March 2014

Of the People, By the People, for the People: Convening the Community on Civic Technology

civictech

Copyright Dana J. Quigley © 2014 | www.danajquigleyphoto.com

When we announced the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center New England (MIPC-NE) back in October, we set out to “bring together the region’s key stakeholders from the technology, broader business, academic and government communities to respond to important issues that are byproducts or unintended consequences of technological advancements.  But perhaps more importantly, we [hoped] to use the Center to anticipate the needs of New England citizens and governments as this next wave of innovation transitions from research to reality.”

The team had a vision of the MIPC-NE when we started the forum, but only in the abstract. For me, it was incredibly gratifying to see that vision we set out in October truly realized in Thursday night’s “Conversation on Civic Technology,” with panelists Kate Crawford (Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research; Visiting Professor, MIT Media Lab), Nicole Fichera (General Manager, District Hall), Nigel Jacob (Co-founder, New Urban Mechanics), Travis McCready (Vice President for Programs, The Boston Foundation), and myself.

The large and remarkably diverse audience pulled from startups, academia, local and state government, non-profits and foundations, civic hackers, community and technology associations, and many, many interested citizens. The civic challenges they brought to the room were equally diverse. That speaks to the point that our talented and passionate panel made: the center of gravity of civic technology isn’t “technology;” but rather, the “civic”—relating to a city, a citizen or citizenship. “Technology” could cover any number of modes by which participants engage with each other in a civic fashion, including new and experimental approaches to fostering dialog, transparency and information sharing.

So could we think of civic technology as community organizing for the 21st century? Perhaps—but I think that oversimplifies what we were all grappling with in the room Thursday night: that technology, however we define it, is just one tool for a 21st century society to use to organize and govern itself for the benefit of all. The age-old concerns of power and equality remain, and it will require hard work, as well as the creative use of the modern tools at our disposal, to address those issues.

The group came up with more questions than definitive answers, but we came together as a collective. The energy in the room until late into the evening showed that there’s a thirst to convene in order to creatively address and solve societal challenges.

We at the MIPC-NE and the Venture Café Foundation look forward to continuing this dialog on civic technology in person at our “Conversations” series (watch this space for future events!), on Twitter at #CivicTechBOS, by e-mail, or in some other fashion yet to be determined. Let’s keep the momentum going!

ICYMI: Browse the full #civictechbos photo album on our Facebook.

3 Not-to-Miss Events This Week at Microsoft New England

The snow’s turned to rain, so that’s a good sign. Spring is @MSNewEngland’s busiest season for events! So we will break it down for you weekly. Here are three events not to miss this week:

SCFG1) Science Club for Girls Media Team
Wednesday, April 2, 4:30pm – 6:30pm
Twitter: @SCFG

The Science Club for Girls Media Team explores the field of science journalism. All participants are staff members of the Media Team blog, MadSciMag, and learn how to research and report on science topics through field trips and guest speakers. The team will learn how to write for the web, create infographics, and learn to record and edit photo, audio, and video.

jobfair2) Boston Startup Job Fair
Thursday, April 3, Starting at 12:00PM
Twitter: @StartupJF

The Boston Startup Job Fair aims to connect talented job seekers with exciting Boston-based startups. In 2013 we had over 75 startups across two events and 1000+ job seekers resulting in numerous hires. At our fall event, employers had over 250 open positions ranging from developers, graphic artists, web designers, to sales positions, mechanical engineers, accountants, marketers and more. Over the past few years the organization has helped job seekers find positions at top startups including HubSpot, Spotify, Clypd, Gazelle, Tumblr, ZocDoc, Acquia and many more!

givecamp23) New England GiveCamp
Friday, April 4 – Sunday, April 6
Twitter: @NEGiveCamp, #negc2014

New England GiveCamp (in it’s 5th year) brings together representatives from two dozen New England non-profit organizations and matches them with technical and designer volunteers for a weekend ‘hackathon’ to work on projects for the non-profit organizations. Projects and organizations are selected and vetted prior to the event, and project submissions should be open in late January 2014.

MBAE Study Finds MA Education System Needs Major Overhaul to Prepare Students to Compete in Global Economy

SirMichaelBarber

Yesterday morning I was honored to welcome to the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), MA Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester, Sir Michael Barber and a room full of state education, policy, and business leaders.

We met to discuss an assessment of the Commonwealth’s education system entitled, The New Opportunity to Lead: A Vision for Education in Massachusetts in the Next 20 Years.” The report is a compelling call to action—its findings show that student achievement has plateaued and MA risks falling behind as global competitors push ahead of us in educating a highly skilled workforce and informed, engaged citizens. The consensus based on a poll of MA business leaders is that change is needed.

Brightlines, a partnership of International education experts headed by Sir Michael Barber, led the study, commissioned by the MBAE.  It concludes that districts, schools, and instruction methods must change for MA students to seize future opportunities, successfully compete in the global economy, and to ensure that we continue to be a hub of innovation.

The report targets two of the most important trends that business leaders feel threaten the long-term economic wellbeing of MA: persistent education achievement gaps and growing workforce skills gaps.

MBAE also commissioned a new poll  by MassINC Polling Group that was released yesterday in tandem with the study. The survey of business executives found employers support changes in MA schools—while our schools are better than the national competition, they don’t produce enough graduates prepared for college and the workforce. 69 percent of employers said they are having trouble hiring employees with the skills needed for the positions they have available.

Two of the best ways to better train a STEM-qualified workforce, according to business leaders, are hands-on experience for students (so they can engage with STEM subjects), and partnerships with local STEM-oriented companies (so they can employees into schools as mentors).

“Increasing business-higher education partnerships came up over and over again in the study,” Barber said.

In order to rapidly address the challenges presented in the report, MBAE is bringing together state education, policy, and business leaders to develop a comprehensive public policy agenda designed to make Massachusetts’ schools the best in the world within the next 20 years, and to sustain that lead.

Barber’s report suggests a new approach to education that moves away from state mandates and gives schools autonomy, and creates conditions where schools can advance their own performance. This can be achieved through collaboration to support integration of technology, improving teaching skills and expanding blended learning.

Barber stressed that MA does have one of the best school systems in the world. But as a hub of technology and innovation with so many resources and job opportunities in those areas, we have the means and the need to “lead the way and become a beacon for others around the world.”

“Our Biggest challenge is the threat of complacency,” Barber said. “We need to continue to strive further and faster.”

Both reports are available in full on MBAE’s website.

NewOppToLead

3 Not-to-Miss Events this Week at Microsoft New England

It’s the beginning of spring (we think?!) and with that comes Microsoft New England’s busiest event season. Check out three events happening this week that should make it on your calendar:

newopp1.) Losing our Lead? Education, Innovation and the Massachusetts Economy
Monday, March 24, 8:00AM – 10:00AM

The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) will be announcing a new agenda for improving public education in the Commonwealth.  MBAE will be sharing the findings of a statewide poll of employers and releasing a report about the condition of public education in Massachusetts and how they compare to the best systems around the world.  Sir Michael Barber, lead author of the report, will present findings and recommendations for discussion as we continue to refine this blueprint for future education policy in the Commonwealth.

*NOTE: Follow us on Twitter @MSNewEngland tomorrow morning from 8-10am for LIVE-TWEETS from the event. 

13899726692.) Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County Inspiration Celebration
Wednesday, March 26, 5:00PM – 9:00PM

The Inspiration Celebration is an annual fundraiser supporting the local Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County with Clubhouses in Cambridge, Somerville, Medford and Everett. The event honors individuals, organizations and volunteers who’ve supported the organization as well as the Youth of Year nominee from each Club and the local community of supporters who help make the Clubs safe, fun, learning environments for our young people.

MSFT3.) A Conversation on Civic Technology
Thursday, March 27, 5:30PM – 8:30PM

Boston’s innovation community has had great successes recently in working with government officials to empower and inform citizens.  Some examples have included Citizens Connect, Will they tow me?, Localocracy and NearbyFYI.  We now want to expand the conversation on Civic Technology to address the harder and broader problems that the public groups are facing.

In coordination with New Urban Mechanics and The Venture Café Foundation, the Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center (MIPC) is hosting a conversation “A Coversation on Civic Technology,” to address some of the following questions:

  • What is Civic Technology?
  • What problems are we trying to solve?
  • What is the role of citizen engagement?
  • How do we make it easier for the technology community to connect with public officials about their problems?

Panelists include:

*Read more about the event via Annmarie Levins here

ICYMI: Some Highlights from Tim Rowe’s Speech Last Night

Great photo via @CassieSautelet

Great photo via @CassieSautelet

Yesterday Tim Rowe gave a speech as he stepped down from the Kendall Square Association to focus on the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). It was about the biggest buzzword of all time: innovation. Except Rowe was pretty much like, “Let’s pause, take a step back, and be real here. Let’s look at what this word actually means.”

“We tend to think there’s a formula for it: Money + ideas + talent = innovation. MIT!” Rowe said as the room laughed. “But what we find are that the leaders and founders of these startups are the ones with the passion.”

“We found it was the passion of someone who almost irrationally believes in their idea that really leads to these successes.”

Time Rowe is one of those people. He’s spent his whole career trying to marry innovation with actually addressing problems in the world, and using the power of community to press it forward.

So if there’s no magic formula, what is innovation really? Well, Rowe explained, it’s collaboration—and it’s happening everyday within the CIC at the Cambridge Coworking Communtiy (C3), a shared community space where hundreds of entrepreneurs work side-by-side. The average headcount of their startups is 1.2. But new ideas are born and zoom forward every day through working together and helping each other—through collaboration.

It’s garages. Places where huge ideas start with one person tinkering late at night. He showed us a series of normal-looking garages where Steve Jobs first invented Apple, or where Walt Disney dreamed up a magic world that would exist in real life. Then those people must believe in their idea and must be able to tell its story. This is what innovation really is.

Rowe began with showing us slides of incredible innovations that have actually changed the world in the past 10 years.

Tahrir SquareThe smartphone and social media, for example, have totally changed the news game, in one way by allowing for citizen journalism. AKA major news networks no longer can control the news we see. He showed a photo of an Egyptian Riot Police officer beating a protester in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution that went viral. This was one of the first examples of how social media allowed us to see what was really going on; the Egyptian people were heard all over the world in real-time. It has created communication on a larger scale—basically a world-wide community connected via Twitter.

“The first entire human genome was published in the last 10 years,” Rowe explained. In fact, right down the street in Cambridge, they’ve figured out how to introduce messenger RNA into our bodies that tell harmful genes not to express themselves.

“The messenger RNA tell our bodies, ‘That whole cancer thing—don’t do it,” Rowe explained. “Swallowing these medicines, these RNA, is like swallowing data. And this all was discovered in the last 10 years.”

These are just a couple pieces of an incredible speech bringing “innovation” down to earth–but what we really want to do is to thank Tim Rowe for inspiring us yesterday, and for creating a place where entrepreneurs can be inspired every day.

Every entrepreneur who works for themself goes through periods when it feels like A LOT. When you wonder if you really do know what you’re doing, or if you did the right thing starting your own company.  When the sharp focus on your idea is replaced with delirium—it’s 2am and you’re still working and you wonder if you’re batshit insane. But Tim Rowe’s speech last night reminded us again how important your idea, or your “innovation” is to help society, even if it has become a buzzword.

“Do we have support of politicians to help make the world a better place?” Rowe asked the crowd. “Not really. So what else do we have?”

“This [innovation] might be all we’ve got,” Rowe said. “If this is all we’ve got to make the world a better place, we’ve got to get on it.”

Staff Spotlight: Anjali Banka

Anjali Banka, Office 365 Software Wizard!

Anjali Banka, Office 365 Software  Engineer/Wizard!

Name: Anjali Banka

Hometown: Delhi, India

Job: Software Development Engineer – Office 365

Years at MSFT: 2 years on June 4th! I am a university hire from Syracuse University, NY.

Favorite restaurant in Boston: The café at Taj Boston – love the Indian food there. Za is my favorite for grabbing a quick pizza with Vermont butter & feta.

Last thing you Binged: Red sox tickets!

Something cool you’ve worked on recently: Working with Office 365 implies we are working with something exciting and impactful every single day. The engineers are pretty much accountable for the live site 365 days a year, or rather 366 for leap years! The last project I worked on was introducing discounts and promotions in the Office 365 portal. Other interesting ones include the ability to switch plans, aka Office 365 SKUs here and Office 365 for nonprofits here.

What inspires you about tech? The ability to reach the masses and to influence their lives. Period. With technology, we as engineers have the ability to influence the world. We can collectively make people’s day-to-day activities simpler, empathize with their use cases and provide them with simple and elegant solutions. It sure is one of the most influential mediums to reach the people worldwide, and help impact their lives in a positive way.

What problem would you like to see technology solve? I am a huge fan of simplifying processes, at least on the front end for the end user. Another thing I would vote for is consistency in end user experience. Simplified process and consistency together can redefine how technology helps people all across the world!

Music Tech Fest Hits Cambridge This Weekend – Let’s Invent the Future of Music

Music Tech Fest

Music Tech Fest, “The Festival of Ideas,” is hitting the US for the first time ever this Friday through Sunday. And it’s coming straight to a NERD Center near you.

In a nutshell, this is what you can expect: Some of the brightest minds that exist in the playground where music and technology intersect will show you things you’ve never seen before, because they’ve just been created.

Founded three years ago in London by Michela Maga and her colleague Andrew Dubber, Music Tech Fest has started touring world-wide just this year. Last week, they hit Wellington, New Zealand. And now, thanks to the organizing of the music data-minded brains behind Cambridge’s The Echo Nest, about a dozen university professors, graduate students, and technologists will be attending and speaking at our very own Music Tech Fest in Cambridge.

According to Dubber in a video recap of NZ’s fest: “It’s a festival of ideas. So what tends to happen at a Music Tech Fest is there are back-to-back presentations where people come along and say, ‘I invented this thing. Let me show it to you. These are the noises that it makes. Do you want to come and play with it?”

“It might be everything from a robot orchestra to someone who has figured out a new musical instrument by using Kinect,” says Nancy Baym, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New England who coordinated with Dubber to bring the fest here. Baym will be giving a presentation on Saturday at 1pm on “Musicians and Social Media.”

In addition to demos by presenters ranging from world-renowned music tech companies to new music apps in their beta stages, there will be a weekend-long Music Hackathon.

Adam Williams won the "best new musical instrument" Hackathon challenge with the “Quirkuitar”, a software synthesizer with a wireless iPad based guitar-style controller.

Adam Williams won the “best new musical instrument” Hackathon challenge with the “Quirkuitar”, a software synthesizer with a wireless iPad based guitar-style controller.

According to Dubber, “The Hackathon is essentially, ‘Here are some toys to play with. Here are some ideas and here are some challenges. Let’s invent the future of music.’”

Adam John Williams, who won two of the top prizes at the Hackathons during the first two years of Music Tech Fest in London, is the official Music Tech Fest Hackathon Coordinator. If you want to participate, don’t miss his presentation Friday at noon; or head here at 6pm for the Hackathon Meetup and Introduction.

“There will be many opportunities during the day and at off-site events in the evenings and nights for conversations to continue and for new collaborations to be born,” Nancy said. “I expect that there will be many things that will open new ways of thinking for people who attend.”

So who are these presenters and what’s the layout like for the weekend? We have the full schedule (closest to date) below, complete with links for you to explore. You can still register here.

 

THE SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY 21ST MARCH
On Friday 21st March we will be in the 1ST FLOOR Conference Centre at Microsoft
Research. It is important that you REMEMBER TO BRING GOVERNMENT-ISSUED ID to gain access to the building.

10:30am | Arrival at Microsoft Research – 1st Floor Conference Centre

10:45am | Welcome by festival director Andrew Dubber & founder Michela Magas

11:00am | Keynote panel: Posterity hacking – Developers, APIs and the music archive
A live linkup to the British Library Sound Archives ‘Keeping Tracks’ Symposium

12:00pm | Geoff Howse presents The Ministry of Measurement
Adam John Williams – Hacking at Music Tech Fest
Paul Lamere – A world of music hacks!
Mike Young – Redstar Union: the most high tech music venue

1:00pm | Xiao Xiao (MIT) – Experiments in piano learning technologies
Philip Cohen – AudioCommon
Jonathan Sterne – Designing technologies for musicians
Nathan Abramson – Noteflight

2:00pm | Bill Wilson – MusicBiz.org
Bryan Pardo – Social EQ!
Ed Guild & Shawn Bernardo (iZotope) – Iris demo

3:00pm | Panos Panay & Ken Zolot (Berklee) – Creative Entrepreneurship
Jeremy Krause & Michael Bourque – Pandemic.fm

4:00pm | Jonathan Marmor (The Echo Nest) – Re-implementing my old
algorithmic compositions
MaxD – Temporeal

5:00pm | John Fiorello – RecordME
Eric Rosenbaum – Melody Morph

6:00pm | HACKATHON MEETUP AND INTRODUCTION
Peter Torpey (MIT) – Theatre/Music/Image/Storytelling
Kyle Billings – Wax Limited
Kristen Bender – Sonos

7:00pm | David Blutenthal of Boston Music Tech
Meetup Group hosts the Music Tech Fest!
UnConference. Join the Impromptu, Unstructured Conversation Sessions.
Go explore!

9:00pm | Close

SATURDAY 22ND MARCH
On Saturday and Sunday, we will be in the 10TH FLOOR Events Centre at Microsoft. Entry is from the 11th floor – then down the grand staircase. Where required, elevator access is
available with the help of a Microsoft staff member. Once again, it is important that you
REMEMBER TO BRING GOVERNMENT-ISSUED ID to gain access to the building.

12:00pm | HACKATHON BEGINS – AT MICROSOFT RESEARCH

12:00pm | Nancy Baym (Microsoft Research) – Musicians and Social Media
LJ Rich (BBC) – Music As Culture

1:00pm | Steve Wiz – Hard Hittin Entertainment
Bill Wilson – OpenAura
Tim White – Chrysalis Guitar

2:00pm | Eric Rosebaum – MaKey MaKey
Darren Hoffman – Tutti Player
Kathleen Stetson – Trill

3:00pm | Adrian Holovaty – Soundslice
CJ Carr – Hack for Music Therapy
Nick Garcia – Mmmmaven

4:00pm | Eric Shea – Sofar Sounds
Hunter McCurry – LiquidScore
Ann Chao & Paul Smith – Sonation
5:00pm | Norbert Schnell – Playing with sound
Nick Krasney & Kiran Gandhi – Music Minds Gatherings at Harvard

6:00pm | David Day – Together Festival
Moduloktopus performance
Marty Quinn – CRaTER Live

7:00pm | Aram Sinnreich – Mashed Up and The Piracy Crusade
David Blutenthal – Moodsnap
Ed Guild & Shawn Bernardo (iZotope) – BreakTweaker

8:00pm | Halsey Bergund – Roundware
Joshua Fineberg (Boston Uni) – Tech-ing the Arditti Quartet

9:00pm | HACKATHON WRAPS UP AT MICROSOFT RESEARCH AND MOVES…

10:00pm | HACKATHON CONTINUES AT REDSTAR UNION FOR AN ALL-NIGHTER
MUSIC HACK PERFORMANCE AND IMPROVISATION WITH LIVE MUSICIANS
LIMITED SPACE – HACKER PRIORITY

SUNDAY 23RD MARCH!
On Saturday and Sunday, we will be in the 10TH FLOOR Events Centre at Microsoft. Entry is from the 11th floor – then down the grand staircase. Where required, elevator access is
available with the help of a Microsoft staff member. Once again, it is important that you
REMEMBER TO BRING GOVERNMENT-ISSUED ID to gain access to the building.

12:00pm | HACKATHON ENDS AT REDSTAR UNION
HACKERS RETURN TO MICROSOFT RESEARCH

12:00pm | David France presents The Revolution of Hope
Morgan Packard – Thicket: an audiovisual playground for iOS
Anthony de Ritis – New music, new instruments and creative process

1:00pm | Aaron Einbond & Diemo Schwarz – CataRT: real-time MIR
Nick Donaldson & Morgan Packard – Tonic: Crisp, refreshing Audiosynthesis in C++
Daniel Adler-Golden – Grouptones

2:00pm | Wayne Marshall (The Echo Nest) – The Art of YouTube Musicology
Danny Kirchner – Bundio
Josiah Oberholtzer – Abjad Notation Library

3:00pm | Presentation and performance of the hacks from the Music Tech Fest Hackathon

5:00pm | Hacker prizegiving

7:00pm ! Arditti Quartet concert at ICA Boston thanks to Boston University!

FINAL CONCERT
We are very excited to include the world-renowned Arditti Quartet at the The Institute of
Contemporary Art, Boston as our closing performance on Sunday night at 7pm, with thanks to the
University of Boston and the ICA. Tickets to this event are available at the ICA Boston’s website
(https://buy.icaboston.org/public/) at a half-price discount for Music Tech Fest attendees. ! !
Tickets to the public are $20, but if you enter the code TechFest14 when buying the Arditti Quartet
tickets, they’re only $10. With experimental electronics being applied to one of the world’s best
contemporary classical groups, we think this will make the perfect conclusion to the festival.!

Microsoft Researcher, MIT and Brandeis Alum Leslie Lamport Receives Turing Award

Leslie Lamport

Distributed systems. Without them, there would be no Internet. Which means that without Leslie Lamport’s monumental work on the theory of distributed computing—the Internet might not have evolved as it has today.

Thanks Leslie!

Today, Leslie Lamport, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research in Silicon Valley, was awarded the A.M. Turing Award, widely regarded as the Nobel Prize of computing.  The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) named Lamport the 2013 winner in recognition of his invaluable advances in computer science. What’s really cool to us is that this computing wizard studied mathematics right here in New England—he holds a B.S. degree in mathematics from MIT as well as M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from Brandeis University.

Since his first dabbling with computers in high school in the 1950s, Lamport has spent the last three decades working on the theory and practice of distributed computing, and his work is foundational. His 1978 paper Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System is one of the most cited in the history of computer science.

“The Internet is a distributed system. So you like using the Internet? You owe Leslie,” says Robert Taylor, Director Emeritus of Digital Equipment Corporation’s Systems Research Center.

“The algorithms that he designed, which is many cases were not viewed as important at the time, are now fundamental to the way we build web scale systems,” says Ed Lazowska, Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. “The systems that all of us use every day.”

Read the official Microsoft Research blog about Leslie Lamport, including a video that will show you exactly how much Leslie has advanced the field of computer science: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/lamport-031814.aspx.

Preview: Xconomy’s Mobile Madness 2014: The Next Disruptors

Xconomy Mobile Madness

Look around you. Whether you’re on the T, sitting at a bar or just hanging out with friends—everyone is on their phone. You don’t need to pay for yoga anymore because you have an instructor built into a two-dollar app. Your parents have an app that reminds them to take their meds, so you don’t have to worry as much. And oh yeah—an eight-year-old just created a Windows Phone app that aggregates Spongebob videos.

“In short, mobile is taking over,” writes Gregory T. Huang, Editor of Xconomy Boston, about their next forum, Mobile Madness: The Next Disruptors, at the NERD Center this Wednesday, March 19th. You might want to go ahead and bookmark their site and follow them on Twitter if you want to join a global network of business and technology leaders who put the latest innovation economy news at your fingertips as-it-happens.

What’s the latest in mobile software and hardware? Which companies and investors are driving innovation in different industries? And what new sectors are ripe for disruption? This is where you need to be to find out.

Xconomy’s sixth annual half-day conference brings together everyone mobile: tech innovators, businesses leaders, startups, investors and users, to take on the above issues and many more. The forum will feature interactive talks, chats, and demos by speakers who have worked in all facets of the mobile game—from advertising to healthcare to consumer apps and enterprise software.

We’ll highlight just a few of the speakers below, but make sure to register here for this “mobile extravaganza.” Oh, you already registered via the Eventbrite App? We should’ve known.

  • Wayne Chang, the co-founder of Crashlytics and a general manager at Twitter, will talk mobile product strategy, marketing, and distribution.
  • Jason Jacobs, CEO of RunKeeper will discuss the state of mobile health and fitness + more on consumer apps and platforms.
  • Micah Adler, CEO of Fiksu, and Jon Auerbach, general partner with Charles River Ventures, will tell the story of Fiksu, one of the fastest-rising startups in the mobile landscape.
  • Mark Kasdorf, CEO of Intrepid Pursuits and Timbre, will be on a panel addressing how the Boston mobile scene has matured.
  • David Chang, COO of PayPal Media Network, who’s organizing a panel of high-school students and young entrepreneurs to tell us about the real future of mobile.
  • Meredith Flynn-Ripley, CEO of HeyWire, on a panel about disruptive apps and devices. And, oh yeah, that $19 billion WhatsApp deal.

Plan your Mobile Madness experience via the full agenda here.

Get Involved: Prepare Our Kids for Success through STEM Education – March Edition

AimeeSTEM_header

Last week, I was fortunate to attend the Youth CITIES (Creating Impact Through Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability) Kick-off event, which celebrating the beginning of their annual youth training. Students enrolled in the program will spend (10) Saturdays at NERD learning:

Different types of ventures
Basic principles of entrepreneurship
How to incorporate community-giving while still generating profit
Why a venture needs money, presentation skills, and more.

At the end, each student will pitch a venture idea to a panel of judges for the chance to win funding to grow the concept.

The student entrepreneurs heard from City Councilman Tito Jackson and Youth CITIES Founder and Executive Director Vicky Wu Davis. Davis led an inspirational panel where the CEO of Merrimack Valley YMCA, Stephen Ives shared, “Every problem represents a solution and every solution represents an opportunity.”

Youth CITIES Kick-off

Youth CITIES Kick-off

In January, I posted a few terrific ways to volunteer and support STEM Education.  Youth Cities is looking for volunteers to mentor students during the March to May Bootcamp.  For more information, visit their site.

Here are a few other programs seeking tutors and mentors.  Opportunities are one-time or ongoing.

  • Boston Scholar Athletes: Each academic year, the Boston Scholar Athlete program relies on volunteer efforts to provide our scholar-athletes with tutoring and mentoring services throughout our 19 Zones. With a BSA Facilitator in each Zone, our volunteers meet with students 1-2 times per week for a minimum of one hour at a time to work on homework, study habits, and the college search and application process. Additionally, the BSA employs Interns and Work Study students who not only support our scholar-athletes in the Zone, but also assist our front office staff and Zone facilitators in their many endeavors.
  • Boston Private Industry Council: Career exploration activities require only volunteer time and a desire to share your job responsibilities and career path. The PIC offers three programs that your business, or even an individual, can participate in to meet these needs: Job Shadow Day; Mock Interview; and Career Speakers.  Right now, PIC is also looking for employers to hire Tech Apprentices for the summer.
  • Support a Local Computer Science Teacher: TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) recruits, mentors, and places high tech professionals who are passionate about digital literacy and computer science education into high school classes as part-time teachers in a team teaching model where the school district is unable to meet their students’ Computer Science needs on its own. Volunteer applications open soon and will be posted here.

Industry professionals have much to offer students and the schools to enhance the computer science offerings.  I hope to see you at some of these terrific volunteer opportunities.