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.

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 

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.

A Leading Voice in Diversity and Inclusion in Tech

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Wayne Sutton

Wayne Sutton is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Change Catalyst and its Tech Inclusion programs. Change Catalyst is dedicated to exploring innovative solutions to diversity and inclusion in tech through the Tech Inclusion Conference, training, workshops and the Change Catalyst Startup Fellows Program.

Sutton’s experience includes years of establishing partnerships with large brands to early stage startups. As a leading voice in diversity and inclusion in tech, Sutton shares his thoughts on solutions and culture in various media outlets, where he has been featured in TechCrunch, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition to mentoring and advising early stage startups, Sutton’s life goal is to educate entrepreneurs who are passionate about using technology to change the world.

Wayne has over 14 years’ experience in technology, design, and business development. Wayne has been recognized as one of the Silicon Valley 100 coolest people in tech, one of the 52 hottest new stars in Silicon Valley, one of the 46 Most Important African-Americans In Technology by Business Insider and one of the Top 100 most influential black people on social media in 2014.

In 2014 Wayne co-founded BUILDUP, a non-profit designed to support an inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurs through educational workshops and fellows program for underrepresented tech founders. In 2011, Wayne co-founded the NewMe Accelerator, the first minority led startup accelerator/incubator in Silicon Valley which was featured in CNN Black in America 4. Prior to NewMe he worked in media in Raleigh, NC for NBC17 and the News and Observer. In 2009, Wayne was the co-founder of TriOut, a mobile location-based startup in Raleigh, NC which exited. Wayne has worked with large brands, Inc 500 companies and advises several technology startups. With a passion for community Wayne has organized Social Media Conferences, tech meetups, and hackathons such as the world’s first Food Hackathon, which assembled leading food innovators, chefs, developers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate on solutions in the food ecosystem.

Wayne has been featured on CNN, BBC, USA Today, TechCrunch, Mashable, Black Enterprise, and various online media outlets. Being an early adopter, Wayne was one of the first 1000 users on Twitter, which has led to a loyal following not only on Twitter, but also Facebook and Google+. His blog SocialWayne.com has been ranked one of the 50 best technology and social media blogs in the world over the years.

Wayne is a past TED attendee in 2012. With a passion for education and storytelling, Wayne has spoken at several universities and major internet and technology focused conferences, such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, UNC, NC State, TEDx, World Wide Web(WWW) Conference, O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo, South By South West (SXSW), DockerCon 2015 and for the U.S. Embassy Jamaica during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015.

Source: socialwayne.com

Karlie Kloss and Teach for America team up to help 1,000 girls learn to code

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Karlie Kloss’ passion for coding hasn’t faded. And to prove it, the 25-year-old model and entrepreneur is taking her nonprofit coding program to the next level.

After taking a coding class herself, Kloss launched Kode With Klossy in 2015 in the hopes of making coding lessons more accessible to young girls and inspiring them to pursue careers in the tech industry. Now, the program is expanding its reach by launching 50 coding summer camps in 25 cities across America.

As a result, Kode With Klossy will be able to serve 1,000 girls this year between the ages of 13 and 18. The nonprofit is also partnering with Teach For America in a new initiative to train educators, so they can bring coding curricula back to their own communities.

“I initially took a coding class because I wanted to understand what this language I kept hearing about was,” Kloss said, explaining that she didn’t originally set out to start a nonprofit.

But after realizing what a powerful role coding plays in creating technologies that can transform society, she knew it was something she wanted to expose others to.

“I realized coding is amazing and thought, ‘How did I not have access to these skills sooner?'” she said.

“I wanted to offer that experience and that kind of learning to other girls who also might not have access to it,” she added, “because it’s going to continue to be relevant in the world that we live in.”

A day in the life of a Koder

The 1,000 girls that will get the opportunity to attend Karlie’s coding camps this summer will ultimately learn how to build a mobile app or website by the end of the two-week program.

Kode With Klossy currently teaches different “tracks,” including back-end and front-end development, allowing kids to learn the fundamentals of programming languages such as HTML, CSS, Ruby, and Javascript.

“This year we’ve also got a really exciting new track on Swift, so the girls at our camps not only learn the ABCs of code, but real-world examples of tech that touches our lives today,” Kloss said. “They’re learning what a loop is or how to interpolate using concepts or ideas that touch their lives, like Instagram, Twitter, or Postmates.”

Continue onto Mashable to read the complete article.

The Future is STEM—5 Top STEM Jobs

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Hispanic Man College

As more and more jobs come under threat from automation, many Americans, particularly college freshmen, would be wise to enter a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field, according to one workplace authority.

“Technology is advancing at a record-setting pace, and the workforce needs to reflect this trend. The jobs of the future, no matter the industry or level, are no doubt going to involve at least a rudimentary knowledge of technology. Those who enter a STEM profession will have a leg-up in the new economy,” said John Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

According to the Department of Education (DOE), studying science or math in college leads to a higher employment rate and salary than other majors after graduation. Indeed, the STEM fields have shown an increase in total postings over the past several years. In fact, in May 2015 there were nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs or 6.2 percent of US employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, or 817,260 jobs, between May 2009 and May 2015, compared with 5.2 percent net growth in non-STEM occupations, according to the BLS. Computer occupations and engineers were among the categories of STEM with the highest job gains, too.

The STEM group that has the highest projected growth is the mathematical science occupations group, at 28.2 percent growth, compared to the 6.5 percent average projected growth for all occupations. This group includes occupations such as statistician, mathematicians, actuaries, etc.

Computer occupations make up the highest representation of STEM jobs. In May 2015, they made up nearly 45 percent of STEM employment, with engineers following in second making up 19 percent. Computer occupations also show the highest projected job openings according to the BLS. “The computer occupational group is projected to yield over 1 million job openings from 2014 to 2024, with the smallest number of projected job openings in the architect, surveyors, and cartographers group, at only 52,500 projected openings.”

While women are increasingly prominent in medicine, law, and business, they are underrepresented in STEM fields.

“Women are an important aspect of any workplace, as is all diversity hiring. According to McKinsey, companies with a racially and ethnically diverse workforce outperform industry standards by 35 percent, and those with high gender diversity outperform by 15 percent.

“Companies, especially those who primarily recruit from one of the STEM fields, would be wise to invest in implementing diverse hiring practices, as well as programs that encourage women and minorities to enter STEM fields,” Challenger said.

The wages for STEM occupations vary vastly, but the national average wage for all STEM occupations was $87,570, according to the BLS. This is nearly double the average wage for non-STEM occupations ($45,700). Additionally, 93 percent of STEM occupations had wages higher than the national average mean wage. The highest paying STEM occupation is petroleum engineers with an annual mean wage of $149,590—more than $100,000 higher than the national average across all occupations.

Challenger offered a list of the top five STEM jobs.

  1. Computer Systems Analysts – Implement and design computer systems for an organization.• 118,600 Projected Jobs
    • $85,800 Median Salary
    • 2.4% Unemployment Rate
  2. Statisticians – Collect and analyze data to solve problems or create efficiency within an organization.
  • 10,100 Projected Jobs
    • $80,110 Median Salary
    • 0.8% Unemployment Rate
  1. Software Developers – Create programs that allow people to work more efficiently or perform new tasks.
  • 135,300 Projected Jobs
    • $98,260 Median Salary
    • 2.0% Unemployment Rate
  1. Mathematicians – Apply mathematical techniques to analyze data. These workers typically work for the federal government and public and private engineering and science research.
  • 700 Projected Jobs
    • $111,110 Median Salary
    • 0.8% Unemployment Rate
  1. Financial Advisors – Advise consumers and businesses on best ways to manage assets.
  • 73,900 Projected Jobs
    • $89,160 Median Salary
    • 2.0% Unemployment Rate

Source: challengergray.com

Why Parents Should Help Kids Focus On Turning Their Dreams Into Reality

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Toymakerz

REIDSVILLE, NC –  Each year there are kids who hang up what they love and walk away. They leave the sports behind, stop playing their favorite games, quit drawing, building, and more. They are led to believe that unless what they are doing is seen as constructive and fits into the boxes that have been set for them that they are simply wasting their time. Many of those kids are walking away from what they are passionate about, rather than being taught to follow their dreams. One celebrity, David Ankin, who followed his passion and dreams has set out on a mission to inspire kids to do the same.

“There is a reason why we all have things we are passionate about. Those are your calling and you should do anything but turn your back on them,” says David Ankin, inventor and star of the hit show ToyMakerz. “I’ve met with many kids around the nation and I try to inspire them to follow those passions. I want them to turn their dreams into a reality. The rest of the world is waiting for what it is that they have to offer. Only when they embrace it will they be able to bring it to the forefront for everyone else to enjoy.”

Ankin doesn’t just talk the talk. He’s a living example of turning a dream into a reality and the importance of following one’s passion. Having a passion for creating one-of-a-kind custom hot rods and cars, considered to be adult toys that are built for fun or speed, he took his love for these machines and built an empire. That dream turned into a reality when he started a company called ToyMakerz, where the adult toys are made, and has also been turned into a hit television show, where people can tune in and see him work his magic.

Committed to giving back, Ankin routinely gives talks to kids and their parents, with the theme focused on inspiring them to follow their dreams. Whether giving these talks at city events or at schools, his mission remains the same. He wants to let kids and their parents know that it’s OK to have a passion and that they don’t have to give it up simply because they become adults. Rather, they should embrace it and see where it will take them.

Here are 6 reasons why Ankin believes that parents should help kids focus on turning their dreams into reality:

  • Happiness. We are happiest when we are following our passion and doing things that excite us. By getting kids to follow their passion, they will have more joy in their life.
  • Creativity. Those who follow their passion will find their own way in the world. They can’t be told that what they want to do isn’t possible. They will use their creativity to navigate the way, even if it means clearing a new path.
  • Support. The world has a way of trying to hold people back from reaching their dreams. Parents who support their kids in pursuing theirs will help to create confident kids who won’t be held back by limitations.
  • Work ethic. No matter what a child’s passion may be, it will take hard work to turn it into a career. Teaching kids to work hard for what they want is a great way to build a strong work ethic.
  • Adventure. Many adults find themselves at a standstill and wish there was something more. Kids who are taught to follow their dreams will feel as though they have been given a ticket to adventure. They are more likely to grow up to be adults who have passion for what they do.
  • Exploration. By letting kids follow their dreams they will dive into exploring a topic they are interested in. Giving them the ability to learn more about whatever field it is they are interested in can go a long way toward sparking their creativity and expanding their education. Places like WonderWorks (a science focused indoor amusement park) is a great place for exploring STEM education and letting the imagination run wild.

“If I hadn’t followed my passion and turned my dream into a reality, I’d not be where I am today,” added Ankin. “I know the importance of following your dreams and it feels so good to do so. I’m committed to helping parents see the importance of supporting their child’s dreams and encouraging them to dream big. This is what I teach my son and hope that I’m able to inspire others.”

ToyMakerz was founded by David Ankin, who is a former stuntman WonderWorks_ToyMakerzwho used to do stunts with motorcycles, racecars, and also at Universal Studios for their Batman and Water World shows. Watching his father use metal to build things when he was growing up inspired him to go on to do the same. Today, he has earned praise for the eccentric one-of-kind street machines that he’s built. There is nothing idle about his work. Ankin has surrounded himself with a top-notch team, starting with David Young, who is his business partner. Young manages the business side of ToyMakerz and serves as its President and CFO.

ToyMakerz partnered with Source Digital to develop an app, which is helping fans connect with the show. Enhancing the viewer experience with new digital brand integrations, the ToyMakerz app lets fans connect with the cast, score exclusive deals on anything they see on the screen while they are watching the show live, and share pictures of their own rides!

The ToyMakerz TV show is currently re-airing episodes from season 2 On Demand on Velocity. ToyMakerz season one is also available on iTunes and Amazon. ToyMakerz is produced by Los Angeles based production company, Lucky13Cinematic. For more information about ToyMakerz, visit the site at: http://toymakerz.com.

# # #

About ToyMakerz

ToyMakerz is a company that makes adult toys built for fun and speed. Some of their creations can be seen on the ToyMakerz hit television show focusing on the life and creations of Dave Ankin, a former stuntman who now makes toys for big boys. The show features the one-of-a-kind street machines that he builds. ToyMakerz is currently being aired weekly on Velocity. For more information about ToyMakerz, visit the site at: http://toymakerz.com.

About Source Digital
Source Digital (www.sourcedigital.net) specializes in content monetization strategies letting viewers dive deeper into their favorite programs. Industry-leading experts developed the Source Digital platform, offering a data driven, cloud-based engagement platform connecting a new generation of content viewers. The platform allows content owners to design and fulfill personalization and monetization strategies against their broadcast or streamed programs directly connecting to viewers, allowing them to instantly access and discover related experiences from their favorite device – smart phone, tablet, computer and TV.

Power Up: Computing Student Publishes Hand-Drawn Game on Google Play

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women in stem

Prior to taking the game modification development course taught by University Lecturer D.J. Kehoe last spring, computer science major Angela Vitaletti ’18 had never developed or programmed a videogame before.

“I would always bite off more than I could chew, and never finish,” said Vitaletti, who is from Middlesex and transferred to NJIT from Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania. “I took game mod as a way to motivate myself because it has real deadlines and projects that D.J. helps make achievable.”

To guide the learning process and create a culture of accountability, Vitaletti worked side-by-side with Kehoe to determine her individual project deliverables.

“We feel that this approach is a good analogue for working in industry and gives students a sense of ownership of the work that they do,” said Kehoe, who graduated from NJIT in 2009 with an M.S. in computer science. “It’s nice to give students portfolio-building projects that they can feel proud to show off.”

Upon completion of the course, not only was Vitaletti armed with work samples for her portfolio, she managed to publish a game on Google Play.

It’s called Doodle Doo, a digitally hand-drawn mobile game that puts players’ short-term memory to the test. The scribbles that live inside students’ notebooks inspired the concept. Offering four levels of difficulty, Doodle Doo personifies the youthful joy and reckless fun of high school, where wacky hijinks and tomfoolery abound.

Level one requires you to memorize which students hurled paper balls behind a teacher’s back before the pesky pupils scatter back to their seats, while level four transports you to a gymnasium during a power outage. When the lights come on, you must remember and identify what has disappeared from the space.

“The scenarios are ridiculous, but a lot of fun,” said Vitaletti, who drew the entire game by hand, down to the font. And while she’s ear-to-ear smiles now, the journey to complete Doodle Doo was often challenging.

“I spent nearly every single day developing the game,” she recalled. “I would spend hours trying to work out what seemed like a simple problem. There were a lot of times I wanted to give up. But I didn’t. I kept going.”

This display of perseverance, along with salable skills, project management experience and a strong work ethic, is exactly what Kehoe wants the students to take away from the course.

“The game development projects are substantial and daunting,” he admitted. “But after getting through them, our students can face a large project and complete it.”

Continue onto the New Jersey Institute of Technology Newsroom to read the complete article.

Google Doodle Celebrates Astronomer Guillermo Haro

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Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 105th birthday of astronomer Guillermo Haro, who discovered a new class of nebula and helped promote astronomical research in Mexico.

Haro, born on March 21, 1913, discovered a type of nebula now known as Herbig-Haro objects. These bright clouds form when jets of ionized gas from young stars collised with nearby clouds of gas and dust. Herbig-Haro objects are short-lived by astronomical standards; they last just a few thousand years, and they change dramatically over just a few years. Haro was one of the first to realize that these objects were the result of the cosmically violent process of star formation; astronomer George Herbig, working independently, came to the same conclusion at around the same time, so the two astronomers share the honor of the name.

And Haro also discovered a type of star, now called flare stars, which flares bightly across the whole electromagnetic spectrum for a few minutes at a time, on apparently random intervals. Today, astronomers believe that most flare stars are dim red dwarf stars, although there are some more massive exceptions, and their flares are high-intensity versions of solar flares, caused by changes in the stars’ magnetic fields. Our two nearest neighbors, Proxima Centauri and Barnard’s Star, are flare stars.

In addition to new classes of astronomical objects, Haro also discovered several planetary nebulae, a number of young variable stars called T Tauri stars, a supernova and ten novae, and a comet. He also spent much of his career composing a catalog of blue stars toward the north galactic pole and a list of blue galaxies.

When he wasn’t looking skyward, Haro advocated for astronomical research in Mexico, and in 1959 he became the first person from Mexico to be elected to the Royal Astronomical Society. He died on April 26, 1988.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Mae Jemison: Diversity In STEM Isn’t A Nicety, It’s A Necessity

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The first African-American woman in space discusses her agricultural science initiative.

Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, knows firsthand the importance of exposing kids to STEM topics early. She also knows the significance of having kids see themselves in movies, on TV, and in certain careers.

“It means making sure that people get those images that show they have those things available to them,” Jemison told HuffPost.

Jemison is collaborating on “Science Matters,” an initiative to encourage kids of all ages and backgrounds to pursue agricultural science from pharmaceutical and life science company Bayer and youth development organization National 4-H Council. Jemison, a physician and chemical engineer, knows the field of agricultural science can sound intimidating, but she and Jennifer Sirangelo, CEO and president of the National 4-H Council, have set out to change that.

Digging into agricultural science can be as simple as asking, “Where does my food come from?” An increasingly popular way to kick-start this sort of interest is through urban gardens, Jemison explained.

“There’s nothing more exciting to see something growing ― and you can eat it!” Jemison said. “That’s something parents can do with their kids as well.”

Sirangelo agreed, noting that agricultural science is more than horticulture and animal science and has huge applications for our future.

“The need to produce more food with fewer resources over the coming decades is going to push our science even further,” she told HuffPost.

As Jemison put it, we need to prepare our kids “to not just survive, but thrive.”

Bringing more children into STEM topics like agricultural science isn’t enough, though. Diversity is imperative, especially for women and people of color, groups underrepresented in these fields, Jemison said.

“We’re losing talent and we’re losing capability by not including them,” she told HuffPost. “When people think about why it is important to have a diversity of talent in a field, they think of it as a nicety. No, it’s a necessity. We get better solutions.”

Continue onto the HuffingtonPost to read the complete article.