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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, www.IOT4KIDS.com 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! 

#ThisIsSTEAM

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Define Your Future @Cisco

I am looking forward to the Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conference, Oct 14-16 2015, Houston, Texas.

From Cisco Women in Cybersecurity to extraordinary software developers and inspiring executive I invite you to join us at Cisco to invent together.

Monique Morrow

Intercloud, security, and IoE are all areas that present massive opportunity for re-invention and innovation. The need for enhanced security is real Read More »

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#CiscoChat Seize the Moment and Make your Mark at Grace Hopper

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The Grace Hopper Celebration Conference is upon us once in two weeks in Houston, Texas  and Cisco is proud to be a Diamond Sponsor recognized as a leader in diversity and highlights our continuous commitment to increasing the impact of women in technology.

For the last 13 years, GHC has strived to bring together women technologists to help increase visibility of the valuable contributions of women in computing. This year the conference is expected to have grown to 11,000 attendees from last year’s 7,800 attendees. Inspired by the  legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women In Computing Conference was co-founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994. The idea behind the conference was to catapult the research and career interests of women to the forefront and now it has become one of the world’s largest gatherings for women in computing.

Women and computers

Cisco’s goal of participating Read More »

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A Celebration of STEM Mentoring – the Million Women Mentors Descend on Washington

When it comes to encouraging more students to enter the fields that make up STEM –Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – American faces twin crises. First, how do we meet the looming 1.8 million shortfall in the number of workers who have the technical skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow? And second, how do we ensure that more women and girls go into these fields?

The good news is that there are some true leaders committed to solving this problem. Among them, Cisco’s own Liz Centoni, Vice President, Engineering Strategy & Portfolio Planning and Chief of Staff for Chief Development Officer. Liz sits in the part of Cisco that innovates and develops our new technologies, products and solutions, the core of Cisco’s engineering team. Liz is an active mentor and supports under-represented minorities. At Cisco, she launched a “Women in Engineering Leadership” forum, and is the Global Executive Sponsor for Cisco’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a recipient of the YWCA (Silicon Valley) 2015 TWIN Award, and CloudNOW’s “Top 10 Women in Cloud-2015.”

That’s why this week Liz will be honored by one of our nation’s most notable organizations that is trying to make mentoring a national priority – Million Women Mentors.

The Million Women Mentors organization is dedicated to advancing the education of girls and women in STEM. Today, Million Women Mentors is meeting at the National Press Club for an annual summit and gala. Cisco is proud to be both a sponsor and participant. www.millionwomenmentors.org

Cisco believes passionately in STEM mentoring as a tool that can help advance diversity in the STEM fields, a cause we wholeheartedly support. We are especially honored to be among the group – public and private – scheduled to receive awards tonight. We have committed to the US2020 pledge – that 20 percent of our workforce will mentor students in STEM annually by 2020. We have also significant programs in place to train students to meet the needs of the 21st century economy, as well as to increase the number of students of all backgrounds to go into STEM.

We’re proud to share the stage with other corporate leaders and elected officials, including Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

As Patrice D’Eramo, Cisco’s vice president of America’s Field Marketing and a one of the Vice Chairs of the MWM told me: “Each of us has an obligation to extend a hand mentoring the next generation of leaders,” she said. “We want to open the door of opportunity to all students – and especially girls and young women– to be aware of STEM careers and to be excited by the possibilities that are out there. My career in tech is living proof what happens when you are mentored, in STEM, at a young age.”

I could not agree more.

Congratulations to Liz, other awardees, and the Million Women Mentor’s organization on this day of celebration. The work they do truly makes a difference.

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Robots Invade Cisco RTP Campus this Weekend

The Cisco Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina campus, normally quiet over the weekend, will be alive and buzzing with activity this Saturday, September 12, as hundreds of students, robots, coaches, and volunteers gather for a day of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning.

For the second year, Cisco RTP is hosting the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Kick-Off in partnership with North Carolina A&T State University (North Carolina FIRST Affiliate Partner for FTC) and NC FIRST Robotics. The centerpiece of the day: Congressman David Price will present the “Game Reveal”—when wide-eyed students learn the rules and guidelines for this year’s robotics competition, and are able to see the field of battle for the first time.

U.S. Congressman David Price attended the "Game and Field Reveal" during the First Tech Challenge Kick-Off event at the Cisco Research Triangle Park campus on September 12, 2015

U.S. Congressman David Price attended the “Game and Field Reveal” during the First Tech Challenge Kick-Off event at the Cisco Research Triangle Park campus on September 12, 2015

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