Amazon’s VP of Alexa Devices on Working in Voice Technology, Taking Risks, and Alexa’s Hidden Tricks

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Amazom's Miriam Daniel smiling and standing in front of a poster for Amazon Alexa

By Alyse Kalish

Let’s say you want to be a part of building something great in your career—something people can tangibly benefit from, something no one else has thought of, and something you can point to and proudly say, “Hey, I made that.” If that’s the case, look no further for inspiration than Miriam Daniel.

She’s currently the VP of Alexa and Echo Devices at Amazon. That means she and her team are the brains behind the imaginary woman who answers all the random requests you make, from “Alexa, tell me what the weather’s like” to “Alexa, set a reminder to pick up milk” to “Alexa, play ‘Baby Shark.’”

We sat down with Daniel because, quite frankly, her career path is pretty cool—from working as a developer to joining the leadership team at Intel (and staying on for more than 14 years) to transitioning into AI and eventually landing her role at Amazon. Besides joining Amazon at a time when AI and speech technology was just taking off, Daniel has had the pleasure of building a product from the start that can help people—especially those who are disabled—lead more efficient and happier lives.

Here’s how she broke into this creative field, how she balances being a tech leader and a parent, and what advice she has for aspiring innovators.

Tell us a bit about your career path and how you ended up at Amazon.

I spent the first few years of my career working as a developer in various service industries, and then moved on to work at Intel for more than 14 years. I started there as an engineering leader before transitioning to product and business roles, eventually becoming the Director of Innovation Strategy and Product Management.

Then five years ago, I received a call from Amazon. After going through a rigorous interview process and consulting with a couple of my mentors, I decided to make the move. Today, I lead a talented, multidisciplinary team that spends a lot of time thinking about customers—what they want out of voice-driven devices and specifically how Alexa can make their lives easier and more convenient.

What made you want to enter this field?

I started dabbling in speech and AI while running the innovation group at Intel. The power of voice as an intuitive and natural means of human interaction with technology fascinated me. When presented with the opportunity to lead the Echo product line at Amazon, I jumped at it, knowing that this could be a transformative leap in using voice as the ultimate simplifier, cutting through many layers of friction to access information and services in the cloud. I was also excited to be a part of an early-stage innovative product with the ability to shape it from the start. I was ready for a big challenge.

What gets you excited about your job?

I’m excited by the fact that I get to innovate every day. Sometimes I feel like a kid in a toy factory—I dive right into putting the puzzle pieces together to solve hard problems that in the end simplify lives.

Building an entirely new way of interacting with products through voice and visuals was an incredibly difficult problem to solve. When we started, this was a completely new means of interacting with machines, and to see how far we’ve come (of course, there’s still so much more to do) motivates me every day.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role? The biggest reward?

The challenge is that building an Echo device is about so much more than just creating a piece of hardware—it’s about designing an experience, and it’s an experience that’s getting smarter every day. There’s no playbook here or precedent to go off of—we’re exploring and innovating as we go. There’s no such thing as “done.”

The biggest reward is when a customer tells me that they love the products we’re building and how much voice technology has changed their lives for the better. We hear anecdotes from parents, grandparents, teachers, distant family members, and customers with disabilities all the time, and their stories are truly heart-warming.

What’s one thing people don’t know Alexa can do?

Alexa is always getting smarter and is now starting to do things for customers that once were considered science fiction. One example is a feature called “Hunches.” As you interact with your smart home, Alexa learns more about your day-to-day routine and can sense when connected smart devices—such as lights, locks, switches, and plugs—are not in the state that you prefer.

For example, if your living room light is on when you say “Alexa, good night,” Alexa will respond with “Good night. By the way, your living room light is on. Do you want me to turn it off?”

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

The One-page Resume of Elon Musk

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elon Musk is pictured speaking to an audience using a microphone

As one of the most accomplished CEO’s and leaders in the worlds, he does not need any introduction, as simply saying his name would open most of the doors in the world.

Elon Musk revolutionized, improved and changed many industries, from electric vehicles to reusable rockets to being among the first to create the electronic payments industry to selling 20.000 flamethrowers in 4 days.

With so many achievements and past experiences, one would be right to think that you would need lots of pages in order to cover them all.

However, our team proved the concept of “Less, is More” that recruiters and employers ask for when receiving job applications, and through efficient use of design principles and advice from recruiters we managed to summarize all of the professional experience of Elon Musk in a one-page resume.

The following example of Elon Musk resume is the renewed version which has been created using the professional resume template that you can use to create yours as well and impress recruiters:

elon musk one page resume

The first version that we have created in 2016 proving the concept “Less, is More!” which inspired many persons to reduce the length of their resumes and impress recruiters is the following:

elon musk original one page resume

Continue on to Novoresume to read the complete article and “Build Your Resume”!

What it Takes to be a Successful Woman in the Field of Architecture

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Gretchen Callejas poses for a headshot in an outdoor setting

By Gretchen Callejas

Frank Lloyd Wright. I.M. Pei. Those are the familiar names of two of America’s best-known architects.

Wright’s distinct prairie-style homes dot the American landscape while Pei’s large but elegantly designed urban buildings and complexes are among the world’s most famous architectural works. Pei’s projects, among others, include the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the controversial glass pyramid in Paris’ Louvre Museum courtyard.

But have you heard of Julia Morgan, who designed California’s famous Hearst Castle?

Or trailblazers such as Marion Mahony Griffin, the first woman to be officially licensed as an architect, and Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize?

It isn’t surprising if you haven’t. According to a January 2019 article in ThoughtCo., which listed 20 famous female architects, the role that women have played in architecture and design often go under the radar.

While architecture has been a male-dominated field, that is not the case at Felder & Associates, where I have worked since its inception in 2012. We have four women and three men on staff. The forward-thinking leadership of the firm’s managing principal, Brian Felder, has played an extraordinary part in making our workplace a gender free oasis in an otherwise industry-wide testosterone-filled desert.

Why is architecture, like so many other professions, such a tough profession for women to crack?

According to a 2016 article in the Los Angeles Times, only 18 percent of licensed practitioners are women although they make up nearly half of U.S. architecture school graduates. This disparity sometimes is referred to as “the missing 32 percent.” Unfortunately, females leave the field in disturbingly high numbers after they’re confronted with lower salaries, given fewer career-building opportunities or find a lack of mentors, who champion for them.

Full-time female architects earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Plus, architecture’s history as a male-dominated profession has contributed to an all-consuming workplace culture that leaves little flexibility for women expected to balance work and family. According to the Times article, 75 percent of female survey respondents had experienced sexual discrimination on the job, and 83 percent believed having a child would hurt their careers.

My personal observations and experiences have confirmed some of these disparities, but I consider myself lucky.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to maintain a successful professional career while balancing family because I have a husband who shares responsibilities and encouragement. Without his support, it would be more challenging to continue with a professional career.

And while I have quite a few female friends who are architects, I have never worked for a woman nor had a strong female mentor. Contractors and clients often assume I need to ask my male boss for help in understanding construction, codes or a design issue. When I approach a problem with the same assertiveness as a male architect, I’m sometimes labeled with the “B”-word.

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of designing buildings before I knew what that encompassed. And now as an adult would I encourage young girls to enter architecture? Absolutely. I would tell young women (and men) entering the field that determination and passion go a long way. You will be successful if you work hard, tune out the negativity and chase your goals with perseverance. If you want to be an Architect, then go be one.

I finally believe that I am in a position to give them a hand. I’ve been around enough to help guide them and try to be the mentor I never had. I’m pleased we have two young women working with us at Felder & Associates. Alma Johnson and Cathryn Sinclair graduated with architectural degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design last year and are interning with us as project associates.

Sinclair says she believes the playing field is more level than ever before but there is always room for improvement.

“I hope to continue to see the gap close,” she says.

For Johnson, success is based on how hard you work.

“Now, the gender gap does exist, but I think that the world is evolving on a more modern idea of a woman in the workplace. I don’t see gender. I see what skill sets I need to acquire to be as successful as the candidate next to me,” Johnson says.

I hope their perspectives will remain true and their positivity high after spending 15 years or so in the industry. I suspect they will reflect on their early days as a time when they had to deal with an old and outdated set of standards.

One thing I know for certain. They are in a wonderful setting to avoid bias and discrimination working at Felder & Associates. We are, thankfully, treated equally regardless of our gender, and we treat one another with mutual respect and understanding.

My hope for young women in architecture is that they will continue to mentor the next generations of women architects, have equal opportunities and respect. One day we will be as well-known as Frank Lloyd Wright and I.M. Pei.

Gretchen Callejas is a project architect at Felder & Associates, where she specializes in historic preservation, adaptive reuse, small scale commercial architecture and high-end residential design. She is also LEED-accredited from the U.S. Green Building Council. Callejas earned Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from Ball State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Citations:

  1. Craven, Jackie (2019, January). 20 Famous Women Architects. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from: https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-female-architects-177890
  2. Stratigakos, Despina (2016, April). Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated? LA Times. Retrieved from: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html
  3. Newman, Caroline (2019, January). Three Generations Of Female Architects Seek To Bring More Women Into The Profession. UVA Today. Retrieved from: https://news.virginia.edu/content/3-generations-female-architects-seek-bring-more-women-profession

 

 

From Refugee Camp to Medical School

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Samixchha Raut casually standing outside in front of a tree

By Samixchha Raut

Eight years ago, I lived in Goldhap, a refugee camp in Nepal, where more than 7,000 people reside in just over 1200 households, without running water or electricity. Today, I’m 22, a senior at Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in Biomedical Science and on a path to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. I am studying for the MCAT exam to apply for medical school. It has been a long journey for me and my family.

My dad, a native of Bhutan, fled the homeland with his family. He settled in Goldhap, where he did construction work in a surrounding town, and later started repairing bicycles. He met my mother; they married and had me, and my two younger brothers. But there was barely enough food to go around.

In 2010, my family was able to immigrate to the United States, where we settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. I studied hard and earned a full scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology. In spring 2018, I participated in a study abroad program with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). I spent six weeks in each of three locations – studying HIV/Aids Policy & Politics in Cape Town, Media, Gender & Identity in London, and Family and Child Development in Paris. The experience reinforced my commitment to be a doctor!

As a child, I was stricken with jaundice, and it wasn’t sure that I would survive. My parents worked extra hard and were finally able to purchase the medicine that made me better. Once I recuperated, I decided I wanted to be a doctor to help others.

While studying in South Africa, my class visited a township village, Zwelethemba. I felt like I was back in the refugee camp. The people were living in severe poverty. But you could see and feel the camaraderie and love among the villagers. Every child was being raised by the entire village. I pictured myself in them.

It took me back to our camp and to our struggles. I spent 13 years of my life in a refugee camp, living just like these people, and then suddenly, there was I among them as a scholar. It reaffirmed that I am on the right path. It’s important for me to become a doctor and pursue my passion of helping underserved people by providing them with adequate health care.

The study abroad experience was so valuable because I know if I’m to become a doctor and work with a diverse population of people, then I need to experience diversity. This exposure has boosted my motivation to work hard and give back to the community.

Continue on to Hudson Valley Press to read the complete article.

Common Name, Uncommon Path

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Common seated at the panel at the Black Caucus

By Jovane Marie

With a career spanning almost three decades, Common’s journey in the spotlight has been anything but.

Along the way, he’s gained an ever-expanding list of titles and credits that run the gamut: rapper, artist, father, actor, activist, model, author, designer, philanthropist, Microsoft ambassador, and Academy Award winner, to name a few.

But if you’re thinking that’s enough to satisfy this modern-day Renaissance Man, you’re wrong. “I revel in the fact that in being all of these things, I don’t have to choose,” said the multi-hyphenate talent. “I want to do and be more…what I’ve accomplished so far is great, but there is always more to achieve.”

Voice of the Future
Common might’ve had his start in the music industry, but he’s no stranger to the world of STEM. In fact, he’s had a long-standing relationship with tech behemoth Microsoft dating all the way back to 2008, when the two partnered to launch Softwear (a play on “software”), a retro clothing line of T-shirts featuring MS-DOS (an operating system) font. Six years later, that partnership was re-birthed as the tech giant searched for a spokesperson to helm its first Super Bowl commercial. Common sent in a tape explaining why he wanted to lend his voice, and the rest—they say—is history. Since the inaugural commercial in 2014, the artist has lent his voice to a multitude of commercials, shorts, and presentations touting the importance of advancing technology and the infinite possibilities created by Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

“Technology is possibility, adaptability, and capability,” he muses in one spot. “It’s not about changing what came before—it’s about creating what comes next. Right now, we have more power at our fingertips than entire generations that came before us…the question is, what will we do with it?”

Actor to Activist
Common’s firm footing in the entertainment industry might sound like a full-time endeavor, but he has consciously created the time and space to enrich and advocate for the causes he believes in. “The truth is, you don’t have to be an actor, or an athlete, or an influencer to make a difference,” he said in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ernie Suggs. “All you have to do is have a desire the make the world a better place. Every human being can do it, and I have a desire to do my part.”

L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend The Hate U Give New York Screening at Paris Theatre
L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend “The Hate U Give” New York Screening at Paris Theatre.

This desire has manifested into fervent action focused on increasing and championing diversity and mentoring youth in the inner-cities of his home state, among other things.

In January, he delivered the closing keynote at the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion conference, a gathering of more than 250 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO) and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers (CDO) from an array of Fortune 500 companies on a mission to provide tangible, ready-to-implement strategies to encourage and increase diversity and inclusion both internally and within their local communities.

“My interest in promoting diversity was rooted in my looking in these communities and seeing certain people not having access to the same opportunities,” said the ardent advocator. “The undeniable fact is that we need to see more women and POC [people of color] in positions of power—same for different beliefs and those in the LGBTQ+ community.” “We have to figure out ways to increase the diversity, and that starts with a conversation. For me, I love being in a position where I can be a part of the paradigm shift and contribute to that conversation.”

Common performs onstage during OZY Fest
Common performs onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park in New York City.

Speaking to C-suite leaders about diversity isn’t the only way Common is lending his voice to the diversity conversation. In 2018, after African-American business partners Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were racially profiled in a Starbucks—causing national outrage—the chain subsequently closed 8,000 stores for a day to conduct anti-bias training. The voice they heard in those videos, stressing the importance of anti-discrimination and inclusivity? Take a guess. The art of the give-back has further manifested into the creation of the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to reach and impact inner-city youth in Chicago through mentorship and college-preparation programs. For more than a decade, the foundation has intimately focused on nutrition, healthy living, financial living, character development, and creative expression—even holding youth leadership conferences and summer camps. With more than $230,000 in scholarships awarded, a 100 percent graduation rate among participants, a 99 percent college attendance rate, and more than 2,500 collective hours of community service provided to the community, the organization has earned the distinction of an impactful labor of love.

Common with classroom full of school children.
Common visits NYC elementary school for Back-To-School fundraising with Burlington Stores and AdoptAClassroom. JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES

“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help,” said the philanthropist. “I think making a difference in the lives of others is life’s greatest purpose, and I always believed that of we started with the youth, we’d be planting the seeds for our future to blossom.”

A Tale of Common Sense
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn to an educator mother and youth counselor father, was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood of Chicago, where his foray into the world of music developed and thrived. Talented and precocious, he was writing lyrics by age 12, and at 15, formed a rap trio—C.D.R.—with two high school friends. Far from just an after-school hobby, the group served as an industry incubator, not only building his proficiency in writing, producing and performing, but also aiding in his personal branding as an artist.

“C.D.R. represented so much in my life, and it was the birthplace of a lot of artistic firsts,” remembered Common. “That acronym was a revolving door of different meanings—it mainly stood for Corey, Deon, Rashid [our names], but on other days, it was Compact Disc Recorder, or Recording Def Rhymes. We were learning how to record, making demos, writing songs, performing—just trying to figure ourselves out and do our thing.” Influenced by hip-hop’s titans of the time, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, and Rakim, C.D.R. went on to gain a footing in the industry, having their songs played on the University of Chicago’s local radio station and opening concerts for Big Daddy Kane, Eazy-E, and Too Short.

Upon graduation, Common enrolled at Florida A&M University under a scholarship, where he majored in business administration. His artistic streak remained uninterrupted, however, and in 1991, after being featured in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column, he left A&M to sign with Relativity Records. It was under this label that he released his first album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”, using the moniker Common Sense. The album was an underground success, and laid the groundwork (as well as a growing fanbase) for his subsequent albums and collaborations. To date, Common has won more than 20 awards from various distinguished award bodies for his lyrics, albums and performances, including a 2015 Academy Award for his and singer John Legend’s original song “Glory” (from the Selma soundtrack), three Grammys, four BET Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy. He has also garnered over 40 nominations in the music industry.

More than Music
Had Common been content to produce records, pull awards, and perform his hits for dedicated fans around the world, that might’ve been the end of the story. But, true to his character, he always had his sights set for more—much more. He began making his mark in the film and television industry in the early 2000s, often making cameos as himself and later evolving into more complex roles in well-known films, such as American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington), Wanted, Just Wright, Suicide Squad, Selma (as activist James Bevel), and installments of the John Wick franchise, to name a few. His constantly growing acting portfolio, which currently includes more than 40 films, supports a long-term goal to eventually become one of the great actors of our time.

Common standing posing with his childrens book
Common with his children’s book, “I Like You but I Love Me”.

“I’m still working to get to where I want to be, and I’m always working to get to the next level,” he said. “The majority of roles I want, they’re looking at other actors for. But I’m always going to fight to prove myself.” As he works tirelessly to widen his range and nab multifaceted roles, Common is also focused on another goal: helping amplify the creative voices of others through his nearly five-year-old production company, Freedom Road Productions. To date, he has executive produced Showtime’s popular drama The Chi (created by screenwriter Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series), and last year, signed a deal to develop and produce new television series with Lionsgate TV.

On the Horizon
Common’s career in the spotlight has diverged into many paths during its three-decade journey, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Add to that his impactful work in mentorship, advocacy, and diversity, and a bevy of new projects within all of these fields, and it’s safe to say that he may never stop. Next up is his second book, Let Love Have the Last Word, a personal anthology exploring the core tenets of love to help others give and receive love to live better lives and build stronger communities. Following on the heels of his New York Times best-selling memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, the book is sure to be a page-turner.

On the film front, the actor will feature or star in three upcoming films: The Informer, The Kitchen, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Several TV series in collaboration with Lionsgate are also in the works. Simply put, Common wants to expand his experience, provide opportunities for others, and inspire.

“I want to live my passions, help others do the same, and make the world a better place, as much as I can,” he said. “This—all of this—inspires me to work harder and do more.”

10 Things Not to Miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach

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family of four look at WonderWorks museum exhibit

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina — As the summer temperatures heat up, many families will be looking for ways to keep cool. They will also want to entertain, make memories and keep their kids active. One good way to do that is to visit WonderWorks Myrtle Beach, where parents can find four levels of indoor nonstop fun, offering plenty of opportunities for people of all ages.

“Most people are familiar with the outside of our building, but they are not familiar with what goes on inside it,” says Robert Stinnett, regional manager at WonderWorks. “The neat thing is that what we offer on the inside is every bit as interesting and unique. We are here for all ages to experience laughter, fun and joy by diving into history, science and releasing energy with our interactive exhibits!”

Here are 10 things not to miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach:

  1. Climb. Hit up the ropes course, where guests can test their endurance and locomotor skills as they climb over 28 different obstacles and physical activities in this 3-story indoor course.
  2. Throw. Take your chance at virtual sports, where you can find out what it’s like to pitch to a Major League Baseball player or throw a touchdown pass 50 yards to an NFL player. Virtual Sports allows you to test your athletic skills on a baseball, football, and soccer field.
  3. Ride. Take a seat within the virtual coaster with the ability to turn 360° in every direction. Hold on to your seats, while experiencing virtual physics! You can also feel the sensation of weightlessness like in outer space on the Astronaut Training Gyro Challenge.
  4. Play. Hit up the sandbox and bubble lab! Explore the depths of the ocean, a Jurassic landscape, and a wildlife safari in an interactive sandbox. Interact with various creatures with your hands and mold the sand by building mountains, volcanoes and much more! You can also create bubbles the size of basketballs, and even make a bubble big enough for you to fit inside.
  5. Learn. Test your knowledge about our world’s natural disasters. Show what you know and more from such categories as wild weather, quakes and blazes, manmade catastrophes and extreme disasters.
  6. Imagine. Enter a new dimension of reality and explore the unknown. Visit the Dr. Seuss Taxidermy, where the famous author’s creations come to life. Discover how perception and perspective are used in over 35 exhibits located throughout the Far Out Art Gallery where the unexplainable will come to life and the unusual will be the norm.
  7. Thrill. Enjoy the 12-seat theater that takes guests on an amazing adventure that transcends times, space, and imagination by combining the 3D film with special effects and full motion. Now playing 5 different movies: Cosmic Coaster-Mild, Wild Wild West- Moderate, Great Wall of China-Moderate, Dino Safari- Wild or Canyon Coaster-Wild.
  8. Adrenaline. Take the zipline challenge, where you will soar 50 feet above water and 1,000 feet between towers. This features a constant tension system, which ensures participants a smooth “zip” with intense fun.
  9. Extreme. Check out 360 Bikes, where you will buckle into your bike and start pedaling. You will try to generate enough power to spin a complete 360-degree revolution right back to where you started.
  10. Interact. Get interactive with laser tag! This family fun game combines innovative technology to provide you with a one-of-a-kind interactive experience. The object is to outplay, outlast and outshoot the other players.

“WonderWorks is happy to support energy in motion – we want our guests to feel like each time they come to us, not only are they having a blast, they are using their mind to learn and interact physically with our many hands-on exhibits,” added Stinnett. “Make some fun family memories right here at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach.”

WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach offers 50,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, showcasing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. For more information, log onto its site: wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. Don’t miss Soar + Explore, a WonderWorks sister attraction featuring an over water zipline and outdoor ropes challenge course guaranteed to get your heart pumping from total excitement. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties, group outings and special events seasonally. Open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

What Are the Most In-Demand Job Skills?

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By Greg Stuart

Are you in the market for a new job? Is 2019 the year that you decide to make a change in your career? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then you need to get an idea of what skills are in demand.

I’ve written many articles on this subject, and most of them tend to lean heavily on the technical side, certifications, etc. I believe that this year, technical certifications will carry less weight than they used to. I see a trend in companies, inside and outside of Silicon Valley, where soft skills are starting to become more important. Lots of projects are manned not by one person, but by a team of people. To be an effective team player, you need certain soft skills to complement your technical skills to be successful. Let’s take a look at some of the most in demand technical and soft skills for 2019.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is becoming the king of the datacenter. With more and more adoption each year, cloud computing is poised to have a big 2019. Security measures are getting better, government entities are trusting the cloud, and new cloud-based certifications pop up every year. I realize the term ‘cloud computing’ is broad, so what areas of cloud computing should you focus on? Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. Amazon’s cloud computing platform is taking the market by storm. VMware’s cloud offering caved to Amazon’s stiff competition and instead focused on forging a partnership with Amazon going forward. Learn Amazon Web Services—take advantage of some of their online free training. Other options are training for Microsoft’s cloud offering, Azure. Find training on Azure and become proficient at it; Microsoft is staking a bigger-than-expected claim in the cloud space.

Adaptability to Change

Is this a skill? I believe it is, and it’s become a necessary skill to learn. If you work in the IT career field, you already know that it’s an ever-changing landscape. New technologies crop up every year, many companies will adopt these newer technologies and expect you to figure out how to maintain it. If you focused only on Dell storage, your whole career—and all of a sudden, your company—does a forklift upgrade to NetApp storage, you have to be willing to learn a new system, or get a new job. Adaptability applies not just to technology changes but also personnel changes. In many of our job roles we are tasked to work as a team, and sometimes that proves difficult. Learning to adapt to change can help greatly in this area. Adapting to change means being flexible, and being flexible opens up so many possibilities for success.

Mobility/Mobility Security

The ability to work remotely has increased steadily over the years, and mobile and Internet technology has made advances. With a 4G connection, we can connect and work on spreadsheets in real time with other colleagues, hold virtual boardroom meetings with WebEx and Skype for Business, and check and answer emails as needed on the go. Learning to become proficient with enterprise mobility suites, such as VMware Workspace One (formerly AirWatch), can help you to safely and accurately provide corporate resources to your workforce on the go. With more and more corporations allowing their employees to access corporate resources on their personal mobile devices, it has become increasingly important to secure those resources. Mobility security is an in-demand skill set now and going forward.

Thinking Outside the Box

This is one of the most overused, cliché terms I can think of, but it rings true, especially now. Thinking outside of the box also means creativity or innovation—two terms all over the values statements of major defense industry employers. Companies don’t want employees that will follow the status quo when it comes to bringing solutions to market or managing a data center. There are times when the traditional way of doing things won’t cut it. That’s when you need to get creative and find new ways to do old things. Companies love bringing in a new employee and putting them on a lagging project to see if their fresh set of eyes can see new ways to accomplish what has become stale. Learning this skill can open up lots of doors for you.

…And Much More

There are so many other intangibles that companies want to see in their employees, which is why I’ll go back to my earlier statement—soft skills are king for 2019. More companies will hire you and train you on a technology or process if you have the right soft skills and fit in with their philosophies. Spend some time polishing up your soft skills and see what a difference it can make.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

Alcatraz East Crime Museum Announces New Summer Exhibits and Graffiti Contest Winners

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graffifti-art-contest-winner

This summer Alcatraz East Crime Museum continues to roll out new things for visitors. There will be two special displays, both aimed at providing visitors with information about headline-grabbing cases from both history and current events.

The special summer displays focus on the 25th anniversary of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder, as well as the sexual assault crimes that involved the USA Gymnastics team doctor, with over 250 women accusing him of the crimes.

“We try to keep up with important cases that change the national conversation,” explains Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits at Alcatraz East Crime Museum. “Both of these cases involve crimes that were hidden for a long time. The more we can share their stories, hopefully more people will find the courage to step forward in their own lives.”

 

Starting June 10, 2019, the Justice System Gallery will add the case against Larry Nassar, who was USA Gymnastics national team doctor from 1996-2014, and a former doctor at Michigan State University. Nassar’s repeated violations of underage girls under the guise of medical treatment went back at least 30 years. In 2017, he plead guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors in Ingham County Circuit Court. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina invited accusers to speak during the sentencing phase and over 200 women gave victim impact statements, including Olympians. January 24, 2018 Judge Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 45-175 years in prison. 

 

Alexis Alvarado was a diver and gymnast who was first violated by Nassar when she was 12-years-old and gave a powerful statement before Judge Aquilina. The museum will feature a new display including a blue Michigan leotard that Alvarado used to compete, and her Arthur Ashe Courage Award trophy. Alvarado was among 140 survivors who appeared onstage to receive the honor on July 18, 2018 at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles. While other items from Alvarado will be on long-term display, the ESPY trophy will only be on view through the summer.

 

“It was such an honor to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award along with my sister survivors, says Alvarado. “I hope sharing it with the public will help inspire others to speak out and hold offenders and institutions accountable.” 

 

This summer, the museum is also offering a temporary exhibit in memory of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Murdered 25 years ago on June 12, 1994, Nicole would have celebrated her 60th birthday on May 19. Alcatraz East Crime Museum is turning the focus on Nicole with “Passion for Life: Nicole Brown Simpson,” as well as showing the devastating impact of domestic violence. The exhibit includes items that belonged to Nicole, such as favorite pieces of clothing and jewelry, a poem handwritten by Nicole that was read at her funeral, as well as family photos. The exhibit will run through August 17. 

 

Alcatraz East also displays the white Bronco from the slow speed O.J. Simpson chase, which occurred on June 17, 1994 when Simpson fled from an arrest warrant in the murders. Simpson was later found not guilty in the criminal trial, but found liable for both deaths in a civil suit. The museum has other Simpson items on display such as a Buffalo Bills football helmet and ties worn by Simpson at the trial. 

 

On June 1, Alcatraz East held its 2nd Annual Graffiti Art Contest, with eight selected finalists. 

 

“It’s exciting how many talented entries we received this year,” says Summer Saylor, who coordinated the event. “It’s great to be able to bring together local law enforcement and the arts community in a fun atmosphere.” 

 

The top spots went to:

 

1-Charles Key: Nashville, TN

2-Leonardo Rodriquez: Pigeon Forge, TN

3-William Love: Nashville, TN

 

The contest guidelines restricted artists to themes in line with the museum’s law enforcement and crime history topics. Winners of the contest will have their panels added to the “graffiti alley” exhibit in the museum later this summer, and received cash prizes of $750 for first place, $350 for second place, and $200 for third place. The judges’ panel included local law enforcement representatives Pigeon Forge Chief of Police Richard Catlett, Sevier County Sheriff Patrol Lt. Nathan Carr, as well as artist Jessica Southerland from Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, and Matt Garrabrant of Southern Draw Tattoo Studio in Sevierville.  

 

“The other contestants this year were amazing artists and I’m grateful to have been able to compete in the same space with them, such an honor,” says William Love. “Hope to be able to do it again in the future!” 

 

The museum is always adding to its collection and has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.alcatrazeast.com.

 

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.alcatrazeast.com.

4 Insanely Tough Interview Questions (and How to Nail Them)

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Problem solver. Creative. Works well under pressure.

These are key personality traits employers will be seeking no matter what position they’re hiring for—and chances are, your resume probably already showcases them in some way. But these days, hiring managers from some firms aren’t content to take job seekers at their word—they want to see it to believe it.

And that’s why some companies have turned the interview process on its head. Instead of the traditional questions you might expect in an interview, they’re giving candidates problems to solve—problems which, at first glance, might seem totally random. Google, for example, has been known to ask, “How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30 PM on a Friday?” Hewlett-Packard asks, “If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?”

What? Where do you even begin?

Here’s the secret (yes, there’s a secret): Your interviewer isn’t necessarily looking for a right answer. He wants to determine how quickly you can think on your feet, how you’ll approach a difficult situation, and, most importantly, whether you can remain positive and proactive and make progress in the face of a challenge.

So, if one of these “problem-solving” questions gets thrown your way—relax, be yourself, and tackle it calmly. Talk the interviewer through your internal thought process, so he can gain insight into the way you think and analyze information. Below are some of the toughest types of questions employers are known to ask—and your guide for how to ace them.

1. Design an Evacuation Plan for This Office Building

(Inspired by Google)

As with any complex on-the-job challenge, the first step to answering a question like this is to clearly identify the problem. If designing an evacuation plan was really your task on the job, you definitely wouldn’t be able to solve it in an hour-long meeting—you’d need a lot more information. So, when an employer asks these types of questions, the idea is actually to see if you can pinpoint and explain the key challenges involved.

For example, in the question of an evacuation plan, you’ll have to know the nature of the disaster before you can answer it. A fire would have a different plan than a hurricane or earthquake, right? You’d also need to know how many staircases, elevators, and people are in the building.

When you’re presented with a complicated question like this, don’t be afraid to answer it with more questions. What the interviewer is really looking for is that you can think through the information you’ll need to reach a solution, and then ask for it—or explain how you’d seek it out—in a structured, logical way..

2. How Many Tennis Balls Can You Fit into a Limousine?

(Inspired by Monitor Group)

1,000? 10,000? 100,000? In these types of questions, the interviewer doesn’t necessarily want an exact number—he wants to make sure that you understand what’s being asked of you, and that you can set into motion a systematic and logical way to respond.

So, just take a deep breath, and start thinking through the math. (Yes, it’s OK to ask for a pen and paper!) For example, start by estimating the cubic inches of a limo and the volume of a tennis ball (also in cubic inches). Pretend the limo is a box to simplify things for yourself, and just make a note out loud that you’re approximating. Divide one into the other, make allowances for the seats in the limo, and move from there. Even if you don’t know the exact measurements, the real goal is to impress your potential employers with your ability to get to the heart of the problem quickly and with purpose..

3. How Much Should You Charge to Wash All of the Windows in Montana?

(Inspired by Google)

Remember that not all questions must have a complicated answer. As a matter of fact, with a question like this, most candidates don’t even provide a correct answer. Employers are simply asking the question because it is difficult to prepare for, and they want to see firsthand how quickly you can think on your feet.

Prepared responses may cut it for open-ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” But, employers want to see that you remain calm when you feel uncertain—and that you are able to think outside of the box if they take you “off-script.”

Yes, this question is especially broad—but you could get around that by naming what you consider to be a fair price per window rather trying to figure out the number of windows in the area. Talk it out. You both know that there’s not enough information to get a completely accurate answer, so relax and see where your mind goes.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article

10 Ways to Keep the Family Physically and Mentally Active This Summer

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Picture of WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park

With summer break upon us, many parents will be scrambling for ideas of how to keep their families active over the next couple of months. Staying active, both physically and mentally, can help families avoid the dreaded summer brain drain, where kids tend to lose some of what they learned during the school year, and it can help keep the body healthier.

Plus, you can make some great family memories and everyone can learn something. There are numerous ways for the whole family to keep active this summer in the Pigeon Forge area.

“Summer is a great time to engage your family in something new,” states Ed Shaffer, General Manager for WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge. “By seeing and experiencing different things over the break, their mind and body will stay active and challenged. The Pigeon Forge area offers plenty of opportunities for the family to make memories together.”

Here are 10 ways to keep the family physically and mentally active this summer in the Pigeon Forge area:

  1. Explore Art. Check out the illusion artwork at WonderWorks, some of which have hidden objects. You can also play brain games by answering riddles along the way.
  2. Get climbing. WonderWorks offers a 50-foot tall indoor ropes course, where you can be challenged and have fun. The four stories of ropes over over 50 different obstacles and activities.
  3. Play tag. There’s nothing like a family-friendly game of laser tag to create fun memories. WonderWorks offers offers an interactive laser tag option that is a great experience for the whole family.
  4. Be awed. Don’t miss The Wonders of Magic show at WonderWorks, starring Terry Evanswood. Considered the best magic show in the state, it won’t disappoint!
  5. Start digging. Visit the interactive sandbox at WonderWorks, where every hand motion and sand movement leads to more to explore.
  6. Take a hike. The wonders of nature and benefits of spending time out in it cannot be overlooked. Pick a trail that is appropriate for all ages of those in your family, and head out for a nice hike.
  7. Learn something new. Visit a nature center, where you can take part in guided activities, learning about things in the environment.
  8. Family bike ride. Head out on one of the area’s paved bike trails, such as Riverwalk Greenway, and explore by bike. Those who are not local can rent bikes for the journey.
  9. Visit goats. Give the kids a hands-on experience with animals. Families love stopping by to see and feed the animals at Goats on the Roof.
  10. Go downriver. A fun family experience for everyone, head out for a couple of hours of family tubing or rafting. This experience provides an exhilarating experience for all.

“We are blessed to live in an area that offers many family friendly activity opportunities,” added Shaffer. “Combining WonderWorks with some outdoor activities will help keep your loved ones physically and mentally strong and growing over the summer break.”

man with handcuffs on and fighting off a huge chainsawWonderWorks in Pigeon Forge offers 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, billing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery, and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, log onto their site: https://www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 71mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. WonderWorks is also home to Wonders of Magic, starring Terry Evanswood, the award-winning and longest running performer in Pigeon Forge. WonderWorks hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally. Open daily from 9 a.m. until midnight. https://www.wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge.

Get to Know the Scientist of the Year: Dr. Clarise R. Starr

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Dr.Clarise Starr poses at work smiling wearing a bright red sweater

Dr. Clarise R. Starr—2018 HENAAC award winner for scientist of the year—is a supervisory biological scientist in the Aeromedical Research Department of the Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

As the Deputy Division Chief, she is responsible for the research portfolios for the division. She leads and performs research in biological surveillance, human performance optimization, and force health protection against biological threats. Dr. Starr also serves as the laboratory director for the biological select agent and toxin research mission.

Dr. Starr discusses her career and offers her words of wisdom.

HISPANIC Network Magazine (HNM): What motivated you to become a microbiologist?

Dr. Clarise Starr (CS): I was always fascinated by the way a virus could mutate and the potential impact of outbreaks on mankind. I read the Hot Zone by Richard Preston and the Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett when I was in college, and I was determined to play some kind of role in preventing the end of the world by these pathogens.

HNM: What advice would you give other women interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

CS: Find good mentors and a good tribe to encourage you, especially when you are frustrated, because the path to a STEM career is not always easy, but it is very well worth it. I have been fortunate to have good mentors from grade school all the way to present day that I can bounce ideas and thoughts off of, and I think that has been part of my success. If you are interested in science, tell your teachers, your Girl Scout leaders, your family, anyone, and ask if they know any scientists whom you can talk to. Talk to as many as you can and then find opportunities to participate in science when you’re in high school, either through science fairs, internships or summer programs if they are available. Science fairs sometimes are judged by people in the community who have a science background, so those are easy networking opportunities. The more people you can talk to about what your interests are, the more insight you can get about types of schooling you need and jobs that are out there that you may never thought required your interests or skill sets.