:

It’s a funny, yet ominous story. Siri and other voice enabled applications are already starting to insert themselves into our conversations. Soon enough they will be interacting with our customers in the same way – and it’s possible with the wrong information. Embrace this technology, but make sure to keep it in check.

2 — Facebook built a chatbot to help employees deflect criticism over the holidays

The New York Times reported this past week that Facebook has rolled out a new tool named “Liam Bot” which has been designed to help employees through difficult discussions regarding the many controversies the social media giant has been facing. The artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot was built by Facebook’s public relations team—although the company has not specifically disclosed why—and provides answers that coincide with public statements dealing with areas such as election meddling and free speech, to name a few. Liam Bot was first tested this past spring and was given to Facebook employees just before the Thanksgiving holiday. (Source: The Verge)

Why this is important for your business:

This is another great example of how AI technology can deliver conversational bots that will help solve problems and answer customer questions. Coming soon: easy to use tools that will help small businesses configure similar chatbots.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Gives Kids a Shot That Can’t be Blocked

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on a stage dressed in a suit smiling

By Brady Rhoades

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — NBA Hall of Famer, best-selling author, renowned columnist, historian, philanthropist— is laser-focused on underprivileged kids.

The key to empowering them?

Education.

Through his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook, he’s on a mission to give inner city kids a “shot that can’t be blocked” at careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math; many educators have added arts to the concept and use the acronym STEAM).

“The feedback from the kids is always a highlight for me,” he said, in an interview with STEAM Magazine. “They are enthusiastic, grateful, and excited about the experience. Horace Mann once said that ‘a house without books is like a room without windows.’ Before attending Camp Skyhook, many of our students couldn’t see themselves pursuing a STEM-related career. We’re building windows so they can see more possibilities for their future.

“Our students often come from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “They’re used to running the race of life with weights attached to them. Their shot at equal opportunities — whether in education, jobs, health care, etc. — is blocked by systemic social inequalities. We try to create a path where their shot at life can’t be blocked because of those disadvantages. We’re trying to even the playing field.”

Abdul-Jabbar is so committed to this venture that he’s sold personal memorabilia, such as championship rings and MVP plaques, in order to raise $2.8 million – a portion of which was donated to Camp Skyhook.

“Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future,” he said. “That’s a history that has no price.”

Kareem out in community visiting with a young boy in the library
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out in community visiting with a young boy in the library

So what exactly are the Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook?

The Los Angeles non-profit helps public school students in the city access a free, fun, weeklong STEM education camp in the Angeles National Forest. Every week throughout the year, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Unified School District, groups of fourth and fifth graders attend Camp Skyhook at the Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center. The hands-on science curriculum encourages students to study nature up close. They also get to hike, swim and sing songs around campfires.

Currently, there’s a six-year waiting list for students to get into the camp.

“I’m happy we’re doing what we are, but I’m frustrated because we want to do even more,” said the six-time NBA champion and six-time MVP. “This program gives students STEM-based activities in an environment they rarely experience: the natural world. It also inspires their curiosity and sense of wonder.”

Abdul-Jabbar said it’s paramount to increase opportunities in STEM, especially for minorities.

“African-American men make up only 3 percent of science and engineering occupations versus 49 percent white men,” he said. “Black women have only 2 percent versus 18 percent for white women. Part of the reason is that a STEM education doesn’t seem like a real possibility to many minority children educated in inferior schools. We can turn that around. We have to turn it around.”

One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967
One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967.

A native of Harlem, Abdul-Jabbar was a three-time NCAA champion and three-time Player of the Year at UCLA, where he played under legendary coach John Wooden.

He played 20 seasons in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record 19-time NBA All-Star.

For Lakers fans, he is, perhaps, most beloved for his dominating performance in the 1985 finals against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers broke a decades-long losing streak to the Celtics and Abdul-Jabbar was named finals MVP.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995 and named one of the 50 greatest players in league history in 1996. A statue showing him wielding the greatest weapon in basketball annals – the skyhook – was unveiled outside of Staples Center in 2012.

Since his stellar professional career, he has gone on to become a celebrated New York Times-bestselling author, a filmmaker, and a columnist for The Guardian and the Hollywood Reporter. He writes insightful and in-depth columns about pop culture and social justice.

His curiosity is nothing less than feral.

Did you know he’s huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and his latest writing project — co-authored by Anna Waterhouse — is a mystery novel? It’s called Mycroft and Sherlock, The Empty Birdcage.

On top of all that, President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.

of Freedom in 2016.

“I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop,” he said. “My mind is my greatest asset.”

The same can be said of the children he’s helping, even if they don’t know it yet.

The Skyhook Foundation — the website for information and donations at https://skyhookfoundation.org/ — is demonstrably effective. Did you think for a second Abdul-Jabbar wouldn’t track the results?

“We know it’s effective because our follow-up research shows that students have increased interest in science, engineering and the environment,” he said. “In practical terms, it means they take more science classes and feel more confident in the classroom asking and answering questions. Former participants who are now adults tell us this was their most memorable elementary school experience.”

It’s widely agreed-upon that Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook was unstoppable—virtually unblockable. He shot thousands upon thousands of them, and tallied 38,387 points in his career. He is the greatest scorer in the history of professional basketball. Nobody’s ever re-created that magnificent hook shot.

Abdul-Jabbar’s message to kids: Develop a shot that can’t be blocked.

The game of life is played on a surface supremely larger than the 94-x-50-foot chunk of wood hoops players play on.

The winning play? Give yourself a shot to be an all-star in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Google Impact Challenge selects Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems for Innovative Workforce Development Program

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3 people are pictured working on a drone project at the NAIS, Arise workshop activity

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) was selected as a Google Impact Challenge winner under the Google.org Impact Challenge Nevada for its innovative Workforce Development Program called ARISE – Attaining Resilience and Independence through Support and Education.

All Nevada non-profits had the opportunity this past summer to compete for one of five coveted Google Impact Challenge winners by submitting their innovative proposals to Google to create economic opportunity in Nevada.  NIAS was further screened by Google through a rigorous interview process before they were recommended to a Nevada panel of judges to further evaluate and select as one of five winners.  The panel of judges was made up from senior Nevada business and economic development leaders across Nevada including former Governor Brian Sandoval.  The Nevada judges based their selection decision on four key criteria: community impact, innovation, reach, and feasibility.  All five winners will receive $175,000 in grants and training from Google to jumpstart their ideas.

For the first time in Nevada, with the training and support of Google, NIAS can help bridge the labor supply and skills gap for future aviators by harnessing the power and excitement generated by the world’s fastest growing Autonomous Systems Industry. ARISE will change the lives of under-served young adults by combining a new resiliency perspective with STEM training, on-the-job work experience, and mentorship to equip the under-served with skills to better adapt within the increasingly dynamic environment of the modern-day workforce and apply those skills to the challenges they face in their everyday lives.

According to Google and the National Skills Coalition, middle-skills jobs account for 51% of all jobs in Nevada, but only 49% of state workers are ready to access these jobs. According to a FAA press release in 2018, titled, “FAA Hits 100K Remote Pilot Certificates Issued,” more than 100,000 people have obtained autonomous systems pilot certification and licensing, and the FAA predicts that the autonomous systems service industry will demand over 400,000 pilots by 2021 – a 400% increase from today. Large employers are already paying up for drone pilots—about $50 an hour, or over $100,000 a year. Recognizing this exponential demand and growth potential, ARISE is the first program of its kind to train under-served young adults to tap into this highly in-demand and lucrative employment opportunity.  The NIAS goal under the Google Impact Challenge with its small cadre of volunteers is to develop and prove-out a scalable program that can be replicated in any community at the state, national, and international level.

“NIAS leads the FAA-designated Nevada Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Test Site to grow the Drone Industry on behalf of the State of Nevada government and FAA.  NIAS has received both national and international attention through a 2019 business industry report that ranked the Nevada Drone Industry in the top two positions in the U.S for a second year in a row.  As a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, part of our obligation is to give back to the community and drone industry by supporting workforce development.  This is why NIAS #Vote4NIAS launched ARISE to help under-served young adults gain access to the autonomous systems industry and inspire the next wave of future aviators through STEM training, on-the-job work experience, mentorship, and a new resiliency perspective that could give young adults the skills to better adapt within the workforce and apply these skills to their everyday lives to overcome challenges, barriers, or crises,” said Dr. Chris Walach, Executive Director of the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site, and the NIAS Unmanned Aviation Safety Center of Excellence.

The biggest stumbling block to the UAS industry gaining significant proliferation throughout various markets has been a lack of a real commercial path to do it.  NIAS once again shows their understanding of this through their workforce development program, which will help companies like us source key employees in this growing industry,” said J.B. Bernstein, CEO of AviSight, Inc.

“Drone America understands that a robust and qualified workforce is central to healthy communities, employers, families, and individuals. Achieving our mission of utilizing UAS technologies as a means to survey, protect, and preserve human life and strategic resources around the Globe requires good people.  Partnering with NIAS will assist us in providing real-world opportunities, offering the candidate industry experience in unmanned systems technology together with a potential of long-term future employment,” said Mike Richards, CEO and Founder of Drone America.

And the best part? The challenge isn’t over yet! In the next phase, the public will have an opportunity to vote for their people’s choice starting on Tuesday, November 19 until 11:50pm on Tuesday, November 26.  The organization with the most votes will receive an additional $125,000 to further support their program, so please be sure to show your support and #Vote4NIAS today!   Please vote at:  impactchallenge.withgoogle.com

ShareSpace Education Donates Giant Mars and Moon Map™ to Challenger Learning Centers Across the Country

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Giant Moon and Mars Maps are pictured side by side

STEAM-based educational tools spark excitement around space exploration.

ShareSpace Education, a key program of the Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF), partnered with Challenger Center, a leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education organization, to donate three Giant Mars Map™ and one Giant Moon Map™ Interactive education packages promoting STEAM education in four Challenger Learning Centers (Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College, IL; Challenger Learning Center of Northern Nevada, NV; Challenger STEM Learning Center; University of Tennessee Chattanooga, TN; and Challenger Learning Center of Lockport, NY).

Each package includes a 15-foot x 15-foot map, four Welcome to Mars/Welcome to the Moon books, the Mars/Moon Map Curriculum package developed in collaboration with Purdue University, and access to in-person and online program training from the ShareSpace Foundation. The value of each Giant Mars Map™ / Giant Mars Map™ package is valued at $5,000.

“We are excited that these four Challenger Learning Centers will have Giant Mars Map™ or Giant Moon Map™ interactive education packages to offer to their students and community,” said Denise Kopecky, Vice President of Education, Challenger Center. “Every day at our Centers, students travel to space when they fly our simulation-based missions. These maps are another way for students and members of these communities to experience the excitement and wonder of space.”

“Giant Mars and Moon Maps are a means for sparking creativity in kids while they sit, stand, walk, play and learn together,” said Dr. Andrew Aldrin, president of AFF. “We are honored to partner with an incredible organization like Challenger Center and share this unique STEAM experience with their next generation across the United States.”

Each year, AFF works with donors to make Giant Mars Map™ packages available for distribution. Individual schools, school districts and informal education organizations submit applications, which are reviewed by an independent team of judges. Map recipients are selected with the goal of reaching people and places where the map can be used as an authentic teaching tool to help children develop an understanding for real-world, STEAM-based concepts using the Red Planet as the focal point.

About the Aldrin Family Foundation
The Aldrin Family Foundation (AFF) strives to cultivate the next generation of space leaders, entrepreneurs and explorers who will extend human habitation beyond the Earth to the Moon and Mars. AFF’s STEAM-based educational tools, curriculum and programs span from a child’s first classroom experience through graduate school and professional programs. This vertical pathway unites explorers at all levels to learn from each other’s vision for space, ultimately creating the first generation of Martians.

About Challenger Center
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs that engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs, delivered in Challenger Learning Centers and classrooms, strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created by the Challenger families to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. For more information about Challenger Center, please visit challenger.org or connect on Facebook and Twitter.