Urban Workshop Sets High Bar for Makerspaces

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urban workshop kids program

By Michele Nash-Hoff

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship held a Makerspace Ecosystem Summit titled “Make/Shift” in Irvine on April 24-26th, and I was able to attend the last day.  I learned that in 2016,” the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Workforce and Economic Division funded the $17 million CCC Maker Initiative for three years under the  Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy  framework.

It was the first statewide initiative to grow a system of community college makerspaces and included funding for 800 internships.

After a rigorous application process, 24 “California community colleges were awarded grants to establish makerspaces — do-it-yourself centers where students have access to technology that allows them to create, invent, learn and share ideas. Each of the selected colleges was awarded from $100,000 to $350,000 per year for up to two years.” The makerspace at Mt. San Jacinto Community College in Menifee that I visited last October on MFG Day was one of the funded makerspaces.

“Makerspaces —also known as fablabs — are places in a community where people get together to learn and invent using technology such as 3-D printers, computer-aided design (CAD) software and manufacturing equipment that might otherwise be unaffordable for an individual to purchase.” The California Community College (CCC) “Maker initiative is aimed at strengthening the workforce by inspiring students to learn by doing, teaching in-demand skills for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields, partnering with employers to provide internships…”.

The makerspace grants were planned to coincide with a program by the CCC “to promote its more than 200 career education programs as affordable training for good-paying jobs.” The CCC is the largest provider of workforce training in the U.S. with 114 campuses across the state serving 2.1 million students per year. Its career education programs are developed in partnership with local industries and taught by instructors with direct work experience.

At the first session on Friday, Willy Duncan, Superintendent and President of Sierra College said that while the initial funding has ended, he is committed to continuing the good work and getting follow up funding for the makerspaces. He emphasized that entrepreneurship in 4th Industrial Revolution is being led by entrepreneurs disrupting existing technologies.  He said that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is interacting with other socio-economic and demographic factors to create a perfect storm of business model change in all industries, resulting in major disruptions to labor markets. It is a fusion of new technologies and talents.

The skills needed are more complex and cut across disciplines. Artificial Intelligence, Industrial IoT, automation, and robotics have the potential of creating new jobs, but will widen the skills gap.” He referenced the Future of Jobs Report, which states that automation will accelerate skills shift and social and creative skills will be more important — 42% of skills will change and

75 million jobs could be displaced. The less you make now will put you at risk for being displaced.

He mentioned that a study by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism on Third Space Competencies stated that “third places” are places where you can connect to unlock innovation, drive collaboration, and develop talent.  He recommended that educators need to create third places within makerspaces. He said, “A mindset of agile learning will be needed on the part of workers in the future.  Project-based learning is the hallmark of makerspaces, and students who struggle in traditional leaning may excel in project-based learning. The future will require life-long learning to continually acquire new skills.”

Mr. Duncan said we need to figure out how to revamp learning to stay relevant. It can’t take years to change. Collaboration is critical to implementing change and learning how to lead “from the middle.”

Partnerships through collaboration within the College as well as within the community

Amy Schultz – Dean of Continuing and Technical training at Sierra College said that they partnered with Hacker Labs to create their Makerspace and said their makerspace has an advanced manufacturing. lab with Haas CNC equipment. Partnerships succeed when each partner benefits so it can be sustained.

Dr. Cathy Kemper—Pelle, President of Rogue Community College, in Grants Pass, OR said they partnered with local community to create a makerspace in the downtown area of the city. They bought an old manufacturing building and converted it into large Makerspace, and students are participating in Invent Oregon.

Cabrillo College in Aptos, near Monterrey Bay, partnered with local Goodwill for creating internships for makerspace students and held a joint internship fair.

Dr, Carlos Turner-Cortez. San Diego Continuing Ed. said that their Center provides noncredit training classes that are free.

Some insights from the session were:

  • Artificial Intelligence is allowing companies to develop new products at a faster pace
  • Transportation is going autonomous and vertical at the same time
  • Mode of teaching is being disrupted by online learning and compressed learning
  • Try non-credit training if you want to innovate

Next, I attended the breakout session, Building a Strong Workforce – A TED talk panel discussion – The Future is Happening Now – Cari Vinci of InVINcible Enterprises

In Ms. Vinci’s presentation, she noted that the goal of 70% of students is to go to college, but 75% are undecided about a major.  In the 21st Century workplace, only 23% of future jobs will require 4-year college degree, 34% will require an associate degree or some college, 34% will require a High School diploma or less, and only 11% will require an advanced degree. Today’s education isn’t meeting the needs of the workplace.  A Gallup poll showed that the role of higher education needs to be “purpose-based education.” A mindset of lifelong learning and an understanding of what’s going on globally will be necessary. The new ”Power Skills” for technical skills is to learn what robots and Artificial Intelligence can’t do yet. Students need to acquire the 21st Century Power Skills to ensure success.  Her Playbook for Teens helps students become the CEO of their life and find their career sweet spot.  Community Colleges and makerspaces are catalysts to connect the dots through internships, apprenticeships, and entrepreneurship.

Panelist Andy McCutcheon, Dean of the School of Humanities and Maker Space, College of the Canyons, shared that their MakerSpace is part an integrative learning model that encourages the development of 21st century technical and professional skills while connecting students with community and career paths. Their MakerSpace offers unique opportunities for helping students to connect classroom content and theory with real world problem solving while exploring career opportunities within and beyond their majors and foster connections that may lead to work-based learning opportunities like internships and apprenticeships.  MakerSpace 100 is a project that has placed 25 COC students with two local community partners, JPL’s Mars Rover Team and the Santa Clarita City Hall “Green Streets” team. Students are working in teams to develop solutions related to a NASA payload project and the Sustainable Santa Clarita project gaining important workplace experience while earning college credit and being paid through the CCC Maker Grant.

Panelist, Sarah Boisvert has over 30 years’ experience in advanced manufacturing and is the author of the book, The New Collar Workforce. She is the co-founder of Potomac Photonics, Inc. a laser machine tool company, which she and her partners sold in 1999. Since “retiring”, she founded Fab Lab Hub, located in Santa Fe, NM, which is a member of America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Ms. Boisvert highlighted the re-emergence of manufacturing and briefly presented a blueprint of how to leverage this new, new manufacturing in colleges. She explained that the new collar workforce is a combination of entrepreneurial, design, fabricators, business, and other skills that is turning the traditional workforce training model on its head. She said that where blue collar assembly line positions are being replaced by robots, a new collar job is being created to maintain and control the systems. She said that the evolution of traditional blue-collar jobs into new digitally minded jobs that work symbiotically with robots and intelligent technology will be the key to exponential growth, and many new collar workers are attending vocational schools and community colleges rather than attaining traditional four-year degrees.

The final session featured a discussion of sustainability and funding insights from Foundation leaders:

Stephanie Bowman, Manager, HP Foundation – she said that the HP Foundation provides HP Foundation provides core business and IT skills training free of charge for start-ups, students, and small businesses through HP LIFE (Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs)  Each module takes one hour and you get certificate when complete. They have awarded $23 million in grants in 42 countries. The mission of the HP Foundation is to make life better for undeserved and underrepresented communities by providing technology-related learning experiences and opportunities.

Rachel Burnnette, Program Officer, Lemelson Foundation (Portland, OR) – she said that the Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives, by inspiring and enabling the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises to promote economic growth in the US, and social and economic progress for the poor in developing countries. The Foundation has provided or committed more than $185 million in grants and Program-Related Investments in support of its mission. They run their funding through Venturewell.

I’m very glad to see that community colleges are taking the lead in providing career technical training to bridge the widening gap of job skills for the 21st century workplace. Makerspaces are uniquely poised to foster real world connections between theory and practice and between the classroom and what a student might want to do with his or her life.  What concerns me is that many of the 24 California Community Colleges may wind up struggling to keep their doors open at a time when colleges across the state are looking for ways to cut costs in response to the statewide shortfall caused by a new funding formula. New programs without ongoing funding may be the first to go as districts tighten their belts. I can only hope that private foundations like those mentioned above and collaborative industry partnerships will alleviate the funding gap.

Jelani Odlum, Michelson 20MM Foundation (Los Angeles) – she said the Foundation supports innovation in education and higher learning initiatives. The Foundation’s founder, Dr. Gary Michelson,  has several hundred patents for his company. She explained that the vision for their Spark Grants program is to introduce an innovative just-in-time grantmaking process to fill urgent needs for education organizations that are well-aligned with their key target outcomes. They seek to fund highly impactful initiatives that would not be possible if they needed to wait through a traditional grant decision timeline.

After the NACCE Summit I attended on April 27th formally ended at 1:30 PM, I went on the optional tour of a nearby makerspace, the Urban Workshop in Costa Mesa. It is the largest makerspace I have visited in my travels around the country and is the largest makerspace in southern California.

“Urban workshop was born out of my engineering and manufacturing company called Automotive Technology Group Inc., which opened in 2001. Prior to the economic downturn, we were one of the top EV and hybrid vehicle engineering houses in the country doing advanced R&D for the large auto makers and smaller startups such as Fisker Automotive. We also did a small number of professional motorsports.

When the economy slowed, most of the engineering services and manufacturing dried up but the motorsport business swelled. The rich guys who were racing cars weren’t affected by the downturn of the economy so we did well. Around January 2013, I started doing STEM presentations to kids at local high schools and colleges to tell them about the race cars hoping to peak their interest in the sciences. I had heard about makerspaces and started asking some of the teachers their opinion about them. Jokingly, they started to introduce me as the guy who is opening “The Shop.”  I didn’t correct them, and before I knew it, people were showing up at ATG asking if this was “The Shop” and if it was open yet.

The Urban Workshop was founded by, and is privately owned by, Steve Trindade. During the tour, Steve told the story of how he started the makerspace, and later emailed me the following story:

“By January 2014, I had become very frustrated with the engineering services business due to customers not paying or going out of business leaving me holding the bag. Simultaneously, three to five people per week were stopping by to look for “The Shop.” That was when I decided to go for it. We wound down the projects we were working on, and signed a lease for a 5,500 square foot R&D space in May 2014.”

Steve said, “Our facility was basically built, painted, and set up by volunteers. People who walked in the front door and asked, is this “The Shop?”  I said, It’s Urban Workshop, but we aren’t open yet. Almost always they replied, can I help? I said yes, and put them to work.

In the end, we renovated the facility and got ready to open with nearly all volunteer help. Using all volunteer help, we set up the new facility and opened as Urban Workshop on July 2014. We had a similar experience with volunteer help when we moved into our current larger building in April 2015.

Since then, the business has grown significantly, and our membership is over 1,700. Our small business members do approximately $20M in annual revenue directly out of our facility, and collectively they have raised nearly $70M in angel and venture funding. In 2015, we added youth programing similar to the old school shop classes and now serve over 1,000 students age 10 to 16 years old annually.”

I was impressed by the kind of equipment and resources the Urban Workshop provides. It is a full-scale DIY workshop and makerspace meaning that it includes all aspects of engineering, prototyping and manufacturing equipment.  Steve said, “We have nearly $1M worth of equipment and because we used to be a professional services company, all of the equipment is current state of the art industry relevant equipment as opposed to the typical hobby level equipment you find in all other makerspaces. We teach classes on all the equipment and continue to add classes as fast as we can generate the course materials.

The equipment I saw on the tour included computers and software, large format plotters and printers, 3D printers, laser etchers, sheet metal fabrication equipment, manual and CNC machines, MIG and TIG welding, a vacuum forming machine, an autoclave, a silicone molding pressure pot, an extensive wood shop with a large CNC router, a composites fabrication shop, a vinyl cutter, sewing equipment, an electronics lab, and an auto shop with five auto lifts.

On their website, the following companies are listed as commercial partners/supporters:

  • Epilog Laser Etchers – Educational pricing on equipment and extended warranty support to Urban Workshop

When I asked what “Making” meant to him, he said, “In one word, opportunity. Opportunity for our members to learn new skills, open a new business, fix something, help others, learn a new skill, make a new friend, complete a personal project or who knows what. It has been very satisfying to watch people come in the shop with one idea and end up making five more things they never thought of before on equipment they have never used before with the help of someone they met at Urban Workshop.”

  • Haas CNC Machines Educational – pricing on equipment, extended warranty support, free computerized training and simulation station to Urban Workshop.
  • Autodesk HSMWorks – Free HSMWorks CNC programming software for members to use on site.
  • SolidWorks – Free engineering software for members to use on site.
  • Laguna Tools – Educational pricing on equipment, software and extended warranty support to Urban Workshop.
  • National Instruments – Free Virtual Bench all-in-one test equipment and LabView software for members to use on site.
  • Ingersoll-Rand – Educational discount on machine tooling and fixtures to Urban Workshop.·

Steve said, “The initial response to Urban Workshop was overwhelmingly positive, and the level of enthusiasm was incredible. The response continues to be great and the level of excitement and comradery continues to grow. Almost weekly a member comes to my office to thank me for opening the shop and enabling them to be able to make their dream project or start their new business. I knew this would be fun and satisfying, but I never imagined the extent that it would be so well received.”

One other observation he made is that whether you call it hacking, making, or tinkering, “the desire people have to use their hands is universal and fundamental. It is extremely satisfying to figure something out, address a problem or need one has or create something from scratch. I believe it has a therapeutic value and allows one to focus on something for a time without distraction. This is something that is unusual in these days of smart phones and social networking.”

In describing the projects his members are working on, he said, “They vary just as much as the members do. We have young professionals who are starting their own businesses all the way to the “burning man” crowd. It is impossible to nail it down and give a simple example. I have seen everything from ruggedized super tablets designed and manufactured in the shop to an Arduino controlled dog feeder and a talking Wi-Fi enabled Christmas tree. Urban Workshop’s membership is approximately 45% startups developing and manufacturing new products, 40% hobbyist, and 15% students. The hobbyists are the most diverse and work on home projects, vehicle restorations, boats, motorcycles, gifts, tons of wood working and cabinetry, arts and crafts, holiday decorations, cosplay, prop making, toys, and you name it.”

When I asked what his future plans are, he said, “Our long term the goal is to open additional locations. Currently, we are expanding our class offering to include many more project classes that will help guide people on the path of making. The youth program continues to grow, and additional levels will be added. Our most promising new product is the licensing of our operational procedures and class documentation to other makerspaces world-wide, providing operational training, and instructor training to enable them to prosper and help even more people.”

I’ve only visited one other makerspace about which I wrote, Vocademy in Riverside, that had a plan to expand to other locations, but its focus was on working with high schools to provide the career technical training that high schools used to provide.  With the depth and breadth of Steve’s business experience, he is more likely to succeed with his future plans than others.

9 Non-Clinical Healthcare Careers to Consider

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Media assistants sitting a table together

It’s hard to ignore the healthcare field if you’re searching for a stable career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the healthcare field is expected to add 2.4 million new jobs from 2016 to 2026—which is more than any other occupational group!

There’s no denying that there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you in healthcare. But what if you don’t see yourself working in direct patient care? Luckily you don’t have to work in a clinical setting to take advantage of a career in the booming healthcare industry.

The healthcare field revolves around caring for people, but it takes more than just doctors and nurses to make it happen. High-quality healthcare gets plenty of support from non-clinical workers who take care of administrative tasks, coordinate care efforts, manage technology and more.

These non-clinical healthcare occupations are a valued part of the medical field and play an important part in keeping the healthcare industry running smoothly. Explore these non-clinical healthcare career descriptions to find the one that’s the best fit for you.

  1. Medical coder

In a sense, medical coders are the translators of the healthcare industry. They convert patients’ medical records and physicians’ notes into specially designed codes so insurance companies can accurately bill for the services patients receive. Because these healthcare professionals have access to sensitive patient information, they also need to be well-versed in government regulations surrounding healthcare privacy and electronic health records.

This role may sound simple, but it keeps a healthcare provider’s financial records in tip-top shape.

  1. Health information technician

Technology is changing the way the healthcare industry works, especially where electronic health records (EHRs) are involved. Health information technicians (HITs) ensure that a patient’s EHRs are accurate and secure. They also analyze data on patient outcomes.

Like medical coders, HIT professionals are expected to stay current with regulations about patient privacy.

  1. Healthcare manager

Healthcare managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a medical department. They set and monitor budgets, train new staff members to their team and look for ways to increase efficiency and quality of care.

Healthcare managers set the tone for their department and their team, so their leadership influences every patient who walks through a facility’s doors.

  1. Medical administrative assistants

Medical administrative assistants, sometimes called medical secretaries, are often the smiling faces you see when you first enter a medical facility. These administrative experts greet patients and provide customer service, schedule appointments, enter insurance information and work with patient billing.

Medical administrative assistants keep a healthcare facility running smoothly behind the scenes, and they make patients feel welcome and cared for.

  1. Healthcare administrator

Healthcare administrators are the leaders of their medical facility. They set financial goals for their facility, create policies that benefit patient care and ensure that their facility stays in compliance with healthcare regulations.

Healthcare administrators might seem far removed from patient care, but their work directly impacts the quality of care a facility is able to provide.

  1. Community health worker

Community health workers focus on improving the well-being of the people in a particular area or region. Their tasks include educating community members on important health issues, reaching out to at-risk populations to improve their health and assisting with disaster preparedness. These healthcare workers are in the unique position to impact individuals’ general well-being on a large scale.

  1. Human service assistants

Human service assistants work with patients to help them arrange the medical care and other services they need. Their work varies depending on the population they serve. Human service assistants who focus on the elderly might help patients arrange transportation to the doctor, set up a meal delivery service or navigate Medicare. Those who work with people with disabilities might help them arrange personal care services or find a job that accommodates their disability.

Human service assistants spend their days making it easier for patients to navigate a complex healthcare system so they can live their lives to the fullest.

  1. Corporate wellness coordinator

Corporate wellness coordinators work at the intersection of healthcare and business. These healthcare pros bring wellness programs to corporations to help their employees improve their overall health—which in turn gives a boost to the company’s bottom line. They often run fitness initiatives and evaluate individuals for health risks.

This healthcare career puts the spotlight on wellness so individuals can be aware of their risk factors and take control of their health.

  1. Patient advocate

It can be easy for patients to feel overwhelmed in a medical setting, especially if they’re experiencing health issues. Patient advocates help bridge this gap by explaining medical terms and procedures to patients, ensuring they have access to the treatments they need and helping them understand their treatment plan. Patient advocates also communicate a patient’s concerns to doctors or nurses.

Patient advocates dedicate themselves to making sure patients feel heard. They’re the ones patients can turn to if they need support and aren’t sure what to do.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Author-Ashley Brooks

Source: rasmussen.edu

Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) Conference

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Great Minds in STEM Flyer with details for the event

Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) invites you to the 31st Annual Conference taking place September 25-29, 2019 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

The GMiS Conference is the nation’s most prestigious stage for building and reinforcing networks and honoring excellence. The place where top executives, innovative professionals, and the brightest STEM students convene.

GMiS draws thousands of diverse high caliber STEM students from a broad array of institutions, including top‐ranked U.S. News & World Report Institutions, Research I Institutions, and Minority‐Serving Institutions.

Network with over 3000 STEM executives, college students and recruiters from all major industries and sectors. Secure an internship, fellowship or full time career!

Click here for a full flyer view.

For more information,  visit  greatmindsinstem.org .

Yes, tech companies may listen when you talk to your virtual assistant. Here’s why that’s not likely to stop

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alexa machine sitting on a counter

Big tech companies don’t like to talk about it. And when users find out it’s happening, they’re often surprised — and disturbed. Yes, if you talk to a virtual assistant, such as Amazon’s Alexa, a human may listen to a recording of your chatter.

Recent reports have highlighted what is actually a longstanding practice meant largely to improve the artificial intelligence that underpins the virtual assistant-powered gadgets and services that are popping up throughout people’s homes and lives.

The practice raises privacy concerns for smart-speaker users in particular, who might have known that Amazon, Google, and Apple create recordings each time you speak to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, respectively, but not that people might review them.

The companies have said only a small percentage of recordings are listened to by humans. Still, Google and Apple have temporarily halted human reviews of their recordings, while Amazon recently changed its settings to make it easier for people to avoid such review at all.

Last week, Facebook said it, too, had paused human review of some users’ audio clips, such as those sent as audio messages via the social network’s Messenger app. Facebook had been using humans to listen in, as part of an AI-transcription feature.

Lost in the shuffle of these revelations is whether people are truly needed to make these AI-dependent systems work, and how much companies should tell users about this process.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Apply For The Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Fellowship Sponsored by ADP

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The Reaching Out LGBTQ MBA Fellowship (ROMBA) was created as a joint effort between top business school programs and Reaching Out to demonstrate that business schools are the top destination to develop the out LGBTQ and active ally business leaders of tomorrow.

​The LGBTQ MBA Fellowship recipients each receive a minimum of $10,000 scholarship per academic year or $20,000 total scholarship, and also receive access to exclusive mentorship and leadership development programming through Reaching Out. 55 members of The Class of 2019 will collectively receive over $1,300,000 for each year of their MBA experience!

Click here for full view of flyer

Learn more about the fellowship at reachingoutmba.org

A Giant Leap for Womankind

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NASA Earth Science Division Deputy Director Sandra Cauffman speaks during the Celebrating Women’s History Month – Getting Excited About STEM event at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.

For the first time in NASA’s history, women are in charge of three out of four science divisions at the agency. Earth Science, Heliophysics and Planetary Science divisions now all have women at the helm.

Each hails from a different country and brings unique expertise to NASA’s exploration efforts. One of them is Sandra Cauffman, along with Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science division, and Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics division.

“We have an extraordinary group of women responsible for the success of dozens of NASA space missions and research programs, revealing new insights about our planet, Sun and solar system,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “They are inspiring the next generation of women to become leaders in space exploration as we move forward to put the first woman on the Moon.”

Cauffman, acting director of the Earth Science division, leads the agency’s efforts to understand the intricacies of our home planet—the only one where we know life can survive. Her journey to NASA has been one full of determination and persistence.

As a child in Costa Rica, Cauffman loved reading science fiction books, such as Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, and Isaac Asimov’s novels. Her mother, whom Cauffman considers her hero and inspiration, constantly struggled to make ends meet for her children but maintained an upbeat attitude.

“Even when we didn’t have anything, even when we got kicked out of places, even when we ended up living in an office because we had no place to go, she was always positive,” Cauffman said. Her mother told her: “You can do anything that you want, you just have to put your mind to it.”

Because the family had no television, they went to a neighbor’s house to watch the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. “I just remember telling Mom I wanted to go to the Moon,” Cauffman said.

Fascinated by physics in high school, Cauffman wanted to continue her studies in college. She worked in a hardware store to help pay for her undergraduate education in physics and electrical engineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. As a native Spanish speaker, she struggled daily with English—first learning words like “hammer,” “nail” and “bolt” through her job at the shop. She barely passed her test of English as a second language. But she kept going, eventually earning a master’s in electrical engineering.

She joined NASA in February 1991 as the Ground Systems Manager for the Satellite Servicing Project at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She worked on Hubble’s first servicing mission, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, the Explorer Platform/Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer and others. After 25 years at Goddard, she moved to NASA Headquarters in 2016 and became deputy director for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate. This year, upon the retirement of Michael Freilich, she was named Acting Director of the Earth Science Division.

In her early NASA career, she was often the only woman or one of very few in the room and developed the courage to speak up for herself. These days, with many more women contributing to NASA, Cauffman looks for opportunities to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Though she had a brief foray into Mars missions, Earth is Cauffman’s favorite planet. And she enjoys knowing that Earth science has real benefits to society.

“What we do in observing Earth as a system gives us the additional benefit of helping humans here on Earth survive hurricanes, tornadoes, pollution, fires, and help public health,” she said. “Understanding the oceans, the algae blooms—all of those things help humans right here on Earth.”

Her message to young people who aspire to a career like hers reflects her mother’s message to her: “Don’t give up at the first ‘no.’ With determination and perseverance, we can become what we dream we can become.”

Source: NASA

How technology is changing the face of retail

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Group of women shopping

The concept of “retail tech” might bring to mind a Jetsons-like shopping experience of glowing screens, biometric scanners, and robotic personal assistants. But the reality is more along the lines of traffic-tracking sensors, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, handheld scanners, and heat maps, all technology designed to provide a real-time snapshot of how the modern consumer is shopping. This wealth of data unlocks an understanding of the in-store customer journey that’s deeper and more insightful than ever, and retailers that can successfully leverage this information are the ones that will thrive.

Still, none of this technological wizardry matters if retailers don’t get the basics right. “We have all of these [great] technologies,” says Bjoern Petersen, president of Sensormatic Solutions, the global leader in enabling smart and connected shopper engagement. “But the No. 1 rule is: Don’t destroy the shopping experience.”

For Petersen, that starts with inventory accuracy, which is essential to getting shoppers to come back. “If I am coming in to buy or pick up something and it’s not there, that’s a terrible experience,” he says. “Yet almost all retailers have issues with inventory.”

RFID eliminates manual inventorying by electronically accounting for items packed inside shipping cartons, which are scanned upon arrival. Here’s how yoga-workout outfitter Lululemon puts the RFID-based TrueVUE technology to work: When a customer pays for a shirt, it triggers software that calls for a replacement to be pulled from the store’s back room. If the item is in stock, it will quickly appear on the floor.

“That’s a great customer experience,” Petersen says. “And the retailer can sell down to the last unit at full price because they know where every item is. If you don’t have that kind of deep visibility, you end up doing unnecessary markdowns—and when your store is full of racks of discounted items, the feel is very different.”

Not every retailer leverages RFID or other technology to create this deep inventory knowledge. Petersen says those brands will fall behind, particularly with services like Buy Online, Pickup In Store (BOPIS) on the rise. Petersen points out that more than 10% of BOPIS items are unavailable when customers arrive to pick them up, leading to order cancellation. “The percentage is unnecessarily high,” he says.

ACHIEVING A SEAMLESS SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

Almost all retailers try to optimize costs, often through labor. But Petersen warns that cutting too much here runs the risk of losing the “all-important customer experience.” No shopper wants to wander the aisles in search of assistance, though retailers don’t want to pay for associates to stand around during slow periods.

So how does one staff the right amount of sales associates at the right time? The answer lies in technology that analyzes foot traffic, tracks transactions, and optimizes the ratio of staffers serving customers compared to those conducting replenishment tasks.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Being Intentional: Convening in a World with Too Many Conferences

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group of people from The Arc Network gathered around conference table

By: Rochelle L. Williams, PhD, ARC Network Project Director, AWIS

The ARC Network, an initiative of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), elevates thought leadership on the successes and challenges to realizing equity in STEM. Since 2009, AWIS has worked with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene ADVANCE institutions and NSF Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program to discuss synthesizing quantitative and qualitative approaches affecting gender composition and representation in STEM education workplaces.

By combining AWIS’ convening power and the ARC Network’s mission to advance equity in STEM, we’ve sought to create community, not another conference that promises a magical solution to research problems.

The 2019 Equity in STEM Community Convening builds on the momentum of the NSF ADVANCE/GSE Workshops, while simultaneously curating an experience that embodies a culture of innovation and inclusion. Traditional meeting features (i.e., poster sessions, networking coffee breaks and interactive breakout sessions) are infused with components that amplify, revolutionize and cultivate a community of researchers and practitioners.

Amplify.

To increase the reach and visibility of proven strategies that promote equity in STEM, additional avenues for authentic storytelling have been incorporated into this year’s programming. To start, presenters will stretch themselves by submitting visual abstracts, visual summaries of their presentations instead of the traditional text-based abstract. Shifting to visual abstracts allows easy distribution of their work within the ARC Network and with external audiences using social media. In addition to having prominent keynote speakers and poster showcase, the Equity in STEM Community Convening will also feature Lightning Talks during the networking reception. The Lightning Talks will challenge presenters to outline the highlights of their work and explain its importance within five minutes.

Revolutionize.

The Equity in STEM Community Convening will highlight high-quality research and works-in-progress that have potential to advance and transform STEM workplaces. The Early-Stage Innovations sessions will support new researchers and practitioners looking to share the initial phase of their work or seeking feedback from the community. Experience Reports, sessions dedicated to those on the frontline of change, are designed for well-developed and/or later-stage initiatives or research.

We’ve also introduced a new priority area, ADVANCE to Market. Presentations will center on research, programs, and practices that discuss academic STEM entrepreneurship and commercialization, including social equity issues and taking diversity and inclusion research and resources to market.

Cultivate.

Advancing equity in STEM requires an intentional focus on creating authentic, sustainable and inclusive environments while simultaneously cultivating a community that collaborates, shares and implements promising practices and tools shown to affect change. Presenter-designed Symposia and Workshops are meant to give participants the time to reflect and create, both individually and with others. The informal setting of the Networking Breaks make way for relaxed exchanges that are crucial for the learning process.

In a world with too many conferences, too many broken promises and not enough time, you’ll leave the convening inspired to take your work to the next level and, more importantly, knowing there’s a community ready to support you in your efforts toward #EquityinSTEM.

Building and Gathering a Community

Join the ARC Network Community! This AWIS initiative connects scholars and practitioners committed to equity in STEM at no cost. In collaboration with Mendeley, the ARC Network hosts a dedicated online group for members to access and contribute to a rich library of curated resources – including reports, articles, datasets, toolkits, videos and more – that serve as an important part of systemic change efforts. As the go-to hub for community collaboration, the platform also offers members the opportunity to share events hosted by the community and their institutions as well as online learning opportunities, such as webinars and virtual workshops. There is no cost to register. AWIS Membership not required.

Equity in STEM “First Look.” Published on SSRN, this quarterly digest allows peers to share a wide range of STEM equity content and early stage research, empowering the community with early access to the tools and knowledge needed for change. The inaugural publication provides a historical perspective of the NSF ADVANCE program and outcomes of and lessons learned from past awardees.

Dr Rochelle L Williams standing outside with buildings in the backgroundRochelle L. Williams, PhD, is Project Director for the ADVANCE Resource Coordination (ARC) Network for AWIS. The ARC Network has a primary focus on organizational and institutional systemic change from both the research and practical perspectives. Before joining AWIS, Dr. Williams served as Research Scientist in the Office for Academic Affairs at Prairie View A&M University. Since 2012, Dr. Williams has worked as a subject-matter expert for the National Science Foundation on issues about cultures of inclusion, broadening participation, and university education programs. Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Spelman College and both a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Science and Mathematics Education from Southern University and A&M College.

AWIS is a global network with 80 grassroots chapters and affiliates connecting more than 100,000 professionals in STEM with members, allies and supporters worldwide. Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. We are dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors.

Funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program, Award HRD-1740860, the ADVANCE Resource and Coordination (ARC) Network seeks to achieve gender equity for faculty in higher education science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. As the STEM equity brain trust, the ARC Network recognizes the achievements made so far while producing new perspectives, methods and interventions with an intersectional, intentional and inclusive lens. AWIS serves as the backbone organization of the ARC Network.

Alcatraz East Crime Museum to Display Alcatraz Island-Themed Prison Artwork

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Al Capone by Kleb Koss 2016

Each year, tourists visiting San Francisco make the journey across the water to the must-see Alcatraz Island. Since it’s closing in 1963, the former federal penitentiary continues to intrigue people of all ages, and likewise, there is a huge fascination with the artwork of prison artists.

This summer, the two subjects are being brought together at Alcatraz East Crime Museum. The new temporary exhibit, called “Alcatraz Art Escape,” will feature artwork inspired by Alcatraz Island and created by incarcerated artists. The exhibit opens to the public on August 23, 2019 and will run through the spring of 2020.

“Our visitors are always interested in learning more about Alcatraz, so this will be a unique way to combine that with giving them a glimpse of the beautiful artwork created by prisoners from around the country,” explains Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits at Alcatraz East Crime Museum. “We’re excited to share the work of these artists who have discovered amazing talents they didn’t know they had and are doing what they can to give back to the community. Both crime history enthusiasts and art lovers will want to be sure to see this exhibit.”

Alcatraz East Crime Museum has teamed up with the California-based P.A.T.H. (Prison Arts Touching Hearts) to make these artworks available to the public. The organization focuses on providing a platform and voice for incarcerated artists. Their efforts help to support prison art rehabilitation programs and provide opportunities for artists to sell their work to support community causes. The exhibit will also include some never displayed Alcatraz artifacts from the museum’s collection. These objects include handcuffs from Alcatraz, a guard’s ID and prisoner roster pamphlet with handwritten notes, Al Capone’s rosary, and rare artwork made by an inmate while incarcerated at Alcatraz.

There will be a media day held on August 22. Members of the media are invited to visit the museum and experience the new exhibit before it opens to the public the following day. Artwork from this exhibit was first displayed in the Band Practice Room at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, run today by the National Park Service, in 2017. Each piece focuses on a theme surrounding Alcatraz Island’s history and its past as federal penitentiary.

“I’m thrilled to be able to bring the artwork of these incarcerated artists to Tennessee and share their work with a different audience far from California,” says Leslie Lakes, director of P.A.T.H. “Alcatraz was Bill G. Baker Pen and ink portrait by Jeremy Hammill -such an inspiration to these artists, so it seemed very appropriate to bring this exhibit to Alcatraz East Crime Museum.”

Alcatraz Island, often referred to as “The Rock,” was known as U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz from 1934-1963. During the time it was a federal prison, Alcatraz housed notorious criminals such as Al Capone, James “Whitey” Bulger, “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.” The former prison opened to the public in 1973 and in 1986 was designated a National Historic Landmark. Each year, over 1 million visitors tour the prison.

Other new displays this summer include one of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award trophies awarded to the survivors of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Alexis Alvarado was among 140 survivors who appeared onstage to receive the honor at the 2018 ESPY Awards for their bravery in speaking out against Nassar’s years of sextual abuse. The ESPY will only be on view through Labor Day.

There are additional new artifacts that have recently been added to the museum, including:

  • A collection of pieces from sketch artist Michael W. Streed, known as SketchCop. Throughout his career, Streed has used his skills to both catch criminals, as well as identify remains.
  • Items have been added to the museum’s section on mass shootings, including those at the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival, Columbine High School, and Aurora Theater. New items include a backpack and school planner of a survivor of Columbine, as well as items preserved from the memorials for Las Vegas victims.

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: 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: alcatrazeast.com.

About P.A.T.H.

P.A.T.H. (Prison Arts Touching Hearts) is designed to provide a platform for a much needed voice and validation to incarcerated artists – those in the shadows and largely hidden to the public eye, while providing them with a vehicle to give back to the community in a meaningful and powerful way – through their art! P.A.T.H. is a MarinLink fiscally sponsored 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Project. For more information visit: prisonartstouchinghearts.org/.

Appliance Standards Create Jobs in Every U.S. State

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lightbulb hovering over a field of grass

National standards that require appliances and equipment to be more energy efficient do more than save energy and reduce utility bills. They also spur economic growth and create jobs—a lot of jobs. In fact, a report by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy reveals that they created or sustained nearly 300,000 jobs in 2016 and are projected to support 553,000 jobs in 2030. These jobs benefit every U.S. state.

Here’s how: When consumers and businesses take the money they have saved on energy and water bills and spend it in other sectors of the economy, it boosts growth and jobs in those other sectors. Because the energy sector is among the least job-intensive parts of the U.S. economy, this spending shift results in net employment gains.

These gains are sizable, because existing standards have been a huge success story. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates they will save 71 quadrillion Btus (quads) of energy by 2020 and double that by 2030, when they will cumulatively save more than $2 trillion in utility bills. Savings on water and wastewater bills will also accrue. National standards cover approximately 60 categories of products, ranging from appliances such as refrigerators and microwave ovens in homes to cooling/heating equipment and lighting in offices and other commercial buildings.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy research quantifies the jobs that result from the standards’ net economic savings, which totaled $58 billion in 2016 and will reach $134 billion by 2030. The half million-plus jobs we expect in 2030 are almost as many as the roughly 650,000 in the entire U.S. mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector.

Standards for light bulbs contribute to this positive macroeconomic impact more than any other standard. The stronger light bulb standards slated to take effect in 2020 account for nearly one-fifth of the net economic benefits and jobs in 2030.

The number of jobs created or sustained by appliance and equipment standards is significant in every state. For example, in 2030 California’s net economic benefits will total nearly $20 billion, resulting in more than 80,000 jobs. Savings scale with population and commercial building energy use so, not surprisingly, the states will the biggest populations have the largest job growth. Yet not just the largest states benefit. In Kentucky, appliance standards will produce $1.4 billion in net economic benefits and create or support more than 5,500 jobs in 2030.

Appliance standards are an obvious boon to energy, water, and monetary savings, but they are also a major job creator. As technologies improve, there will be new opportunities to update standards, increasing both savings and jobs. Weakening or eliminating current standards will harm the economy and put jobs at risk.

Source: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Geeky Stars: Hollywood Celebrities Who Studied Science

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image of the famous Hollywood sign on the hillside

Do people possessing degrees in science, medicine, or technology always continue working in their own field of study? Absolutely not!

Many students, after graduating from college, end up pursuing other careers out of genuine interest.

Instead of looking for the usual academic, government, or industry jobs, many such science geeks adopted a slightly different path and became well-known celebrities. Let us have a look at what these celebrities were up to before choosing this alternative career.

Mayim Bialik

Celebrities

(Image Credits: iDominick via Wikipedia)

She is best known for her role as neurobiologist, Amy Farrah Fowler on ‘The Big Bang Theory’, Mayim Bialik was also the lead in a famous 90’s sitcom ‘Blossom. In 2000, she completed her BS in Neuroscience and Hebrew & Jewish Studies from UCLA. In 2007, she earned her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA after completing her doctoral thesis. Her thesis was on ‘Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader–Willi syndrome’.

 

Natalie Portman

Celebrities
(Image Credits: Georges Biard via Wikipedia)

Natalie Portman debuted in ‘Léon: The Professional’ in 1994. However, she continued to gain recognition for her performances in movies such as ‘Closer’, ‘Black Swan’, and ‘V for Vendetta’. In 2003, she completed her BA in Psychology from Harvard University. Previously, in 1998, she was a semifinalist in the Intel Science Talent Search and co-authored the following study: ‘Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy’ (doi:10.1006/nimg.2002.1170). In an interview for the New York Post, she mentioned, ”I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”

 

Ken Jeong

Celebrities

(Image Credits: Nan Palmero via Wikipedia)

Ken Jong is best known for his role as ‘Leslie Chow’ in the ‘Hangover’ trilogy and ‘Ben Chang’ for the sitcom ‘Community’. He is a physician, comedian, and actor. He completed his graduation from Duke University, followed by an MD from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Interestingly, in a sitcom on ABC, he portrays the role of Dr. Ken who is also a physician!

 

Rowan Atkinson

Celebrities

(Image Credits: Eva Rinaldi via Wikipedia)

For many of us, he has immortalized the character of ‘Mr. Bean’ through his perfect comic timing, Rowan Atkinson who has been awarded a CBE has also worked in acclaimed programs such as Blackadder and Not the Nine O’Clock News. He completed his BSc in Electrical Engineering from University of Newcastle and MSc in Electrical Engineering from Queen’s College, Oxford.

 

Lisa Kudrow

Celebrities

(Image Credits: Lan Bui via Wikipedia)

Lisa Kudrow gained global fame for her character ‘Phoebe Buffay’ in the famous sitcom, Friends. Although she played the character of a quirky masseuse, she was possibly more qualified to be the palaentologist instead of Ross! As a student, Lisa earned her BS degree in Biology from Vassar College. She spent some time doing research with her father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, a well-renowned clinician in the field of headache medicine.

 

Eva Longoria

Celebrities

(Image Credits:Georges Biard via Wikipedia)

She is known for her role as ‘Isabella Braña’ on ‘The Young and the Restless’ and as ‘Gabrielle Solis’ in ‘Desperate Housewives’, Eva Longoria received BS degree in Kinesiology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She earned her MA degree in Chicano and Chicana Studies from California State University and her thesis was titled ‘Success STEMS From Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers’.

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