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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

2Carmen Cornejo

By Carmen Cornejo: Hispanic Outreach Coordinator; Principal: Critical Mass Communications, LLC.

I love statistics and graphs. I started my professional life as an intern in Monterrey Tech analyzing data for social research studies with one of the best social scientist in Mexico.  Back in the day, I fell in love with statistics because the powerful way they have to convey information and meaning.

That is why I love Datos: The State of Arizona’s Hispanic Market, an event organized annually by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  This year was its 18th edition.  Datos presented statistics, information and clever graphics in a presentation and a digital publication which paints an accurate portrait of the current state of the Hispanic Community and projects the future.  As Doctor Loui Olivas, ASU -W.P. Carey Professor Emeritus and head researcher of the project said, “It’s not prophecy, it’s mathematics”.

Good news. We Hispanics in Arizona are an economic force that will reach 50 billion dollars in purchasing power by next year. According with the census bureau, the percentage of Hispanics living in poverty fell from 25.6% in 2012 to 23.5% last year in spite of the slow economic recovery and we are the only major demographic group who has shown a drop in poverty.

We are a group of young people. In Arizona we make up 30% of the population and our children are the majority of students K-8. Nationally, 66,000 Hispanics turn 18 years of age every month, making them eligible to vote.

Datos presents information about Hispanics usage of technology.  We as a demographic block are early adopters of certain technologies but our homes still lag behind in the use of home computers. Hispanic homes are more likely to stream or download video or audio than other groups and we are more digitally engaged than other demographic groups.  US Hispanic accounted for the largest increase in internet usage between 2009 and 2012, with a 13 percentage point increase.

This looks great but also represents a challenge to us. In order for the USA to continue being an economic power, we need to provide educational opportunities for all.  It is critical to increase the involvement of Hispanics in STEM areas, which unfortunately we still do not have the numbers of graduates and workers to be in the comfort zone.  Hispanic workers in STEM represent only 6.5 percent of the total workforce. Please go to this study by the US Census Bureau. This is an imperative: we need to move our community from consumers of digital products and early adopters to electronic creators and innovators.

Our visions and creativity will be keys to move our country, as one, to new levels of excellence only if we are willing to face the challenges and lead the way.

For more information on Datos follow Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce http://www.azhcc.com/

2Carmen Cornejo

Por: Carmen Cornejo, Coordinadora de Asuntos Hispanos AZSciTech; Dueña, Critical Mass Communications, LLC.

Me encantan las estadísticas y las gráficas. Comencé my vida profesional como practicante en el Tecnológico de Monterrey analizando datos para estudios de investigación social.  En aquellos tiempos, me enamoré de las estadísticas por la manera tan ponderosa que tienen de transmitir conocimiento y significado.

Es por eso que me encanta “Datos: El Estado del Mercado Hispano en Arizona”, un evento organizado anualmente por la Cámara de Comercio Hispana de Arizona.

Datos presenta estadísticas, información y graficas interesantes en una publicación digital la cual pinta un retrato preciso del estado actual de la comunidad Hispana y proyecta esta información al futuro.  Como dijo el Doctor Loui Olivas, Profesor Emérito de  Escuela de Negocios W.P. Carey de la Universidad Estatal de Arizona y líder del proyecto: “Esto no es profecía, son matemáticas”.

Buenas noticias. Los Hispanos en Arizona somos una fuerza económica que alcanzará los  50 billiones de dólares en poder de compra el próximo año. De acuerdo con el Buró del Censo, el porcentaje de Hispanos viviendo en la pobreza cayó del 25.6% en 2012 a 23.5% el año pasado a pesar de la lenta recuperación económica y nosotros somos el único grupo demográfico que mostró una disminución en el porcentaje de pobreza.

Somos un grupo de gente joven. En Arizona formamos un 30% de la población y nuestros niños son la mayoría de estudiantes en los grados K-8.  A través de la nación, 66,000 hispanos cumplen 18 años cada mes, haciéndoles elegibles para votar.

Datos presenta información sobre el uso de tecnología por nuestra comunidad.  Nosotros, como bloque demográfico adoptamos ciertas tecnologías aunque muchos de nuestros hogares todavía no cuentan con computadoras personales. Hogares Hispanos son más propensos a hacer “streaming” o “bajar” contenido en audio y video que otros grupos y estamos más “comprometidos” digitalmente que otros grupos demográficos.  Los Hispanos en los Estados Unidos contamos por el más alto incremento de uso de internet entre los años 2009 y 2012, con un incremento de 13 puntos porcentuales.

Esto se ve fantástico pero también representa un reto para nosotros. Para que nuestro país continúe siendo un poder económico, necesitamos proveer oportunidades educativas para todos. Es crítico incrementar el involucramiento de Hispanos en aéreas de ciencia y tecnología -STEM, donde desafortunadamente no tenemos los números de graduados y profesionales.  Profesionales Hispanos en aéreas STEM representan sólo el 6.5 por ciento del total de la fuerza de trabajo. Por favor, lee este estudio del Buro del Censo. Esto es imperativo, necesitamos mover nuestra comunidad de consumidores de productos digitales y compradores de electrónicos a creadores e innovadores.

Nuestras visiones y creatividad conjuntas son la clave para mover a nuestro país a nuevos niveles de excelencia sólo si estamos dispuestos de enfrentar los retos.

Para más información sobre Datos, siga a la  Cámara Hispana de Comercio de Arizona -Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce- en el sitio web http://www.azhcc.com/


Guest Author:  Uly Siregar (Ester Skiera), AZ SciTech Festival Writer

If there were a company that would understand how important STEM education is, that would be Clarisoft. The company wouldn’t exist without technologies. As a custom software development services company that is always on the lookout to develop their own software products or internal tools,  Clarisoft breathes STEM. “We see software development as a big part of STEM education. Our modern world runs on software. Having the ability to understand how software really works and how to create your own allows STEM students to gain really valuable skills,” says Robert Haines, director of business development at Clarisoft Technologies.

STEM-based companies hold a bright future. Clarisoft is not an exception. As a company that provides unparalled custom software outsourcing since 2004, the Scottsdale-based company has been going strong. “Business has been booming and we have grown 400% in just the last three years. We celebrated the hiring of our 40th full-time employee this year,” Haines states.

The key is comprehensive knowledge of software and application development, combined with offshore resources. Clarisoft delivers high quality development packages designed to minimized costs and maximize profits.

But the best part is, Clarisoft is not all about business. The company also cares about education by supporting STEM-related events such as Arizona SciTech Festival. “The Festival is a very important part of advancing STEM education. We have the vision that one day Phoenix, AZ will be the new Silicon Valley, except we will lovingly call it the Silicon Desert. To do this, we need more STEM talents here and we are happy to help initiatives that help to accelerate this vision,” Haines explains.

The impact is clear. More STEM talents born, more high-skilled people can be recruited to build the company to be bigger. “With more STEM talent locally, especially talented software developers and software entrepreneurs, we have more people to help, whether it be through mentoring startups, getting hired to help with challenging software projects or potentially hiring more people locally,” he says.

Perhaps that’s why Clarisoft has a deep connection to the greater Phoenix, AZ technology community. “We have mentored technology startups through the ASU Venture Catalyst and Edson programs; we actively serve on the Startup + Entrepreneurship Committee inside of the Arizona Technology Council; we donated mobile apps to the Desert Botanical Garden, and our employees even launch their own community-based projects such as the Attack Apathy Project (see www.attackapathy.org),” Haines explains.

Furthermore, Clarisoft provides support for local entrepreneurs and business owners by helping them to build the software they need and acting as solid long-term partners with them. “We thoroughly enjoy helping people bring their visions to life and creating software products in the world that people love to use,” he adds.

And, as for Arizona SciTech Festival, Clarisoft also gives a special contribution. “We would like to announce that we will be building a mobile app for Arizona SciTech Festival as our latest donation to the community. This will be for iOS and Android and will be released in January 2015,” Haines states.

GLOBAL BUSINESS CONFERENCE 11a0b1c8d62be6800b47eb1e8049c410_a6ov

2Carmen Cornejo

Guest Author: Carmen Cornejo, Arizona SciTech Festival Hispanic Community Liaison

Hispanic Women’s Corporation (HWC), an organization dedicated to the professional development and leadership for women and students will honor, during its annual luncheon, students and mentors with Carl Hayden Falcon Robotics team with the National Youth Leadership STEM Award.  This award will recognize members of the team which has garnered national and international attention as role models for young Hispanics in STEM fields.

The Luncheon will be part of the HWC’s annual gathering which draws over 2000 attendees to the Executive, Professional and Youth Leadership Institutes. The entire event will take place Thursday, September 25th and Friday September 26th at the Phoenix Convention Center- South.  The luncheon where the Falcon Robotics team will be celebrated will take place Friday at the South Ballroom from11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.  Hispanic Women’s Corporation will offer during the two day event diverse activities for participants among them conferences, training, expo and a fashion show. The expo hall is open to the public featuring a health and wellness bus by Walgreens and AARP.

Carl Hayden Robotics Team has been recognized as one of the best students robotics programs in the world, having won the FIRST Chairman’s Award in 2008 in recognition to their work spreading their love for science and technology to many communities. This year is very important for Falcon teachers, mentors, students and alumni as a documentary, “Underwater DREAMs”, premiered earlier this year to great reviews. Watch a trailer of the documentary.

Additionally, a fictional film with their story is being produced and will premiere next year starring George Lopez, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Lee Curtis and Carlos Pena, among others.

Carl Hayden is a High School where the majority of their students come from low income, immigrant homes, yet they defeat the best funded high school and college robotics programs.

Along with teachers,students and former students, mentors Dulce Matuz, Falcon Robotics alumni,  Arizona DREAM Act Coalition  CEO, Time Magazine 100 Most Influential of the World 2012  and Carmen Cornejo, businesswoman, STEM promoter and fundraiser for the team, will be recognized.

For more information on Hispanic Women’s Corporation two day event go to  www.hispanicwomen.org

2Startup Tucson

Startup Tucson was awarded a $1.44 million, five-year contract from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s ScaleUp America program.  Startup Tucson was one of only seven successful applicants nationwide out of over 60 proposals.  Tucson is the only community west of the Mississippi River to receive ScaleUp America funding.  

“Tucson is on the verge of an economic transformation and the ScaleUp America program is injecting over $1 million into our community at a critical time,” said Justin Williams, CEO and founder of Startup Tucson.   “According to the Kauffman Foundation, over the last 30 years, 100% of all net-new jobs nationally came from high-potential startups committed to rapid growth.  

Startup Tucson will use this award, combined with the investments made this summer by the City of Tucson, the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, and Holualoa Properties, to accelerate the growth of our region’s high-potential early stage companies.”

Startup Tucson’s ScaleUp America contract will support the Thryve Next growth accelerator program focusing on high-potential, growth-oriented companies with annual revenues between $150,000 and $500,000, approximately two years old and in the early growth business cycle.  Thryve Next, powered by Startup Tucson, is a national model for entrepreneurial cultivation.

“The Desert Angels invests significantly in high-growth companies like those supported by Startup Tucson,” said Dan Janes, Co-Founder of 42Six Solutions and a member of the local Desert Angels investor network.  “These high-growth companies bring in new dollars and grow new jobs in the regional economy.”

With a focus on local impact, inclusion and innovation, contracts awarded by ScaleUp America provide intensive entrepreneurship education and a growth-support program to achieve the following goals: increase business scalability, create local jobs, and positively impact the local economy.  The contract also supports undeserved and underrepresented businesses.

As the leading resource for early stage startups and growing businesses in Southern Arizona, Startup Tucson continues to transform the economy through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Small businesses interested in Thryve Next can email Thryve@startuptucson.com or visit www.startuptucson.com/thryve.
About Startup Tucson                                                                                                       
Startup Tucson is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit committed to transforming Southern Arizona’s economy through innovation and entrepreneurship.  Founded in 2011, Startup Tucson delivers programs to support the launch of and growth of high-impact businesses. Investors in Startup Tucson include the City of Tucson, the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, Holualoa Properties, and the Desert Angels. Visit www.startuptucson.com for more information.

2Aashay Sanghvi

Guest Author: Aashay Sanghvi, intern, AZ SciTech Festival

A thousand things must have been rushing through Justin Foreman’s mind as he witnessed his first autopsy at Banner Sun Health Research Institute. Incredible! Amazing! Not quite what I thought. Justin is an intern with Banner and he could not believe he was staring at actual human flesh in a real-life lab environment. Before coming into this internship, he envisioned something else about what an actual autopsy would be. He could not put into words his amazement at how the true procedure turned out. Justin found that going through these autopsies with professionals at his side was the most interesting stuff he had done in his young career. Justin’s internship takes place specifically in the neuropatho lab, in Banner’s Brain Bank. He is working on a research paper that examines the link between Alzheimer’s disease and the heart. Some of the fascinating work he does includes tissue staining and tissue pulls. He finds this work satisfying, but does not know if he strictly wants to be a researcher. Justin has his sites set on medical school and after observing how he works in the lab, I am sure he will reach his goal.

Internships Arizona is launched by the AZ SciTech Fest and AZ Commerce Authority. Its mission is to highlight where internships are happening across the state..

INTERN ARTICLE OCT 8 2014 - Banner-JustinandMentor (3)

2Ted Kraver

Guest Author: Theodore “Ted” C. Kraver Ph.D.

On September 23rd I made my monthly 5 mile trek south on Central Ave to Alexis’ restaurant for breakfast and Morning Scoop panel discussion organized by the Arizona Capital Times. (Yeah…I know…tough duty!)  The business/governance panel included Victor Mendez Deputy Director U. S. Department of Transportation, who had served as Director of AZ Dept.  Of Transportation (ADOT),  David Martin Associated General Contractors of AZ, Marisa Walker Strategic Planner for Arizona Commerce Authority and Jennifer Toth Engineer and Deputy Director of ADOT.

I had a rare experience. For over 40 years I have been engaged in many education, economic development and technology meetings that focused on near term issues.  But these folks kept their focus on strategic, comprehensive and quantitative aspects of the State’s entire transportation system. The breadth of transportation included airborne, waterways, roads and boarder entries, railroads, light rail, and broadband telecommunications, and how they were interrelated. The discussions started with the massive development needed on the highway trade corridors to expand trade and economic opportunities between four of the nation’s six largest cities.

The panelists did not shrink from stating need for $20 Billion of new funding over the next decade for the highway corridors. Currently ADOT has but $25 million for expansion, only good for one mile of four-lane interstate. The reason for the drought of dough is the recession and that Arizona has not raised taxes in over 20 years. The total system for the long range future of Arizona will eventually require $68 billion which simple math tells us is only $300 per citizen (1% of consumption) for 1/3 of their lifetime.  The payback is the most modern and high tech transportation system in the county and a huge economic driver throughout our state. Certainly works for me.

Arizona must increase the percentage of goods and materials that flow into and out of Arizona businesses compared to the massive amount that just crosses through on Arizona highways and rail lines. One technology based product is from Mexico, the 5th largest producer of automobiles. Global connections of our commerce corridors to major ports on land, sea and air are vital to Arizona’s scientific, technological and engineering enterprise success. The long range strategic analysis factors included current cost of border delays and indirect costs of decreased quality of life for Arizonan. Our unique quality of life is the foundation for all other aspects of high tech enterprise growth.

But the major barrier to securing long range public support is the public’s short range span of concern. The Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse seven years ago only sustained public support of bridge repair/replacement for about a month.  Only a private, nonprofit advocacy campaign that lasts decades which supports visionary governance can bring this strategic transformation to fruition. It was heartening to learn that a coalition is being formed to do just that.

A well supported coalition is not just a way, but the only means to drive an effort of this magnitude. If Arizona is ever going to move on from the light-weight, small effort – small results of 40 years of STEM education advocacy we have to ramp up to the level of our transformation effort.  The transportation industry is rife with high tech means to drive economic development. Maybe their model can be used for applying high tech means to STEM education, training and manpower development.

Their driving slogan is, “Local Jobs, Global Markets. “ Maybe  STEM’s could be, “Local Learning, Global Opportunity.  There are other historical similarities between STEM driven Transportation System and STEM Education system.

Arizona’s transportation transformation started with Juan Batista De Anza bringing a group of colonists up from Tubac through the Tucson area to the Gila River and on to Yuma and California in 1776. This established highway routes for I19, and part of I10 and I8 to the west. In 1846 the Army of the West lead by Phillip St. George Cook, that included the Mormon Battalion, came into Arizona from what is now southwest New Mexico and through Tucson establishing the eastern route for I10 in 1846.

Formal public and private education came along a century later than De Anza. But we now know what must be done to build an modern education highway that will curtail the  current 30% loss of drivers that enter the onramp, or another 40% that never get  to the end of their trip. If transportation can do it over the next 15 two year governance cycles, then so can STEM based education and job training.

2STEM Matters

_STEM Matters Mgr: Marisa Ostos_

As we all know, the brain is what helps us experience sound, do a math problem, and even feel a warm hug. Along with having all of these fascinating capabilities, the brain has this wonderful network of firing neurons that helps us to learn new things. How does this work, and what does this have to do with neuroplasticity?

To begin, the brain is made up of a special network of nerve cells called neurons which help to transmit information to our bodies. They work by firing electrical impulses through different sections of the network (different sections of our brain) to help us think, feel, and ultimately experience life. When you hear your favorite song, the sound you hear is transmitted into electrical impulses through the neurons to specific sections of our brain. These electrical impulses via the neural network are at the root of our experience as a sound. So a song heard causes those electrical impulses to fire within the brain, ultimately helping us to feel that feeling of happiness, warmth, familiarity, passion, or even nostalgia that our favorite song can bring to us. Because the brain is made up of these neurons, this network of cells is connected to each other in a certain way.

Because the brain is made up of these neurons, this network of cells is connected to each other in a certain way. However, this doesn’t mean that these connections are set. Each time we experience  or learn something new, our brain is being activated in a way that it’s possible for new neural connections to be made. This means that neurons can form new connections to other neurons, connecting different parts of our brains together to help us learn something new! This is what neuroplasticity is all about! Neuroplasticity means that our brain has the ability to form new neural connections, thus helping us to learn and experience something in a brand new way altogether.  Let’s give a cheer to our amazing brain and its neuroplasticity capabilities!

*Source: “Hopes: Neuroplasticity,” Stanford University Online Blog.

Guest Author: Aashay Sanghvi, Intern, Arizona SciTech Festival

I’ve always loved interacting with new people. From social to professional circumstances, I always enjoy the thrill of meeting a new person or finding myself in a different situation. That is why I was tremendously excited to start my internship with the Arizona SciTech Festival and Arizona Commerce Authority. And when Jeremy Babendure, the Executive Director of the Festival, approached me about a project revolving around meeting different organizations and companies, I could not have been more elated. We devised this idea in our heads to create a pilot project called Internships Arizona. The mission and purpose is to highlight and expose where the different internships are happening across the state. We wanted to learn about the mentors, mentees, and organizations; as well as reveal their stories through our blog and newsletter. So, I started reaching out to as many people as I could—sending emails, making phone calls, visiting sites, and conducting interviews. As an intern myself, I was gaining exposure to real-world skills and applications that I know will help me later on in life. And as I learned more about the internships, the theme of why an internship is important was boldly consistent. In short, there is nothing like having real-world exposure at a young age. It teaches one how to think and act on his or her own feet. The ability to know how people interact with each other outside the classroom cannot be taught, it must be experienced. Internships Arizona is an ever-evolving project and we hope you enjoy the many stories detailing the great things people from Arizona do.

Guest Author:  Lisa Hermann, AZ SciTech Festival Writer

Innovation continues to gain momentum across the state, and KJZZ is working to make sure we’re all part of the wave.  The addition of Innovation Reporter Andrew Bernier this past summer is just the first step of a broader strategy to connect the KJZZ listening audience to a wide swath of stories about our state’s dynamic web of education, research, and industry in the STEM fields.

The station’s Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Stations, Lou Stanley, is announcing a funding award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that will allow the valley-based station to collaborate with KUAT – Tucson, KAWC-Yuma, and KNAU-Flagstaff in the creation of anintrastate network devoted to reporting on multiple dimensions of Arizona innovation.  Stanley explains the CPB funding has come through an effort to match a funding commitment from the Arizona Community Foundation following a conversation started over two years ago about the need to inform the public about STEM in our state. “We asked ourselves, ‘ What would it take to make science and technology reporting happen on a statewide level?’” The idea gelled to create a team of five dedicated, full-time, reporters, each at a regional desk. Additional funds from Arizona Commerce Authority and St. Luke’s Health Initiatives are helping to turn the dream into a reality.

The plan is to weave elements from the innovation reporting team into the local, original content shows that currently run on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.  But Stanley expects KJZZ to expand frequency of these shows in 2015, with ‘a huge increase in coverage’ of the sciences, technologies, health, and health research here in Arizona.  “Biofuel research, breakthroughs in cancer treatments, what’s happening at TGen, and so many great stories of innovation across our state,” Stanley describes. “These are the stories we want people to connect with.”

KJZZ is a distinguished 2014-15 Bronze partner of the Arizona SciTech Festival.