If it feels like DJ Khaled is everywhere in the transit world, that’s because he is. Popping up on Lyft scooters, ride-share driving undercover, and owning a ridiculous car collection, the hip-hop star is all about getting around. Now he’s helping you get where you’re going as a new navigation voice option in the Waze app.
Sure, his voice giving directions is part of a six-week promo with streaming music service Deezer for his new album. But that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the advice-filled phrases the performer is known for. Waze, Google’s driving direction app, is used worldwide with 115 million users and has featured other celebrity voices for navigation such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Hart, T-Pain, and Shaq. Bringing in known voices to give you driving directions is a feature that’s been incorporated into the app for years. A popular request was actor Morgan Freeman a few years ago.
One of the songs on his newest album Father of Asahd features singer John Legend, who is the latest voice option on Google’s digital assistant platform, Google Assistant. Legend’s AI voice launched last month.
Continue on to Mashablee to read the complete article.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
37% of U.S.-based companies surveyed expect to hire new employees in 2019
Looking for a strong industry that is poised for growth and offers a secure, bright future ahead? There’s good news in the global petroleum—or oil and gas—industry. Senior oil and gas professionals in the United States are among the global experts who are confident about the outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2019. Companies across the country are preparing for significant increases in capital expenditure over the coming year. That’s according to DNV GL, a Denmark-based, internationally accredited registrar and classification society that provides risk management and quality assurance services to the maritime, oil and gas, and power and renewables industries.
Full of confidence and buoyed by favorable government energy policies, the majority of senior oil and gas professionals in the United States—71 percent—agree that more large, capital-intensive oil and gas projects will be approved this year than in 2018.
These findings have been published in A Test of Resilience, DNV GL’s ninth annual benchmark study on the outlook for the oil and gas industry. The research is based on a global survey of nearly 800 senior oil and gas professionals and in-depth interviews with industry leaders.
The United States has the highest expectation of capital expenditure increases out of all countries and regions analyzed in DNV GL’s study. As many as 43 percent of respondents from the United States aim to increase capital spending in 2019, compared to just 23 percent a year ago. By contrast, only 30 percent of respondents globally expect to see a rise in capital expenditures this year. There are similarly optimistic findings for operating expenditure, with the 31 percent predicting increased expenditures in the United States outstripping both last year’s 20 percent tally and the 22 percent expectation level globally in 2019.
“Surging oil and gas industry confidence in the United States is built on the foundation of improved financial resilience due to hard-earned cost efficiencies, cost discipline, best practice, collaboration, standardization and the continued recovery and stabilization of oil and gas prices for most of 2018,” said Frank Ketelaars, Regional Manager, the Americas, DNV GL–Oil & Gas.
As the oil and gas industry prepares to increase capital and operational spending, DNV GL’s research reveals that companies in the United States also risk relaxing their tight grip on the cost efficiencies established during the recent market downturn. The proportion of respondents whose organizations will assign top priority to cost efficiency this year has fallen from 35 percent in 2018 to 15 percent in 2019; the lowest globally. In turn, the old spending habits that affected the sector during the pre-2014 period of high oil prices may be returning. A whopping 42 percent of respondents in the United States believe that suppliers will drive notable price inflation this year.
And what does that mean for the industry? Good news—hiring will be on the rise. Senior oil and gas industry professionals report they are looking to recruit new talent this year: 37 percent of U.S.-based respondents expect to hire new employees in 2019, compared to just 20 percent in 2018. New DNV GL research shows that 85 percent of gas and oil industry leaders in the United States are optimistic about the industry’s growth prospects in the year ahead, up sharply from 60 percent in 2018. This compares with 76 percent reporting confidence among respondents globally.
Key Trends for 2019
85% of oil and gas industry leaders in the United States are optimistic about the industry’s growth prospects in the year ahead, compared to 60% going into 2018
71% expect more large, capital-intensive oil and gas projects to be approved this year than in 2018
42% believe suppliers will drive notable price increases this year
15% say cost efficiency is a top priority for their companies in 2019, compared to 35% in 2018
The time is now ripe for breaking into technology as a woman. For the past 20 years or so, looking up to role models often meant emulating male leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.
As a woman of color and a software engineer, I found myself in situations where I had nobody who looked like me among the tech leadership. As a result, I doubted my capabilities, skills and confidence.
This is when I first came across the Grace Hopper Conference. I was lucky and fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to attend the conference for free as a student. For any woman interested in software engineering now, the GHC is the go-to place for getting inspired, finding jobs and life-long mentors — along with similar conferences like the NCWIT Summit on Women and IT and the Girlboss Rally. After I met so many amazing women like me at the conference, I returned to my job feeling much more empowered to make changes to our recruiting pipeline to hire more female engineers.
Flash forward to today, and there are more women stepping up to become mentors, many women taking leadership roles to become role models for the future generations, and groups on social media are connecting women everywhere and helping them feel inspired and empowered to break into technology. I’ve noticed more and more workplaces are starting to recognize women in prominent leadership roles by offering them opportunities to mentor and enabling tough conversations about diversity and inclusion to take place at work.
It is truly the right time to be a part of this movement. As a female software engineer and rising entrepreneur, I would like to share some tips for women trying to break into the field of software engineering and ways to thrive at work by challenging the status quo.
Help People Without Any Expectations
You get what you give. Consider the skills or knowledge you currently possess in a specific area — for example, databases, bots, Java, Python and so on. You could share this knowledge through free courses on Youtube or Udemy. There are various resource groups on entrepreneurship, engineering, and design. One of the most famous is the Hackathon Hackers group on Facebook, and another popular one is Ladies Storm Hackathons. Consider joining a group and helping college students who need assistance with making career choices or advice on obtaining internships and jobs, or people looking for co-founders on a project.
Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.
Tara Chklovski had the weight of her family on her shoulders.
Growing up in India in what she calls a lower-middle-class family, it was difficult not to notice the poverty around her — especially the pivotal role chance plays in determining the family someone is born into, as well as their access to education, healthcare and opportunity.
Chklovski’s parents encouraged her to pursue a subject that intrinsically advanced the world, hoping it would also advance their family’s situation. “That is definitely the mantra of the times in India,” says Chklovski. “The lower middle class has this drive to get a degree in engineering or medicine or technology so you can lift your family out of poverty.”
She came to the U.S. to study aerospace engineering and quickly found that that same drive to pursue tech didn’t apply — especially in the women she met. The U.S. may be a more developed country, she thought, but here, women actively kind of closed doors to their potential, making blanket statements like, “I’m not good at math.” Chklovski was stunned someone could say that with a straight face, but she was also intrigued. She did some digging and concluded that the “huge, transforming lever” that is education was at the root of the problem.
Chklovski wanted to become a pioneer in the area, so she left her PhD program to start Iridescent, an educational nonprofit that says it’s helped train more than 114,000 people from 115 countries since its 2006 launch. The organization sets its sights on empowering young girls and mothers to become tech leaders in communities across the globe, partnering with the likes of Google, GM and Boeing in its mission to teach AI and entrepreneurship to people who have identified problems they’d like to solve in their own communities.
NOGLSTP presented its 5th biannual Out to Innovate™ Summit for LGBTIQ People in STEM on March 16-17 at the location of its first summit, the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, CA.
These summits are meant to support and encourage the open participation of the LGBTIQ community in STEM activities. With this year’s theme, “Igniting STEM with PRIDE,” over 200 attendees participated in 20 workshops and 4 plenaries, increasing skill sets, broadening their knowledge, and making new friends.
Early arriving attendees attended a tour of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and in the evening NOGLSTP hosted a reception for workshop organizers, panelists, and exhibitors at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries where the NOGLSTP history and files reside and were on partial display.
The meeting opened with proclamations and greeting from the region, followed by Kei Koizumi, Visiting Scholar in science policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), gave an inspiring motivational speech, reminding everyone to pursue their dreams in STEM as LGBTQ people
Over the following day and a half, attendees participated in 4 breakout sessions containing 20 workshops covered a wide range of topics; titles from “Proposal Writing Workshop: Understanding the Federal Money Process,” and “Careers in Government and Policy for LGBTQ STEM people,” to “Out on the Academic Job Search,” “Forming Student Groups: Experiences and Organizing”, “a LGBTQ+ Health Initiatives”, “Queer in STEM Demographic Studies”, ”LGTQ Portrayal in Arts and Media” and “Intersectionality – Bringing All of Your Identities,” provided learning and discussion opportunities over a broad spectrum of issues and ideas.
Plenaries included an “Out and Accomplished panel”, where “out” panel members provided their perspectives on serving in industry, government, and academia. Saturday evening’s Gala Recognition Awards Reception and Dinner was held at the USC Town and Gown hall with keynote speaker David Bohnett, founder of GeoCities who spoke of his journey, from being a closeted undergraduate student at USC, the early days of the World Wide Web and founding GeoCities. 2017 and 1028 Out to Innovate™ Scholarship recipients (funded by Motorola Solutions Foundation), and poster session winners were honored at the dinner as well as 2019 Recognition Awardees: presented the 2019 Recognition Award Winners: Dr Benny Chan, Professor of Chemistry at the College of New Jersey (LGBTQ Educator of the year), Dr Arianna Morales, Staff Research Scientist at General Motors Global research and Development (LGBTQ Engineer of the year), and Dr Jon Freeman, Associate professor of Psychology and Neural Science New York University (LGBTQ Scientist of the Year). This year’s Walt Westman Award went to Dr. Lauren Esposito, Curator at California Academy of Sciences and creator of 500 Queer Scientists website.
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?”
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Before his death, the rapper was involved in projects focused on revitalizing his South LA neighborhood and supporting STEM among black and brown youths.
When Los Angeles–based rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed on March 31 at the age of 33, his death plunged people in his LA community, as well as others all over the world, into resounding grief.
It wasn’t only that he was young and beloved or that he was a father of two who was in a relationship with actress Lauren London. Hussle (whose given name was Ermias Asghedom) was lauded through his life not just for his music but also for his service to the black community.
In the days after his death, there has been much talk about much he did for the black community in South LA, but most people didn’t realize how far-reaching his activism and entrepreneurship were:
He was an advocate for STEM among black and brown kids
Hussle was an investor in Vector90, a technology space founded by Gross. The center is home to a community program called Too Big to Fail, which serves as a link between young people in the inner city and Silicon Valley. The aim: to train underrepresented and disenfranchised black and brown youths in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Hussle and Gross reportedly had plans to expand the program across the country.
He was in the beginning stages of addressing gun violence with the LAPD
On March 31, LA Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff revealed that Hussle had a scheduled meeting with the LAPD the day after his death to discuss gun violence in the city. Hussle, a former gang member, spoke openly about his experiences with gang culture and his desire to focus on “giving solutions and inspiration” to young black men like him.
He was revitalizing the community with new real estate developments
In a bid to bring black-owned businesses and jobs to his South LA neighborhood, Hussle reportedly spent several million dollars on a strip mall property on Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue with several stores, including his “smart store” Marathon Clothing.
He had bigger plans in the world of real estate: In February he told Forbes that his goal was to work with black community leaders in other U.S. cities to create similar business and real estate hubs designed to benefit rather than push out the black community.The plan was part of an initiative called Our Opportunity, co-founded by Hussle and led by his business partner Dave Gross.