Inspiring kids to use STEM for good—Q & A with social media star Kitboga

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Kitboga

For Computer Science Education Week, social media star Kitboga teamed up with global STEM education nonprofit FIRST to show K-12 students how they too can use their powers for good. Kitboga hosted FIRST’s Twitch feed to chat live with students and fans about how the STEM skills they learn today can empower them to stand up for what’s right and make a difference in the world.

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) recently had the opportunity to ask Kitboga about his interest in STEM for kids.

Kitboga has become a vigilante when it comes to scam baiting, using tech skills, secret identities and wit to toy with and then take down scammers and hackers.

DISM – What inspired you to join the STEM movement?

Kitboga My parents did a fantastic job of giving me opportunities to explore the world around me and pursue learning. Whether it was backyard catapults, converting a riding lawn mower into a go-kart, or helping us reinstall Windows when we broke the family computer, my parents were there. At this point, I would almost say I’m addicted to learning. I absolutely wouldn’t be who I am today without this passion and I believe experiences like FIRST (a global education nonprofit that fuels kids’ interest in STEM through robotics-based challenges), home science experiments, the Boy Scouts, and having an encouraging family environment surrounding me set the foundation. Sadly, not everyone has the same opportunities I had as a child, but organizations like FIRST help bridge the gap.

Now as a father and online influencer, I want to help provide experiences for the younger generation that inspire them to try new things, learn from their mistakes, and pursue things they’re passionate about.

DISM – Why do you think it is important for the younger generation to get a head start in STEM?

Kitboga – I think one of the most incredible parts about us as a species is our capability to explore and  contemplate things that we know very little about. We’ve learned so much in our short time on Earth, but it seems as though we’ve only just begun in terms of what kind of technological advancements will come next. If we don’t encourage our students to push boundaries in STEM, who knows what inventions and discoveries we’ll miss out on.

It’s also important to mention that STEM is in every single industry and will only continue tobecome more prevalent as time goes on. I can’t think of a field that doesn’t benefit from advancements in STEM, or a single industry that doesn’t need a programmer, for example. I suppose STEM and loving to learn will help you help the world around you and make you valuable when it comes time to start your own family or career.

DISM – We know you spent the day building a “meme-o-meter” with young students involved in robotics, can you tell us a little more about that?

Kitboga – On my Twitch channel I spend a significant amount of time talking to scammers – people who take advantage of not-so-tech-savvy individuals, for example. Sometimes I try to include some humor and lighten the mood with jokes or start rambling about a nonsensical story to waste the scammer’s time. My community watching live will start to “spam” an emoticon:

This fills up a gauge over time and alerts me that I might be being a little too silly and the scammer might catch on to what I’m doing.

FIRST reached out about doing a project together and had the idea to recreate this in physical form. It was an incredible experience working with different technologies that I have never used before. We 3D-printed the “needle,” used Raspberry PI to interface with a servo and other parts, and coded a IRC chat bot in Python, to name a few.

Throughout the livestream I made some mistakes and learned a lot. I’m hoping it inspired some people to try projects like this on their own, or maybe even look into joining an organization like FIRST near them.

DISM – What is one thing you would tell students who are looking to pursue STEM?

Kitboga – Don’t let a fear of making mistakes stop you from diving into STEM. When I was younger, I was so afraid to “mess up” or fail when I was learning. Now I see each “mistake” as an opportunity to learn and know it’s going to make the next project or next path of my life better. So start pursuing STEM today and don’t worry if you are not “good at it” at first, it’s all part of the fun of it!

The Woman Stepping Up to Take on Climate Change
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Monica Medina smiling wearing a blue suit with hair in bun

Environmental conservation is one of the biggest issues of the current times, bringing together representatives from every country to discuss what needs to be done to preserve our planet and its wildlife.

But thanks to one woman’s extraordinary expertise and her new position with the United Nations, we are improving worldwide efforts to help our planet.

Attorney and Army veteran, Monica Medina has been an advocate and a key player for sustainability and conservation efforts throughout her entire career.

She has worked as legal counsel on behalf of environmentalist organizations such as NOAA and the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, oversaw the Justice Department’s Environmental Division under President Clinton, led conservation efforts as the Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission under President Obama and has worked with various other environmentalist and ecological organizations.

Now, Medina’s expertise will be utilized in a whole new way: as the United States’ first ever Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources; a position designed to confront the environmental crises that directly affect our planet’s wildlife and water supply. In tandem with her position as the assistant secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs at the state department, Medina’s position makes her one of the biggest power plays in environmental conservation among world leaders.

“I am really honored to have this role and this title,” she told ShareAmerica. “We’re in a world where the loss of nature is overwhelming and a real potential threat to the health of the planet and the health of people.”

In her new role, Medina will be working to support two of the most important ecological crises that effect humanity: the protection of biodiversity and increasing water security.

Decades of evidence shows that water security is essential to global efforts to increase equity and economic growth, build inclusive and resilient societies, bolster health and food security, decrease the risk of conflict or instability and tackle the climate crisis. Meanwhile, environmental stressors, like the climate crisis, nature crimes — including illegal logging, mining, land conversion — and wildlife trafficking, have deep and detrimental impacts on the biodiversity of our planet and the availability of clean and safe water for human use. The two crises are inextricably linked, and the state department and Special Envoy Medina are committed to addressing the crises holistically.

“These have deep and detrimental and lasting impacts on biodiversity, and on the availability of resources like clean and safe water,” Medina stated. “We are committed as we can be to try to address all of these crises at the same time.”

Monica Medina (L), speaks with Cho Seung-Hwan (R), South Korea's special presidential envoy for the 2030 Busan World Expo
Monica Medina (L), speaks with Cho Seung-Hwan (R), South Korea’s special presidential envoy for the 2030 Busan World Expo, during a meeting on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). (WILLIAM WEST/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

As part of Medina’s position, she has attended and will continue to attend discussions and negotiation that will foster new conservation efforts to support biodiversity and water preservation. These conferences include the 2022 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), the December meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties (COP15) and the Intergovernmental Conference. She will also be in charge of forming partnerships with other countries to find climate solutions.

“I am really honored to have this role and this title. We’re in a world where the loss of nature is overwhelming and a real potential threat to the health of the planet and the health of people.” – Monica Medina

Additionally, Medina’s position will require her to implement a first-of-its-kind initiative dedicated to advancing water security in the U.S. and abroad. The White House Water Security Action Plan and the Global Water Strategy, both of which Medina will be leading, will identify the direct links between water and U.S. national security, and harness the resources of the U.S. government — from leveraging science and technology to informing our diplomacy, defense and development efforts — to advance global water security and foreign policy goals. Securing water safety is additionally believed to prevent conflict and promote global peace and stability.

Monica Medina makes a few remarks at a special preview screening of the Netflix film, “Mission Blue,” at the National Geographic Society's Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington, D.C.
Monica Medina makes a few remarks at a special preview screening of the Netflix film, “Mission Blue,” at the National Geographic Society’s Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington, D.C. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Netflix)

“We see water scarcity as a growing threat to peace and security in so many parts of the world, so we made it a priority,” Medina said.

Though climate change has been one of the top growing concerns for people of differing citizenships, political beliefs and cultures, Medina has faith that these new partnerships and programs will have a positive impact on the future of ecological conservation. “We are working to advance our climate ambition, to strengthen resilience to climate change and to really get as strong an outcome as possible from COP27. We as the U.S., are bringing an awful lot to the table there.”

Sources: ShareAmerica, U.S. Department of State, whitehouse.gov, Wikipedia

Top Photo: Monica Medina, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the United States, poses for a picture during an interview with AFP on the sidelines of the UN’s first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-1) to develop a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution on November 28, 2022. (RICARDO FIGUEREDO/AFP via Getty Images)

6 STEM Scholarships You Should Know About
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woman scientist looking at test tube

Just about every career in the STEM field requires some form of university-level education. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny you own and then some to pursue your dream job.

Whether it’s through federal funding, non-profit organizations or individual donations, there are tons of scholarship and grant opportunities for students wanting to pursue the world of STEM.

Here are just a few of the scholarships that you can apply for:

The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship

Since World War II, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been doing all they can to support the needs of women engineers across the country. One of the ways they do this is through the SWE Scholarship Program, which provides varying fund amounts to those identifying as women and studying in undergraduate or graduate programs in the STEM field. While the specific amount you can receive varies, the program gave away over $1,220,000 in scholarships in 2021 alone. All students, from incoming freshman to graduate students, may apply but freshman must fill out a separate application form.

  • Amount: Varies
  • Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
  • Application Dates: Applications usually often in December for upperclassman and the following March for freshman
  • How to Learn More: swe.org/applications/login.asp

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts Scholarships

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AAIA) is an organization dedicated to supporting the future generation of people interested in the aerospace field. One of the ways they do this is through their scholarship program, where undergraduates and graduates alike can fill out a single application and be eligible for consideration for up to three scholarships from their program. To apply, you must be at least a sophomore in college and a member of AAIA.

USDA/1890 Scholars Program

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the 1890 historically Black land-grant colleges and universities. The program provides full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books and room and board each year for up to four years for selected students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food science, natural resource science or a related academic discipline at one of 19 designated 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. The scholarship may be renewed each year, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward the bachelor’s degree. Scholars accepted into the program will be eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with USDA upon successful completion of their degree requirements by the end of the agreement period.

  • Amount: Full Tuition Coverage
  • Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
  • Application Dates: Varies
  • How to Learn More: gov/youth/scholarships

Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)

In a collaboration with American Society for Engineering Education and the Department of Defense, the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) program is for students wanting to go into engineering, biosciences, chemical engineering, civil engineering, chemistry and cognitive, neural and behavioral sciences. In addition to full tuition coverage, SMART students will receive health insurance, mentoring, internship opportunities and a guaranteed job offer from the Department of Defense. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, be available for summer internships and are expected to accept the job position offered to them upon completing their education.

  • Amount: Full Tuition Coverage, plus more
  • Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
  • Application Dates: Varies
  • How to Learn More: org/smart

NOAA Undergraduate Scholarships

NOAA Office of Education’s student scholarship programs provide opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience while pursuing research and educational training in NOAA-mission sciences. The Hollings and EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship share a common application and students who are eligible for both programs are encouraged to apply to both. To be eligible, you must be a sophomore at a four-year university program, a junior at a five-year university program or a community college student transferring to a university.

The S-STEM Program

Recognizing that financial aid alone cannot increase retention and graduation in STEM, the National Science Foundation (NSF) founded the S-STEM Program, a fund that provides awards to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to fund scholarships and to adapt, implement and study evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities that have been shown to be effective in supporting recruitment, retention, transfer (if appropriate), student success, academic/career pathways and graduation in STEM. While most of the students who receive this award are studying an area of the STEM field, proposals can be made for funds to be given to students who meet the same qualifications, but are studying a high-demand industry. The amounts distributed depend on the institution.

Sources: The College Consensus, National Science Foundation, USDA, NOAA, SMART Scholarship, AIAA, Society of Women Engineers

STEM Internship Opportunities for Diverse Students
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A blue piggy bank wearing a graduation cap with stacks of coins next to it.

IOScholarships (IOS), the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority STEM students has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find STEM scholarships and internship opportunities. IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

Statistically speaking, minorities tend to be underrepresented in STEM fields. That’s why corporations often create internship opportunities for minorities entering the industry.

“As the job market is becoming more competitive in addition to GPA and personal achievements, employers want to see applicants who have completed one or more internships,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships.

Below we’ve highlighted some of the many internships for minorities in STEM fields

Facebook Software Engineer Internship

The Software Engineer Internship is available to undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a degree in computer science or a related field. Interns will help build the next generation of systems behind Facebook’s products, create web applications that reach millions of people, build high volume servers, and be a part of a team that’s working to help people connect with each other around the globe.

Microsoft Internship Program

For Women and Minorities this program is specifically designed for undergraduate minority college freshmen and sophomores interested in a paid summer internship in software engineering. Students must major in Computer Science, Computer Engineering or related disciplines.

Minority Access Internship

The Minority Access Internship Program has internships on offered in the spring, summer and fall to college sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduates, and professionals. Interns receive pre-employment training and counseling on career choices as well as professional development, with the possibility of full-time employment after graduation.

Google Internships

Google offers rich learning experiences for college students that include pay. As a technical intern, you are excited about tackling the hard problems in technology. With internships across the globe, ranging from Software Engineering to User Experience, Google offers many opportunities to grow with them.

The majority of the scholarships and internships featured on the IOScholarships website come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com.

This Awesome STEM Toy Teaches Coding for Kids Without Using Screens
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Student playing on the floor with the Mochi Adventure game

by FUTURISM CREATIVE

Learn With Mochi gives kids the basics of computer programming in a playful, hands-on way.

Everyone wants the best education possible for their kids. But it’s hard to find enriching activities that don’t involve setting them in front of yet another screen. And teaching them the fundamentals of STEM seems nearly impossible when you’re limiting screen time. And according to data from Engineering For Kids, STEM workers earn 26-percent more than people without a STEM background. So if you want to give your young children a competitive edge without adding more screen time, you need to know about Learn With Mochi, an award-winning screen-free game that teaches coding for kids ages three-to-nine.

With Learn With Mochi, kids learn the basics of computer programming in a playful, hands-on way as they explore STEM subjects without the use of addictive screen time. That’s because Mochi is your child’s first screenless computer. It takes computer-programming commands, executes functions, and gives audio feedback in a low-pressure, fun way.

Every Mochi Aventure Kit includes these basic components: the Mochi Computer (where kids place the coding commands or blocks), coding blocks, Mochi Bear (a stuffed animal), Lego-compatible Rover, and the play mat (the environment that Mochi is exploring). Together these parts allow your child to absorb the fundamentals of coding without exposing them to more screen time than necessary.

Mochi has three Adventure Packs to choose from. The starter pack, Mochi Basic 1 Book Adventure Pack, covers everything your child will need to grasp the fundamentals of STEM education. This includes Mochi bear, Lego-compatible Rover, Programming board with 12 coding blocks, and Mochi’s Planets Story set (includes story map). Plus, every Mochi kit comes with a SD card that provides unique songs, music, and even audio of the Mochi books.

However, if you’re little one needs a more in-depth kit to help further their STEM education, try the Mochi Starter 4 Book Adventure Pack. The 4 Book Adventure Pack has everything the 1 Book Adventure Pack does, but also incorporates Mochi’s 4 Story Adventure Sets (Planets, Animals, Earth and Biology). This 4-book instructional pack will guide your children on adventures in a variety of STEM subjects, not only educating them, but also stimulating their natural curiosity.

Click here to read the full article on Futurism.

The Cyberwar Needs More Women on the Front Lines
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CYBERCRIMINALS, LIKE VIRUSES, adapt to their environment. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, cybersecurity complaints to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center have quadrupled.

Not only are governments and businesses more exposed, but individuals—stressed from remote work, unemployment, and/or homeschooling—are more susceptible to scams on everything from government assistance checks to online shopping. I’ve been deluged with emails purportedly from Netflix asking me to update my billing information; the sender clearly thinks cabin fever-infected recipients will be so desperate not to lose access to streaming they’ll click without a second thought.

The surge is no accident: Bad actors go where access is easy or where rewards outweigh risks, and the pandemic is ripe for exploitation. But cybercrime was with us long before and it will be with us long after we finally throw away our masks. This is particularly true of cybercrime targeting women and children.

This brings us back to access. Let’s look at the internet of things, for instance. It was developed largely without the input of women in leadership positions. Among the major US tech firms, none have more than 32 percent of women in leadership roles: Amazon 27 percent, Facebook 32 percent, Apple 29 percent, Google 26 percent, and Microsoft 19 percent.

Read the full article at Wired.

 

Taking on Diversity in Tech with Daleele Alison
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Daleele Allison headshot

Daleele Alison likes to help others stop wasting time doing tasks that don’t provide direct value to their clients. He is a technology professional, entrepreneur and the CEO and co-founder of RooksDM, a technology consulting group that helps alleviate pain points for small to midsize companies by using the right technology. Alison has worked as a consultant, business analyst and project manager for Fortune 500 companies to SMBs.

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) spoke with Alison about his company, the role diversity plays in tech and more on his participation in NMSDC’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs cohort.

DISM: What have you seen businesses struggle with the most when it comes to their technology? How does RooksDM help them? 

Daleele Alison: From our perspective, businesses are excited about adopting new technology. However, when businesses rapidly implement new technology to fix a singular problem, this often becomes a band-aid solution and can lead to a different set of challenges. Many businesses end up with a large number of tech tools that become overwhelming to manage and lead to low user adoption. It’s important for businesses to take a step back and be strategic. At RooksDM, we ask the right questions about technology and processes and dig deep into the core pain points. Rather than simply throwing technology at a problem, we take a holistic approach. Our goal is to implement technology that works together and sets a foundation for scalable growth.

DISM: Do you feel there is diversity within the IT/tech sectors? Why or why not? 

Alison: We have seen progress in diversity within the tech industry. Organizations with targeted initiatives to increase diversity have definitely started to move the needle. It’s exciting to see a shift in the industry, however, there is still a long way to go. It continues to be a challenge for diverse vendors to break into large enterprise corporations. I’m hopeful that through tracking and monitoring vendor diversity, we will see even greater progress in supporting minorities in tech.

DISM: Why was it important for you to participate in NMSDC’s (National Minority Supplier Development Council) Emerging Young Entrepreneurs cohort? What have you learned thus far that is applicable to your own business? 

Alison: The NMSDC’s Emerging Young Entrepreneurs has been an important way for us to learn and network. Through this initiative, we have been able to connect with like-minded colleagues, which has led to advice and potential business growth. The sessions have been invaluable and have expanded my thoughts around marketing, finance and strategy. We are truly grateful to be a part of this community and are looking forward to more opportunities in the future.

DISM: How has being MBE certified through NMSDC leveraged your business’s success? 

Alison: Being MBE certified through NMSDC has given RooksDM access to a much larger community of like-minded businesses. We now have exposure to larger organizations to build our business. We have also built relationships with fellow minority-owned businesses. It has been so valuable to learn from each other and share stories and resources that support business growth. We are also proud to share our certification with current and prospective clients. This certification provides us with additional credibility that supports our conversations with potential clients.

DISM: What advice would you give another minority-owned entrepreneur or business owner just getting started?

Alison: My advice to fellow minority owners is to be intentional about how you spend your time. It’s easy to focus on initiatives that don’t matter or that won’t make an impact. It is critical to have the right people in your network to lean on so you can spend your time where it matters most. For us, spending time building relationships has been a game changer, not just in nurturing prospects but also in strengthening relationships within our industry. Leaning on others in the industry for support and expertise has not only led to referrals but been helpful to our overall growth.

Photo credit: Tori Soper Photography

Top Tips for Making the Most of Your MBA
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Young student holding books and carrying a backpack, smiling to camera

By Amelia Hopkins

An MBA is a huge investment, and for what it’s costing you, you want to get as much as possible out of the course.
You might think that, having studied at undergraduate level, you already have a good idea about how to make the most of higher education. But, studying for an MBA is entirely different and requires a different set of skills and preparation.

Here are our top MBA tips for choosing the right business school and making the most of your time when you get there:

Getting the most out of your MBA experience

Applying to business school is a very time-consuming process. MBA candidates have to research numerous MBA programs, cram for the GMAT, write multiple admissions assays and prepare b-school interviews.

With so much to do in the admissions process, it’s easy to forget that it’s only just the beginning of your MBA journey. To make sure you get the most out of your MBA experience, here are a few tips:

  • Come up with your financial plan
  • Focus on the full MBA experience
  • Network anywhere and everywhere
  • Be proactive during your MBA program
  • Evolve your career goals as you go
  • Apply for as many summer internships as possible
  • Don’t get intimidated

But before you land a spot on the MBA program of your dreams, there are a few things you can do beforehand…

Visit business schools 

The best way to understand the culture of an institution is to visit it. By looking around the campus, speaking to current students and faculty and seeing the facilities in person, you’ll be able to assess if the school fits with your personality and goals.

If you live too far away to visit, a virtual tour, coupled with thorough research, will give you a fair indication as to whether the school is a good match for you.

Speak to MBA alumni

No one knows an MBA course better than alumni, so try to speak to several ex-students about their experiences. Given the way we all feel about our alma maters, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s not willing to share their experiences. Try to pick those whose interests match your own, to provide you with an accurate vision of what could be in store for you.

 

Research yourself online

Before applying, look at your public profiles — how are you representing yourself? Either make all your social media profiles private or clean them up so that you’re presenting yourself in a mature and professional way.

Find your way around campus

There’s nothing worse than getting lost on your first day, so avoid that fate by looking around your institution before your classes begin. Take your timetable and walk to every class beforehand, so you’ll be able to find your way there easily when you need to. Most institutions offer tours of the various departments and facilities, so take advantage of these too.

Start growing your network

A big part of an MBA course is the non-academic side of things. Networking and making contacts are a major reason for attending business school, so make the most of the opportunity. Introduce yourself to everyone you can, and spend time getting to know your classmates and professors. Particularly seek out those with different backgrounds to your own. This is one of the best chances you will have in your life to meet such a diverse range of people.

Join clubs

Extra-curricular activities are not only an enjoyable way to meet people and break up your school-work schedule, they also help to impress potential employers. Most clubs will have a ‘try it’ session, so attend all the ones you’re interested in and pick a number to actively participate in. If you can, secure a leadership position in a society, as this looks fantastic in future job applications.

Think about your career

It’s easy to get swept away by the MBA experience, but remember what you’re there for: to advance your career. Make time to research your course options early on and ensure they will help in the pursuit of your goals. Speak to the careers department often and attend recruitment events to meet with potential employers.

The internship portion of your course is also very important for career progression, so prepare for it thoroughly and select a company you’d be happy working for — they might just offer you a job once your MBA is complete.

Practice your interview skills

Informational interviews offer you the chance to get a feel for the kind of interviews that you will be dealing with after graduation. They also provide the opportunity to explore different companies and introduce yourself to recruitment staff. Many MBA courses include classes which include informational interviews.

Make sure you’re organized

An MBA course requires a significant amount of juggling tasks, events and classes, so organization skills are essential. Before beginning the course, familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll use to organize your study, including study apps, planners and calendars. Once your course has started, make a timetable to plan out your time and stick to it — procrastination is your worst enemy. No period of your life will depend on your organizational and management skills more than studying for an MBA.

Engage, but don’t force your opinion

Contributing in class is essential, but that doesn’t mean you should railroad the group. If you have something to add to the discussion, do so and if you disagree with something, make that known, but don’t attempt to dominate the discussion. You’ll learn more by listening than you will by speaking, and you’ll make more friends that way too.

Find a way to relax

MBA courses are stressful, so offset this by finding a healthy way to relax. For some, it might be jogging, for others painting or reading. When you’ve found what works for you, set aside time each week to do it. Your anxiety levels will thank you.

Source: TopMBA

To the Metaverse and Beyond: Access to STEAM Crosses the Digital Divide
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Man wearing VR glasses virtual Global Internet connection metaverse with a new experience in metaverse virtual world. Metaverse technology concept Innovation of futuristic

By Diane McClelland, Dr. Angelina Dayton, Dr. Tom Furness III, Deborah Todd

The metaverse is opening doors for more and more people to work and play in virtual worlds. And within this parallel digital universe, we’re already starting to see virtual reality mirror actual reality in more ways than one—most notably with a lack of equality.

We know that with the exploration of an exciting new world comes great responsibility. And in that truth lies the possibility of creating a more accessible and equitable existence. So how can we leave the inequities of the real world out of the virtual world? The answer, in part, is by getting more girls and women into STEAM to help us bridge the digital divide.

The good news is that colleges and universities are beginning to make a very deliberate, concerted effort to recruit more young women for computer science majors. This can’t come soon enough. In 2021, young women graduating from college earned 18 percent of the nation’s computer science degrees, down from 37 percent in 1984. Current trends show the role of women in tech has declined over the last 35 years, and many women drop out of tech by the age of 35.

But interest in STEM careers seems to be rising. According to Zippia Research, in 2017, 74 percent of girls expressed a desire for a STEM career. That year, women held 49.7 percent of STEM-related bachelor’s degrees, but this didn’t necessarily translate into a tech career, as compared to men.

Career opportunities in STEM and STEAM have to come from more than interest and aptitude. They also have to come from equal access. Inequality is often fueled by policies created by governments, institutions, and corporations that raise roadblocks and barriers to access. These barriers are often based on gender, race, unconscious bias, and even zip codes. The subsequent policies suppress innovation and, as many corporations are discovering, stifle financial bottom lines.

Forbes 500 companies — with a purchasing power of five trillion USD — discovered in 2020 that placing women in leadership roles resulted in a 66 percent increase in ROI. Another report, in 2017, showed that organizations with at least eight out of 20 female managers gained 34 percent of their revenues from innovative products and services.

Young women are paying attention to women-run organizations. Recruiting for the next generation of college students, colleges and universities report that 27 percent of young women said they would consider going to work for companies with positive role models and an inclusive work environment.

The substantial contributions to innovation and profits underscore the importance of having more women at the leadership table, and serving as role models and mentors for younger women. We also need to acknowledge that other voices are missing from the conversation. Equity and inclusion, by definition, are for everyone. We have to take very real, necessary steps to include everyone at the table.

Access to these conversations in the physical world will, of course, determine who has access to them in the metaverse. Likewise, access to the metaverse will determine who can work with 21st century tools in yet-to-be designed digital worlds. Inequality as status quo isn’t sustainable—in society or business. If we don’t address inequalities in the physical world, they will be duplicated and magnified in the virtual world.

There are many under-utilized yet valuable solutions to our world’s challenges that women and other groups provide. One such group is the Girls STEAM Institute™, which is simultaneously addressing real- and virtual-world inequity through a business challenge competition for young girls ages 13-18.

Using project-based learning, the challenge tasks small teams of girls to develop business solutions addressing a global issue, in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Over the course of two days, the girls create a plan for a digital application, assign executive roles, develop a company, create a business plan complete with SWOT analysis, and put together a presentation. At the end of the second day, the teams pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for feedback on the commercial viability of their projects.

The teams work in digital 2-D and 3-D realms, including VR. Participants report a higher level of self-confidence, and the value of their voice as part of a team—inside and outside of the virtual world. Many of the girls pursue college degrees in STEAM, moving into exciting new careers in emerging fields.

At the beginning of a new digital era, these girls are pioneering the way for others to join in the conversation. They’re becoming role models for older generations—on the value of access and equity in the metaverse.

Our communities are more successful with access, and with all of the brainpower, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking skills working for the greater good. We need the irreplaceable contributions of all peoples to bridge the digital divide to ensure a stronger, richer society.

Credits: Diane McClelland, Co-Founder, Girls STEAM Institute™ Deborah Todd,

Dr. Tom Furness III, co-founder of Virtual World Society, Dr. Angelina Dayton

First Native American Woman in Space Leads Mission to the Stars
LinkedIn
Astronaut Nicole Mann gives a thumbs up with American flag in the background

In late September, Space-X Crew, the fifth crewed operational NASA Commercial Crew flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the eighth overall crewed orbital flight launched into the cosmos and traveled to the space station. But unlike any other space mission in history, this one was led by mission commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, a colonel for the U.S. Marines, the first woman commander of a NASA Commercial Crew Program launch, and the first Native American woman in space.

Before ever setting foot in NASA territory, Mann attended the U.S. Naval Academy for her undergraduate degree and Stanford University for her graduate degree, both of which were in mechanical engineering. Mann was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1999, completed flight training at The Basic School in Quantico in 2001, and began her operational flying career with her wings of gold as Naval Aviator by 2004. During this assignment, she deployed twice with CVW-1 aboard the USS Enterprise and flew combat missions in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.

Upon return from her second deployment, Mann reported to the United States Naval Test Pilot School, Class 135, at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland where she began her Developmental Test tour at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO THREE (VX-23) as an F/A-18 Test Pilot/Project Officer. While at VX-23, Mann executed a variety of flight tests, including loads envelope expansion, flying qualities, carrier suitability and ordnance separation in the F/A-18A-F.

In the spring of 2011, Mann assumed duties as the VX-23 Operations Officer and was assigned to the PMA-281 as the Joint Mission Planning System — Expeditionary (JMPS-E) Integrated Product Team Lead just a year later. Before being selected as a NASA astronaut soon after, Mann’s military service accumulated more than 2,500 flight hours in 25 types of aircraft, 200 carrier arrestments and 47 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Her service earned her two Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, along with several other honors for her various academic, flight and military successes.

In 2013, Mann was selected as one of the eight members of NASA Astronaut Group 21 and completed her training two years later. She has since served as a T-38 Talon Safety and Training Officer and was the Assistant to the Chief of Exploration. She led the astronaut corps in the development of the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems. Her mission command to the International Space Station with Crew-5 was Mann’s first time traveling to space.

With Mann at mission command, Crew-5 additionally consisted of Navy Commander turned astronaut Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina. While on the space station, the team studied new biological technology advancements, such as the possibility of 3D printing human cells.

Mann is also confirmed to be a member of the Artemis program, the mission taking a group of astronauts back to the Moon for the first time since 1972. The Artemis program will launch in 2024 and cite one of the crew members as the first woman on the moon.

“It’s very exciting,” Mann told Indian Country Today upon first learning she would be the first Native American woman to officially be going to space, “I think it’s important we communicate this to our community, so that other Native kids, if they thought maybe that this was not a possibility or to realize that some of those barriers that used to be there are really starting to get broken down.”

Sources: NASA, Wikipedia, BBC, CBS, Indian Country Today

How Business Can Engage Students And Educators With Technology
LinkedIn

If training the future workforce is a fundamental role of education, it’s just as important a role for business.

How can we get young people excited about developing technology skills? Parents sit with their children to read them books from a young age, but when kids hand over their iPads, parents often walk away knowing their kids will be distracted by the screen for a while. When we teach technology, we need to think about creating more personal connections by sharing stories, sparking imaginations and making learning both fun and real.

That may be easier said than done. Our recent PwC study, conducted in conjunction with the Business-Higher Education Forum, found that while educators strongly support teaching technology, very few — just 10 percent — feel confident doing so. More often than not, classroom lessons in technology are passive: watching videos instead of making them, or browsing websites instead of creating them.

Read the full article at HuffPost. 

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