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Judging the Future at Cisco’s Silicon Valley Innovation Jam

As a recent graduate of San Jose State University (SJSU), I’ve seen how technology can improve education. Wi-Fi access in every classroom is eliminating the PowerPoint lectures of old and replacing them with 21st-century lesson plans. Students are interacting with professors using social media, answering questions with a tweet or streaming videos during presentations to make learning more engaging. At Cisco’s Silicon Valley Innovation Jam on October 24, I served as a pre-finalist judge and saw how over 60 SJSU students would use this same technology to solve social problems in the near future.

By 2020, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. Today, I can name more than 10 “smart” devices in my house that require an Internet connection. As more people, processes, data, and things become connected, the “Internet of Everything” will require people to change the way they work, live, play and learn. Students at the Innovation Jam were tasked with creating a solution that harnesses these connections to improve society – whether education, healthcare, energy, retail, or city/public services.

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IoT, STEM, Women, Innovation, Manufacturing and the 52% Opportunity

I can humbly say that I can now understand, embrace and apply the phrase that my grandfather often spoke, “Son, I’ve lived a little.  Trust your eyes more than your ears.   May the HOPE experienced by your ears be the reality of your eyes.”

I, one day HOPE that the reality of equality and opportunity for all people regardless of culture, socioeconomic status, gender or sexual orientation is achieved in my lifetime.

So, what does all this HOPE stuff have to do with IoT, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Manufacturing, Innovation and Women? Stem Women

Well, let me explain……….

Here’s some metrics you may be familiar with:

  • IoT global value opportunity estimated to be over $8 Trillion
  • Over the next 10 years it is estimated there will be two million unfilled STEM related jobs globally
  • 82 percent of American manufacturers surveyed reported a moderate or severe shortage of high-skilled workers
  • Of the 52% — of women who earn STEM degrees, 52% leave the field within 10 years.

2014 IoT World Forum

…. But HOPE descended upon the Windy City of Chicago last week in the form of The Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum sponsored by Cisco Systems and its partners, including Rockwell Automation and Panduit.  The forum brought over 1700 thought leaders, executives, and creators representing companies and entities in the public, private, and education sectors

The event served as a platform and opportunity for participants to leverage the mindshare, perspectives and experiences from their peers.  The objective of the event was to evolve the IoT conversations FROM determining the IoT value opportunity TO “how” value can/is being realized from the IoT paradigm.  The HOPE is to leverage IoT to bring real and positive disruptive change to all sectors of society including education, finance, politics, environment, education, food, business and technology.  This can only be achieved by soliciting, including and welcoming a diversity of perspectives obtained from both women and minorities.

The 52% Opportunity

The event agenda was well put together with a broad range of diverse and engaging IoT topics being presented and discussed.  One of those agenda topics was entitled, “Women in IoT (STEM and the Lost 52%)

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Challenging the Next Generation of STEM Professionals

Yesterday, Cisco and Junior Achievement of Northern California hosted Cisco’s inaugural Social Innovation Challenge on our San Jose campus. Fifty high school students from nearby Independence High School and Sequoia High School worked together in small groups to create and pitch ways to connect the unconnected.

I watched as excited students presented ideas to improve the patient/physician relationship and make the experience at the San Francisco 49er’s new stadium easier for fans. Their collaboration led them to brainstorm creative solutions that use technology in new and unanticipated ways. The winning team, “Epidemask,” pitched the concept of a blue-chip enabled gel facemask that prevents the spread of viruses while also communicating to authorities which regions need specific vaccinations.

The winning team, "Epidemask", applied technology to create social change in the healthcare field

The winning team, “Epidemask,” applied technology to create social change in the healthcare field

It’s always fun to see students pour their energy into something like this. At the Social Innovation Challenge, we get the chance to watch kids organize new ideas and stand up in front of a panel of judges in a competitive environment. This format is great because it teaches them what the social problems are and how they can use technology and connections to solve them.

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Cisco Empowered Women’s Network Sponsors San Jose State University STEM Challenge

Last month Cisco Empowered Women’s Network (CiscoEWN) sponsored a San Jose State University STEM Challenge together with CloudNOW.  The goal was to promote technology career paths for college women and to recognize students’ innovative efforts at San Jose State University.

Through my involvement with CloudNOW, a non-profit organization whose mission is to drive the professional development of women from school age through their working career I got to meet Debra Caires,  the Director of Internships Programs at San Jose Statue University.  Debra has a relentless energy and passion in fostering STEM careers for college students and for promoting gender diversity.  Debra organized this STEM Challenge event where we also announced CloudNOW;s Top College Women in Cloud awards.  We are accepting submissions for these currently and all college women and men too are encouraged to apply.

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The CiscoEWN generously supported this event in a number of ways.  The guest, speaker at this event was Tami Newcombe, Vice President of Sales at Cisco Systems. The CiscoEWN offered students ways to connect with them to reap the benefits of the many seminars and events that they run.

Cisco’s Tami Newcombe opened the event with reflections on her own career trajectory spanning a mix of engineering and sales executive leadership. Tami encouraged students “ to go break glass” and be bold in their career paths but also gave practical advice on being attuned to the dynamics of the organization that they work at.  Tami talked about the value of internships and described it as the “new interview” in the job search process for students and employers alike.

I shared further details on their Top College in Women in Cloud award and was pleased to see great interest. We are looking forward to strong representation in from San Jose State University.

The event concluded with the judging of 40 student STEM posters by judges from Cisco Systems, CloudNOW and Adobe Systems. Students created these posters based on their contributions to industry during their internships. The technology areas spanned Big Data, cybersecurity, Internet of Things to emerging digital technologies.

We awarded first and second place prizes to Jordan Jennings and Sindusha Doddapeni respectively.

 

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Photos by San Jose State University Student Eileen Wai

 

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Finding Students’ ‘Voice’ on STEM as part of Cisco’s Day of Action

Later this week, four dozen high-school students will gather in an auditorium in North San Jose.  They will stand before a panel of judges, not to sing the latest pop song for The Voice or American Idol, but to blow judges away with their proposals for the next big thing in technology, as part of Cisco’s STEM Mentoring Day of Action.

After spending time with engineer mentors and seeing cutting-edge technologies, the students will be divided into small teams.  Their task:  develop an innovative proposal for the Internet of Everything, the next wave of the Internet, which is the connection of people, processes, data and things to the Internet.

This event is not a one-time occasion.  It’s part of Cisco’s enduring commitment to preparing the next generation for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — STEM.  This week, nearly 200 students will attend STEM mentoring events at three Cisco campuses in San Jose; Richardson, Texas; and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

The goal at all three facilities is the same – to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math among students. You see, something amazing happens when you put technology in the hands of young people. It opens their eyes to the incredible possibilities that a career in high-tech can offer.

Cisco’s commitment in this area goes back nearly two decades with the Cisco Networking Academy, which has taught over 5 million students around the world the fundamentals of how networks work and providing them the opportunity to become certified, the key to obtaining a good paying job in this field.

This commitment extends to classrooms, where we’re working with schools and the Federal Government to see that every K-12 classroom in America has high-speed Wi-Fi over the next five years.  Cisco is also providing funding for innovative programs – like the MIND Research Institute – which is fundamentally changing how math is being taught in underserved communities from coast to coast.  And their results have been nothing short of amazing –with students doubling and tripping their math proficiency scores in a few short years.

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