I love teaching young people about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), and this was an outstanding group of students! They were all very bright, imaginative, and inquisitive. The future is looking brighter thanks to young people like these!
Guess who got admitted to grad school?
I'll continue working at Intel as an electrical design engineer (working on the next generation of products for Intel), and I'll continue to go on adventures most weekends, but I'll be pursuing an incredible new chapter of my life on weekday evenings.
The future is looking so bright! Master's of Electrical Engineering, here I come!
I am honored to have been given the Engineering Innovation Award by Elevate Nexus for the development of an educational product!! As part of the award, I will be provided with pathways and opportunities to increase my outreach program, helping students appreciate and understand STEM concepts (STEM = science, technology, engineering, math).
Children are our greatest resource, and all children should have access to the tools they need to succeed in the world of tomorrow. That is why I proposed a product that teaches STEM concepts to children, and I am humbled that the committee found value in my proposal.
According to IEEE, 80% of professions will require some STEM expertise within this decade. However, among high school students only 16% plan to go into a STEM field. The numbers are even lower for female high school students; only 7% of female high schoolers plan to go into STEM.
Of those who do elect to major in a STEM field in college, many either do not graduate or they switch majors. According to SWE, about a third of females who begin college in a STEM field change majors. Of the females who successfully graduate with an engineering degree, only 30% are still working as engineers 20 years later.
Currently, only 13% of engineers identify as women, and 26% of computer scientists identify as women. By race, only 3% of engineers are Black, 8% are Hispanic, and 14% are Asian.
All of these numbers are alarming. Clearly, there is an increasingly large skills gap in the United States. This is especially true of underrepresented populations. One way that I have chosen to combat the problem is by introducing young children to the STEM fields in a fun, engaging way.
I have been teaching children in the various STEM fields for almost a decade, and I've done so in several capacities: County Science Ambassador; keynote speaker at state conferences; designer and developer of teachers' packets and trunks; Coder Dojo instructor; teacher at several STEM camps; guest speaker for every 4th grade classroom in the county; and more.
One of the most effective methods I have found to generate interest in STEM is by using a fun, universally recognized fan favorite: R2-D2. By introducing children to R2-D2, and letting the kids know that I designed and built R2 from scratch - and each of them can, too - it opens up a world of possibilities for them. Learning about the hardware and software that makes R2 run, along with the woodworking, metalworking, 3D printing, and painting involved, the kids are introduced to a wide variety of STEM concepts and skills. This is especially true when combined with engaging activities and hands-on projects that allow the children to design simplified versions on their own. As they admire their own work at the end of our classes, they discover that math, coding, and engineering are not beyond their reach. The children realize that those fields are not dull, and STEM can be exciting, fun, understandable, useful, and valuable.
Any of the Star Wars droids and characters would be outstanding tools for teaching STEM concepts to children. With a franchise worth $68B, and 24% of American households (~79M) owning Star Wars memorabilia, the Star Wars characters have a global appeal, reaching across multi-cultural boundaries, and bringing children together with a shared interest regardless of their own background or personality type. The droids are safe and easy tools with which to teach STEM, and they encourage teamwork, exploration, and innovative problem-solving, thereby preparing the next generation to work together to develop creative solutions for the complex problems facing humanity.
R2-D2 has served as an excellent ice breaker and assistant teacher. However, it weighs hundreds of pounds and it is a long-term build (it took me a year) so children are less likely to be able to complete the project themselves. Therefore, it only makes sense to develop a smaller, yet equally engaging and recognizable teaching tool. The Mouse Droid is that tool. It's more transportable, and it's far more achievable and affordable for students to build themselves. It is something that children can design and build very quickly, yet they will learn the same concepts as those learned by building R2-D2. With social groups and events like DroidCon and the Droid Builders' Clubs across the country, children can find like-minded friends, and they can find opportunities to collaborate, barter, and trade their products, all while developing their engineering skills and business acumen.
Children are the key to our future. Children of all cultures, races, ethnicities, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds should have access to engaging learning opportunities that enable them to understand and appreciate STEM concepts, and students from underrepresented populations should be encouraged to pursue STEM careers. If my Mouse Droid outreach program can reach some of those children and encourage them to go into STEM, and if each of those students encourage others, think of the ripple effect it can have!
I am excited about the opportunity to continue to develop my product along with the accompanying teaching materials, and I am grateful to those who placed their faith in my project. I believe in the engineers and leaders of tomorrow, and I am honored to be able to contribute to their growth and future.
I'm celebrating National STEM Day today, loving what I do for a living (I'm an electrical engineer working on the next generation of products for Intel). I'm grateful to everyone along the way who opened my eyes to the STEM fields, and I'm especially grateful to those who empowered me to fulfill my goals.
I'm humbled that I have had numerous opportunities to pay it forward and teach the next generation about electrical and computer engineering. I am so proud of all of the young people I've met and I can't wait to see what their futures will bring!
I was honored to be the Convocation Speaker at Indiana Tech (total enrollment of 10,000+)!
I made a short video explaining how and why you should use HDR when photographing landscapes. Enjoy!
I am thrilled to be a returning member of Portland Audubon's fundraising team! Within the first 24 hours, I've almost reached the goal set by Audubon, and I have two months left to go!
Perseverance has landed safely! Most of you know that my brother Scott and I both worked at NASA, and most of you know that I did have the honor of designing a circuit board for the lander program. So this is a very proud moment for me.
Exploring space is exciting, but what many people do not understand is how the Mars and Lunar missions affect all of us. Many of our everyday and life-saving objects either arose from the space program or greatly improved because of it: camera phones, personal computers, the computer mouse, firefighting equipment, workout machines, solar cells, water filtration systems, Velcro, insulin pumps, scratch-resistant lenses, artificial limbs, air purifiers, and so much more.
You can thank my brother's programming genius for your daily weather forecast. He worked on the latest GOES satellite (a joint venture between NASA and NOAA) which is exceptionally accurate and generates volumes of data. If the forecast isn't always accurate in your area, I guarantee it's not due to a lack of data.
I worked on a different team, developing next-generation sensors, specialized computers, and algorithms which not only assist the rovers and probes in space, but they will also be instrumental in developing the next generation of everyday machines and vehicles. The system can detect objects, characterize their shape, calculate the relative distance and velocity, and determine its own motion relative to the ground or other objects, including speed, pitch, roll, and altitude. And this all happens at a rate that is 300% faster and more accurate than any comparable systems on the market.
Space exploration is not just about space. It is exceptionally important to every person's life. The jobs, products, and industries that the space program helps create impact nearly every aspect of your life, from the food supply to the device you're using right now to read this. NASA's value is truly immeasurable.
And yes, I took my R2-D2 to work with me, and he got to meet several of the directorates.
It may seem strange, but I was really happy to go into the office this week. Don't get me wrong - there are advantages to working from home, such as cooking lunch from scratch or avoiding rush-hour traffic. But I have missed looking my coworkers in the eye and exchanging ideas and pleasantries in person. Those exchanges form a stronger bond with the people and the place. This is especially true at Intel since we have an environment that is more like family than just a place to work. We genuinely enjoy each other's company! I'm looking forward to the day when COVID-19 is under control. I miss those all-important interpersonal connections, and I miss seeing the smiles of my coworkers!
This was a fun project! It's an LED Christmas tree that plays music from a micro SD Card. There's also a headphone jack so you can listen to carols without disturbing anyone around you. Enjoy!