An Astronaut Who Built Paths to Space for Other Women

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Astronaut Janet Kavandi inside space capsule with her NASA spacesuit on

Janet Kavandi, who recently retired from a senior NASA post, went to space three times and added fairness to the astronaut selection process.

By Jillian Kramer

Every time an astronaut puts on an American spacesuit to conduct a spacewalk at the International Space Station, they pass through a portal installed in part by Janet Kavandi. It isn’t the only thing the former astronaut did that changed the work of her successors in space. After three missions to orbit, Dr. Kavandi moved into NASA administration, eventually overseeing how astronauts were selected. She’s credited with adding fairness to a process that for the first time chose an astronaut class that included as many women as men.

So when Dr. Kavandi, 60, retired as director of Glenn Research Center, a Cleveland, Ohio facility that designs innovative technologies for NASA, she left not only a legacy in human spaceflight, but also a moon-sized hole for the agency to fill.

Roger Handberg, a space policy expert at the University of Central Florida, called her a role model for women serving in leadership roles at NASA in the future.

“That next female is not plowing new ground,” he said, “just going down the already existing path.”

Dr. Kavandi said she was leaving for personal and practical reasons. At 60, she was eligible for retirement, and she also looked forward to earning more income for her family at Sierra Nevada Corporation’s space systems division.

Her departure comes as NASA is switching into higher gear to meet a mandate set by the Trump administration of returning American astronauts — the next man and the first woman — to the moon by 2024. It also was announced following other major personnel changes.

In July, Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator, reassigned William Gerstenmaier, an official who for years oversaw human spaceflight. Lawmakers criticized the move, and some analysts saw the change as a demotion. In April, Mark Sirangelo joined NASA to aid Mr. Bridenstine on the Artemis moon mission.

He left after just 44 days

Last year Mr. Bridenstine sought to have Dr. Kavandi nominated as the No. 2 official at NASA. “I was fully aware that this was not in any way a ‘done deal,’ so I had no expectations,” she said.

President Trump instead nominated James Morhard, a former deputy sergeant-at-arms in the Senate with no previous space technology experience.

She said she was not disappointed that the deputy administrator job went to Mr. Morhard.

But her retirement leaves NASA with one fewer woman in senior leadership. Lori Garver, NASA’s former deputy administrator and founder of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, which matches undergraduate women with aerospace industry internships, estimates that less than 15 percent of the agency’s top roles are filled by women.

“When there is such an imbalance at the top, the culture tends to favor men, and women often struggle to be heard or have their views taken seriously,” she said.

NASA said diversifying its leadership and astronaut corps is a priority.

Continue on to the New York Times to read the complete article.

Women Knocking it Out of the Park in STEM

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Miranda Cosgrove is featured on posted for Mission Unstoppable series

New CBS Series Mission Unstoppable Showcases Leading Women in STEM

A new series called Mission Unstoppable has joined the seventh season of CBS’s three-hour Saturday morning block, CBS Dream Team….It’s Epic!

In Mission Unstoppable, celebrity host and co-executive producer Miranda Cosgrove highlights the fascinating female innovators who are on the cutting edge of science–including zoologists, engineers, astronauts, codebreakers and oceanographers. Each week, viewers will be inspired by female STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) superstars in the fields of social media, entertainment, animals, design and the internet–all categories key to the teen experience.

Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis serves as executive producer, bringing her passion for creating change in the portrayal of strong female characters in entertainment and media that positively influence young viewers.

“Strong female role models are essential to breaking down barriers and educating the next generation of leaders about gender equality,” said Geena Davis, executive producer, Mission Unstoppable. “Girls need to see themselves on and off the screen as STEM professionals, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ This new series strives to empower young women and showcase the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.”

Source: Litton Entertainment, IF/THEN, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Purdue’s Computer Science Department Graduates First African-Purdue’s Computer Science Department Graduates First African-American Woman PhD Amber Johnson pictured leaning on a tre outside smilingAmerican Woman PhD

Amber Johnson made history as the first African-American woman PhD graduate from Purdue University’s Department of Computer Science this past summer. Johnson sees Purdue’s Computer Science Department having an African-American woman PhD graduate as definite progress and would love to see more. It’s the same kind of progress she sees in her mentorship of African-American students in Black Girls Rock Tech, a computational and leadership program for adolescent girls where she serves as an instructor. “I have mentors like Dr. Raquel Hill and Dr. Jamika Burge, who are pioneers in the CS community, and I want to pay it forward,” Johnson said. The graduate, who will be joining Northrup Grumman in Maryland, remains active with the Future Technical Leader program, where she will have an opportunity to work in various locations around the country.

Source: cs.purdue.edu

World Class Skier Lindsey Vonn Inspires Girls in STEM

The greatest female snow skier of all time, Lindsey Vonn is on a mission to help young girls become more involved in STEM education through the Lindsey Vonn Foundation (LVF). This past summer, Vonn surprised 38 scholarship applicants with a personalized congratulations video:

“I want to be the first person to tell you that you have officially received a Lindsey Vonn Scholarship. So proud to have you on the team and I’m US former alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn attends the world premiere of "Fast & Furious presents Hobbs & Shawreally looking forward to see what you are going to accomplish in the future. We’re very impressed by you so keep it up, keep making an impact and a difference, and most importantly keep having fun.”

The kids’ parents recorded “reaction videos,” of their kids watching the video from Vonn.

Reactions ranged from disbelief to jumping on beds.

Scholarships were awarded for enrichment programs that included dance camps, travel abroad, U.S. Space & Rocket center camp, youth theatre, The School of the New York Times, cycling, The New Charter University Congress of Future Medical Leaders, Rustic Pathways, University of Wyoming Summer Music Camp, Aerospace Engineering Camp at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Blue Print Summer Program for college prep.

This year marks the inaugural partnership between the LVF and iD Tech Camps—the world leader in STEM education. LVF’s goal for the summer was to award scholarships to 20 girls to attend iD Tech’s renowned summer STEM programs, and iD Tech pledged to match this philanthropic commitment.

In the end, LVF exceeded this goal with 22 girls receiving full scholarships to iD Tech. Recipients have the option of attending either iD Tech’s co-ed camps or its highly successful and innovative all-girls program, called Alexa Cafe.

Recipients can enroll in iD Tech courses such as Game Design and Development, Al Lab: Robotics and Coding, Film Studio Video Production for YouTube, Make Games with Java, 3D Character Design Modeling program, Create Apps with Java, Photo Booth: Pro Photography for Instagram, Roblox Entrepreneur: Imaginative Game Design, 3D Studio: Modeling and Animation, and Python Coding.

Source: Lindsey Vonn Foundation, snewsnet.com

Shake Those Pom-Poms for Science!

Let’s Go STEM!! More than 200 current and former professional cheerleaders for the NBA, NFL and UFL who are also pursuing careers in science and technology have banded together to form the Science Cheerleaders. The organization’s mission is to challenge science and cheerleading stereotypes and inspire the nation’s 3-4 million cheerleaders to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). SciStarter.com, Science Cheerleader’s sister site, connects millions of “regular” people to hundreds of opportunities to do real research as Citizen Scientists.

Science Cheerleaders holding up a "Science" banner on a football field“One of our goals at Science Cheerleader is to show kids that they can have fun cheering and dancing and still pursue fulfilling careers in science and technology at the same time,” said Darlene Cavalier, founder of the Science Cheerleaders.

Carvalier says the cheer squad does this by recasting the image of scientists and engineers while giving people the opportunity to explore their personal interests as a gateway to science. They communicate in ways that inspire people using their very real, very personal stories at schools, festivals, malls, on tv, online, at cheer events, games…wherever the people are. The point: science is accessible to ALL!

Source: sciencecheerleader.com

Athletes: The Ideal Candidates for Employment

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Athletic man doing pushups in office on the floor with two large stacks of pater under his hands

By Nadene Hart

Athletes are known for their superior ability to move, react, and perform in their respective areas, but what do athletes bring to the table in day-to-day life? The value of a life-long athletic career transcends far beyond stadium lights and physical ability. Sports in their entirety are a never-ending learning curve. From understanding of the game and individual moves and plays to the ability to work within a team and be a part of a greater whole, sports are an organized microcosm of what it means to function successfully, even exceptionally, in the real world.

A study by the Human Kinetics Journal claims that participating in sports produces the development of “transformational leadership skills” which greatly add to an individual’s strength and marketability as employees. Beyond being energetic and hard-working, the profusion of desirable qualities that athletes possess extends well beyond the capacity of a list.

Concisely, athletes as employees are a preferable choice for employers for numerous reasons:

Athletes are punctual

Before an athlete can touch a ball, take a shot or make a play, they have to be on time. Athletes are consistent and punctual; whether it be for practice or a game, it is the expectation that all players be, not only on time, but early. Punctuality is never a cause for worry when employing athletes.

Athletes are competitive

The innate desire to be competitive works to the employer’s benefit. May it be to meet a sales goal, stay late to finish their work or go above and beyond for a client, athletes have a natural inclination to want to push themselves. According to an article from Business Insider, the competitive streak, while typically seen as an interpersonal quality, actually has most to do with the way an athlete pushes themselves. Always expecting more from their performance, an athlete knows that the only way to get the job done right is to give it their all, every time.

Both single player sports and team sports produce desirable qualities

Athletes from a team sport vs. the single-player athlete: not all athletes have a team sport background, sports like tennis and boxing leave an individual to perform on their own. May it be a team sport or individual, the benefit the employer reaps is equally as effective. A team sport player understands how to be part of a whole. They understand their role and how to interact with others in such a way that it benefits the group, as well as how to work with different personalities and backgrounds to complete a common goal. Athletes from an individual sport have an intrinsic sense of responsibility, and because they have no one to rely on while on the court, are always going to push themselves to get the job done.

Athletes are coachable

Coachability is a skill which combines the value of humility with the initiative and desire to learn. To excel at any sport, athletes have a career-long trial and error process. According to a CNBC article, the ability to not only be critiqued and pushed constantly, but to hear critical information in a receptive, calm and eager way is an invaluable quality that athletes consistently display in their work environments. An athlete in the office will be told what they are doing wrong, ask how to fix it and immediately put the wheels in motion. “Accountability and coachability are two of the most marketable qualities for an employee to exhibit,” said Lisa Strasman of the NCSA, an analytic and data driven recruiting network for athletes.

Athletes are natural multi-taskers

Not only are they able to balance several projects at once, but athletes stay calm under pressure and even thrive in stressful environments. In a game setting, an athlete has to be aware of the clock, the score, their coach’s demands and the players on the floor. Deadlines, quotas and client expectations are the corporate parallel to the components of a game, and an athlete is sure to excel in their careers as they would in a competition. Punctuality, reliability, the desire to compete and excel, the ability to work well with others, coachability and staying calm and focused under pressure are just some of the qualities an athlete brings to their job.

Vincent McCaffrey, CEO of Game Theory Group, claims that for young people entering the workforce out of college, playing a sport serves as a sort of resume to show a prospective employee’s ability to be punctual, reliable, and hard working. “Collegiate athletes make some of the best employees,” said McCaffrey. “Most 22-year-olds have no track record from an employment standpoint, but the experience a student athlete has developed bodes well in the workplace.”

Overall, athletes possess several great qualities that any employer would value. So for your next hire, look to these focused and driven individuals to add to not only your workplace culture but also your bottom line.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Gives Kids a Shot That Can’t be Blocked

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on a stage dressed in a suit smiling

By Brady Rhoades

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — NBA Hall of Famer, best-selling author, renowned columnist, historian, philanthropist— is laser-focused on underprivileged kids.

The key to empowering them?

Education.

Through his Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook, he’s on a mission to give inner city kids a “shot that can’t be blocked” at careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math; many educators have added arts to the concept and use the acronym STEAM).

“The feedback from the kids is always a highlight for me,” he said, in an interview with STEAM Magazine. “They are enthusiastic, grateful, and excited about the experience. Horace Mann once said that ‘a house without books is like a room without windows.’ Before attending Camp Skyhook, many of our students couldn’t see themselves pursuing a STEM-related career. We’re building windows so they can see more possibilities for their future.

“Our students often come from economically disadvantaged neighborhoods,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “They’re used to running the race of life with weights attached to them. Their shot at equal opportunities — whether in education, jobs, health care, etc. — is blocked by systemic social inequalities. We try to create a path where their shot at life can’t be blocked because of those disadvantages. We’re trying to even the playing field.”

Abdul-Jabbar is so committed to this venture that he’s sold personal memorabilia, such as championship rings and MVP plaques, in order to raise $2.8 million for the foundation.

“Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold plating celebrating something I did a long time ago, I’d rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future,” he said. “That’s a history that has no price.”

Kareem out in community visiting with a young boy in the library
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out in community visiting with a young boy in the library

So what exactly are the Skyhook Foundation and Camp Skyhook?

The Los Angeles non-profit helps public school students in the city access a free, fun, weeklong STEM education camp in the Angeles National Forest. Every week throughout the year, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Unified School District, groups of fourth and fifth graders attend Camp Skyhook at the Clear Creek Outdoor Education Center. The hands-on science curriculum encourages students to study nature up close. They also get to hike, swim and sing songs around campfires.

Currently, there’s a six-year waiting list for students to get into the camp.

“I’m happy we’re doing what we are, but I’m frustrated because we want to do even more,” said the six-time NBA champion and six-time MVP. “This program gives students STEM-based activities in an environment they rarely experience: the natural world. It also inspires their curiosity and sense of wonder.”

Abdul-Jabbar said it’s paramount to increase opportunities in STEM, especially for minorities.

“African-American men make up only 3 percent of science and engineering occupations versus 49 percent white men,” he said. “Black women have only 2 percent versus 18 percent for white women. Part of the reason is that a STEM education doesn’t seem like a real possibility to many minority children educated in inferior schools. We can turn that around. We have to turn it around.”

One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967
One of the iconic photos in UCLA basketball history taken by Norm Levin: Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot-2 big man who would one day wind up as NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, getting all of the ball for a blocked shot against the University of Minnesota on Dec. 27, 1967.

A native of Brooklyn, Abdul-Jabbar was a three-time NCAA champion and three-time Player of the Year at UCLA, where he played under legendary coach John Wooden.

He played 20 seasons in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. During his career as a center, Abdul-Jabbar was a record 19-time NBA All-Star.

For Lakers fans, he is, perhaps, most beloved for his dominating performance in the 1985 finals against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers broke a decades-long losing streak to the Celtics and Abdul-Jabbar was named finals MVP. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995 and named one of the 50 greatest players in league history in 1996. A statue showing him wielding the greatest weapon in basketball annals – the skyhook – was unveiled outside of Staples Center in 2012.

Since his stellar professional career, he has gone on to become a celebrated New York Times-bestselling author, a filmmaker, and a columnist for The Guardian and the Hollywood Reporter. He writes insightful and in-depth columns about pop culture, mostly.

His curiosity is nothing less than feral.

Did you know he’s huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and his latest writing project — co-authored by Anna Waterhouse — is a mystery novel? It’s called Mycroft and Sherlock, The Empty Birdcage.

On top of all that, President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.

of Freedom in 2016.

“I can do more than stuff a ball through a hoop,” he said. “My mind is my greatest asset.”

The same can be said of the children he’s helping, even if they don’t know it yet.

The Skyhook Foundation — the website for information and donations at https://skyhookfoundation.org/ — is demonstrably effective. Did you think for a second Abdul-Jabbar wouldn’t track the results?

“We know it’s effective because our follow-up research shows that students have increased interest in science, engineering and the environment,” he said. “In practical terms, it means they take more science classes and feel more confident in the classroom asking and answering questions. Former participants who are now adults tell us this was their most memorable elementary school experience.”

It’s widely agreed-upon that Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook was unstoppable—virtually unblockable. He shot thousands upon thousands of them, and tallied 38,387 points in his career. He is the greatest scorer in the history of professional basketball. Nobody’s ever re-created that magnificent hook shot.

Abdul-Jabbar’s message to kids: you don’t have to.

The game of life is played on a surface supremely larger than the 94-x-50-foot chunk of wood hoops players play on.

The winning play? Give yourself a shot to be an all-star in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

Weld Like A Girl: A Millennial Woman’s Success In A Man’s World

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millenial woman welding

In 2010, women made up just 4% of the welding workforce. Eight years later, that number that had only increased by 1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But a new generation of women welders is looking to change that statistic—and the face of the industry.

Megan is one such woman who found a career in a man’s profession. As a high school student, she didn’t set out to defy longstanding gender stereotypes. She just wanted to gain a lifelong, marketable skill in the high-demand field of welding. “My dad was very supportive of me learning a skill that most women don’t know and ‘back in the day’ wouldn’t even want to learn,” she says.

Unlike other manufacturing positions that can be sent offshore, welding is most often done on site. As a result, the welding industry in the U.S. is expected to grow 6% by 2026—and there aren’t enough skilled welders to meet demand.

While previous initiatives to attract women to the field focused on career benefits like high wages and job security, newer programs like Women Who Weld provide women-only training programs that make the craft accessible and affordable to an untapped female workforce.

Megan first discovered her affinity for welding at Iowa’s Davenport West High School. “I love working with my hands, especially fabricating fascinating works of art and things people could use,” she says. She now works as a welder at John Deere Davenport Works. “When it comes to production welding, I can look at a Motor Grader passing by my house and proudly say, ‘I built that.’”

Though welding was a skilled and lucrative career, Megan knew it was an unusual choice for a young woman. “When I went to high school, society wasn’t really used to women welders. I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles in this industry being a female and I’ve had to prove myself ten times as much as others, but that’s where I get some of my pride.”

I can look at a Motor Grader passing by my house and proudly say, ‘I built that.’

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

These 5 cities account for 90% of the growth in high-tech jobs

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Young woman engineer wearing VR headset making calculations using touchpad program and stylus while standing on background of evening sky and windmills in countryside

If you work in the tech industry, the good news is that the sector created more than 250,000 new jobs in the 12-year period from 2005 to 2017. The bad news is that 90% of those jobs were created in just five cities across the country, reports the Wall Street Journal. The report adds that 377 other metro areas fought for just the remaining 10% of those jobs.

That information is according to a new study by researchers from the Brookings Institution and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The five cities that created the most tech jobs during the period were:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Seattle
  3. San Jose
  4. Boston
  5. San Diego

San Francisco far and away created the most high-tech jobs during the 12-year period, but of the four other cities, only one, Boston, isn’t on the West Coast. And three of the five top tech jobs-producing cities are in a single state—California.

While America’s bolstering of tech jobs is a good thing, the researchers behind the study say the results show that high-tech resources are undergoing agglomeration, an economic term that describes the concentration of a labor pool, which in turn allows for the rapid spread of new ideas.

While agglomeration is good for the cities that have it—it’s generally bad for the rest of the country, which the researchers say are increasingly being left behind in an economic, labor, and digital divide. However, there are negatives for even the top five cities, the researchers say, including costly housing, inequality, and chocking traffic congestion.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Teen Makes ‘Armor’ That Blocks Radiation During Cancer Treatments, Reducing Exposure By Whopping 75%

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Macinley Butson holds up a sample of her smart armour

Macinley Butson was just 16 years old when she first felt spurred to try and protect women from excess radiation during breast cancer treatments—and now, her invention could be a game-changer in the medical field.

Butson, whose brother and father also work in medical physics, has always been fascinated by science, but she only began researching the harmful side effects of radiation therapy after her father discussed his experience with ineffective cancer treatments in his own line of medical work.

Since Butson had also recently lost a family relative to breast cancer, she felt inspired to conduct her own investigation on the subject.

She tried to begin her medical research by reading scientific journals, but she found their academic jargon almost impossible to understand.

She then turned to YouTube to find videos that taught how to read scientific journals. As she became more and more entrenched in her research, she stumbled upon a key bit of information: copper has been shown to be dramatically more effective at protecting skin from radiation compared to lead.

The Australian teen from Wollongong, New South Wales then experienced her “eureka” moment as she was viewing a film on medieval wars in her 10th grade history class. When she saw the scaled patterns of the armor, she was inspired to create a wearable protective shield out of copper.

She then headed back to YouTube and watched videos on how to weave together tiny scales. Using high-density copper plating, she made her own flexible scale-mail which she now calls the SMART Armor: Scale Mail for Radiation Therapy.

When her armor was tested in a laboratory setting, Butson’s invention reduced surface exposure to excess radiation by a whopping 75%.

In 2016, she won first place at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair—becoming the first Australian to do so in its 68-year history.

Butson is working on getting her SMART Armor into clinical settings for use within a year.

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Showing Latino Students “You Can Do It!”

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Hernandez interacts with a participant in the Pursuing Urban Sustainability at Home program, a camp she helped facilitate this summer

By Stacy Braukman

Cuba native Diley (Dyla) Hernandez was in high school when she became fascinated by psychology and decided she wanted to pursue it as a field of study. Her father, who was a musician, and the rest of her family had not attended college and didn’t know how to help her get into the University of Havana.

“I had to figure that out myself,” she said. And she did.

Today, Hernandez is a senior research scientist at the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC), where she serves as the program director for GoSTEM, which aims to strengthen the pipeline of Latino students into postsecondary education. She is also the director for Culturally Authentic Practice to Advance Computational Thinking in Youth (CAPACiTY), an NSF grant-funded program to develop the new curriculum for the Introduction to Digital Technology course taught in Georgia high schools.

“My work is a combination of research, curriculum development, and teacher professional development,” she explains. “I have the great luck to actually be able to implement programs and strategies to help students in K-12 deal with a lot of the social and psychological consequences that prevent them from pursuing careers in STEM.”

Hernandez says her work is most fulfilling “when we actually get to talk to the students who are in our programs and we see in action the work that we’ve been doing, or hear from the students about the impact of that work. You realize that what you’re doing matters to people; that it’s actually making a difference in their lives, even if it’s small.”

Diley Hernandez headshot
Diley Hernandez

She describes one event that is especially important to her: the Annual Latino College and STEM Fair, which attracts between 500 and 1,000 Latino students and their families. Held at the Student Center, the event helps attendees envision a future at Georgia Tech—and feel like they belong.

“Sometimes, when they’re having conversations and they’re asking questions as part of this event, you feel like the stories of other Latino professionals, STEM leaders, and faculty really resonate with the students,” says Hernandez. “And you can see on their faces, ‘That is possible for me,’ or ‘I could do this.’ It’s like a little light that turns on. You can see the magic of something wonderful happening. Just to be able to be part of that is very rewarding.”

She sees a lot of potential at CEISMC and is committed to making an impact on the educational lives of Georgia students through innovative teaching methods, particularly in STEM fields. “It is an incredible opportunity to bring about real change,” said Hernandez.

Source: news.gatech.edu

Five Minutes with Intel Software Quality Engineer Karla Bracamonte

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Karla Bracamonte siting outside at a table with a laptop

After earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2006, Karla E. Bracamonte began an internship at Intel. The very next year, the Sonoran native was granted both, American citizenship and a full-time position at Intel as a tester in the Digital Home Group. She then became a software validation engineer before moving on to become validation lead. Currently, Bracamonte works as a software quality engineer supporting Intel’s IoT group.

What first prompted your interest in STEM?

My brother bought me my first desktop computer when I was 17 years old. He noticed that I used to spend hours in my high school computer room and, and he worked very hard to get me the computer. At the time, we lived in a small town in Mexico where luxuries like home computers were rare.

I enjoyed spending hours completing my school assignments at home, while my schoolmates waited in line outside the school computer room. Later on, when I came to U.S. at 26 years old, I continued to have an interest in computers and emerging technologies. When I was working as a custodian at Arizona State University (ASU), I would ask the students about their major. Since I always had an affinity for math and computers, once I heard about the field of computer science, I knew that was the major I wanted, even though I didn’t speak English yet.

How did you learn about the internship at Intel?

I went to a job fair at ASU Fulton School of Engineering looking for opportunities and while there, I met an Intel recruiter. He let me know Intel was looking for new talent; I explained to him that I was a little more than one semester away from graduation and he suggested that I apply for an internship. After hearing about the internship program, I became excited about the idea of working as an engineer for Intel.

How difficult was it to learn English, work and care for your family while pursuing your degree and interning at Intel?

Caring for my family while working as a custodian, interning and learning English at the same time was very difficult, especially because I sacrificed time with the people most important to me—my kids. I used to wake up at 3:30 a.m. Monday through Friday to start work at 4 a.m. I was the lead custodian and I needed to sign up my custodian crew and give instructions before their shift started, and then I would work with them until noon. Afterwards, I went to classes or my internship, and then do homework in the library until it was time to pick up the kids. Then I fixed dinner, ate with my family, cleaned the house, and prepared for the next day. I used to study during the weekends, only spending one or two hours with my kids, and using that time to make sure they were doing their schoolwork. My mom and dad always complained that I didn’t participate in family functions, but I joined as much as I could.

What is your current position at Intel? How do you think your background applies to your success today?

I’m a software quality engineer, supporting Intel’s IoT business. I get incorporated with programs from the early stages to make sure teams practice best software quality processes to release software with the highest quality possible. I came to this country to work hard and achieve my dreams, and I consider myself an efficient worker. I started on a validation team, then I worked three years learning software quality and how the industry develops software, which involved me in supplier software development teams. I also like to think that raising three kids with my husband gave me many of my project manager skills.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am proudest of my family. I have been married with the same man for 27 years; together for 31 years. All of the challenges we encountered in our early life have helped make our relationship stronger. I’m proud of my kids, they demonstrate strong values and always have a willingness to serve. I’m also proud of my journey to the U.S. and my ability to accomplish my dreams of working as an Intel engineer.

Photo Credit: INTEL CORP

He Was Abandoned Near A Dumpster As A Baby. Now He’s The CEO Of A Company Valued Over $62 Million

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CEO Freddie Figgers is pictured wearing a dark blue suit and tie leaning against a wall in a confident pose

Freddie Figgers, 30, was abandoned near a dumpster at birth and was adopted when he was just two days old by two loving parents. He is now the CEO of a telecommunications company valued over $62 million.

Figgers got his first computer when he was 9-years old. It was broken when he received it, but he quickly figured out how to make it fully operational.

That was the start of his innovative future.

Later as a child, after learning that his Dad had Alzheimer’s, he invented a shoe for him that had a GPS tracker and a two-way communicator that he sold for millions.

He got his first job at the age of 12 as a computer technician, and by age 15, he had already started his own cloud computing services.

He kept developing and inventing, and before the age of 30, he had his own telecommunications company, Figgers Communications.

“He is now the founder and CEO of Figgers Wireless, a black owned telecommunications firm valued at over $62.3 million dollars, that you may have never heard of,” the caption of one of his YouTube videos read.

Now he’s creating devices that will help people with diabetes.

“Diabetes is a major public health problem that is approaching epidemic proportions globally,” Figgers wrote on Facebook in August. “The prevalence of diabetes is rising at an alarming rate. Nationwide, 1 in 12 adults has diabetes, and type 2 diabetes has become a commonplace childhood disease as well.

For far too long, large diabetic medical supply corporations has made billions of dollars profiting from this horrible disease by taking advantage of consumers with outrageous cost. We could have easily sold our invention to any Medical supply company, but that would only be adding to the problem.

We have a solution that’s all in one and it remotely manages diabetics 24/7. But best of all affordability for all patients. WE PUT PEOPLE OVER PROFIT.”

Continue on to Sunnyskyz.com to read the complete article.

Introducing Dover’s Premier Sankofa Cyber Ninjas!

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Teh children's cyber ninjas pose with their coaches in a group setting

Premier Martial Arts, Cyber Streets, and Sankofa Inner City Cultural League, Inc. (all in Dover, DE) are honored and elated to introduce the “Premier Sankofa Cyber Ninjas”! For the first time ever in the state and perhaps the country this revolutionary one of a kind collaboration will introduce several community service and outreach initiatives on an ongoing and sustainable frequency.

This independent, fully inclusive, first of its kind initiative will be the powered by several impactful and selfless organizations working together to serve their communities cultivating self-defense, cyber defense/awareness, self discipline, physical fitness, teamwork, drug/alcohol prevention, nutrition, community/cultural arts, leadership development, community “STEMpowerment”, workforce development/certification, and community service all through one amazingly dynamic collaboration!

This week their collaborative team at Premier Martial Arts hostedCoach and young student practicing self-defense with a punching bag the first of many Self Discipline/Defense sessions for the Sankofa Inner City Cultural League during our Cyber Streets after school program!

“We are all collectively elated for this and so many other exciting new community programs we are launching over the next several months as we continue to selflessly “Shake The Earth”, and “Make IT Happen” in our communities like no other!”, stated Rob Bentley, Founder of Cyber Streets and Cyberstreets.org, a community cyber-tech outreach program he started at the Sankofa Inner City Cultural League almost 3 years ago.

“This is what “Taking Cyber To The Streets” and “Recoding The Community” is ALL about as we continue to deliver “Opportunity-4-All! As always, we are Just Getting Started so stay tuned and Dont Blink!!!”