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Igniting a STEM Movement: A Day at the White House

Last week, Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina was announced as a winning city in the US2020 City Competition!  Cisco is a founding corporate partner of US2020, which is dedicated to igniting a movement of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) mentorship across the United States.  My work supporting the US2020 City Competition initiative, on behalf of Cisco in RTP, afforded me the great privilege of being 1 of 4 people from our community who visited the White House to hear this great news.  It was a full day, and one that I will never forget!

Former astronaut and current NASA administrator Charlie Bolden

Former astronaut and current NASA administrator Charlie Bolden

I was able to attend the White House Science Fair and personally meet some of the great young minds of our country.  Parents were beaming with pride as they watched their kids present their work.  Charlie Bolden, the head of NASA and a former astronaut, spoke to all of us about our obligation to “launch” students’ interest in STEM.

I made sure to congratulate students who were there showing off their innovative work through FIRST Robotics and the Girl Scouts, two of Cisco’s long-term community partners here in North Carolina and other locations.  A Girl Scout troop from Oklahoma invented the “Flood Proof Bridge,” building a model of the bridge and developing a simple computer program to retract the bridge automatically when flood conditions were detected. In President Obama’s comments, he commended the teachers, parents, and mentors who supported the students in their efforts.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” who did me the favor of taking a selfie of us with my phone. Bill has become a bit of a fixture at the White House Science Fair, having been around for generations inspiring kids and making science fun. We need more figures like him in our communities and on the national stage.

Selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy

White House selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy

Later in the evening, I joined our RTP City Coalition for the US2020 City Competition Reception, also held in the White House.  The event recognized RTP and 6 other cities, out of 52 applicants, for putting forth the best plans to grow high quality STEM mentorship in our communities. (Read more about the US2020 City Competition in this blog co-authored by Cisco Chief Marketing Officer Blair Christie, who also serves on the board of US2020.)

I am so proud to work for Cisco, a company that values STEM mentoring and giving back, and to be part of the RTP community that realized this great achievement! Now, the real work begins, as RTP and other communities bring their visions to life. To get involved, go to us2020.org.

RTP City Coalition with Michael Timmeny of Cisco and Eric Schwarz of Citizen Schools. (Left to right: Christina O’Neill, Manager of Community Relations, Cisco; Bob Geolas, President and CEO, Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina;  Lisa Jemison, Director of RTP Programs, Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina;  Michael Timmeny, VP Global Government and Community Relations, Cisco; Eric Schwarz, Executive Chairman of US2020)

The RTP City Coalition with Michael Timmeny of Cisco and Eric Schwarz of Citizen Schools. (Pictured left to right: Christina O’Neill, Manager of Community Relations, Cisco; Bob Geolas, President and CEO, Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina; Lisa Jemison, Director of RTP Programs, Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina; Michael Timmeny, VP Global Government and Community Relations, Cisco; Eric Schwarz, Executive Chairman of US2020)

 

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