Sharks Talk Tech, Trends & Tenacity

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Shark Tank

By Brady Rhoades

On a recent episode of the Emmy-award winning Shark Tank, a 17-year-old entrepreneur—a born salesman—pitched a product that would help prevent Plantar Fasciitis, a debilitating foot condition.

This prompted toothy smiles all around from the sharks, until the teenager stated that he planned on skipping college and pursuing his business full-time.

Those smiles turned to winces.

“I’ll be devastated if you skip college,” said shark Mark Cuban, a billionaire who owns the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban gently lectured the youth on the importance of learning science, technology, engineering, finance, statistics, and marketing.

“Knowledge gives you the greatest competitive advantage,” he said, adding that he ran businesses out of dorm rooms while in college.

Everyone knows that Shark Tank is about entrepreneurship. And everyone knows there are lucrative opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM). The economy is leaning—and none too lightly—in that direction.

Just take a gander at a few of the tech-startups that have made it big by partnering with sharks:

  • Groovebook: People love snapping pictures on their phones, but until Groovebook, there really wasn’t an easy way to get them printed and placed into an album. With Groovebook, users can select photos right from their camera roll, and upload them to the app. The selected photos will be printed and delivered right to your door in the photo album of your choice. Founders Julie and Brian Whiteman got the idea when Julie lost all her family photos on her smartphone. After its deal with Shark Tank, Groovebook sold to Shutterfly for $14.5 million;
  • PhoneSoap: Thanks to PhoneSoap, your phone can be properly cleaned. Makers Dan Barnes and Wes LaPorte landed the deal on Shark Tank. That move earned PhoneSoap a spot on QVC, where it made the bulk of its initial earnings. By the beginning of 2016, Phonesoap had sold more than 100,000 units after landing a retail deal with Bed, Bath, & Beyond;
  • Breathometer: Charles Yim’s Breathometer brought six sharks together. It was a feeding frenzy. The Breathometer was a mobile device app and attachment initially developed to analyze blood-alcohol-content level. The idea was that the Breathometer could help party-goers make better judgments and avoid drinking and driving. The cast of the show agreed to go in on a deal with Yim. Since then, Yim has raised $1 million and has a new product called Mint that monitors oral health.

Shark Tank, which has become a cultural touchstone in America and around the world, premiered in August 2009 and aired 14 episodes through January 2010. In August of that same year, it was renewed for a second season. Season 2 secured a Friday night time slot.

By 2013, CNBC licensed exclusive off-network cable rights for the series from ABC.

Shark Tank is now in its ninth season, and stronger than ever. Sharks have invested more than $100 million in contestants’ businesses, turning dozens of entrepreneurs into millionaires.

The show has won four Emmys, in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

The show’s success comes, in part, from its premise. Entrepreneurs present their products to the sharks, who are tough, sophisticated investors. Also accounting for the success is the educational value the show provides: viewers learn about profit margins, scale-ability, branding and more.

But make no mistake: the sharks are the stars; they draw eyeballs to the screen.

Viewers have gotten a glimpse into the minds of Richard Branson, Troy Carter, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Sacca, Phil Crowley, and Kevin Harrington.

The mainstays have been the straight-shooting Cuban, take-no-prisoners investor Kevin O’Leary (“Mr. Wonderful”), QVC phenom Lori Greiner, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, global tech-innovator Robert Herjavec and fashion visionary Daymond John.

Cast

This season, baseball great and business superstar Alex Rodriguez and Skinnygirl Cocktails founder Bethenny Frankel (who you might also recognize from The Real Housewives of New York) have joined the show.

The diversity of the sharks is a big part of Shark Tank’s appeal.

There have been women, African-Americans, immigrants and, now, a Hispanic (Rodriguez).

That means viewers get all manner of perspectives.

In turn, the show attracts a diverse group of entrepreneurs. Any businessman or woman worth his or her salt will tell you that a key to success is drawing from the biggest talent pool available. Contestants’ ideas matter; their knowledge matters; their work ethic matters. Their gender, race, religion, age … not so much.

A Shark Tank panel recently discussed secrets to the show’s success, and keys to success in business, touching on tech-startups and the importance of inclusion when it comes to talent. Here are some nuggets from the sharks:

  • Frankel, on how she branded Skinnygirl: “I used that platform BETHENNY FRANKEL(TV) to communicate with women about business, be relatable, to tell people about my life. Through stories on the show I created my brand in real time, from the logo, to the concept, and so I think the audience enjoyed watching it happen. A lot of the time with Shark Tank people were successful already, they were making money, I was completely broke when I was on housewives and so people watch it unfold… For me, with the creation of the skinny girl margarita, to me it was a simple, basic idea. It was the first ready-to-drink low calorie cocktail. I didn’t know anything, and it was a male run business. I pitched it to everyone and no one wanted to do it. People didn’t even come to the meetings. And I didn’t know what licensing meant, I didn’t know what equity meant, I just had this idea. You just are hustling. It’s about the execution, it’s the hustle.”
  • Rodriguez, on his transformation from athlete to investor: “I was always thinking about life after baseball, I was looking at athletes, average career is five and a half years… At 18-19, I started thinking that I didn’t want to be one of those guys who ran into financial trouble so I started ARod Corp out of fear… and now I manage over 15,000 apartment units in 15 states and we have over 500 people working for us. I’ve been doing this for a while and it is a great thrill and privilege to be allowed on the Shark Tank platform and do what I’ve been doing. Help young entrepreneurs, collaborating, and helping them meet their dreams and mentor them. And of course being the first Hispanic shark is something to be really proud of.”

Rodriguez also talked about the importance of failing. That’s right. Failing.

“I always tell young entrepreneurs to not to be afraid to try, failure is part of it. When people think about my career, they think about the championships, the RBIs, the home runs, but what they don’t realize is that I’m fifth all-time in striking out, so that means I have a Ph.D in failing. But I also have a masters in getting back up and that’s what America is all about, getting back up, not getting defined by your mistakes, and pushing forward.”

  • Daymond John, AKA “The Brandfather,” on the beauty of owning your own business: “I find it gratifying when we found out that it was one of the top shows in Kids and Family. There is nothing wrong with kids wanting to be a rapper or player, but when they realize and understand what their parents go through, they want to start their own businesses, they are creating their own business, and we are creating entrepreneurs. ”
  • The ever-optimistic Herjavec, on the importance of diversity: “Look at the diversity on this stage, that’s what I love. There is no color, race, or sex for success … We are all different, look at all the different answers. We all respect each other. You see people come out in the pressure, and I can’t help but empathize with these people.”
  • The shrewd, motherly Corcoran, on her love of the show: “What’s satisfying for me and for us sharks is when we look back at own careers and we were enormously at risk, we didn’t know when we were going to get paid, we didn’t even have a payroll. And so what we get to do as sharks is that we live through that experience again and again.”
  • Greiner, known as the “warm-blooded shark,” on the value of digital media: “You can also do things digitally, that’s huge. Today, you can do digital tests. You can do a Facebook ad, or an Instagram story. You can find a world of information, and if that works out, then you can do an infomercial.”

Griener knows what she’s talking about. She’s negotiated deals for Simply Fitboard, Scrub Daddy and Sleep Stylers, netting hundreds of millions in sales

  • O’Leary, whose sale of The Learning Company to Mattel in the 1990s made him a multi-millionaire, on honesty: “Shark Tank is a place where not everyone can win; you need to tell them the truth.”
  • Cuban, nothing if not astute, recognized the coming tech-boom as early as 1982. Perhaps that’s why his eyes sparkle when an exciting tech innovation is introduced on the show.

After graduating from the Kelley School of Business in Indiana, he started his own company, MicroSolutions, a system integrator and software reseller. The company was an early proponent of technologies such as Carbon Copy, Lotus Notes, and CompuServe. In 1990, Cuban sold MicroSolutions to CompuServe—then a subsidiary of H&R Block—for $6 million.

About a decade later, Cuban become a billionaire during the dot-com explosion, selling Broadcast.com, a pioneer in webcasting, for more than $5 billion.

What’s going to be the NBT (Next Big Thing) to hit Shark Tank? Given that a generation of students are getting schooled in STEAM, the possibilities are limitless.

Isn’t that a big reason why we tune in?

“Technological change always accelerates,” Cuban said. “It never stagnates over time.”

TFS Scholarships Launches Online Toolkit to Provide College Funding Resources

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SALT LAKE CITY— TFS Scholarships (TFS), the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding, has launched a free online toolkit to provide counselors, families and students with resources to help improve the college scholarship search process. The toolkit, available at tuitionfundingsources.com/resource-toolkit, provides downloadable resources and practical tips on how to find and apply for scholarships.

The launch comes in celebration with Financial Aid Awareness Month when many families are beginning the FAFSA process and researching financial aid options.

“We hope these resources help raise awareness around TFS and the 7 million college scholarships available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students,” said Richard Sorensen, president of TFS Scholarships. “Our goal is to help families discover alternative ways to offset the rising costs of higher education.”

The resource toolkit includes flyers, email templates, newsletter content, digital banners and table toppers which are designed to be shareable content that counselors, students and organizations can use to spread the word about how to find free money for college.

The newly revamped TFS website curates over 7 million scholarship opportunities from across the country – with the majority coming directly from colleges and universities—and matches them to students based on their personal profile, where they want to study, and stage of academic study. By tailoring the search criteria, TFS identifies scholarships that students are uniquely qualified for, thus lowering the application pool and increasing the chances of winning. By creating an online profile, students can find scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid. About 5,000 new scholarships are added to the database every month and appear in real time.

Thanks to exclusive financial support from Wells Fargo, the TFS website is completely ad-free, and no selling of data, making it a safe and trusted place to search.

For more information about Tuition Funding Sources visit tuitionfundingsources.com.

 

About TFS Scholarships

TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.

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NASA’s Real Life ‘Hidden Figure’ On How To Advance Women In STEM

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“There are so many women that are capable, smart, sharp and good at what they do. What they are lacking is the opportunity to sit across the table from the other minds that are coming up with the innovative solutions,” says Dr. Christyl Johnson, NASA’s Deputy Director for Technology and Research Investments.

Dr. Johnson joined NASA in the summer of 1985 and over the years she has dedicated her efforts to support young women in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)

Described as a ‘modern figure’ Dr. Johnson is regularly likened to the characters in the movie Hidden Figures. The film portrays the experience of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson – three talented African-American women – who worked at NASA Langley in 1961.

The movie tackles important issues like institutional racism and sexism.  Dr. Johnson says it highlights the importance of diversity in innovation. “If anyone wants to make leaps and advances in their organization it is paramount that they bring different perspectives to the table,” she says.

In this interview, Dr. Johnson shares the lessons she has learned throughout her career at NASA and how each of us can support the advancement of women in STEM.

Michelle King: Do you see yourself in the movie Hidden Figures?

Dr. Johnson: Although things have significantly improved at NASA since the times represented in Hidden Figures, I too have experienced similar struggles with racism and sexism.  I resonate with the women in the movie because I see them as strong African American women who were determined to succeed despite their circumstances. That determination is what has gotten me to where I am today. NASA has identified me as a ‘modern figure’, so I hope that I and the other ‘modern figures’ continue to inspire our young girls to see themselves in that movie, and in STEM careers.

King: What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in your career as a woman in STEM?

Dr. Johnson: One of the biggest challenges I have had as a woman in STEM is breaking into the “boys network.” For many years at NASA, and other scientific organizations the makeup has been mostly white males. Even when women bring unique solutions to the table, it can take twice as much work for them to gain the respect of their male counterparts.  I can recall being in meetings and asking a question only to have the male answering the question look at the other males in the room while answering my question.

I am fortunate that NASA has been at the forefront of supporting women in technical fields, as shown in the movie Hidden Figures. With the support of some of my male and female mentors, I have grown and blossomed at NASA. With all of that said, we still have a little way to go for women to have an equal seat at the table.  Not only do the appropriate organizational policies need to be in place, but appropriate, respectful behavior must be the norm – starting with the leadership at the top.

King: How do we ensure that women have an equal seat at the table?

Dr. Johnson: We need to make sure women have high visibility assignments. So many times you hear people say that, ‘We didn’t have any good women candidates.’  Even if we were to have diverse selection panels to ensure fairness in the selection process, you can’t hire women if they have not had those high-profile assignments that show their leadership capability.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

8 Ways To Make Real Progress On Tech’s Diversity Problem

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diverse cartoon characters standing to represent diversity in tech

Leaders from Snap, Google, and more share their ideas for making 2018 the year that tech finally becomes more inclusive.

On Ayanna Howard’s first day at NASA leading a robotics team, she walked into her office and was greeted by a man who told her, “The secretaries aren’t here. They moved their meeting down the hall.”

Her response? “Hi, I’m Dr. Ayanna Howard. You’re working for me on this project.”

Despite her qualifications, Howard, a black woman, couldn’t help but feel deflated by the assumption that she didn’t belong there.

The tech sector is hampered by unconscious biases that distort perceptions. And it’s a big problem. Tech will continue to lose top talent if we don’t make significant progress in changing the ratios. By several measures, the tech world is stagnating or even moving backwards when it comes to achieving greater equity for women and people of color.

According to LinkedIn’s research, only 28% of software engineers are women, and that number has only gone up 3% over 15 years. Even worse, women in leadership roles has risen a measly 2.3%.

The numbers are even more bleak in the funding world: Between 1999 and 2013, there was a 40% drop in female VCs, according to Babson’s. Furthermore, only 3% of VC funds have black and Latinx people on their teams. In 2017, women-led companies made up 4.4% of all VC deals, a 2% increase in 10 years, according to Pitchbook. For women of color, the numbers are utterly dismal: Only 0.2% of venture capital went to startups founded by black women, according to #ProjectDiane.

The nonprofit I founded, Women Who Tech, aims to change the ratio in tech. Through our Women Startup Challenges and other work, we’ve worked with 1,700-plus women-led ventures, numerous investors, and engineers. One big lesson that’s emerged is that the tech culture has relied on pattern recognition for too long.

Based on our learnings, here are eight ways founders, investors, and engineers can start shaking things up to fix tech’s diversity and inclusion problems in 2018.

FOUNDERS

1. Think of diversity from the start. Sarah Kunst, founder of Proday, recommends using the “mirror rule”: Making sure that people you bring on–employees, service providers, etc.–don’t always look like you. “Empowering your teams with the mirror rule means they can gently and easily ensure that more diverse and inclusive groups are being formed across all company touch points.”

And diversity has to be baked in, says Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn. “One key way for startup founders to address diversity and inclusion “is to be diverse and inclusive from ground zero.” And for good reason: “Women challenge the status quo because we are never part of it.” She also advises focusing on finding “the least represented and championed group in tech: black women.”

2. Address unconscious bias in your hiring. Another hiring bias is prioritizing top engineering schools as recruitment pools. Language app Duolingo changed their recruitment process to achieve a 50:50 gender ratio for new software engineer hires. In addition to building partnerships with inclusive organizations, they took a data-driven approach and prioritized recruiting from schools with more than 18% women undergraduate computer science majors.

Lukas Blakk, mobile release manager at Snap, says another way to address your own hiring biases is to create a list to review to remind yourself of your own biases before each interview you conduct.

3. Untap understanding of consumer needs with diverse engineering teams. To ensure products and services have wide appeal, get input from people who reflect the full range of end users. “If we don’t get women and people of color at the table — real technologists doing the real work — we will bias systems,” Fei-Fei Li, Google’s chief artificial intelligence and machine learning scientist, told Wired. Undoing that bias later, she says, may be “close to impossible.” Building for your entire consumer population can also help avoid accusations of bias and embarrassment, as Apple learnedwhen its facial recognition feature struggled with black and Asian faces, sparking charges of racism.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

8 Inefficiencies in the Architecture + Design Industry (and possible solutions)

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MRad

LOS ANGELES, California – (February 7, 2018) – Every industry has their fair share of inefficiencies which can stifle production. But once in a while, a leader comes along who can not only identify the problems, but also offer solutions. These thought leaders have the ability to revolutionize an industry. The world of architecture and design is not immune to inefficiencies, but one industry leader has some ideas on how to fix the broken system.

“You never bathe in the same river twice, because things change, which keeps everything fresh and interesting,” explains Matthew Rosenberg, the founder of M-Rad Architecture + Design, located in Los Angeles. “The same goes for the architecture and design field, where for far too long the river was standing idle, becoming stagnant. Our business model and proposed solutions are helping to get it flowing once again.”

As a forward thinker in the field, Rosenberg has identified 8 major inefficiencies in the architecture and design industry, as well as a solution for each of them. They include:

  1. PROBLEM: Brokers. Paying a middleman to find projects takes away revenue for the architect.
    SOLUTION: Cut out the Broker by forming relationships directly with developers and clients.
  2. PROBLEM:Underpaid, overworked designers and architects. The architecture industry is notorious for low wages, heavy workload, stressful deadlines until you “make it” to the top.
    SOLUTION: Allow the designers and architects to take equity in their projects.
  3. PROBLEM:Designing independently from actual community needs.  When architecture firms design a building for a client without considering the needs and wants of the surrounding area, the project may not benefit the community or the client.
    SOLUTION: Use a positioning tactic to understand what the community is lacking and incorporate these ideas into the project.
  4. PROBLEM:The industry is heavily reliant on unpredictable markets. With the real estate marketing and cost of living in constant flux, it’s difficult to predict the stability of the industry, which is reliant on the financial status of the client.
    SOLUTION: Consistency, strategic business moves, and keeping an eye on markets allows architecture and design firms to be proactive and shift their practice to better suit the economy.
  5. PROBLEM:City planning process and restrictions. Sometimes designing or building structures takes many years, as they are stuck in the city planning process. One minor mistake can set a project back months or sometimes even years.
    SOLUTION: It can be difficult to get around or speed up the city planning process, but being involved in the community, town hall meetings, and voting on city measures can help improve the process.
  6. PROBLEM:Politics within the industry. Politics occur in every industry, but when millions of dollars are exchanged, expectations are high, and egos can get in the way of business.  The political elements in Architecture can get sticky.
    SOLUTION: Stay professional and only partner/work with people who have positive reputations.
  7. PROBLEM:The scope of the architect is becoming smaller. Technology advancements cause more complex buildings, which causes increase in liability and legal aggression which prompts architects to hand off elements of the design process to “experts in their field,” ultimately chipping away the responsibility and profits of the architect.
    SOLUTION: Increase the scope of the architect.
  8. PROBLEM:Stealing intellectual property. It’s hard to determine when a design is stolen or original.
    SOLUTION: No real solution. Can try to prevent your design being stolen by trademarking, keeping records, photographing the design progress, certifying the design, and by being careful of releasing designs to public view.

“At our firm, we have gone to great lengths to determine effective solutions to the inefficiencies within the architecture and design field,” added Rosenberg. “By making these changes, we are benefiting those who work in the field, as well as those we build the projects for. It’s a win-win for everyone to create the most efficient field that we can.”

Rosenberg‘s firm is on a mission to create better communities, neighborhoods, and cities. Their system includes a multi-faceted approach that starts with pre-architecture, maintains during the architecture phase, and continues during post-architecture.

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Canada, Rosenberg spent nine years studying architecture and environmental design. Rosenberg has earned bachelor degrees in fine arts and environmental design in architecture, as well as a master degree in architecture. When he was ready to bring his architectural influence back to the West, he headed to Los Angeles to launch M-Rad and start making a difference.

About M-Rad Architecture

M-Rad Architecture + Design, based in Los Angeles, is revolutionizing the industry by revealing inefficiencies and creating solutions to universal problems. Their multi-faceted business model, allows M-Rad to expand the scope of the architect and build resilient communities through enhanced experiences. The M-Rad team is currently working on projects around the world; from apartment buildings in Los Angeles, to a private members club in Philadelphia, to a boutique hotel in Taipei. They have created mixed-use towers, luxury hotels, sports parks, and more. For additional information on the company and to view their unique business model, visit: https://www.m-rad.com.

 

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Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology to Help Lessen Chance of Worker Fatigue, Injury

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ford auto worker

Putting dishes on a high shelf or changing an overhead lightbulb occasionally might not be difficult, but could you imagine performing either of these tasks 4,600 times per day? How about 1 million times a year?

These are the approximate number of times some Ford assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks. At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly. But a new upper body exoskeletal tool – the result of a partnership between Ford and California-based Ekso Bionics – helps lessen the chance of injury.

“My job entails working over my head, so when I get home my back, neck and shoulders usually hurt,” said Paul Collins, an assembly line worker at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant. “Since I started using the vest, I’m not as sore, and I have more energy to play with my grandsons when I get home.”

Called EksoVest, the wearable technology elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks. It can be fitted to support workers ranging from 5 feet tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall, and provides adjustable lift assistance of five pounds to 15 pounds per arm. It’s comfortable to wear because it’s lightweight, it isn’t bulky, and it allows workers to move their arms freely.

Designed and built for dynamic, real-world environments like factories, construction sites and distribution centers, the non-powered vest offers protection and support against fatigue and injury by reducing the stress and strain of high-frequency, long-duration activities that can take a toll on the body over time.

“Collaboratively working with Ford enabled us to test and refine early prototypes of the EksoVest based on insights directly from their production line workers,” said Russ Angold, co-founder and chief technology officer of Ekso Bionics. “The end result is a wearable tool that reduces the strain on a worker’s body, reducing the likelihood of injury, and helping them feel better at the end of the day – increasing both productivity and morale.”

With support from the United Automobile Workers and Ford, EksoVest is being piloted in two U.S. plants, with plans to test in other regions, including Europe and South America.

“The health and safety of our membership has always been our highest priority,” said UAW-Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles. “With the proven success at the piloted locations, we look forward to expanding this technology to our other UAW-Ford manufacturing facilities.”

EksoVest is the latest example of advanced technology Ford is using to reduce the physical toll on employees during the vehicle assembly process. Between 2005 and 2016, the most recent full year of data, the company saw an 83 percent decrease in the number of incidents that resulted in days away, work restrictions or job transfers – to an all-time low of 1.55 incidents per 100 full-time North American employees.

“Our goal has always been to keep the work environment safe and productive for the hardworking men and women we rely on across the globe,” said Bruce Hettle, Ford group vice president, Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. “Investing in the latest ergonomics research, assembly improvements and lift-assist technologies has helped us design efficient and safe assembly lines, while maintaining high vehicle quality for our customers.”

Continue onto Ford’s Newsroom to read the complete article.

This One Simple Thing Can Help You Learn Better

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Listening to Music

Next time your dormie tells you to turn the music down, just reply, “it’s helping me learn!” A study by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that listening to music can help the brain focus and organize information.

Listening—And Learning

For decades, researchers have been studying the link between learning and listening to music. The concept was introduced into the popular imagination in the early 1990s, when Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis coined the phrase “the Mozart effect.” The term referred to Dr. Tomatis’ finding that listening to Mozart could temporarily improve performance on certain spatial-temporal reasoning tasks, such as the Stanford-Binet IQ test. People quickly mis-translated the finding to “listening to Mozart makes you smarter,” and a new industry was born: To this day, there are all sorts of “intelligence-boosting” products available that claim to harness the power of Mozart.

The link between music and learning isn’t all hype, however. A 2009 study by Joseph M. Piro and Camilo Ortiz published in the Psychology of Music journal found that children who were exposed to music training performed better on vocabulary and reading comprehension tests than those who were not. The researchers hypothesized that studying music helped the children develop the mental coding systems necessary to learn language. Although they acknowledge that this is only a preliminary study—simply having different language instructors may have led to measurable differences in ability—the project is part of a growing body of research that suggests that music and learning are correlated.

Music Helps the Brain Focus

Enter the research team at the Stanford University School of Medicine. During a study designed to measure how the brain sorts out different events, they stumbled upon a concrete physiological link between the acts of listening to music and learning. The researchers played short symphonies by obscure 18th-century composers to subjects while scanning their brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. The research group found that music “lights up” areas of the brain involved with making predictions, paying attention and committing details to memory.

But don’t switch on that stereo just yet—peak brain activity actually occurred between musical movements. Dr. Vinod Menon, the study’s senior author, noted that “In a concert setting, for example, different individuals listen to a piece of music with wandering attention, but at the transition point between movements, their attention is arrested.” In other words, you get the most brain activity just after, or between, intense musical movements.

“I’m not sure if the baroque composers would have thought of it in this way,” Menon added, “but certainly from a modern neuroscience perspective, our study shows that this is a moment when individual brains respond in a tightly synchronized manner.”

So what does this mean for students? While Stanford hasn’t published a “learning with music” guide just yet, we think it probably can’t hurt to incorporate some tunes into your studying routine. Just remember: Study during the interludes.

Source: Study.com

Working, Beating Hearts Will Soon Be 3D-Printed From Patients’ Own Cells

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Heart cells grown in a lab and assembled in the shape of the organ will eventually start beating in unison–and create a heart for a patient that has a higher chance of success in a transplant than one from another human.

Inside a lab that will open in a couple of months in Chicago, a biotech startup will soon begin perfecting the process of 3D-printing human hearts that could eventually be used in transplants.

“What this is set up to do is to make a patient-specific, fully functioning heart that’s viable for transplant, using the patient’s own cells,” says Stephen Morris, founding partner and CEO of the startup, Biolife4D.

The process combines several steps that have been developed by various researchers in university labs. First, a patient’s heart will be scanned using an MRI machine to create a digital image of the heart’s shape and size. Next, doctors will take a blood sample. Using techniques that have been developed over the last decade, the blood cells will be converted into stem cells–and then converted a second time into heart cells. Those new heart cells will be combined with nutrients in a hydrogel to make a “bio-ink” that can be used in a specialized 3D printer.

Printing one layer at a time, with a biodegradable scaffolding to keep everything in place, the cells can be formed into the exact shape of the patient’s original heart. The new heart will be moved to a bioreactor to strengthen it. Amazingly, new heart cells outside a body will begin to self-assemble.

“When we’re done ‘bioprinting,’ we have something that looks like a heart, but it’s just individual cells in proper places,” says Morris. “Within a couple of days, the cells just know . . . ‘I’m a heart cell, you’re a heart cell, we’re supposed to join together and start beating.’ And they do that.”

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Code.org is bringing computer education to Alaska Airlines’ in-flight entertainment

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Code.org has partnered with Alaska Airlines to offer free educational videos on how computers and the Internet work, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi wrote in a blog post.. The video series, which stars Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other industry leaders, will be available beginning in April on Alaska Airlines flights.

“Whether you use a PC, a smartphone, a wearable device, a connected home appliance, or a self-driving car, the same principles explain how all these computing devices function,” says Bill Gates. “In the 21st century, these computer science ideas are part of digital literacy that every student and adult can benefit from.”

The series entails short lessons on binary and data, circuits and logic, CPU, memory, input and output, and hardware and software. The series is designed to be easy for everyone to understand, Partovi wrote.

In addition to making them available on airlines, Code.org will integrate the videos into its middle and high school curriculum. They will also be available on Khan Academy, a startup that offers computer science education, and tools for parents and teachers.

“With hubs up and down the “Tech Coast”, we’re both witnessing and leveraging the innovations that we see occurring every day in our own backyard,” says David Scotland, Manager of Inflight Entertainment & Connectivity at Alaska Airlines. “Code.org’s new series is an entertaining and approachable way for us all to gain a basic awareness of how computers work. We’re pleased to offer over 40 million guests the opportunity to view Code.org’s new video series inflight through our partnership.”

Continue onto Tech Crunch to read the complete article.

NewME, A Pioneer in Tech Diversity

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NewME Angela Benton

Founded in 2011 by Angela Benton, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs through their online platform, residential “boot-camp” accelerators and equity portfolio. They pioneered diversity in Silicon Valley by focusing on helping entrepreneurs identify strengths from their non-traditional backgrounds and leveraging them in business. They’ve helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build better businesses some of whom have raised venture capital funding ($25+MM to be exact).

NewME has announced the relocation of its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Miami with $191,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The support will also help NewME expand existing programming focused on providing entrepreneurs with the advice, skills and access to resources that will support their success. By expanding its programming, NewME aims to improve the success of black-led startups through mentorship, coaching and community convenings. Through the program, black entrepreneurs and their businesses will further learn from and be exposed to angel and venture capital investors, along with NewME’s professional investor network.

NewME will target both local and global talent through weekly programming and monthly events, and connect them to online resources through the NewME platform. In addition, the accelerator will host quarterly one-week residential boot camps, which bring together a select group of tech entrepreneurs from around the world; industry experts then work with entrepreneurs to help accelerate their businesses. Additionally, NewME will hire a Miami-based program manager who will support the growth and sustainability of local black and other underrepresented minority-owned businesses.

“Relocating NewME to Miami was a natural choice given its diverse makeup,” says Angela Benton, founder of NewME. “Miami is already an international hub for innovation and the local community is rich with talent. I’m excited to continue my work with NewME in our new, inclusive home.”

Source: knightfoundation.org

Dollar General Announces Call for New Vendors

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Suppliers, companies and manufacturers with exciting new products who want to reach millions of consumers and partner with one of America’s fastest-growing retailers that is currently listed #128 on the Fortune 500 list and posted $22 billion in FY 2016 sales, listen up!

Dollar General (NYSE: DG) is encouraging new suppliers and those who have not sold products to the Company within the past 18 months to apply to attend its inaugural Innovation and Supplier Diversity Summit in April 2018. The event aims to pair potential new vendors with respective Dollar General buyers and category managers. Suppliers must sell items in at least one of the following categories to be eligible to attend:

  • Beauty, Personal Care and Over-the-Counter/Wellness
  • General Merchandise/All Non-Food
  • Grocery.

“As part of Dollar General’s continual commitment to provide quality products at everyday low prices to our diverse consumer base, we are thrilled to announce our first Innovation and Supplier Diversity Summit scheduled for this spring,” said Jason Reiser, Dollar General’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer. “Having the right products to best meet our customers’ needs is a foundational cornerstone at Dollar General. As such, we look forward to meeting with potential new vendors, learning about relevant products for our customers and expanding the number of unique and specialized offerings available in our stores.”

To apply, interested suppliers, companies and manufacturers may submit their product information at www.rangeme.com/dollargeneralfrom Tuesday, January 30 through end of day on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Selected companies will be subject to a $500 participation fee and notified via email by Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) of the time, date and location of their meeting with a member of the Dollar General merchandising team.

Continue onto Business Wire to read the complete article.