A History of AAPI Representation in ‘Star Wars’
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STAR WARS, BRITISH RELEASE POSTER WITH AMERICAN STYLE C DESIGN, TOM WILLIAM CHANTRELL, 1977

By Keith Chow, The Nerds of Color

The month of May holds a special place in the hearts of Asian American and Pacific Islander Star Wars fans. For starters, May has been AAPI Heritage Month since 1990, though it originally began as “Asian Pacific Heritage Week” when it was proposed in Congress by Representatives Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta in 1977. That’s right, 1977. You know what else debuted in May 1977?

Before the last three Star Wars movies — Episodes VII and VIII, plus Rogue One — became staples of the Holiday Movie Season, every other film in the Saga was a May release. (This year, Lucasfilm finally returns to tradition when Solo: A Star Wars Story debuts in theaters on May 25). Also, “Star Wars Day” falls every May the Fourth, so naturally, May is Star Wars Month by default. So what better way to honor both AAPI Heritage Month and Star Wars then by going through the history of AAPI representation in the Galaxy Far, Far Away?

The Original Trilogy

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

It’s no secret that the filmography of Akira Kurosawa had a huge influence on George Lucas’ space opera. Kurosawa’s 1958 film The Hidden Fortress is perhaps the most obvious. Beyond the narrative echoes between the two stories, Lucas had intended to rhyme Star Wars and Hidden Fortress even more by casting the legendary Toshiro Mifune, one of Kurosawa’s frequent collaborators and the star of Hidden Fortress, as either Darth Vader or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sadly, Mifune turned down the role, and it would be more than two decades before an Asian face would be seen in Star Wars — not counting Nien Nunb or Lieutenant Telsij (the first Asian actor to speak a line of dialogue in any Star Wars movie), of course.

Twenty years later, in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, Dalyn Chew became the first actor of Asian descent to have any significant screen time in a Star Wars movie. In an extended musical number inserted into Jedi, Chew plays Lyn Me, one of the backup dancers at Jabba’s Palace. Sure, she doesn’t really have any lines, but she did get more than four seconds of screen time and an action figure!

The Prequel Trilogy

When Lucas returned to the franchise in the late ’90s to tell the backstory of Darth Vader, he also forgot to cast AAPI actors in any significant roles. Aside from Dhruv Chanchani as Ani’s friend Kitsterthe only other Asian-coded characters in The Phantom Menace are the Neimoidians and Queen Amidala’s wardrobe. Speaking of Padme’s fetish for Oriental wear, perhaps the filmmakers were trying to make amends for the original queen’s fashion by casting actual Asian and Pacific Islander actresses like Ayesha Dharker and Keisha Castle-Hughes for subsequent Queens of Naboo?

Ayesha Dharker as Jamilia in Attack of the Clones (2002) & Keisha Castle-Hughes as Apailana in Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The prequel Attack of the Clones in 2002 was also responsible for the most significant AAPI casting decision to date. In addition to several blink-and-you’ll-miss-them AAPI Jedis, veteran Maori actor Temuera Morrison was chosen to play Jango Fett. Not only was Jango the most heavily marketed character of the prequel sequel, casting Morrison had ripple effects in terms of representation throughout the Saga.

Because Jango was the source for all of the Clone Troopers, that meant beloved characters like Captain Rex from the animated Clone Wars were also coded as Pacific Islander. More significantly, Daniel Logan was cast as the pre-pubescent Boba Fett, meaning the man underneath that iconic helmet from the Original Trilogy was also Maori. A point made even more clearly when Lucas had Morrison redub all of Boba Fett’s lines for all future digital and blu-ray releases of the trilogies and allowed Logan to reprise the role on Clone Wars.

Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett & Daniel Logan as Boba Fett in Attack of the Clones (2002)

The Force Awakens & Rogue One

In 2012, the Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas for just over $4 billion. This acquisition signaled a new era in the Star Wars franchise, promising a continuation of the Saga stories but also an interconnected universe of movies, television, comics, and everything in between. Production on the sequel trilogy — the long-promised Episodes VII through IX — began soon after when J.J. Abrams, the man who reinvigorated the moribund Star Trek movie franchise, was brought on to direct the first new Star Wars movie in a decade.

In the run-up to The Force Awakens, Abrams and the Lucasfilm brain trust were asked about Asian representation in the future of Star Wars during a Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con, to which the director famously responded, “Go Asians!”

When The Force Awakens finally premiered, the promise of more AAPI characters in Star Wars was realized… sort of. While TFA featured more AAPI actors than all previous six films combined, none of them could be considered major characters.

For instance, the buzz surrounding the announcement that stars from The Raid, the cult martial arts classic from Indonesia, was going to be in the film as the fearsome Kanjiklub was soon met with indifference once audiences figured out their screen time would be severely limited. Other actors like Ken Leung (as Admiral Statura) and Jessica Henwick (as Resistance pilot Jess Pava) wouldn’t fare much better since their scenes are also glorified cameos.

Ken Leung as Admiral Statura with Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa in The Force Awakens (2015)

Click here to read the full article on The Nerds of Color.

Looking at Environmental Protection Through the Lens of Disability
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By Alliah Czarielle, Hemophilia News Today

Climate change has been a hot topic in our circles lately. We feel it very much in the Philippines, where hot summers in the months of April and May have quickly turned into a season of strong typhoons and dangerous floods. Recently, a major typhoon hit the province of Leyte, causing a tragic landslide.

Individuals can only do so much to “save” our planet (and humanity) from the drastic effects of climate change. But we can make a difference by doing little things. We can boycott single-use plastics if we’re in a position to do so, lower our energy consumption, and deal with waste appropriately through proper separation and recycling.

Of course, having a disability factors into the equation about how much one can do to help the earth. Many people with disabilities must resort to less eco-friendly practices in order to address health issues and to thrive, although that’s not to say disabled people can’t take steps to be eco-friendly.

For instance, my husband, Jared, infuses factor products to treat his hemophilia. This procedure involves single-use plastic tubes, metal needles, and glass bottles.

According to a 2019 National Geographic article, one expert estimated that 25% of the waste generated by U.S. healthcare facilities is plastic. This is because the equipment used to treat patients needs to be sterile, and plastic serves that need well.

When my mom was ill with cancer, she needed to drink from plastic straws due to the limitations she had. And by the time she was bedridden, she needed to use disposable adult diapers.

In Japan, a country with a rapidly aging population, adult diaper waste is a growing concern, as The New York Times reported last year. Used diapers are likely to end up in incinerators, like most of the country’s waste. Compared with other types of waste, diapers require more fuel to burn, leading to costly waste management bills and high carbon emissions.

To help alleviate this problem, the Japanese town of Houki converted one of the town’s incinerators into a diaper recycling plant, which in turn produces fuel for a public bathhouse, the Times reported. This, in turn, helps to lower natural gas costs. Japan is fortunate to have the resources to come up with this creative solution.

Since there are limitations to taking steps to protect the environment when accessing or providing healthcare by people with disabilities or those who work at treatment centers, I offer the following suggestions.

If you can afford to, avoid single-use plastics.
If using single-use plastics cannot be avoided, be mindful of how often you use them and how you dispose of them. Seek out alternatives to the plastic bags you use for shopping or carrying things. At home, stock up with multiple-use, high-quality storage containers.

Leave single-use plastic products to the ones who really need them to live. This includes people with disabilities, older people, and babies, for example.

Avoid fast fashion.
I am guilty of patronizing fast fashion — which refers to the mass production of high-fashion clothing trends — because I like dressing up. My clothing budget is quite low, hence the temptation for cheap clothes from chain retailers.

According to a 2019 article by Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen, the fashion industry is responsible for producing 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.

What percentage of clothing in your closet do you actually wear? Think about it, and try not to buy more than you would actually use. Instead of shopping for new clothes, why not shop at secondhand stores or learn to rework old clothing into more modern styles?

Jared’s entire collection of clothes fits into just one drawer. This makes his wardrobe easier to organize. He wears a “uniform” of plain, minimalist T-shirts with classic denim jeans or shorts. When I first met him in college, he still wore clothes from as early as sixth grade! He only updated his wardrobe when he built up muscle as an adult and needed to switch to clothing a few sizes bigger.

Jared doesn’t go out as often as I do, and bleeding episodes occasionally force him to stay at home. He also considers himself more of an indoor type. So he doesn’t think he needs many clothes.

But even if one’s lifestyle is active or outgoing, we can find some perspective from people like Jared. After all, how many clothes do we really need? As my drawers are now filled to the brim with clothes, I actively try to avoid buying new ones. Furthermore, I now support a local seamstress instead of buying from retail chains. The sewing takes time, but the outcome is often top quality and looks great. It’s also more eco-friendly, and I get to support someone’s livelihood.

Click here to read the full article on Hemophilia News Today.

IOScholarships Launches New Superheroes Podcast & Blog to Encourage More Diverse Students to Pursue Careers in STEM
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five superheroes in different costumes

IOScholarships, a platform that provides access to scholarships worth over $48 million for diverse students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers is launching a new Superheroes Podcast. The host of the series is María Trochimezuk, founder of IOScholarships, well known for her work as a spokesperson for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and her passion to increasing opportunities for underrepresented students in STEM.

In the podcast, María Fernanda interviews STEM students and experts to learn about more about their path to STEM, what kind of thinkers they are, and the unique benefits of a multicultural approach to careers in STEM. Episodes are 10 minutes on average.

“We are thrilled to be launching the first IOScholarships Superheroes Podcast. Not only it is exciting to hear from the innovators of the future, it’s also inspiring to hear how they overcame obstacles and how their ethnic background is so unique for doing incredible things in the STEM field,” said María Trochimezuk, founder of IOScholarships.

IOScholarships blog provides comprehensive bilingual articles on financial wellness, career tips and some of the most important issues related to STEM. The platform features the scholarship of the month, internship, and job opportunities.

Some of the May featured scholarships and career opportunities include the Olay Face STEM Scholarship open to female sophomores of color, majoring in a STEM field and the Intel Scholarship which helps STEM undergraduate and graduate students of color.

Data shows that roughly 20% of whites and students of color declare STEM subjects as their majors entering college, but nearly 40% of minority students change their majors and more than 20% left school without earning a degree.  As a result, while Blacks, Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Hispanics collectively form 27% of the population, but they account for only 11% of America’s science and engineering workers.

“This data is what fuels IOScholarships. It is imperative that we raise awareness of the benefits of diversity in STEM if we want to build a robust STEM pipeline,” said María Trochimezuk.

The new redesigned website, developed by Diego Wuethrich, head of operations at IOScholarships, makes easier for students to look for scholarships and financial wellness resources and provides a refreshed “digital front door” for students interested in IOScholarships’ community. Also, the logo was powered by creative designer Andrea Leon-Grossman who has more than 15 years of creative experience with proven success in developing visual campaigns and delivering results.

The superheroes were created by talented IO Scholar, Matthew Rada who is an aspiring 2D character designer and storyboard artist.

IOSCHOLARSHIPS SUPERHEROES POWERS

  1. SCIENCE
    1. Sofia ~aka~ C O M P O U N D
      1. She combines elements, chemicals and other components to create medicine to heal any ailment.
  1. ENGINEERING
    1. Eli ~aka~ S T R U C T U R E
      1. He has the power to create machines and devices that help build and clean our environment. He works closely with Compound, Techno, Ink and Algorithm to make our world safer.
  1. TECHNOLOGY
    1. Tasha ~aka~ T E C H N O
      1. She has the power to create connections and communicate to people from anywhere in the world wherever she may be.
  1. ART
    1. Inigo ~aka~ I N K
      1. He has a beautiful singing voice and creates stories and paintings that entertain and give joy to people. He also creates awareness and empowers everyone to express themselves through art.
  1. MATH
    1. Amelia ~aka~ A L G O R I T H M
      1. She comes up with the right equations and absolute numbers that can solve any mathematical-related problem. She also aids, supports and enhances the powers of techno, compound, structure, and art to make the world a better place.

 

The IOScholarships Superheroes podcast debuts May 3rd, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. PT and can be found at https://ioscholarships.com/podcast. To receive the newsletter/blog please email info@ioscholarships.com.

The challenge of gender bias: experiences of women pursuing careers in STEM
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Clockwise from top left: Nayeli Stopani Barrios, Jessica Becker and Larissa Sanches (not shown: Elise Murphy)

By WiSE students Nayeli Stopani Barrios, Jessica Becker, Elise Murphy and Larissa Sanches, Nevada Today

Women pursuing STEM careers have faced many challenges in the past, and they continue to do so today. In the past, many of these challenges were built into the framework of our public and private institutions and our legal system. Women, for example, were not allowed to attend college and earn a college education until 1840, when Catherine Brewer was the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree. Gaining a graduate degree wasn’t possible until 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell earned her medical degree (U.S. News, 2009). Without access to higher education, women had no chance of gaining enough experience and expertise to secure a job of any significance, let alone a career in STEM.

Barriers limiting women’s access to higher education were not eliminated in the mid 1800s with the brave actions of Brewer and Blackwell. The historical prejudices that denied women access to higher education in that century are present today in the minds of many who serve as members of college admissions committees and hiring authorities. According to a study conducted by researchers at Yale University, when provided with identical application materials across all applicants, both male and female faculty rated the male applicants more competent and more employable than female applicants (Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Handelsman, 2012). Despite holding comparable levels of experience or knowledge, men are consistently chosen over women.

It is an unfortunate truth that gender bias can present challenges even in the circumstance of a woman being identified as the best candidate for a given position and the hiring process initiated. Across the full spectrum of hiring levels – from entry level to executive level – the salary or wage offered to women can reveal gender bias. According to the Stanford School of Business, the entry level salary for a male employee is on average more than $4,000 higher than their female coworkers (Stanford Business, 2021). Because women are less likely to be awarded promotions, the wage gap between women and their male coworkers becomes larger and larger over time. A paper published by the Pew Research Center concluded that, in STEM fields, men earn 40% more than women (Fry, Kennedy, & Funk, 2021). This significant gap in earnings between women and men in the STEM field leads to significant differences in the ability of women and men to pay off debts incurred as part of their undergraduate and graduate education and to establish a solid financial footing as they move through their peak earnings years and into retirement.

Barriers women face in the workplace go far beyond those associated with lower pay and reduced opportunities for career advancement. The impacts of gender bias and discrimination are even greater when a woman holds the identity of mother or primary caregiver for another family member. A study conducted at the University of California, San Diego revealed that “43% of women in STEM careers left their full-time job within 4-7 years of having their first child…compared to 23 percent of new fathers” (Cech & Blair-Loy, 2019). Women are often forced to choose between being an important contributor to the STEM field and being a mother, while men are allowed to be both without having their professional commitment or parenting abilities called in question. In fact, in a study conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, one third of private sector employers reported that they believe that women who are pregnant or new mothers are “generally less interested in career progression” (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018). Women are often overlooked for promotions and, without prospects for growth within their company, many women pursue jobs at different companies, and sometimes within different employment sectors, that allow for professional growth.

Women who hold a non-white racial identity sometimes experience even more extreme forms of workplace bias and discrimination, including having to rise to higher hiring and workplace performance requirements than their white male and female coworkers, being paid lower salaries than their white male and female coworkers, having to assert their rightful status within the workplace more often than their white male and female coworkers, and experiencing less support from women co-workers than white women. Joan Williams, Katherine Phillips, and Erika Hall published a study that examined the prevalence of gender bias among women of color in the workplace (Williams, 2020). These researchers investigated prejudices in women’s daily work life by conducting in-depth interviews with women of color and administering an extensive battery of questionnaires to a diverse group of women working in STEM. Findings from their study and a thorough review of the literature revealed four unique types of bias that influence the ways women of color are regarded in the workplace (Ngo, 2016). One of the identified biases is the Prove It Again bias. This bias is considered to be in effect when men are hired and/or offered advancement opportunities based on their potential, while their women coworkers are hired and/or offered advancement opportunities based on ratings of their current performance and historical successes. Some experience of the Prove It Again bias is reported by nearly 65 % of women, with as many as 77% of Black women in STEM reporting experience with this particular form of gender bias (Williams, 2020).

The Maternal Wall bias arises out of the belief that women lose their ability and commitment to work after having children. Nearly two-thirds of scientists with children said that parental leave influenced their coworkers’ views of their commitment to the workplace (Williams, 2020). Interestingly, women scientists without children are impacted by their coworkers views of womanhood and parenting; they report being expected to work longer hours to compensate for work that is not being performed by coworkers who have taken maternity leave. Many everyday workplace experiences challenge women’s very presence as contributing STEM professionals. Among women holding professional STEM positions, 32% of white women and nearly 50% of women who identify as Black or as Latina report being mistaken for administrative or custodial staff. These biases have significant implications for the success of women of color and all women working in STEM settings.

Harassment in the workplace can take many different forms and can be targeted towards anyone holding any position within a given organization. That said, harassment often plays out in the context of power hierarchies; persons of higher professional rank and power are more able than persons of lower professional rank and power to use their professional power in ways that meet the definition of workplace harassment. (Wright, 2020). Sexual harassment appears to be a particular frequent form of workplace harassment. Holly Kearl, Nicole Johns, and Dr. Anita Raj authored a report of findings from a national study of sexual harassment and assault occurring in workplaces across the United States (Kearl, Johns, & Raj, 2019). According to their report, 38% of women and 14% of men have reported experiencing sexual harassment at work. Much of what can be considered “the STEM education and workspace” has been and continues to be male dominated. Although the gap is decreasing, women still make up only 28% of the STEM workforce (AAUW, 2021).

Click here to read the full article on Nevada Today.

Sony and Lego are investing $2 billion in Epic Games, creator of Fortnite
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Epic, the creator of Fortnite, is getting investments of $1 billion each from Sony and the company that makes Lego.

By , NPR

Epic Games, creators of the wildly popular video game Fortnite, just got a $2 billion investment from legacy entertainment giants Sony Group Corp. and Kirkbi, the family-owned company behind The Lego Group. Sony and Kirkbi will each invest $1 billion in Epic.

Headquartered in Cary, N.C., Epic Games was founded by CEO Tim Sweeney in 1991. In addition to Fortnite, Epic developed the 3D game engine Unreal Engine. Today the company has some 40 offices around the world.

“This investment will accelerate our work to build the metaverse and create spaces where players can have fun with friends, brands can build creative and immersive experiences and creators can build a community and thrive,” Sweeney says in a statement.

More simply put, the partnership of Lego and Epic will “build a fun place for kids to play in the metaverse!” as Epic tweeted when it announced a partnership with Lego a few days ago.

Jose Najarro, a contributing analyst at The Motley Fool who covers the tech and gaming industries, tells NPR the $2 billion investment “affirms that the metaverse has a future for the gaming community.” He adds that it could also further Epic’s game engine development: “Unreal Engine is a software tool to create and design video games, and could be an essential tool for creating the metaverse.”

For Sony the investment will advance its “development of new digital fan experiences in sports and our virtual production initiatives,” says Kenichiro Yoshida, Chairman, president and CEO of Sony Group Corp.

Najarro says Epic’s main competitors, Unity Software and Roblox, will face a competitor with more money and greater resources: “The partnership with Sony and Lego could provide Epic Games with other forms of assets (trademarks, digital products, physical products).”

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Apple Is First Streamer to Win Best Picture Oscar for ‘CODA’
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The cast of CODA accepting their oscar award

By Todd Spangler, Variety

Apple made history by nabbing Hollywood’s most coveted honor, as “CODA” won the Oscar for best picture at Sunday’s Academy Awards. Apple Original Films’ “CODA,” which has a predominantly Deaf cast, marks the first time a streaming service has won the best picture Oscar — with Apple TV Plus beating rival Netflix to the punch. “CODA” took the top prize over Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” from director Jane Campion, which was the other leading contender in the category.

In addition, “CODA” star Troy Kotsur won the supporting actor trophy — the first time a Deaf male actor has landed an acting Oscar, and the second Deaf actor ever to do so after “CODA” co-star Marlee Matlin won for “Children of a Lesser God” in 1986. In the film’s third win of the night, “CODA” director Siân Heder won in the adapted screenplay category.

The three Oscars for “CODA” were Apple’s first ever. “CODA” also made history as the first Sundance Film Festival movie to take home the Oscars best picture prize. And it’s the first film to win best picture without having been nominated in the directing and editing categories.

Apple is estimated to have spent more than $10 million on the Oscars campaign for “CODA” — more than the movie’s sub-$10 million production budget.

In the film, Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones) is a child of Deaf adults, or CODA — the only hearing member of her family. After she discovers a passion and talent for singing, Ruby is torn between her obligations to the family fishing business and pursuing her musical dreams. Kotsur and Matlin play her parents, and Daniel Durant co-stars as her brother, Leo. “CODA” is based on 2014 French film “La Famille Belier,” in which most of the Deaf characters were played by hearing actors.

“This is a really big moment for the Deaf community. It’s a really big moment for the disability community,” Heder said in a backstage interview on ABC’s Thank You Cam, as an ASL interpreter translated her remarks. “Marlee Matlin won an Oscar 35 years ago, and not that much has changed in Hollywood, so I want to thank the Academy for making that change. And I want to say to everyone in the Deaf community and everyone in the disability community that there’s a place for you here, your stories are important, and we need to make room. And this is one story, and let this one be the first of many, many films to come out of this beautiful community.”

Apple’s best-picture win for “CODA” at the 94th Academy Awards is obviously a major feather in the Silicon Valley giant’s cap, although Will Smith’s shocking slap of Chris Rock live TV upstaged the feat. CEO Tim Cook has avidly touted and tallied up the awards hauls for originals on Apple TV Plus. The Oscars accolades may incrementally lift Apple TV Plus subscriber numbers, but a more significant halo effect for Apple is the added clout it can leverage in competing for deals with talent and production partners.

Overall, Netflix — which has spent millions of dollars heavily campaigning for its awards hopefuls — picked up just one Oscar: Campion’s win for directing “The Power of the Dog.” That was after Netflix led the field again with 27 nominations, including 12 for “Power of the Dog” and four for Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” (both of which were in the running for best picture). Apple won the three trophies after six nominations total: three for “CODA” and three for Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Apple acquired the rights to “CODA” for $25 million after a bidding war following its premiere at Sundance last year. The film, produced by Vendôme Pictures and Pathé, premiered on Apple TV Plus in August. Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger served as producers.

Cook has acknowledged that the tech company is prioritizing prestige over profits for its streaming originals. “We don’t make purely financial decisions about the content [on Apple TV Plus],” the Apple chief told analysts on the company’s Jan. 27 earnings call. “We try to find great content that has a reason for being.”

In a tweet Sunday, Cook wrote, “Team CODA created a profoundly beautiful movie, a story of hope and heart that celebrates our differences. Congratulations to the producers, @SianHeder, @TroyKotsur, @MarleeMatlin, @EmiliaJonesy, @DanielNDurant, @EugenioDerbez, and all involved in these historic wins! #CODAfilm.”

Click here to read the full article on Variety.

NASA set to test mega-rocket that will take humans back to the moon
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nasa's mega-rocket

By Charlotte Edwards, NY Post

NASA is getting ready to test out its mega-rocket in a “wet dress rehearsal” for an upcoming moon mission.

All the components for the Artemis I mission have been cleared to roll out to the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

NASA’s 2022 mission to the moon is called Artemis 1.

It will be testing out hardware so that NASA can land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon by 2025.

That crewed mission is being referred to as Artemis 3 and a lot has to happen before it can take place.

Before Artemis 1 can launch, NASA wants to test all the components.

All the major pieces should all be at the launch pad on March 17.

Artemis 1 isn’t a crewed mission but it needs to loop around the moon to test three key components.

These are NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), its Orion spacecraft, and the European Service Module (ESM).

The Orion spacecraft and the ESM should get within 62 miles of the lunar surface and then travel 40,000 miles beyond this.

It will take about three weeks for it to complete the mission and land in the Pacific Ocean off San Diego.

NASA also refers to the Orion spacecraft and SLS as the “Mega moon rocket”

It will take about 11 hours to take the mega-rocket from its storage location to the launch pad.

Once there, NASA has said it will take about two weeks for experts to prepare for the “wet dress rehearsal.”

This means propellant will be added to the rocket tanks and a full launch countdown will take place.

That should take place in early April.

However, NASA’s SLS and Orion spacecraft won’t be going anywhere.

How the equipment behaves will determine when Artemis 1 can actually take off.

Tom Whitmeyer, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development at NASA, previously said: “The agency is waiting to for the wet dress rehearsal to see how we’re doing … we’ll set the launch date at that point.

“We continue to evaluate the May launch window, but we recognize that there’s a lot of work in front of us and we need to make sure we get through that testing and evaluation activity before we set a launch commitment date.”

Click here to read the full article on the NY Post.

VR Is Here to Stay. It’s Time to Make It Accessible
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Girl playing with a VR headset

By Wired

With the recent unveiling of the PlayStation VR2, Sony brings its virtual reality system to current console generations, proving that VR is here to stay. The Oculus Quest 2, Valve Index, and now the PS VR2 are just some of the headsets that people can use to explore historic locations, become characters in games, and even create unique avatars for socializing with friends. But the announcement of new VR systems always poses the same question–will disabled people be able to use them? Even though some VR games include accessibility options and inclusive design practices, like Polyarc Games’ Moss, which features the main character using ASL, VR’s reliance on physical movements can be a deterrent for many players with motor disabilities. Beyond that, the headsets and screen resolution can lead to numerous barriers for low-vision users, so much so that games without appropriate features or accessible design are completely unplayable.

And as accessibility evolves, the presence of VR is indicative of an industry that still has much to learn. Accessibility consultant Erin “geekygimp” Hawley’s physical disability prevents her from enjoying many VR games. With muscular dystrophy, Hawley cannot stand and can only move her right hand a few inches; she cannot move her left. She has an Oculus Quest 2, but she is limited in what she can play.

“VR is really not accessible for me. I have to hold the right controller at a weird angle to both reach the trigger button and aim the pointer at objects on the screen,” Hawley says. “The need to use both controllers and to reach objects that are up high locks me out of most apps and games. Also, when you have to turn your whole body to look at something, that’s almost impossible—I have to drive my wheelchair in a circle while holding on to the VR controllers.”

Hawley acknowledges that developers are trying to make their games inclusive, and because VR is relatively new in terms of overall industry support, the opportunity to create accessible experiences is still being explored. Yet, without proper options or accessible design, Hawley cannot even access games or apps like historic simulations. Something like the Anne Frank House VR tour, an experience that should be accessible to all, is filled with barriers that make the tour impossible to complete.

“I got to a part where I had to mimic opening a door, but there was no way I could do it with the controllers,” she says. “Why couldn’t there be an option to open the door with the press of a button? I understand the need to feel immersed, but I also can’t open a door in the real world, so it just ends up locking me out. Literally.”

Hawley is not alone in her frustration. People like accessibility advocate Daniel “AccessibleDan” Gilbert and content creator Kristie “KristieMJM” Matheson cannot play VR games that require big movements. Like Hawley, Gilbert failed to make it through the Anne Frank House VR tour due to necessary motion controls. “At one point it requires the user to physically interact with the bookcase that leads to the tour, and I couldn’t progress. It really upset me that even educational content was inaccessible,” he says.

For Matheson, a spinal cord injury at birth led to paralysis on the right side of her body, resulting in balance issues and weakness. Because of this, VR games that require extensive range of motion on both sides of the body are incredibly difficult to play. Further, the headset itself can negatively affect her balance. “Devs need to recognize that not everyone can do everything using all parts of their body and maybe need to sit down if playing games with VR,” she says. Despite her and Gilbert’s inability to play certain games, Matheson still believes VR can be accessible, if developers design games with disabled audiences in mind.

“I think VR can be included in the future of accessible gaming, with the right consultation and testing. It just needs to be more open-minded when it comes to what its ideal gamer looks like.”

Click here to read the full article on Wired.

This upside-down skyscraper would be one of the tallest buildings in NYC
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upside-down skyscraper

By Anna Rahmanan, Time Out

It’s just a proposal for now, but it surely looks striking.

Dubbed the Affirmation Tower, this upside-down-looking skyscraper was designed by Adjaye Associates and submitted by the developer Peebles Corporation to the Empire State Development Corporation as a potential build on Site K—a 1.2-acre plot of land owned by the state just a block away from Hudson Yards and the High Line, also near the massive Javits Center.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the design will turn into a reality, but it’s worth noting that the project has the potential to become a historical one for a variety of reasons.

If approved as-is, the Affirmation Tower would stand 1,663 feet tall, effectively becoming the second tallest building in all of Manhattan (at 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center would still reign supreme).

But even more importantly, the tower would actually be the first built by a team made up of mostly Black developers, architects and builders—fitting, given that it would also become the headquarters of the mid-Manhattan branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Inclusion is clearly the name of the game as the project’s partners have also decided to give more than 30 percent of construction work to minority and female contractors.

The proposed design is no coincidence either: According to Architectural Digest, Sir David Adjaye, the architect behind the project, is known for his eclectic style—but all his choices have meaning. The outlet explains that the floor-to-ceiling glass windows that are part of the structure actually sit within a milky white terrazzo facade “whose shape mimics afro picks, a subtle tribute to Black culture.”

In addition to its clear social impact, the skyscraper will also be the home of a new theater, a rooftop eatery, a skating rink, a bunch of office spaces, two separate hotels and a lot of terraces overlooking the Hudson River.

Click here to read the full article on Time Out.

A Latina creates a platform to provide scholarships for STEM students
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María Trochimezuk created the IOScholarships platform last year to provide access to scholarships and boost more Latino and other students in STEM careers.

By Edwin Flores

A Latina has created a platform to provide access to scholarships worth almost $38 million for Latinos and other students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

María Trochimezuk, 47, created IOScholarships after noticing the amount of scholarship money that went unrewarded due to the lack of applicants. The free platform gives STEM students in high school and college a place to find scholarships, internships, work opportunities, financial education and resources based upon GPA, merit and financial background.

The aim, said Trochimezuk, is to help students graduate college debt-free while boosting the number of Latinos and other students of color pursuing STEM degrees and careers.

“I always had a vision that I wanted to create a platform that would be a community,” said Trochimezuk who is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It’s a first of its kind because we are focusing on underrepresented and underserved students, African American, Latinos, Asian American, Native American and also we have scholarships for DACA students.”

Trochimezuk said the platform, part of the National Scholarships Provider Association (NSPA), has helped provide access to nearly 11,000 students about a diverse range of STEM scholarships that are available from foundations and corporations.

She founded the platform last March, first investing her personal savings and then securing funding for the project through a grant provided by Google’s Ureeka PowerUp program, which supports Latino-owned businesses.

In 2000, Trochimezuk moved to the U.S. on a postgraduate scholarship in marketing and public relations at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and later was selected to be a part of Stanford’s prestigious Latino entrepreneurship initiative.

She worked on public education campaigns for Google and other financial institutions that focused on Latino community support.

Through her experiences, she witnessed how much scholarship money was undistributed because students were not applying. Yet Trochimezuk said she was able to pay off her entire education with grants and scholarships.

Over the last decade, the number of scholarships awarded to students has increased by 45 percent. Yet, the NSPA estimates $100 million in scholarships go unawarded each year due to the lack of applicants.

“We opened opportunities for students with scholarships that now are going to Stanford or MIT — these are brilliant, diverse students, they’re Latino, Black students. And it’s very important that companies pay attention to this workforce because these are the innovators of the future,” she said.

Despite making up 17 percent of the total workforce across all occupations, Latinos account for 8 percent of all STEM-related jobs.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Identical twin sisters marry identical twin brothers: Meet their babies
LinkedIn
identical twin siblings Jeremy and Briana (on the left, we're pretty sure) are parents to Jax, and Josh and Brittany are parents to Jett.salyerstwins / Instagram

By , TODAY

Identical twins Briana and Brittany, 35, married identical twins Josh and Jeremy Salyers, 37, and now they’re introducing the world to their babies, who are so genetically similar that the cousins are more like brothers.

“You’ve heard the term Irish twins and you’ve heard identical twins and fraternal twins,” Briana Salyers told TODAY Parents. “But we have quaternary twins.”

The Salyers are parents to Jett, who turned 1 in January, and Jax, who will turn 1 in April, and the cousins share more than the same first initial. Their unique situation makes them genetic brothers.

“They were born to identical twin parents less than nine months apart,” Brittany Salyers explained. “Twins married to twins who both have babies at the same time.”

Since identical twins share the same DNA, the children of two pairs of identical twins are legally cousins, but genetically more similar to siblings.

The sisters shared they had both discussed the possibility of quaternary twins.

“We were hoping that we would have overlapping pregnancies so that this would happen. We thought it would be really cool,” Briana said. “There’s only 300 quaternary marriages known in the history of the world.”

The couples, who share a joint Instagram page, posted the interesting scientific fact alongside a photo of the young boys side-by-side.

“Jett and Jax: Cousins, Genetic Brothers, and Quaternary Twins!” the caption read.

The couples married in a joint ceremony at the 2018 Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. Brittany and Briana met Joshua and Jeremy at the Twins Days Festival the year before and their fairy tale weddings were captured on camera for TLC.

Both families live under one roof in Virginia and run a wedding venue site together.

“It was something we all four wanted and when we got engaged, we all wanted it that way,” Brittany told TODAY of the unconventional living arrangement. “It’s something that’s very nice. (Josh and Jeremy) understand the twin bond like we do. We get to have a lot of together time.”

Sharing their compelling journey online doesn’t come without negative commentary for the families.

“We try to ignore sociopathic stalker comments and just focus on the positive,” Brittany said. “Some people think we are really strange and others think it’s really amazing. We’ve gotten a lot of support and interest and we’ve been grateful for that.”

As for future babies, the couples are undecided.

“We are debating if we should go for one more pregnancy each or not,” Briana said. “We will make a decision pretty soon. The babies are still pretty young (and) we are trying to wait a little longer to see what to do.”

Click here to read the full article on TODAY.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. NABA 2022 National Convention & Expo
    June 21, 2022 - June 24, 2022
  6. From Day One
    June 22, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. NABA 2022 National Convention & Expo
    June 21, 2022 - June 24, 2022
  6. From Day One
    June 22, 2022