MTV to Chronicle Disability Activist’s Quest to Travel Into Space

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Eddie Ndopu

Eddie Ndopu wants to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space. MTV will follow a South African activist on his quest to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space.

Eddie Ndopu, 27, was born with spinal muscular atrophy and given a life span of five years. He has obviously exceeded that, going on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from Oxford and has spent more than a decade advocating for the rights of disabled young people.

Now Ndopu is hoping to travel to space and deliver a message from above Earth to the U.N. General Assembly, sending “a powerful message on behalf of young people everywhere who have ever felt excluded by society.” MTV cameras will follow him as he enlists an aerospace company to facilitate the mission and chronicle his thoughts and emotions as the launch approaches. The cabler will also document his voyage and message to the United Nations.

The project was announced ahead of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities on Dec. 3.

Continue on to The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

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.

From Science Class to the Stock Exchange

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Stephon Henry-Rerrie headshot

By Gina Vitale | MIT News correspondent

Stephon Henry-Rerrie grew up in Brooklyn as the oldest of five siblings. He loved math puzzles from a young age and chose a premed track in his specialized high school. He never thought he’d study at MIT, but after being accepted to MIT’s Weekend Immersion in Science and Engineering (WISE), a program for high school seniors from underrepresented communities to learn about the MIT experience, he changed his mind.

Before visiting MIT, “I could never see myself here, because it was just this ivory-tower looking place,” he says. “Whereas when I was here, and I was talking with people, I was like, ‘Oh, wow I can hang.’ Maybe I do belong here.”

Henry-Rerrie, now a senior, has discovered many passions during his time at the Institute. He realized early on that he didn’t want to pursue medicine, and chose to major in chemical engineering. Then, after realizing how versatile physics could be, he picked that up as a second major. In four years, he has helped create particle simulations, worked on a trading floor, conducted research in the chemical engineering industry, and mentored younger MIT students. He would never have predicted ending up where he is now—but he wouldn’t trade it.

“I have a very weird, nonlinear trajectory that I’ve taken,” he says. “But along the way I’ve learned lots of things about myself and about the world.”

In the market for growth

When Henry-Rerrie accepted an internship at Morgan Stanley the summer after his first year, he had no idea that he’d be working on the trading floor. Some similarities to the movie Wall Street were uncanny, he says—he was surrounded by bond traders, and his mentor underwrote municipal bonds. He says the experience of working in finance fundamentally changed his life. Not only did he learn to speak up among many powerful voices, he also realized that science and engineering are directly tied into economics. Research doesn’t happen in a vacuum—when scientists make discoveries, that impacts the economy.

“I think I needed that exposure,” he says. “Because if I hadn’t, I feel like I wouldn’t have the perspective that I have now on, what does this all mean? What is going on? What’s this larger system that we exist in?”

He really enjoyed working within the financial sector. And, after meeting a number of former physicists (and chemical engineers) now working in financial roles at Morgan Stanley, he realized that studying physics rather than economics wouldn’t hurt his chances of getting a job in finance—so he took on a double major and was thrilled to study another area he’s always been fascinated by.

In his sophomore year, he worked in the lab of Assistant Professor James Swan, creating particle simulations with PhD student Zachary Sherman. The pair looked at how varying two different kinds of interactions between nanoparticles in solution affected those nanoparticles. Henry-Rerrie likens it to having a bunch of people (representing the particles) in a room where temperature and wind are controlled by two knobs. As you turn up the temperature knob, or the wind knob, or both knobs in varying amounts, the people will react.

“What will those people be feeling? What will they do? … I can turn those knobs and record, what did those people do at each specific value? And then after that, can we see a trend in how people will react?”

The following summer, Henry-Rerrie took an internship at chemical engineering company Praxair. The people there were great, he says, but as he considered his options for the future, he found his heart was with financial markets. The following summer, he took a job at investment management company BlackRock.

“I also found that finance touches everything, everybody’s life, in a very real way that you can’t get away from, at least now,” he says.

For him, BlackRock was the perfect compromise between chemical engineering and finance. As much of his role involved risk and quantitative analysis, he was able to practice many of the techniques he learned in engineering, as well as do real work in the finance sector.

“At my internship at BlackRock, I was able to apply everything that I learned,” he says. “Not necessarily the technical stuff, but the way of problem solving, of thinking.”

Chocolate City

When Henry-Rerrie was first visiting MIT, he was introduced to a living group called Chocolate City, in New House. The group consisted of black and Latino men supporting each other socially, academically, and professionally.

“When I saw that, that was the signal to me that MIT is just a special place,” he says.

He was accepted to live in Chocolate City his first year and has been there ever since. He has served in a variety of roles, including athletics chair, social chair, co-chair, and now resident peer mentor. He describes himself as the big brother of the house, working to get people to socialize and bond with each other. Living in the group has had its challenges, as its members come from diverse backgrounds and often have conflicting opinions. But that’s all part of the learning experience that makes it so valuable, he says.

“Being in that ecosystem has, I think, developed me into the person I am now, and helped me to feel like I can take on, I can take on anything after I graduate here.”

Henry-Rerrie loves being part of Chocolate City, and is grateful for how much it has developed him as a person. That’s why he’s chosen to give back to the other residents this year as the resident peer mentor, and why he plans to continue to help out as an alumnus. To him, Chocolate City is much more than a place to sleep and study.

“I feel like I’m home,” he says of being a part of the living group. “I don’t feel like I’m at a dorm; I feel like I’m home.”

Science in context

Henry-Rerrie is grateful for the context that his humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS) classes have given him in his scientific pursuits. He recalls one class, STS.042 / 8.225 (Physics in the Twentieth Century), that introduced him to an entire world of physics history. He learned everything from the politics underlying physics to the fact that Erwin Schrödinger himself was skeptical of quantum theory—he only made the cat analogy to show how crazy it was.

“A lot of ways that we evaluate people and what they’ve done can be super muddled if we don’t understand the history of how things came about,” he says.

It’s that kind of learning, bridging concepts that he never assumed were related, that Henry-Rerrie really enjoys. The applications to engineering and broader society are what drew him to finance; his research and economic work at BlackRock was so fulfilling that he’s accepted an offer to return after graduation full time.

Longer term, Henry-Rerrie isn’t sure where exactly he’ll end up. He’s considering business school in his five-year plan and would love to end up back at MIT for that. His broader goal, at least right now, is to figure out where his skills can be put to the greatest use.

“I’m all about finding connections. Between, I guess, very weird things. Things that don’t seem that related,” he says.

Photo: Stephon Henry-Rerrie/JAKE BELCHER

Source: Reprinted with permission of MIT News (http://news.mit.edu/2019/student-stephon-henry-rerrie-0501)

Jackson State University Student Invents Straw That Filters Lead From Drinking Water

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Lamonte Pierce dressed in a suit holding his straw invention

Lamonte Pierce must’ve been taught not to complain about problems if he didn’t offer solutions. According to Jackson Free Press, the 36-year-old Jackson State University (JSU) graduate student got tired of receiving boil-water alerts in his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. He decided to do something about it.

He invented the “Cleanstraww,” a reusable straw that is actually a water filtration system. Originally believing the product to be so simple someone had likely already created it, Pierce had the opportunity to execute his idea in a 3D Printing challenge during a cyber learning summit in 2016.

According to its website, “Cleanstraww is powered by a 3-step filtering process using special patented FDA compliant material that helps separate particles and sediment from water on demand using the force of your mouth.”

Pierce said using water filtration systems is healthier than drinking water from plastic bottles because there are still lots of impurities in the water and it’s not as clean as some people think.

Once word of his product got out, Pierce was offered a vendor contract to supply 4,000 Walmart stores with his filtration straws, reported WAPT 16. He is being celebrated for his ingenuity.

“I want to make this straw readily available everywhere and for it to become a household product that can surpass bottled water, which can also have a lot of impurities and often isn’t as filtered as a lot of people may think,” Pierce said.

Continue on to Mogeldom to read the complete article.

Looking for a STEM Job? Head to These States

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woman shaking mans hand in a room withdiverse co-workers

Milken Institute’s 2018 State Technology and Science Index, a biennial assessment of states’ capabilities and competitiveness in a tech-focused economy, ranked the top ten states to pursue a STEM career. “The success stories of states profiled in this year’s index reflect sustained efforts to not only build but to maintain their ecosystem,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics.

“Making the changes that are necessary to perform well on the State Technology and Science Index can contribute to stronger long-term economic performance.”

 

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Colorado
  3. Maryland
  4. California
  5. Utah
  6. Washington
  7. Delaware
  8. Minnesota
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Oregon

Massachusetts benefitted from the presence of major research universities, the availability of venture capital, entrepreneurial expertise, and a tech-oriented workforce, according to the report. The state was first in three of the index’s five composite indexes and finished third in another. Massachusetts continues to strengthen its position in tech and science by increasing public funding of neuroscience research, cybersecurity innovation, and startup development.

Utah’s move to fifth was driven by tech-sector employment growth – the fastest in the nation – averaging 4.3 percent annually. The state also had the most university graduates with degrees in science and engineering – 15.4 per 1,000 students. Utah stood out for the success of its universities in spinning research into commercial ventures.

Delaware rose to seventh from tenth, strengthened by an increase in venture capital invested in technology companies. The Legislature authorized a 25 percent tax credit for small companies (those with fewer than 25 employees) engaged in research and development in specific high-tech fields. The state ranks fifth in the number of business startups with 53.4 per 1,000 residents.

The State Technology and Science Index provides a benchmark for policymakers to evaluate their state’s capabilities and formulate strategies for improving STEM education, attracting businesses, and creating jobs in the tech sector. Indices considered in the report include the number of patents issued and doctoral degrees granted in each state.

“Investing in human capital and developing a STEM workforce is crucial for regional economies that want to attract large technology companies and the jobs they bring,” explains Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken Institute’s director of regional economics research.

In addition to the index, the report offers case studies that examine issues such as non-compete contracts that limit employee mobility, along with access to higher education in building a vibrant, adaptable workforce.

Drawing on this data, the report recommends four steps policymakers can take to improve their state’s competitiveness:

Increase scholarships and other financial aid to lower the cost of higher education for in-state students who plan STEM careers.

Better align STEM curriculums to make it easier for students to transfer credits from lower-cost two-year colleges to four-year institutions.

Encourage partnerships between higher-education institutions and private companies to provide students with work experience to improve workforce readiness and job placement.

Make employee noncompete laws less restrictive to encourage a freer exchange of ideas and talent among tech companies.

The index draws on data from government and private sources dating from 2015 to 2017, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the American Community Survey, and Moody’s Analytics.

Source: milkeninstitute.org

Tech with a twist: Innovative youth program combines coding and dance

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group of diverse girls dancing in the danceLogic studio

Numbers, stats and creativity are all integral parts of choreography — but they’re vital for coding, too. That’s the idea behind danceLogic, a program in Philadelphia that integrates dance and computer programming for 13 to 17-year-old girls.

“With dancing, you have to look at the steps and figure out how do they fit into one another. Same with coding,” said 14-year-old Nailah Shabazz, adding “basically, if I see myself coding and helping others, I think I can also bring in other people who look like me, to also want to pursue that field.”

For 14-year-old Lauryn Dorsett, the dancing part came easy – the coding, not so much. “The coding part is sorta hard at first when you think about it,” Dorsett said. “But once you really grow into it, and stay with it for a while, it starts to get easier.”

When she realized how much money she could potentially make with the skills, Dorsett said, she was even more intrigued. “Not all fields offer the same type of opportunities,” she said. “You can get far with this.”

Franklyn Athias believes that opportunity is everything. While working as a senior vice president at Comcast, Athias started danceLogic in 2018.

Originally, Athias only planned to focus on coding – but “he had trouble getting [kids] to participate,” according to his friend and co-founder Betty Lindley.

Lindley, who runs a cultural center, suggested he incorporate dance.

Athias wants people who might be intimidated by the math and science behind coding to understand that it’s like any other skill. “It’s always hard in the beginning,” he said. “This is why the dance part is so important, because a lot of young ladies came in and could not dance. But they practice.”

That’s what happened with Shabazz, who said she “inherited two left feet” from her father. “If I have the confidence to dance in front of a bunch of people and not be afraid of making mistakes, then I have the confidence to accomplish whatever goals I have in life,” she said.

“Something they thought was hard now became easy, right?” Athias said. “And it was all because of practice. It wasn’t anything else besides, ‘let’s try it, let’s get it wrong, let’s try it again and then boom.’ The smile comes on your face and say, ‘I got it, Mr. Franklyn.’ When that happens, he said, “the world is theirs.”

Athias wants danceLogic to help give back to the community. “I came from a very rough neighborhood, and someone introduced me to something that kept me out of trouble,” he said. “If I can help motivate some other person to do the same thing that’s the reward I get outta this.

When the girls finish the 14-week program, they’re rewarded too. Athias gives them iPads, so they can keep coding – he has no doubt they’ll keep dancing.

DanceLogic costs $50 total for the 14 weeks. The West Park Cultural Center, which runs the program, says it will never turn away anyone who can’t afford the cost. The center offers scholarships, too.

Continue on the CBS News to read the complete article.

UNC grad student develops app for African American youth mental health

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Everyone feels anxious or stressed out at times, but people can often overlook their overall mental health. Some UNC grad students think this is especially the case for African Americans.

Technology has become a necessity for many people today, and the App Store is flooded with resources that can help or improve someone’s life. Henry Willis, fourth-year doctoral candidate of psychology and neuroscience in the clinical psychology program, is leading the development of a mental health app that will target African-American young adults. He believes African Americans’ mental health is important but is often overlooked.

“The reason I’m targeting toward young Black adults is mostly because this is one of the groups within African Americans that are less likely to receive access to effective mental health treatment,” Willis said. “And it’s also the time period where just a lot of negative mental health symptoms start or get worse for a lot of people.”

This mental health app will cover a broad scope of things, but it is currently in the development stage. The first version will be on a website, but it will function like the final product, which will be a mobile app. Once they have enough data, Willis and the people helping him develop the app plan to do a pilot test and then export it to the Apple Store.

Since many apps and other products on the market aim to help people improve aspects of their lives, including weight management apps, Fitbits and Apple Watches, Willis thought a mental health app for Black people could be useful to many people who may not have thought about their mental health before. Within the app, Willis hopes to help people get a basic understanding of mental health and some of the things they can do to cope with negative mental health symptoms.

For the complete article, continue on to Daily Tar Heel.

Mark Dean: Computer Engineering’s “Hidden Figure”

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Chances are, if you’ve ever stuck a disk drive into a computer or printed from a computer or even used a computer with a color screen, you have computer scientist and engineer, Mark Dean, to thank for all of that.

While he may not be as known as computer gurus like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, Mark Dean’s contributions to the personal computer aren’t any less notable.

He holds some of the largest, most groundbreaking personal computer patents including the first color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. He also co-invented the Industry Standard Architecture system bus, which allows for computer plug-ins such as disk drives and printers.

Born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, in 1957, Dean helped launch the personal computer age with work that made the machines more accessible and powerful.

From an early age, Dean showed a love for building things; as a young boy, Dean constructed a tractor from scratch with the help of his father, a supervisor at the Tennessee Valley Authority. While still in high school, he also built his own computer, radio and amplifier.

Dean also excelled in many different areas, standing out as a gifted athlete and an extremely smart student who graduated with straight A’s from Jefferson City High School. In 1979, he graduated at the top of his class at the University of Tennessee, where he studied engineering.

As an engineer, Dean proved to be a rising star at the company. Working closely with a colleague, Dennis Moeller, Dean developed the new Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus, a new system that allowed peripheral devices like disk drives, printers and monitors to be plugged directly into computers. The end result was more efficiency and better integration.

But his groundbreaking work didn’t stop there. Dean’s research at IBM helped change the accessibility and power of the personal computer. His work led to the development of the color PC monitor and, in 1999, Dean led a team of engineers at IBM’s Austin, Texas, lab to create the first gigahertz processing chip chip—a revolutionary piece of technology that is able to do a billion calculations a second.

For the complete article, continue on to Black Doctor.

IBM just appointed the first African-American woman to command a US Navy ship to its board

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IBM appointed Admiral Michelle J. Howard, the first African American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, to its board, the company announced Tuesday.

A former U.S. Navy officer, Howard was the first woman to become a 4-star admiral in addition to becoming the first African-American woman to command a U.S. Navy ship, according to IBM’s announcement. In July 2014, she became the first woman and African-American to be named Vice Chief of Naval Operations, IBM said, and she retired from her 35-year career in December 2017.

Howard now teaches cybersecurity and international policy at George Washington University, according to the release.

Howard’s board appointment will be effective March 1.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in a statement in the release, “Admiral Howard is a groundbreaking leader with a distinguished career in military service. Her leadership skills, international perspective and extensive experience with cybersecurity and information technology will make her a great addition to the IBM Board.”

For the complete article, continue on to CNBC.

Dr. Mae Jemison: On a ‘Starship’ Enterprise

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Dr Mae Jemison in space

By Brady Rhoades

The first female African-American astronaut in space was not cured of curiosity when she whirled about the cosmos as part of NASA’s STS-47 in 1992. Her vision sharpened, like a kid who takes her first plane flight. Wondrous, yes, but still a hint.

Space, for Dr. Mae Jemison, is a wild trip in your bones and a homecoming in your soul. “It’s the one thing that connects us all around the world,” she said, in an interview with Diversity in STEAM Magazine. “And it also connects us to the planet and to the greater universe.”

Jemison is in demand, but she manages telescopic vision when it comes to her current project: 100 Year Starship.

The goal? Human travel to another solar system in the next 100 years. “Creating an extraordinary tomorrow actually creates a better world today,” Jemison said.

Jemison, the principal and leader of the 100 Year Starship program, stated on the organization’s website (100yearss.org): “When we explore space, we garner the greatest benefits here at home. The challenge of traveling to another star system could generate transformative activities, knowledge, and technologies that would dramatically benefit every nation on Earth in the near term and years to come.

“The concept of humans traveling to other star systems may appear fantastical, but no more so than the fantasy of reaching the moon was in the days of H. G. Wells. The First Men in the Moon was published considerably less than 100 years before humans landed on the Moon (1901 vs. 1969), and the rapidity of scientific and technological advances was not nearly as great as it is today. The truth is that the best ideas sound crazy at first. And then there comes a time when we can’t imagine a world without them.”

Jemison was the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab. STS-47 was a cooperative mission between the United States and Japan. The eight-day mission was accomplished in 127 orbits of the Earth, and included 44 Japanese and U.S. life science and materials processing experiments.

Dr Mae Jemison seated resting hand on chin
Dr. Mae Jemison

She was a co-investigator on the bone cell research experiment that traveled with the mission. In completing her first space flight, Jemison logged more than 190 hours in space. She’d been starstruck all her life; that didn’t change. “I imagined myself on another star, and I was connected to that star because I’m part of the universe,” she said.

Dr. Jemison, the author of Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life and other books, overcame all the obstacles placed on the career course, and life course, of an African-American woman. She negotiated each pothole, each roadblock, moved on, didn’t look back. “You make sure you’re doing the best you can do, but you don’t hang out at stumbling blocks that other people want you to hang around.”

Her advice for those facing similar challenges? “You have to be comfortable with yourself,” she said. “The key issue is to understand criticism. Is it coming because you aren’t doing something right or because someone has a different expectation of you?”

Jemison, who earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977 and a doctorate degree in medicine from Cornell University in 1981, urges others to focus on education. “There is nothing we can do that is more important in this world than education,” she said. “Here’s the thing: Children don’t get to do 8 years old over again… if we fail to take advantage, then we have lost.”

The astronaut who went on to be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, and the Texas Science Hall of Fame, started off gazing at the night sky as a girl in Chicago and watching the Gemini and Apollo flights on TV.

“I used to be really irritated when I was a little girl that there were no women astronauts,” she said. “And no people of color in the astronaut program. Really irritated.”

She said there’s a difference between role models and inspiration. She’s had many role models, including cats (“They’re so confident; they don’t take nonsense”), but inspiration is another matter. “Life inspired me,” she said.

Dr Jemison onstage with Stephen Hawkings
(L-R) Ann Druyan, producer, co-founder and CEO of Cosmos Studios; Zac Manchester, post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University; Yuri Milner, Breakthrough Prize and DST Global founder; Stephen Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research, University of Cambridge; Freeman Dyson, Emeritus Professor, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study; Mae Jamison, NASA Astronaut, Principal 100 Year Starship Foundation; Peter Worden, Chairman, Breaktrough Prize Foundation and former NASA Director; Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University; and Philip Lubin, UC Santa Barbara Physics Professor, pose for a photo together. BRYAN BEDDER/GETTY IMAGES FOR BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE FOUNDATION

Jemison, a lover of the arts who dove deeply into dancing, has a background in engineering and medical research. She has worked in the areas of computer programming, printed wiring board materials, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, computer magnetic disc production, and reproductive biology. She completed her internship at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center in June 1982 and worked as a general practitioner with INA/Ross Loos Medical Group in Los Angeles until December of that year.

From January 1983 through June 1985, Jemison was the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa. On return to the United States, Jemison joined CIGNA Health Plans of California in 1985 and was working as a general practitioner and taking graduate engineering classes in Los Angeles when she was chosen for the astronaut program in 1987.

She worked on the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and the Science Support Group activities.

Then she was chosen to go to space, and she made history. “We have been in science all along,” she said about women of color. “Even when people didn’t want us involved. I want folks to understand they have the right to be involved. They don’t have to ask.”

Jemison left NASA in 1993—with a new mission. “My path was to include other people,” she said. She formed the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which fosters science literacy. The non-profit, founded in honor of Jemison’s late mother, who was a school teacher, is all about “personal excellence.” The foundation’s main program, developed in 1994, is The Earth We Share international science camp. Students from the United States and around the world work together to solve such global issues as, “How Many People Can the Earth Hold?” and “Predict the Hot Public Stocks for the Year 2030.”

Dr. Mae Jemison in Star Trek episode picture Lt. Ohura
Jemison appeared in a speaking role on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Lieutenant Palmer, an officer serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D in 2369. Seen here speaking to Nichelle Nichols, who played communications officer Nyota Uhura in the original Star Trek series and movies.

Today, if you visit the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, Jemison will speak directly to you about the contributions women have made to the space program, via a life-size hologram in the exhibit Defying Gravity: Women in Space. She narrates, discussing her career and those of other women involved in the space program while visitors wear Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality headsets and walk around the exhibit. Holograms appear, helping to illustrate her points, including a life-size rendering of an spacewalking astronaut that appears to be tethered to the real-life Enterprise that hangs above the installation.

Jemison’s story jumpstarted when, as a girl, she did a simple thing: she looked up.

The story never really ends; the cosmos are infinite; you can never look too closely or far enough. All this is to say Jemison is still looking up, and she wants others—especially generations to come—to do the same.

That’s why she coaxed a sea of people to do just that on September 28, 2018, as part of her Look Up project. “We want to chronicle what happens when you look up at the sky,” she said. “What do you hope, dream, think, fear, wish, plan, love?” Stories of those voyages were posted to the digital world as poems, songs, photos and art. That day and in the days after, Americans, Africans, French, Japanese, girls, boys, old, young and you-name-them connected in strange and soothing ways.

“What’s above us, unites us,” Jemison said.

Meet the 26-year-old entrepreneur turning high-school gamers into varsity athletes

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With his PlayVS e-sports platform, Delane Parnell is creating a valuable scouting grounds for new tech talent.

Sporting a pair of black Jordan 11 Cap and Gowns that look like they were just unboxed and a dark baseball cap that casts a slight shadow over his baby-cheeked face, Delane Parnell fields questions from the audience at this September’s TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual San Francisco assembly that has become a startup kingmaker of sorts. He shares the stage with Jason Citron, founder and CEO of Discord, a messaging app for video gamers with more than 150 million users, and—after a $50 million fundraising round in April—a valuation of $1.65 billion. Parnell’s PlayVS (pronounced play versus), an e-sports platform for high schools, has yet to even launch. But the 26-year-old Detroit native exudes confidence. “Investors are starting to realize that gaming is the next social paradigm,” says Parnell, answering a question about e-sports’ mainstream popularity. “And they want a piece of it.”

You don’t have to look far for evidence of gaming’s influence. It’s all over YouTube and Twitch in how-to videos and live-streamed sessions of FIFA 19 and Assassin’s Creed. A robust ecosystem of e-sports competitions is rising as well, with game publishers, entertainment companies, and even colleges and universities creating leagues and events for pro gamers and amateurs alike. The largest tournaments, for titles such as Dota 2 and Call of Duty, can fill stadiums and dangle purses of millions of dollars. According to research firm NewZoo, revenue from e-sports-related media, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets, and publisher fees is expected to nearly double from 2014 to reach $1 billion this year. Goldman Sachs projects e-sports viewership to reach 300 million by 2022, putting it on par with the NFL.

For all the organizations rushing into e-sports, a hole remains: high school competitions that engage the estimated 75% of American teens who already play video games. Parnell is filling that void with PlayVS, which lets schools create leagues and host virtual and live competitions. Though he’s diving into an industry full of well-funded sharks, including Amazon (Twitch’s parent company) and Discord, Parnell has an edge. In January, PlayVS signed an exclusive, five-year e-sports partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the organization that oversees varsity sports and activities at nearly 19,500 public and private high schools across the country. The first test season of a PlayVS-powered competition, for the popular multiplayer game League of Legends, commenced this October at high schools across five states, and the company is gearing up for its official inaugural season in February.

Parnell is now on a roll. Last week, just five months after PlayVS closed its $15.5 million Series A, the company announced a $30.5 million round from investors that include Adidas, Samsung, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the VC arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers“I don’t care if you’re gaming on your phone, on a console, or through a cloud service,” Parnell says. “Gaming in high school, even if it’s tic-tac-toe, will run through us.”

If he succeeds, he could effectively control a pipeline that would feed into the burgeoning pro leagues. It took the NBA two decades after its first draft to start recruiting players from high schools, but e-sports leagues are already tapping young talent. A 13-year-old recently signed with a European pro Fortnite team. Given the venture capital and startups flooding into e-sports today, Parnell could create another, equally valuable conduit: one that enables high schoolers—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to parlay their interest in gaming into lucrative tech jobs. All he has to do is convince schools that e-sports deserves to be taken as seriously as football and basketball.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Which Coding Language Should You Learn?

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woman working with code on a screen

It’s a great time to learn how to code. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your career and become a developer, leverage a new skill in your current job, or just better understand what the developers on your team are up to, there has never been a better time to get into programming.

There’s been an explosion of coding boot camps and online resources to help you get started. But it’s a double-edged sword: with near-unlimited resources, countless different languages—and a rabbit hole of passionate voices debating which are the easiest to learn, best to help you get a job, and so on—where do you start?

The best way to learn to code is to stop endlessly analyzing what to learn and just start. So, with a giant disclaimer that these aren’t all of the languages you could consider learning to start your coding journey, here are a few languages you can learn.

JavaScript

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Think of the difference between dynamic, automatically updating Gmail account and your old static Hotmail, which needed to be reloaded to see new messages. That fundamental change was thanks to JavaScript. And, as one of the most popular languages out there, it’s still bringing websites to life in new, exciting ways. It has a ton of resources and tools available to help you use it effectively, and it opens you up to a ton of software engineering jobs. It can basically do everything, and if you’re going to be a full stack developer, you simply can’t avoid it.

Ruby

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Ruby was specifically designed by its inventor Yukihiro Matsumoto to make programmers happy, and it’s delivered upon that objective: Ruby is accessible and reads like English, allowing new programmers to focus right away on the fundamental concepts and logic, rather than basic syntax. Even beginners can start building right away. The teachers at the Flatiron School find Ruby to be extremely effective at helping students learn how to think like programmers, break problems down, express themselves technically, abstract ideas, and work together with other programmers. (The Flatiron Co-founder Avi is a little obsessed with it, too.)

Python

Great for: budding data scientists

There’s a massive amount of data out there. Companies that harness it can create better products and understand their businesses better; companies that don’t lose their competitive edge and get left behind. But while at its core, data science may be similar to your high school stats class, with so much data (hundreds of millions of records), your old spreadsheet is the wrong tool for the job. That’s where code comes in. The R language is super specific to statistics, whereas Python is a general-purpose language that happens to have great tooling available to make it a perfect language for data science. It’s actually similar to Ruby in a lot of ways: easy to read, forgiving for beginners, and there’s a passionate community around it, devoted to creating and improving the tooling to make Python even more powerful.

Swift

Great for: mobile developers, developers breaking out of their comfort zone

For beginners hoping to get into mobile app development, now is the perfect time to dive into Swift. It’s new enough that there is a lot of energy and excitement around it. Each year, Apple holds their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where Apple engineers discuss the intricacies of Swift along with all the new and exciting features (don’t be surprised if it inspires you to try implementing all the new concepts into your own apps). But it’s also been around long enough that the early kinks have been worked out, and the open source community has grown significantly. If you’re already a programmer, learning Swift is a way to get out of your comfort zone—the constraints iOS puts on your code forces you to, as Apple would say, “think different.”

Still not sure where to start? That’s OK! There’s really no correct first language to learn. The important thing is to consider what you’re excited to build, what language will help you do that, and then to just start learning!

In the end, this is why schools like Flatiron School doesn’t focus on teaching one specific technology. It wants you to learn how to learn—the only coding skill that will be never become obsolete. You don’t see Fortran or ColdFusion developers anymore. Similarly, you probably won’t be a Ruby or JavaScript developer in 10 years. Eventually, you will need to know more than one language if you want to have an awesome career and build amazing things. If you become skilled at learning languages, you’ll be ready to keep pace with technology as it changes.

Source: This piece was originally published by WeWork, which provides companies with the space, technology, and services they need to success.

Sharon Caples McDougle is somewhat of a “hidden figure”

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Sharon McDougle with Mae Jamison

Everyone knows that Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to travel into space – but many don’t know that an African American woman “suited her up”. McDougle was Jemison’s suit tech for the historic mission STS-47 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor September 12, 1992.

McDougle worked closely with her during her training leading up to launch, as well as actual launch day and landing of the space shuttle – taking care of all of her assigned crew escape equipment – her suit, helmet, writing utensils, even her diaper.

McDougle joined the NASA family through Boeing Aerospace Operations in 1990 where she worked as a Flight Equipment Processing Contract team member in the Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE) department. She began her career as a CEE Suit Technician and was responsible for processing the orange launch and entry suit (LES) assemblies worn by all NASA space shuttle astronauts. She was assigned to her first mission STS-37 within a year.  McDougle was one of only two women CEE Suit Technicians and the only African American technician when she began her career.

In 1994 McDougle was promoted to the position of Crew Chief making her the first female and first African American Crew Chief in CEE. In her new position she was responsible for leading a team of technicians to suit up astronaut crews. She was responsible for leading her team and ensuring the astronaut crews were provided with outstanding support during suited astronaut training, launch, and landing events. In 1998, United Space Alliance (USA) absorbed the Boeing Aerospace Operations contract and McDougle continued in her position as a CEE Crew Chief employed by USA.  She traveled to Kennedy Space Center quite often where she worked in support of many space shuttle launches.  As Crew Chief McDougle had the honor of leading the first and only all-female suit tech crew supporting space shuttle mission STS-78.

In 2004 McDougle became the first female and first African American promoted to the position of Manager of the CEE Processing department. In this position, she managed the team of 25+ employees responsible for processing the Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES) and related equipment worn by the astronaut crews aboard the space shuttle. Her team assisted the astronaut Sharon McDougle and Lt. Uhuracrews in donning/doffing the suit, testing the equipment, strapping the astronauts into the space shuttle before launch, and recovering the crew upon landing. She held this position until the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011. Sharon continued working until 2012 to help close-out the program, ending an illustrious 22 year career with the space shuttle program.

Other notable African-American astronauts McDougle has suited up: Charles Bolden, Frederick Gregory, and Dr. Bernard Harris.

During her career she was recognized with the Astronaut “Silver Snoopy” Award, Space Flight Awareness Honoree Award, USA Employee of the Month Teamwork Award, USA Employee of the Month Community Service Award, and the coveted Women of Color in Flight Award from Dr. Mae Jemison recognizing her career as the first and only African American woman suit tech/crew chief in her field. She absolutely loved her job and is proud to have been a part of our nation’s historic Space Shuttle Program.

McDougle was recognized by her home state as a 2018 Mississippi Trailblazer at the 16th Annual Mississippi Trailblazers Awards Ceremony and Black Tie Gala where she received two awards: the Calvin “Buck” Buchanan “FIRST” Award named for Mississippi’s first United States Attorney for the Northern District – honoring a Mississippian who holds the distinction of being the “first” in their profession and the Dr. Cindy Ayers “Legacy” Award honoring a Trailblazer whose singular work and contributions will leave a legacy long after their life has ended.

Most recently, McDougle received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Moss Point Visionary Circle during their 6th Annual Living Legends Ball for her military service and NASA career.

McDougle is also a United States Air Force (USAF) veteran, which is where she began her aerospace career in 1982 after graduating from high school. She served proudly in the Strategic Air Command (SAC) as an Aerospace Physiology Specialist at Beale Air Force Base, CA (1982-1990), reaching the rank of Sergeant (E-4).

During her enlistment she was a member of the Physiological Support Division (PSD). McDougle was responsible for training the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 (“spy planes”) reconnaissance aircraft pilots on high altitude operations. She performed hazardous duty as an inside observer chamber technician and as a chamber operations team member during hypobaric (altitude) and hyperbaric (dive) chamber operations. During the hypobaric chamber flights crewmembers learned firsthand how hypoxia affects their judgment while flying an aircraft. The crewmembers were taught and practiced how they would handle these types of situations and the importance of wearing all equipment correctly.

McDougle also inspected and maintained flight equipment used for the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 missions. The equipment included full pressure suit ensembles (helmet, gloves, boots, etc.), harness assemblies, and survival equipment (seat kits and parachutes, and emergency oxygen systems). She sized and fitted crewmembers’ pressure suits, assisted crewmembers in donning and doffing their suits, and performed functional tests before takeoff.  She also loaded the survival seat kits and parachutes into the aircraft, strapped-in the crewmembers before take-off, and recovered the crew upon landing.

• 1982 – Graduated from Moss Point High School (Moss Point, MS)
• 1982-1990 – served in the United States Air Force as an Aerospace Physiology Specialist
• 1990 – Joined Boeing Aerospace Operations/Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE), becoming the first African American CEE Suit Technician
• 1992 – Suited up Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color to travel into space (STS-47)
• 1994 – Promoted to Crew Chief, becoming first African American (male or female) CEE Crew Chief
• 1996 – Led the first and only all-female suit tech crew (STS-78)
• 2004 – First and only African American (male or female) promoted to the position of Manager of the CEE department

McDougle spent much of her enlistment on temporary assignment traveling abroad to Greece, Korea, Japan, and England, as well as stateside locations, in support of the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 reconnaissance aircraft missions.  She separated from the Air Force in 1990 with an honorable discharge. During her enlistment she was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (2 devices), Good Conduct Medal (1 oak leaf cluster), Training Ribbon, NCO Professional Military Education Ribbon, Longevity Service Award, and was also recognized as Airman of the Month.

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