Meet Danielle Olson: A ‘Gique’ Advancing the Case for STEAM Education

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Danielle Olson

What is a “Gique”? It’s a cross between “geek” and “chic,” a maker and creative problem-solver whose interdisciplinary interests turn STEM into STEAM. Meet Danielle Olson, researcher and PhD student at MIT and proud founder of Gique, a nonprofit that provides transformational, culturally situated STEAM learning for underserved youth.

Olson says being a Gique is about using your passion to embrace change and create your dream job. Olson offered STEMconnector her insights and experience as an engineer, a dancer, a dreamer, and pioneer in STEAM education, as well as research on how the arts are leveling the educational playing field in STEM.

Interview below courtesy of Stemconnector

STEMconnector: How does using the arts impact the STEM talent gap?

Danielle Olson: Fortunately, a new and exciting field of education is emerging where curricula are designed to expose youth to the applications of science, technology, engineering, art and design, and mathematics (STEAM) in the real world. STEAM, rather than just STEM, education focuses on student cultivation of the critical, creative, and participatory dispositions key to empowered, authentic engagement in both science and art, along with preparing students to think of ways that they can contribute to society as individuals.

The arts have been treated as a “cherry on top” in recent years. But research demonstrates that an arts education offers critical development opportunities for children, which include cognitive and social growth, long-term memory improvement, stress reduction, and promotion of creativity. In fact, research findings show that if arts were included in science classes, STEM would be more appealing to students, and exposure to experts in these fields could affect career decisions. Gique believes that STEAM education affords students opportunities to envision themselves pursuing their “dream careers,” which they may invent for themselves.

There are three categories that aid in representing various perspectives of art integration: (1) learning “through” and “with” the arts, (2) making connections across knowledge domains, and (3) collaborative engagement across disciplines.

Gique piloted a 9-month-long, out-of-school STEAM Program with students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester, an inner-city in Boston, Massachusetts, in the areas of science, the arts, and entrepreneurship by putting the theoretical framework, which underpins the necessity for STEAM education, into action.

SC: What kinds of lessons do you offer students?

DO: Gique designs and provides free, hands-on educational programs and mentorship to talented youth from diverse circumstances in the Boston area and in California. We create a safe, positive learning community for our students and cultivate their curiosity and self-esteem through two arms of programming:

  • Gique’s Science Can DANCE! Community Programs—provides youth with a way to explore STEAM through creative movement and dance choreography. By taking an integrated approach to breaking down technical concepts, we provide a unique mentorship opportunity for students interested in both arts and science topics.
  • Gique’s Out-of-School Time (OST) STEAM Program—a 9-month-long, weekly after-school program for middle school students to explore their personal interests in STEAM. This program enables students to receive long-term mentorship from innovators from around the world and participate in hands-on workshops and field trips. By the end of the semester, students gain a better understanding of how they can take an idea from concept to reality through innovation with art + design, science, and technology.

In addition to these two programs, Gique has provided a wide variety of educational opportunities to people of all ages in the Boston area for the past four years. We have collaborated with numerous organizations to provide educational programming, including MIT Museum, Harvard Museum of Science & Culture, Artisan’s Asylum, and General Assembly Boston.

SC: How can corporations that support a vibrant STEM workforce get involved in advancing STEAM education?

DO: First, corporations should stand with teachers and parents to fight back against policies that discourage interdisciplinary education. This may include, but is not limited to, policies that result in art, drama, history, and science class time reduction and policies, which discourage teachers from being innovative due to too much focus on standardized testing.

Second, people in power must use their influence to help give underrepresented groups more access to resources that can level the playing field in education. I had access to programs like FIRST Robotics Competition and MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science Program, which changed my life, thanks to the generosity of donors investing directly in people of color by sponsoring these programs. However, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in these programs if I had to pay for them. That’s why Gique leverages the support of its sponsors to deliver life-changing experiences to students that help them pursue career dreams that they may have deemed impossible.

SC: How is Gique measuring its impact?

DO: We have a structured process in place to design, administer, and analyze quantitative and qualitative measurements, including pre- and post- assessments, audio/video interviews, and external feedback (from program staff/volunteers and parents/guardians).

Specifically, for Gique’s OST STEAM Program, a schema was developed to identify, both broadly and specifically, what students learned and in what context it applies to their lives. Prior to each term, the program leadership developed several goals for student impact, with measurable indicators to assess each goal. Assessment questions were adapted from the Museum of Science Boston’s Engineering is Elementary program assessment model. At the end of the semester, students completed the same assessment for the program leadership to understand what deltas occurred and what the development areas were for program improvement.

While the quantitative data collected often helped to inform strategic decisions and content choices, the qualitative data showed how the program impacted students, parents, volunteers and teachers. Gique wholeheartedly believes that learning experiences should be fun, so asking these qualitative questions were critical to the development and success of the pilot OST STEAM program.

Gaining parent/guardian feedback served to be an excellent indicator of how excited students were about the program.

Visit Gique’s community of leaders and makers at gique.me

Source: stemconnector.com

Rahmaan Mwongozi teaches how to apply systems analysis to problems that arise in life as well as in business

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Rahmaan Mwongozi "Roc"

Rahmaan Mwongozi “Roc” is a motivational speaker and podcast host, as well as the author of Inner Demons. He guides individuals not only on how to ask smart questions and follow the trail to solutions, but also on how to embody a “no excuses” attitude that manifests in excellence.

His innovative approach to problem-solving, however, began as a young boy in East Oakland, where he was surrounded by poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs. Determined not to fall into the trappings of his environment, Roc followed the trail of possibility and opportunity, playing the long game and working hard. Now living the dream, Roc openly shares his story, as well as his thinking and strategy, with those who want something more from life.

Today an independent business analyst on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Roc cut his teeth on Fortune 500 corporations including Pfizer, Enron, and AT&T – where as an entry level employee in his early 20s, he solved systemic problems that had eluded management for years.

At 40, he took pause and reflected on his life to date. A systems analyst by trade, as well as by nature, Roc was eager not only to analyze his life internally but also to offer his journey as a case study in the human experience –leading him to write his debut book, Inner Demons, with a raw and gritty transparency. While the particulars of our lives may vary according to circumstance, Roc knew, we all face universal challenges, as part of the human quest to cultivate a successful, meaningful, and authentic life.

Through Inner Demons, Roc shares his transformational journey, Inner Demonsinspiring readers to rethink life in terms of possibility, creativity, and strategy, instead of obstacles, compliance, and defeat. Not just a good read but also a work of art, the book is illustrated by tattoo artist Eva of Bang Bang NYC, whose A-list clients include Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber.

At the heart of systems analysis is the awareness of relationship, where one recognizes not only all the moving parts and the big picture, but also their position in relation to each other and to oneself. So it’s no surprise that Roc’s book reads like a love story and is, at the core, about relationship – to and between self, family, friends, lovers, work, community, and society. Offering Roc’s own relationship web, and thread of choices within that web, as a model of how to honestly face a problem, ask smart questions about it, and follow the trail of answers to the optimal solution,

Inner Demons storytelling weaves together a blueprint for self-analysis and problem solving, applicable to diverse situations in life and business. In his own case, Roc’s problem-solving and “no excuses” mindset enabled him to avoid the trappings of his East Oakland neighborhood, where poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs took many down the rabbit hole of despair. Keeping his distance and planning his escape, Roc paid attention to where the power and resources lay, then went after them with gusto –leading him to an MBA degree, work with Fortune 500 corporations, and ultimately, the good life in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Roc now leverages his power, influence, and platform to foster a community of cutting-edge artists and thinkers, who are not afraid to grab life by the lapel and “go there.”

Find out more about Roc and Inner Demons at RocsWorld.com.

MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED”, the award-winning documentary about women leading the cannabis industry, debuts in San Jose

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Grammy® Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge and other female “ganjaprenuers” show how legal cannabis is not only an industry, but also a movement of dedicated, pioneering “Puffragettes™”.

The Cannabis Business and Technology Symposium starts at 1:00pm, culminating with the screening of Mary Janes: The Women of Weed at the Summit on June 10th at 7:30 pm and a Q/A with the Executive Producer/Director Windy Borman. The film features a powerful interview from Grammy® Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge and Californian women Jane West, Lindsay Robinson, Julianna Carella, Mara Gordon, Lindsay Robinson, and Amanda Reiman.

Film Director/Producer Windy Borman explores how marijuana is the first new industry to emerge in the 21st century led by women. By looking at the intersection of gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability, Borman explores how cannabis is not only an industry, but also a movement of dedicated and pioneering women she calls “Puffragettes™” (as in Pot + Suffragette).

“This is a ground floor opportunity to make connections and collaborate / create technology applications for a new and fast growing industry,” said WITI’s Chairwoman and Founder Carolyn Leighton. “This Cannabis Business and Technology Symposium vividly demonstrates the leadership roles that women are playing in this burgeoning industry and how they are shaping the technologies that support its growth. We expect this event to drive networking opportunities for business, education, and research, and we’re excited to offer it to our Women in Technology Summit attendees.

Tickets can be purchased at: http://www.witi.com/maryjanes

“From farms to labs to dispensaries and beyond, the film sheds light on the female researchers and entrepreneurs blazing a trail in today’s legal cannabis industry. Through interviews with scientists, doctors, lawyers, activists, growers and bakers, I learned cannabis is not only an industry, but also a movement of dedicated, pioneering women,” says director Windy Borman.

MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition and Borman’s own assumptions about the plant. Through a series of empowering and educational interviews with the industry’s “Women of Weed”, Windy’s own assumptions are transformed as she discovers cannabis liberation intersects with the most urgent social justice issues of our time. She learns how this green revolution has big effects on environmental sustainability, ending the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the destructive domination of Big Pharma.

Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis. Join the Cannabis Business and Technology Symposium, hosted by Women in Technology Summit as we discover how they’re also changing the world.

###

Press Links: “Mary Jane: The Women of Weed”

Website:  http://MaryJanesFilm.com

Facebook:  http://Facebook.com/MaryJanesFilm

Twitter and Instagram:  @MaryJanesFilm

Official Trailer: YouTube

Press Links: Women in Technology Summit

Website: http://www.witi.com/summit

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WITISummit

Twitter and Instagram: @WITISummit

About MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED:

Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry – cannabis. Join filmmaker Windy Borman as she explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition, her own relationship to the plant, and the stereotypes surrounding it. Through a series of empowering and educational interviews with a broad diversity of women leading the industry today, Windy’s own assumptions are transformed as she discovers cannabis liberation intersects with the most urgent social justice issues of our time. She learns how this green revolution has big effects on environmental sustainability, ending the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial Complex, and the destructive domination of Big Pharma.

About Producer / Writer / Director Windy Borman

Windy Borman, MST, is a multi-award-winning film Director and Producer, as well as the founder of DVA Productions. Her recent projects include directing and producing the 10-time award-winning film, “The Eyes of Thailand” (narrated by Ashley Judd), and producing “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia”, which premiered at Sundance and on HBO. Other credits include producing performances for Dr. Maya Angelou and Margaret Cho, directing “The Vagina Monologues”, and writing for Kindland, Takepart.com and Indiewire: Women and Hollywood.

About WITI:

Founded in 1989 by Carolyn Leighton, WITI (Women in Technology International) is a leading worldwide authority on women in business and technology. For nearly 30 years, WITI has consistently been a clear voice advocating women’s contributions to the tech industry, inspiring them to pursue STEM careers and actively working with corporate partners to create a culture of equality. To learn more, please visit http://www.witi.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Join the conversation at WITI 2018!

Visionaries Designing Tomorrow’s Tech Markets and Cultures Today

Join us at the 24th Annual Women in Technology Summit, where women from around the world join forces for three special days to connect, collaborate, and commit to helping each other succeed in the technology industry. Held in the heart of Silicon Valley, the WITI Summit draws over 1,100+ tech-savvy women and key male allies, along with high-profile industry partners.

Special Offer For Your Company
Use Promo Code comsum18 and Save $200 Off Full Conference Registration.

Register Today!

Schedule Highlights Include

  • FOUNDER’S RECEPTION
  • TASTE OF TECHNOLOGY MIXER
  • SPEED NETWORKING
  • COACHING CIRCLES
  • STARTUP VILLAGE
  • ARTISTECH CAFE
  • BUSINESS & TECH EXPO
  • CAREER PAVILION
  • 2018 WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY HALL OF FAME AWARDS BANQUET
  • CANNABIS BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY SYMPOSIUM

To register for WITI please visit: witi.com/conferences/2018/summit 

The Secrets to Success: Incredible career insights from some of the world’s leading creatives

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Boniface-Mwangi

Learning from experienced artists, designers and photographers to understand how they achieve their goals should be part of every creative’s journey. We have to seek inspiration and ideas from those we admire if we’re ever going to get ahead.

These are the people who have already enjoyed lots of success and continue to be creative today – some who started their first business at aged eight years old while others are well past the typical retirement age. I guess when you choose creativity as a life-long passion, you never really stop working. Why would you, if you’re doing something you love?

So how have these established creatives managed to “make it”? What have been the secrets to their success? And what can we learn from them? We’ve rounded up some of the most inspiring and motivational talks and interviews to share incredible insights from some of the industry’s best.

1. Success, failure and the drive to keep creating – Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

Author Elizabeth Gilbert was once an “unpublished diner waitress”, devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of her best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, she found herself identifying strongly with her former self. With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple, though hard, way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.

2. How to build your creative confidence – David Kelley

David Kelley

Creativity is not a domain of only a chosen few, according to David Kelley – founder of IDEO. And it shouldn’t be something that’s divided between “creatives” versus “practical” people. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build confidence to create.

3. Stop searching for your passion – Terri Trespicio

Branding strategist Terri Trespicio says there’s a lot of weight behind the age-old question, what are you passionate about? We’re constantly told these five words hold the key to a successful career and life purpose. Terri ponders, what if it’s the wrong question altogether? This inspiring talk turns the ubiquitous “find your passion” message on its ear.

4. Discoveries in Colour: The art of Carlos Cruz-Diez

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Carlos Cruz-Diez is a world-renowned artist and one of the greatest living figures in kinetic and op art. He creates interactive, immersive works that invite viewers to reconsider how they perceive the world – and at 94 years old, he continues to evolve as an artist, employing the newest digital technology in his Paris atelier, where he works with his children, his grandchildren, and a team of craftspeople who help bring his ideas to life. Watch the film below to understand how he has become one of the most influential modern thinkers in the realm of colour.

5. Maya Penn: Meet a young entrepreneur, cartoonist and activist

Maya Penn

Maya Penn started her first company when she was just eight years old, and thinks deeply about how to be responsible both to her customers and to the planet. She shares her story, and some animations, and some designs, and some infectious energy, in this charming talk. Hopefully, it will inspire you to launch your own business, find a different career path or start a fun side project.

6. A journey through the mind of an artist – Dustin Yellin

Dustin Yellin

Dustin Yellin makes mesmerising artwork that tells complex, myth-inspired stories. How did he develop his style? In this disarming talk, he shares the journey of an artist, starting from age eight, and his idiosyncratic way of thinking and seeing. Follow the path that leads him up to his latest major work, and be inspired by his journey so far.

7. The day I stood up alone – Boniface Mwangi

Boniface Mwangi

Photographer Boniface Mwangi wanted to protest against corruption in his home country of Kenya. So he made a plan: he and some friends would stand up and heckle during a public mass meeting. But when the moment came… he stood alone. What happened next, he says, showed him who he truly was. As he says, “There are two most powerful days in your life. The day you are born, and the day you discover why.” Be warned, there are graphic images in the following talk.

8. The art of creativity – Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi is a visual artist, actor, writer and film director hailing from New Zealand. His short film Two Cars, One Night was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. Taika’s second feature, Boy, appeared at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals in 2010 and, more recently, his Hunt for the Wilderpeople enjoyed huge global success. In this classic TED Talk, he discusses how creativity has helped him to express his ideas and led him to where he is today.

“From the art & design magazine, Creative Boom.”

Could Weed Legalization Encourage More Women To Go Into STEM Fields?

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african american woman working in lab

Women are embracing the business and scientific side of weed. Could legalizing cannabis be the way to encourage more women to go into STEM fields?

For decades, researchers have charted the dismal percentage of women who go into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Generally, careers in these fields require a college degree and correlate to a higher income. According to the Department of Education, STEM majors earn $65,000 annually on average, which is $15,500 more than non-STEM degree holders. They also have higher employment rates.

Though the majority of people who graduate from university are women, only 30 percent of STEM degree holders are female per the Department of Commerce. This trend continues after college. Women held 40 percent of all U.S. jobs but only 24 percent of STEM jobs in 2017.

This translates to a lower income and lower rate of employment for women. Surprisingly, this inequality hasn’t really improved since the 1970s.

Today, we have the opportunity to change the tide with a new industry: cannabis. Women are increasingly involved in the scientific and business sides of weed, but will this transfer over to other industries? Could cannabis legalization be the way to encourage more women to go into STEM fields? Here’s what we know about women and STEM careers, and how the cannabis industry could make a difference.

Women Are Less Likely To Work In STEM Fields

A lot of ink has been spilled on the continued absence of women in science, tech, engineering, and math careers. This has a lot to do with societal perceptions of these career fields.

In ‘Choice of Majors: Are Women Really Different from Men?’, Georgetown University researchers found that women were more likely to be responsive to bad grades in STEM courses than men or women in other fields. From childhood, women are conditioned, both consciously and unconsciously, to think they will be bad at math and science, so they’re hard on themselves when they perceive the stereotype to be true.

STEM fields’ male dominance is a vicious cycle: we perceive these careers as masculine because we keep describing them as such. Professor Adriana D. Kugler, from Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy explains to Inside Higher Ed, “Society keeps telling us that STEM fields are masculine fields, that we need to increase the participation of women in STEM fields, but that kind of sends a signal that it’s not a field for women, and it kind of works against keeping women in these fields.”

In this way, education initiatives designed to promote female involvement in STEM fields could have the opposite effect. By telling women they need help pursuing these subjects, society suggests that women are worse at them than men.

Is The Marijuana Industry Any Different?

The stereotypical stoner is usually male. But does the perception of weed culture dissuade women working in the cannabis industry?

It would seem that it does not. 36 percent of marijuana industry executives are female, and it’s only going up. The national average for female executives across all industries is 22 percent. Though 36 is far from half, there’s still time for this new industry to become a leader in gender equality.

Women are also heavily involved in cannabis science. A survey of 632 cannabis professionals found that women account for 63 percent of leadership positions in cannabis potency and safety testing labs. Furthermore, this survey discovered that almost half of leaders in edibles were women.

Compared to the 24 percent of women who hold STEM field jobs nationally, marijuana testing is breaking the mold when it comes to women in science.

Why More Women Are Working In Cannabis

Women are turning to cannabis because it’s a new industry, and one of the fastest growing in the nation. Becca Foster, who works for marijuana product retailer Healthy Headie, told High Times, “It’s a new chance for many women who have been in the corporate world who couldn’t get to the next level.”

Other women in the cannabis industry echoed Ms. Foster’s comments. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association Taylor West explained this phenomenon. “In long-established industries,” she said, “you have generations of business that has been dominated by men, and that creates structures of advancement that are dominated by men.”

The Marijuana Industry Could Be the Catalyst for More Gender Equality

Programs aimed to promote women in STEM fields fuel the perception that women need help succeeding in science and math. In turn, exposure to female leaders in cannabis could encourage more women to study science more generally.

And why wouldn’t women break into STEM careers through cannabis? More women are smoking weed than ever. In some states, women even talk about weed more than men. Plus, weed has specific benefits for women including its use for menopause, endometriosis, and PMS.

Support for medical marijuana for children is also growing. In turn, mothers working towards are marijuana policy reform. For example, the Louisiana Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism rallied at their state capital for more medical marijuana access.

Continue onto High Times to read the complete article.

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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iGen

Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting, ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

This kit for making medical tests can be put together like Legos

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Ampli’s reusable blocks let scientists quickly and cheaply create diagnostic tests–and they could be especially helpful in the developing world.

Right now, if a technician working in a lab in rural Angola needs to run a test to see if a patient is infected with Zika or Ebola, they’ll likely use a paper test imported from somewhere else–and if that test doesn’t work for the local population, or if it’s too expensive to buy, there may be no other option. But a new Lego-like kit is designed to make it possible for technicians anywhere to make, and tweak, diagnostics themselves.

The tiny kit called Ampli, uses modular blocks that can be connected in different patterns to replicate the function that would typically be built into a manufactured test for pregnancy, glucose, or an infection or other disease. Pregnancy tests made by a medical device company, for example, use an antibody added to a paper strip that reacts to a hormone that women produce when pregnant, and that reaction causes the paper to change color. The new blocks can create the same test without the complexity of embedding elements in paper ahead of time. It can also perform tests that are typically done with test tubes in a lab, such as a test that carefully mixes three chemicals to see if someone has taken medicine for TB. With the kit, no lab is needed, and the test costs $1.

One type of block is designed to collect a sample of blood or urine from a patient. Another type has a tiny channel for samples to flow through; a third type has turns that make multiple reactions possible. After arranging the blocks, someone working in a lab can sandwich a tiny sheet of paper in the kit, run the test with their sample and chemicals they have in the lab (the paper will turn different colors depending on the result), and then sterilize the blocks to reuse them again.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Female CEO Takes on Tech Industry with Edge Music Network

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Elizabeth Vargas

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) recently had the pleasure to speak with Elizabeth Vargas, founder and CEO of Edge Music Network.

DISM: Let’s start with the obvious question first: What’s your take on the lack of female leaders in the tech space?

EV: I could give a dozen reasons and even more excuses for our gender’s absence in the C-suite—not only in tech but in nearly every industry—but I won’t. The truth is that no one cares about why you haven’t succeeded; they’re only interested in how you’ve succeeded. That’s where I want to go. I want to focus on the future, and prove that with vision, hustle and commitment that you can break through and achieve your dreams. That’s how I think I can help young and mature female entrepreneurs achieve their goals and dreams.

DISM: Okay. Let’s go there… tell us your story.

EV: As a child, I always loved music and theory but wasn’t allowed to watch TV until I was 13. My dad was a preacher and I think he thought that delaying my exposure would protect me from the outside world. So, it’s kind of funny that, of all programs, I got hooked on MTV. I remember thinking I would own it one day! That was my big dream– which eventually evolved into what is now Edge Music Network.

DISM: A lot must have happened between “one day” and now…

EV: In between, I gravitated to all things music, first studying jazz vocals at the Cornish College of the Arts and then creating the Vargas Girls Jazz Cabaret in Seattle–where we played in nightclubs. My experience in the music industry paved the way for Edge Music Network to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world.

DISM: Has there been anyone who has helped you along the way to achieve your big dream?

EV: I get asked that question often. People assume since I’m a successful female CEO and entrepreneur, I have a powerful man or group backing me. It was the exact opposite. I had everyone around me including those closest to me telling me to quit while I was ahead and it couldn’t be done and to give up on a regular basis. But I can tell you, everything I’ve achieved has been of my own sheer will, passion and desire to work hard– beginning with the Vargas Girls. I had a day job testing software, which came naturally to me. Being tech-savvy helped me launch our first website and later, my own digital channels like YouTube live video, where I live-streamed and interviewed bands and rock legends—all while keeping focus on becoming the next MTV. The only thing that changed for me was the platform. Television wasn’t the only game in town.

DISM: Speaking of the only game in town, explain Edge Music Network and how it diverges from other music video platforms like Spotify and Vevo.

EV: Edge Music Network (EMN) globally streams premium music video content from top-tier distribution partners and independent artists. But it’s more than a free platform for fans to watch their favorite music videos and entertainment programming. EMN offers fans access—from phones, tablets, computers and TVs—to the music and artists they love while providing artists and record labels with the royalties they deserve. We’ve completely flipped the compensation structure of platforms like Spotify and Vevo that give artists 10 percent or less of the profit share. We ensure a 90/10 split in the artists’ favor. On top of that, because EMN believes in the transformative power of music, we dedicate 10 percent of ad revenue to charitable causes such as those that feed the hungry, house the homeless and help victims of natural disasters.

DISM: Sounds like you found a straight path to your dream. Was it really so simple?

EV: It has been anything but simple. I spent years learning how to navigate application development, digital rights agreements, content licensing and distribution and how to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring EMN to life. But it’s the decades of relationship-building with my partners, advisors, record labels and artists that serve as the foundation of EMN.

DISM: What’s your advice for women today who want to pursue a career or start-up in tech?

EV: Today, every business is tied to technology, whether you work behind a desk, with your hands, your voice or your heart. So, to say there are few women in tech will eventually become a thing of the past. What may remain unchanged is the lack of female LEADERS in tech and that’s a personal choice. It’s up to each one of us to find our passion, find a mentor, find a way to achieve our goals, whatever the odds or the required education. Learn it. Do it. Fail. Get back up and do it again. And again. And that’s never easy. But it’s certainly fulfilling.

About Elizabeth Vargas:
Elizabeth Vargas is the founder and CEO of Edge Music Network, a music video streaming service providing live and on-demand content through a video syndication platform. After studying jazz vocal and music theory at Cornish College of the Arts and attending Bellevue University to study international business and media technology, Vargas combined her passions and pursued a career in the music industry. Over several years, Vargas was able to learn the ins and outs of application development, which allowed her to effectively lead the development and engineering of EMN’s platform. She has decades of experience architecting and brokering digital rights agreements between content creators and publishers to ensure equitable revenue share and royalty distribution and has worked with industry leaders to fight for fair compensation structures to keep the music alive—all of which paved the way for Edge Music Network. With deep working knowledge in content licensing and distribution, application development, as well as strong industry partnerships, Vargas acquired the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring to life the Edge Music Network app that gives artists the royalties and respect they deserve while giving fans access to the music they love—anytime, anywhere, from any device.

With philanthropy at the core of Edge Music Network, Vargas has built one of the most technologically advanced platforms to bring people together with the power of music while providing support to charitable organizations that feed the hungry, aid victims of natural disasters and support homeless veterans. For more information, visit edgemusic.com. Download the app at Apple ITunes Store and Google Play.

Imagine a city lit by glowing trees instead of streetlights

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Could genetically engineered trees that have been crossed with bioluminescent algae be the emissions-free lighting source of the future?

If you happened to be in San Diego last week and stood on the beach at night, you might have seen the ocean glowing an electric shade of blue as bioluminescent algae bloomed, a relatively rare natural phenomenon. In a lab in Denmark, researchers are trying to isolate the genes that makes the microalgae glow for another purpose: potential natural streetlights.

If the genes could be tweaked and added to trees, they say, it could be possible for trees to stand in for standard street lighting. “We could try to change some of that lighting from conventional, electricity-consuming lights to a more natural way of creating light,” says Kristian Ejlsted, CEO of Allumen, a new startup based near Copenhagen.

Ejlsted began researching bioluminescent algae as a student at the Technical University of Denmark, and his startup now sells kits with the algae that teachers can use to help visually explain photosynthesis, respiration, and other natural processes in science classes. Another product, for home use, will be a little like a lava lamp, with algae living in a saltwater-nutrient mixture, taking up sunshine during the day, and glowing at night. But Ejlsted is most interested in the larger potential for the genes that make the algae glow.

The tens of thousands of streetlights in large cities can make up, in some cases, the largest piece of city’s energy bills. Over the last decade, cities have increasingly switched from older technology to LED lights; in Los Angeles, for example, where the city began switching its 200,000-plus streetlight to LEDs in 2013, it cut energy use for the lights by more than 63%, saving nearly $10 million a year on energy and maintenance bills. But the lights are still a major source of emissions.

“In Denmark, almost all streetlights are now being replaced by LED lights,” Ejlsted says. “That’s a huge deal right now, and it’s going to save a lot of energy. But the fact is that they’re still using electricity–they’re using a little bit less, but it’s still electricity, and it still comes from burning fossil fuels. The real advantage of changing to a biological system is that the algae, for example, or the plant, they only need CO2 and sunlight and some water.”

The company is not the first to explore the idea of glowing plants and trees. One Kickstarter project, the Glowing Plant, raised nearly half a million dollars, but later told backers they’d failed in their quest to genetically engineer small plants that could glow. A team of researchers at MIT embedded nanoparticles with an enzyme from fireflies into plants, creating a faint glow. In France, biologist Pierre Calleja is experimenting with prototypes of lamps filled with glowing microalgae. Designer Daan Roosegaarde has also experimented with the idea of glowing trees.

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Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

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It’s a Saturday afternoon, at the height of vacation season, in one of South Beach’s hottest hotels, and Robert Smith, the founder of Vista Equity Partners, is dressed like exactly no one within a 100-mile radius of Miami: in a three-piece suit.His signature outfit–today, it’s gray plaid, accented by an indigo tie and a pink paisley pocket square–apparently doesn’t take a day off, and Smith isn’t taking one now either. He’s gathered dozens of CEOs from his portfolio companies, software firms all, for a semiannual weekend off-site to drill them in the ways he expects his companies to operate.

It’s not just the suit that’s unusual. Private equity firms almost never treat their portfolio companies, transactional chits by design, like an organic cohort. And until recently, PE, a field built on borrowing against cash-generating assets, wouldn’t touch software firms, which offer little that’s tangible to collateralize. Yet Smith has invested only in software over Vista’s 18-year history, as evidenced by the CEOs, like Andre Durand of the security-software maker Ping Identity and Hardeep Gulati of the education-management software company PowerSchool, who have been summoned to Miami Beach, waiting to swap insights about artificial intelligence and other pressing topics. And Smith deploys more than 100 full-time consultants to improve his companies.

“Nobody ever taught these guys the blocking and tackling of running a software company,” says Smith, an engineer by training, as he takes a lunch break at South Beach’s 1 Hotel to nibble on a plant-based burger. “And we do it better than any other institution on the planet.”

Smith includes the likes of Oracle and Microsoft in that boast, and his numbers back up the braggadocio. Since the Austin-based firm’s inception in 2000, Vista’s private equity funds have returned 22% net of fees annually to limited partners, according to PitchBook data. Smith’s annual realized returns, which reflect exits, stand at a staggering 31% net. His funds have already made distributions of $14 billion, including $4 billion in the last year alone.

Not surprisingly given those numbers, Vista has become America’s fastest-growing private equity firm, managing $31 billion across a range of buyout, credit and hedge funds. Smith is putting all that money to work at a breakneck pace, with 204 software acquisitions since 2010, more than any tech company or financial firm in the world. After finishing an $11 billion fundraising for its latest flagship buyout fund last year, Smith has already deployed more than half of it, focusing as usual on business-to-business software. “They recognize it’s a kind of central nervous system,” says Michael Milken, whose bond-market innovations basically birthed the modern private equity industry and who has been a co-investor in two Vista deals. Taken together, Vista’s portfolio, with 55,000 employees and more than $15 billion in revenue, ranks as the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world.

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These Medical Delivery Drones Could Soon Be Supplying U.S. Hospitals

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After successfully developing a program that flies blood to hospitals in Rwanda, the medical drone company is nearing FAA approval to help cut down the time it takes to get supplies to health centers in rural America.

If a health clinic in rural Rwanda needs blood for an emergency transfusion, doctors can text or call a distribution center, and around half an hour later a drone will show up with plasma and platelets. The system, which is the first of its kind in the world, has been in place for the last 18 months. This year, the startup behind it, Zipline, will likely begin testing its drones in the United States.

In the coming weeks, the FAA is expected to approve several drone pilot projects run by state and local governments, which will take drones a step closer to mainstream use. As states partner with companies like Zipline, they’ll gather data on a variety of types of flight that are currently only allowed under special waivers, that allow for drone flights that violate current rules, like that a drone can’t fly beyond a pilot’s line of sight or be flown over people.

Medical delivery drones could be particularly helpful in rural America, where dozens of hospitals have closed since 2010 and hundreds of others are at risk of closing. Nearly half of rural providers already have a negative operating margin. As rural residents–who tend to be sicker than the rest of the country–have to rely on the smaller clinics that remain, drones could ensure that those clinics have access to necessary supplies. Blood products spoil quickly, and outside major hospitals, it’s common not to have the right blood on hand for a procedure. Using the drones would be faster, cheaper, and more reliable than delivering the supplies in a van or car.

“There’s a lot that [the U.S.] can be doing better,” says Keller Rinaudo, CEO of Zipline. “And that’s what we think is ultimately the promise of future logistics and automated logistics. It’s not delivering tennis shoes or pizza to someone’s backyard. It’s providing universal access to healthcare when people need it the most.”

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