NASA’s Katherine Johnson Honored With Statue, Scholarship On 100th Birthday

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Taraji P. Henson portrayed Johnson in 2016’s “Hidden Figures.”

West Virginia State University honored NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson’s 100th birthday with a statue and scholarship dedication over the weekend.

Hundreds of people ― including 75 of Johnson’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren ― attended the event honoring the woman who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” according to the West Virginia Gazette. The bronze statue of Johnson was unveiled Saturday, one day before she turned 100.

The scholarship in Johnson’s name was awarded to freshmen Jasiaha Daniels and Alexis Scudero, both of whom are studying in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“What makes Katherine so extraordinary is she not only prevailed while segregation failed, Dr. Johnson has continued to persevere and thrive with the gracious poise and clarity that defies mere words of explanation, let alone definition,” said Dr. Yvonne Cagle, the keynote speaker at the ceremony and the space and life sciences directorate at the Johnson Space Center.

Johnson started attending WSVU when she was 14 because she wasn’t able to receive further education in Greenbrier County. She graduated from the university in 1937 with degrees in both mathematics and French, then went on to pursue graduate studies at the institution.

Johnson was a teacher for 15 years, then joined the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which later became NASA. She and three other women calculated rocket trajectories and orbits for some of the earliest American voyages into space, including helping astronaut John Glenn orbit the Earth three times.

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

National STEM/STEAM Day November 8

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Full STEAM ahead! November 8 is a day meant to inspire kids to explore and pursue their interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

Inspired by the Project Mc² brand, created by MGA Entertainment, the STEAM-based franchise features four super smart girls who are part of a super-secret spy organization called NOV8 (that’s “innovate”).

Fun fact: The November 8th date is a play on words for same as that super- secret organization, NOV8, making it the perfect date to inspire innovation!

Why is STEM/STEAM so important, now more than ever before?

· STEM/STEAM is all around us and shapes our everyday experiences

· Of the U.S. Labor Department‘s predicted 10 fastest growing occupations, nearly all of them are STEM/STEAM careers; therefore an interest in STEM/STEAM early on can lead to success later on in life

· The U.S. has fallen behind other nations in science and math education; we need to motivate young kids to pursue these subjects to keep up with the rest of the world

· We must close the gender gap that exists in STEM/STEAM related-careers. Building interest in girls is critical to their future earning potential.

Continue on to Nationaldaycalendar.com to to find out how to celebrate!

Meet Virginia’s First African-American Nanoscientist

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By Tiffany Woodall

This past May, Ginai Seabron became the first African-American woman to earn a B.S. in nanoscience from the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

As one of only 20 graduating seniors in the nanoscience major, which is part of the college’s Academy of Integrated Science, Seabron accepted her degree at the Biocomplexity Institute in Steger Hall among shouts of support and cheers from her peers, friends, and family.

Social media has proven that more than just her personal connections are proud of her accomplishment.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Seabron said of her post going viral. “It’s overwhelming, but I love it.”

Hours before commencement, Seabron spoke through tears as she reflected on her Virginia Tech experience.

“It is not easy at all being the only African American in the room,” she said. “It’s intimidating.”

She chose not to give up, and in doing so inspired others to pursue the degree. “I’ve actually helped a few other people in my black community transfer into the nanoscience department.”

“I met Ginai during her freshman year while talking to students about our shared interest in nanoscience,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, who also has a nanotechnology background. “We’re proud of her success, and I greatly appreciate her many contributions to the university community. Her strength and insight have been very helpful to me in our efforts to make the Virginia Tech experience more inclusive. I have no doubt that great things are ahead for her.”

Her advice to future students comes from lessons she’s learned along the way.

“Continue to push,” she said. “Rely on your family and your friends. Reach out to your professors. Go to office hours. Create your own office hours if you have to. Be social. Step out of your comfort zone. Get to know the people in your class—they could become your study buddies. You’ll think you’re the only person struggling, but as it turns out, everybody’s struggling.”

With the term “family,” she’s referring to more than just relatives. While her kin have been an incredible support system, the relationships she built through her involvement on campus have sustained her on long days and even longer nights.

“The black community at Virginia Tech is wonderful,” she said. “The Black Cultural Center and everyone in the cultural and community centers are all amazing. They know me as Auntie Nai here. They’re really my family away from home. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it. I can promise you that.”

In response to their encouragement, Seabron served as president of the Black Organizations Council and was a member of Enlightened Gospel Choir, where she was awarded for her commitment to diversity and inclusion at the University Student Leadership Awards. She was a resident advisor during her junior year, a teaching assistant during her sophomore year, and has volunteered with College Mentors for Kids.

“I love helping others, and in every single one of those positions, I’ve had the great opportunity of meeting and helping out other people,” Seabron said. “And they’ve also helped me through.”

Ginai’s mother, Sherita Seabron, describes her daughter as a natural-born leader and said last weekend’s events created the best Mother’s Day she could ask for.

“I feel overjoyed and overwhelmed with emotion,” Sherita said. “I knew she was destined for greatness, and I’m just excited to see what’s next for her.”

Ginai’s post-graduation plans have yet to be solidified, but one thing is certain: she’s looking forward to getting more sleep.

Photo Credit: Steven Mackay
Source: Original article from Student Affairs at Virginia Tech

Backed By Arielle Zuckerberg, Juni Learning’s 20-Something Female Founders Are Teaching Kids To Code

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Ruby Lee, 26, and Vivian Shen, 25, believe that their one-year-old startup, Juni Learning, can succeed in the crowded field of online coding instruction for kids. Last week Juni announced a roster of angel investors who contributed to a $790,000 funding round. They include Mark Zuckerberg’s youngest sister, Arielle, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins, where Lee used to work.

Lee and Shen, who met as classmates at Stanford, are modeling Juni on VIPKIDS, the China-based startup recently valued at $3 billion. VIPKIDS pays an army of 60,000 American teachers to moonlight as online English instructors for students in China.

Lee and Shen rely on computer science students at schools like Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, Harvard and MIT, whom they recruit through Facebook groups and through word-of-mouth. Juni pays its instructors $20 to $25 an hour to teach private and semiprivate online coding classes to students who range in age from kindergarten through high school. It charges a monthly subscription fee of $250 for weekly private one-hour lessons and $160 for semiprivate sessions. So far Juni has more than 300 students in 10 countries and 27 states, many of whom have signed on for six months or more.

Juni is competing with established live-instruction coding schools like CodeWizardsHQ and Tekkie Uni. But Shen said that most of them teach students in large groups. The majority of Juni’s courses are one-on-one, and Shen said she and Lee have put together a sequenced curriculum, starting with instruction in the Python computer language, that prepares students for most college computer science programs. “When we talked to high schools,” she said, “we found that they struggled to find a standardized curriculum.”

Shen was in Manhattan this week to visit friends. She also met with Randi Zuckerberg and talked about signing Zuckerberg’s 8-year-old up for Juni classes. And she appeared on Zuckerberg’s Sirius XM radio show and discussed entrepreneurship.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Which Coding Language Should You Learn?

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It’s a great time to learn how to code. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your career and become a developer, leverage a new skill in your current job, or just better understand what the developers on your team are up to, there has never been a better time to get into programming.

There’s been an explosion of coding boot camps and online resources to help you get started. But it’s a double-edged sword: with near-unlimited resources, countless different languages—and a rabbit hole of passionate voices debating which are the easiest to learn, best to help you get a job, and so on—where do you start?

The best way to learn to code is to stop endlessly analyzing what to learn and just start. So, with a giant disclaimer that these aren’t all of the languages you could consider learning to start your coding journey, here are a few languages you can learn.

JavaScript

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Think of the difference between dynamic, automatically updating Gmail account and your old static Hotmail, which needed to be reloaded to see new messages. That fundamental change was thanks to JavaScript. And, as one of the most popular languages out there, it’s still bringing websites to life in new, exciting ways. It has a ton of resources and tools available to help you use it effectively, and it opens you up to a ton of software engineering jobs. It can basically do everything, and if you’re going to be a full stack developer, you simply can’t avoid it.

Ruby

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Ruby was specifically designed by its inventor Yukihiro Matsumoto to make programmers happy, and it’s delivered upon that objective: Ruby is accessible and reads like English, allowing new programmers to focus right away on the fundamental concepts and logic, rather than basic syntax. Even beginners can start building right away. The teachers at the Flatiron School find Ruby to be extremely effective at helping students learn how to think like programmers, break problems down, express themselves technically, abstract ideas, and work together with other programmers. (The Flatiron Co-founder Avi is a little obsessed with it, too.)

Python

Great for: budding data scientists

There’s a massive amount of data out there. Companies that harness it can create better products and understand their businesses better; companies that don’t lose their competitive edge and get left behind. But while at its core, data science may be similar to your high school stats class, with so much data (hundreds of millions of records), your old spreadsheet is the wrong tool for the job. That’s where code comes in. The R language is super specific to statistics, whereas Python is a general-purpose language that happens to have great tooling available to make it a perfect language for data science. It’s actually similar to Ruby in a lot of ways: easy to read, forgiving for beginners, and there’s a passionate community around it, devoted to creating and improving the tooling to make Python even more powerful.

Swift

Great for: mobile developers, developers breaking out of their comfort zone

For beginners hoping to get into mobile app development, now is the perfect time to dive into Swift. It’s new enough that there is a lot of energy and excitement around it. Each year, Apple holds their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where Apple engineers discuss the intricacies of Swift along with all the new and exciting features (don’t be surprised if it inspires you to try implementing all the new concepts into your own apps). But it’s also been around long enough that the early kinks have been worked out, and the open source community has grown significantly. If you’re already a programmer, learning Swift is a way to get out of your comfort zone—the constraints iOS puts on your code forces you to, as Apple would say, “think different.”

Still not sure where to start? That’s OK! There’s really no correct first language to learn. The important thing is to consider what you’re excited to build, what language will help you do that, and then to just start learning!

In the end, this is why schools like Flatiron School doesn’t focus on teaching one specific technology. It wants you to learn how to learn—the only coding skill that will be never become obsolete. You don’t see Fortran or ColdFusion developers anymore. Similarly, you probably won’t be a Ruby or JavaScript developer in 10 years. Eventually, you will need to know more than one language if you want to have an awesome career and build amazing things. If you become skilled at learning languages, you’ll be ready to keep pace with technology as it changes.

Source: This piece was originally published by WeWork, which provides companies with the space, technology, and services they need to success.

Here’s How This Latina Navigated Her Transition From Finance To Tech

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Marlene Arroyo may have started her career in finance, but it was the human aspect of any job that always drew her in. From Dell to her current role as Vice President of People Operations at Liftoff Mobile Inc., a high growth tech company in Silicon Valley, she has made it her career mission to champion employees and embrace how their humanity impacts their jobs.It was knowing what her career mission was at its core that made it possible for her to transition from one career path to the next.

“Philosophically, it became apparent to me that human resources was my calling when, as a finance professional, I’d enjoy spending most of my time dissecting costs associated to SG&A, training, hiring and coaching,” shares Arroyo. “Mechanically, the way I was able to make this transition was by having informational meetings with HR executives, taking evening courses, asking for help and being open about my aspirations to my sponsors. While the art of Human Resources came naturally to me, to differentiate myself, I needed to supercharge the impact I delivered by drawing from my finance experience and ensuring that my strategic recommendation were backed by data.”

Now, she uses her skill-set to help others achieve the kind of growth that she’s constantly challenged herself to work towards.

“My biggest motivation [through this journey] has been my family,” says Arroyo. “I feel incredibly blessed to be the daughter of immigrant parents who instilled in me work ethic and resilience. While my parents still do not completely understand what I do, they know I work hard and they are my biggest fans. Each education milestone and career progression has been theirs as well. Their American Dream lives in me and owning that, keeps me motivated .”

Growing up in the Latinx culture and within her own family unit can explain in part why Arroyo has felt the desire to pay it forward to other generations by way of her career.

Below she shares advice for Latinxs who are searching for advice on how to land their dream job, how to self-care if you’re in the position of constantly pouring into others, and how to make sure you’re learning the most from your current job.

Vivian Nunez: How has your Latinidad influenced your career?

Marlene Arroyo: Passion, humility, honor, perseverance – are all a part of my core values that I hold because of my Latinidad. Knowing that there is a lot more work to be done to help young Latinas see that they, too, can achieve their goals, keeps me in the arena.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

UCLA neurosurgeon named to National Academy of Medicine

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Election honors Dr. Linda Liau’s contributions to health care and science

Dr. Linda Liau, an internationally renowned neurosurgeon-scientist and chair of the neurosurgery department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has been elected by her peers to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Membership honors people who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements, commitment to service and contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.

A scientist in UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Liau has devoted the past 25 years to developing and refining treatment strategies for glioblastoma, the most deadly form of brain tumor. Her research in the early 1990s led to her creating one of the first personalized vaccines, using a patient’s own tumor specimen and white blood cells to activate the immune system to fight off cancer.

“I have always had a huge drive to prove that things that seem impossible can actually be possible someday,” Liau said. “When I first started working on brain tumor immunotherapy, everyone told me that you can’t mount an immune response in the brain. Now we know that’s not true.”

Recognized for her expertise in complicated tumor surgery, Liau attracts patients from around the world and has performed more than 2,000 brain tumor surgeries. Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for the past two decades, and she has written more than 160 research articles, along with several book chapters and textbooks.

She also is a trailblazer in her specialty: Just 6 percent of licensed neurosurgeons in the U.S. are female, and Liau is only the second woman in the nation — and the first Asian-American woman — to lead an academic department of neurosurgery. As chair, Liau directs a clinical team of more than 60 neurosurgeons, neuroscientists, residents, fellows and other specialists in the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery, one of the world’s foremost centers for neurosurgical research, clinical care and education.

Continue onto UCLA Newsroom to read the complete article.

Donna Strickland is the 3rd woman ever to win the Nobel prize in physics

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“I thought there might have been more,” Strickland said, reacting to her win. She shares the prize with two other laser physicists.

The 2018 Nobel prize in physics has been awarded to three scientists — including one woman — for advancing the science of lasers and creating extremely useful tools out of laser beams.

The winners include Arthur Ashkin, 96, a retired American physicist who worked Bell Labs; Gerard Mourou, 74, now at the École Polytechnique in France and University of Michigan; and Donna Strickland, 59, now at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

These scientists are responsible for two important inventions. One is laser tweezers, which allow scientists to manipulate microscopic particles (often viruses and bacteria) within a laser beam. The second is a technology that led to the rapid increase of laser beam intensity, which has allowed for myriad laser-based tools, including the beams commonly used in laser eye surgery.

Ashkin, who took half of the $1 million prize, invented the optical (i.e., laser) tweezers in his work with Bell Labs in the 1980s. Mourou and Strickland worked on laser amplification at the University of Rochester, also in the 1980s.

Astonishingly, Strickland is just the third woman to have ever won the Nobel prize in physics. The prize has not been awarded to a woman since 1963 when Maria Goeppert-Mayer won for her work on atomic structure. That was 55 years ago! The only time a woman was awarded the prize before that was in 1903 when Marie Curie won for her work on radioactivity.

During the Nobel Prize press conference Tuesday morning, Strickland was reminded by a reporter she was the just third woman to win, and immediately responded, “Is that all, really? I thought there might have been more.”

She went on: “We need to celebrate women physicists because we’re out there. Hopefully, in time, it will start to move forward at a faster rate.” The Nobel committee has long been criticized for neglecting to honor women (who have been denied prizes, despite being behindsome incredible discoveries in recent decades.)

Why laser physics is worthy of a Nobel Prize

The Nobel prizes award discoveries and inventions that lead to the betterment of humanity. Strickland, and co-inventor Gerard Mourou, did just that. After lasers, which are focused beams of light, were first invented in the 1960s, the power and intensity they could reach quickly plateaued. That’s where Strickland and Mourou came in.

Continue onto Vox to read the complete article.

Digital Skills Help Narrow the Workplace Gender Gap

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woman-typing and talking on phone

Digitally savvy women are helping to close the gender gap in the workplace.

And digital fluency, the extent to which people embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective, plays a key role in helping women achieve gender equality and level the playing field.

A new research report from Accenture—Getting to Equal: How Digital is Helping Close the Gender Gap at Work—provides empirical proof that women are using digital skills to gain an edge in preparing for work, finding work and advancing at work. The report provides ample evidence that digital fluency acts as an accelerant at every stage of a woman’s career—a powerful one in both education and employment and an increasingly important factor for advancing into the ranks of leadership.

If governments and businesses can double the pace at which women become digitally fluent, gender equality could be achieved in 25 years in developed nations, versus 50 years at the current pace. Gender equality in the workplace could be achieved in 45 years in developing nations, versus 85 years at the current pace.

“Women represent an untapped talent pool that can help fill the gap between the skills needed to stay competitive and the talent available,” said Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chairman and chief executive officer. “There is a clear opportunity for governments and businesses to collaborate on efforts that will empower more women with digital skills—and accelerate gender equality in the workforce.”

Although digital fluency clearly helps women train for and gain employment, the relationship between digital fluency and women’s advancement is not as significant. This is expected to change as more millennial women and digital natives move into management; the research found that in the United States, six in 10 millennial women surveyed aspire to be in leadership positions.

While the research determined that digital fluency is having a positive impact on pay for both men and women, the gap in pay between genders is still not closing. Men are, by far, the dominant earners by household across all three generations—Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.

“There are many ways to narrow the gender gap in the workplace, but digital is a very promising avenue,” said Julie Sweet, Accenture’s group chief executive for North America. “This is a powerful message for all women and girls. Continuously developing and growing your ability to use digital technologies, both at home and in the workplace, has a clear and positive effect at every stage of your career. And it provides a distinct advantage, as businesses and governments seek to fill the jobs that support today’s growing economy.”

Source: Accenture

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is going on now!

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The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), going on now through September 28 in Houston, TX, is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. It is produced by AnitaB.org and presented in partnership with Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). More than 20,000 people from around the world have joined for three days of networking, learning, and hearing from an incredible lineup of speakers.

Speakers include: Justine Cassell, Associate Dean of Technology Strategy and Impact, Carnegie Mellon University–School of Computer Science; Jessica O. Matthews, Founder & CEO, Uncharted Power; Padmasree Warrior, CEO & Chief Development Officer, NIO U.S.

If you weren’t able to secure a registration, subscribe to the GHC General Newsletter to get information about how you can participate via livestreaming, viewing parties, social media, and blog posts from community members. Find out more about Anitab.org here. Look for event highlights at ghc.anitab.org.

“We envision a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for which they build it.”

Preparing Students for Science and Technology Jobs

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student looking through microscope

Verizon launched #weneedmore, a national campaign to call attention to the millions of students across the United States, especially those from underserved communities, who lack technology in schools and exposure to careers in the science and technology sector.

#weneedmore is driven by a rallying cry that “we need more” kids—starting in middle school—to receive technology tools, resources, and instruction so that they can compete for jobs of tomorrow. As of today, there are more than 4 million jobs in science, technology engineering, and math fields. Verizon’s efforts build on five years and more than $160 million invested in building and sustaining programs across the country that provide free technology, access and immersive, hands-on learning to students and teachers, particularly in underserved and minority communities.

“I’ve met hundreds of kids across the country who want to create a better future for themselves, but many don’t know the first step in acquiring the science and technology skills they need to compete in a digital economy,” said Rose Kirk, chief corporate social responsibility officer, Verizon. “We want people everywhere to participate in ‘weneedmore’ to show these kids that we’re behind them and give them an equal shot at success.”

The #weneedmore campaign is powered by a vibrant content hub (weneedmore.com), along with a yearlong series of events and social activations to spur campaign engagement. The online hub is a destination where students, parents, and teachers can view, share, and interact with content designed to spark students’ curiosity and interest in science and technology. Additionally, select Verizon retail stores will offer opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in virtual reality, 3-D printing, and robotics from experts.

To learn more about #weneedmore and how to support bringing hands-on learning in science and technology to students across the country, visit weneedmore.com.