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Cisco Mom and Son Bring IoE and Entrepreneurship to Kids Everywhere

Omkar Govil-Nair, son of Cisco employee Shubha Govil, shows off his OWatch at Maker Fair.

Omkar Govil-Nair, son of Cisco employee Shubha Govil, shows off his OWatch at Maker Faire.

Sometimes, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. That’s the case with 8-year-old Omkar Govil-Nair, whose mom, Shubha Govil, is a senior manager of products for the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group. Technology and tinkering with invention is something that the two of them share.

“Omkar was always interested in technology,” Shubha says. “He always wanted to see how things work and was coming up with new ideas. So for us as parents, it was about providing him support to make things happen.”

Omkar’s interests, however, were bigger than just learning about tech. As a fan of shows like MythBusters and Shark Tank, he became interested in building his own tech two years ago when he came across another young person’s project (then 12-year old-entrepreneur Quin Etnyre). Omkar had been attending Maker Faire since he was 4 (where he got to meet Etnyre) and got to see a lot of DIY technology and projects in action.

He wanted to take it further, and started learning Arduino (an open-source platform) from his dad.

He started with small projects and was so thrilled with the power of an open source platform like this that he wanted to share his projects with other kids and teach them how to make their own Arduino projects. This was the beginning of an idea that Shubha bought to Cisco by creating a program called DevNet Kids to teach Arduino programming and other such STEAM workshops (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) to the children of other Cisco employees.

Susie Wee, VP, CTO Networking Experiences helped Shubha further these efforts by sponsoring the Arduino UNO kits needed for the DevNet workshops. Now, Omkar, Shubha and her husband Subhash host DevNet Kids workshops for about 20 kids once a month for Cisco employee families, and these classes are usually filled to capacity. Omkar also makes sure that the parents don’t do any of the work.

“Omkar’s guidance to parents in the workshop is to let the kids learn by trying and not jump in to help them out with the project,” Shubha says. “Him bringing this perspective is really important to make DevNet kids workshops a fun experience for the kids.”

Omkar and Shubha didn’t stop there. They wanted to get other kids involved so badly that the Govil-Nair family is now a group of entrepreneurs. Omkar’s site, is full of how-to code and projects, and he just this summer launched a kickstarter campaign where he created his OWN Arduino-compatible smart watch DIY kit for kids to get started with hands-on programming and 3D printing. Oh, and did we mention it was fully funded in 1 week?

Shubha and Omkar together at Maker Faire.

Shubha and Omkar together at Maker Faire.

“It’s like a night job now for my husband and I,” Shubha says. “It’s amazing to see how excited people are, and I’m excited to have Cisco be a part of it.”

Omkar’s OWatch kit was a featured Maker project at the World Maker Faire in New York, and Omkar was also invited to speak at the Re: Make Conference both in September. He’s got partners already lined up to help bring his OWatch kit to more kids, and has captured the attention of some pretty fantastic tech leaders.

President of TinyCircuits Ken Burns called Omkar “the smartest 8-year-old” he’s ever met, and that he’ll have a “Great impact on teaching kids about science and engineering.”

We think that Omkar is going to be an innovation powerhouse, and we can’t wait what tech solutions he’ll bring to the world. We just hope he continues to partner with Cisco when he does it, so we can be a part of history with him!

See more on how Cisco brings the IoE to kids.

Passionate about STEAM and bringing technology to the next generation? Join the Cisco team! 


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Play. Blow Your Mind. Repeat. #ThisIsSTEAM

Steam Carnival

High-tech games. Creation zones – where you can create to your heart’s content – aerialists, food (of course) and . . . a dunk booth with fire?! These are all things you’ll find at STEAM Carnival, November 6-8 in San Francisco at AT&T Park. You’ll also find Cisco there, as a key sponsor (along with Cartoon Network!) of all the fun.

Like any carnival, there’s fun for the whole family, but there’s a specific focus on getting kids excited about making, learning, arts, technology, science, invention and innovation. In other words, just having a grand time!

There are going to be so many cool Cisco happenings at the STEAM Carnival. Discover, Explore, Play and Create are the three areas you’ll find Cisco participating – with over 50 employee volunteers. There will also be 8 Cisco Net Academy students to help with the Cisco network at the event, but also to talk to their peers and younger students about where technology can take them.

STEAM Carnival

In the Discover area, we’ll have TP tents to demonstrate the technology behind Cisco’s telepresence. (Maybe you’ll get to connect to other makers locally, or around the globe!) When you visit the Explore area, you’ll find “secret society” workbooks where there are puzzles to unlock, and ways to think about what the future could hold. In the Create area, you’ll find Cisco’s own Shubha Govil, senior manager of products for Webex and her son Omkar showing kids how they can become creators (more on them later this week on the blog. Stay tuned!)

What gets our employees excited about the event?

“It’s about unstructured learning and exploring things on their own,” Shubha says. “The insight gained by trying, failing, and re-trying to make things work brings a great level of confidence in kids to keep them innovating and creating.”

“We are thrilled to partner with 2BC and the Cartoon Network to ignite the interest and curiosity of young minds through play,” says Karen Morris, Head of Talent Acquisition Strategy and Innovation (with a focus on STEAM). “Our industry and partners are in need of talent that are problems solvers, creative, collaborative, and that have critical and design thinking skills.  STEAM Carnival is a place where children will exercise all these skills in a playful environment.   We can’t wait to meet and engage with our next generation of talent at STEAM Carnival, and to see them experience critical aha-ha moments.”

“STEAM fuels the innovations that we need to progress as a society, preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs, doctors, rocket scientists, developers and more,” Says Lauren Cooney, senior director, strategic programs for Cisco’s Chief Technology & Architecture Office.  “STEAM Carnival is a great way to jump-start the next generation’s interest in this movement.”

If you’re in San Francisco, meet us at AT&T Park for three days of family fun, employee fun and learning fun. If you’re not in San Francisco or can’t join us there for the fun, here’s a fun STEAM activity either you can try, or try with your family. It’s Art Bot! Learn how to create him.

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Building a Stronger World Through the Power of Giving

Here in Silicon Valley and many towns across the globe, it’s that time of year. The time of year when we’re looking forward to spending time with family and friends. It’s also the time of year when we turn our attention to giving back to those who are less fortunate.

This season, I want to direct the focus to just a few of the Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) partners and non-profits who work tirelessly to give back all year long. These connections are what make the CSR work we do possible. Our partners give us the ability to scale our efforts and create exponential social, environmental, and business impact.

One of our CSR focus areas is education. As the world becomes more connected, new career growth and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are more plentiful than ever. Yet the majority of U.S. students lack foundational skills in STEM. MIND Research Institute set out to ensure that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems. By developing the game-based Spatial Temporal (ST) Math instructional software program, MIND Research Institute is revolutionizing math education through visual learning. Amazingly, schools that fully implement ST Math see double, and even triple, the growth in math proficiency than comparable schools. Cisco has partnered with MIND Research Institute for over a decade now, helping the organization scale delivery and access to ST Math by transitioning the software to a web-based platform. I’m extremely proud that this work and investment has increased access from 55,000 students in 2007 to more than 800,000 students and 31,000 teachers in 40 states, and is helping develop the workforce of the future. Read More »

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The Global STEM Alliance: Collaborative Education and Mentoring to Solve the “STEM Paradox”

GlobalStemAlliance_Oct2014The New York Academy of Sciences has recently released a report that redefines the global STEM crisis as a “STEM paradox”: there are sufficient numbers of STEM graduates, but low numbers of grads who are actually prepared for work, “brain drain” from developing countries and the lack of women in STEM fields makes it impossible for employers to fill all their STEM job openings. The new report also outlines how partnerships between governments, corporations and institutions can solve problems in the STEM workforce pipeline.

Additional information on the Global STEM Alliance is available here:

To see Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief Globalization Officer, discuss the initiative, visit:

As a founding partner since 2013, Cisco is excited to support the Global STEM Alliance, an international collaboration of public and private entities that harnesses the collective mindshare of corporations, local and national governments, nonprofits, students and STEM leaders. This multimillion-dollar Alliance will bring together STEM professionals of different ages and cultures to develop often-missing foundational skills and adapt to specific environments. The Alliance will engage and prepare the next generation for careers that encourage global economic development and the innovation needed to address and overcome today’s biggest challenges. Read More »

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Five Ways We Can Prepare the Next Generation of Workers for Tomorrow’s Technology

Consider this: Many of today’s top jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago – jobs like app developers, social media managers, and cloud computing administrators. By 2018, it’s predicted that there will be 21 billion networked devices and connections globally. The Internet of Everything (IoE) will bring it all together, but it’s people that will make the connections possible.

The good news… the digital age is creating millions of information technology (IT) job opportunities for people. The bad news… we aren’t developing IT talent fast enough to keep up with the pace of demand.

A ManpowerGroup study shows that in the Americas, 39 percent of employers report hiring challenges caused by IT talent shortages. Acute shortages were reported by employers in Brazil, India, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Japan, where that number skyrockets to 85 percent.

These numbers show that career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are more plentiful than ever. Unfortunately in the U.S., many students lack foundational STEM skills, as shown by a recent Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education report. Read More »

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