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Arizona SciTech Blog

This blog is courtesy of the Arizona SciTech Festival.

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.

Guest Author:  Uly Siregar, AZ SciTech Festival Writer

If there’s a company in Arizona that proudly builds its reputation by making innovation work, that would be Phoenix Analysis Design and Technologies (PADT). The company is the Southwest’s leading provider of engineering services and products for Simulation, Product Development, and Rapid Prototyping. The company uses technologies in their core business equipped with recognized leaders in their areas of expertise.

PADT breathes technology. The company always keeps up with the latest technology happenings. “At the beginning of the year, we installed our Connex3 Color 3D printer. The Connex3 is the first of its kind, able to blend colors and material types in a single build,” says Joshua Heaps, PADT’s administrator, Business Operations, and Development.

With the 3D printer, PADT has established an awesome tradition of creating Arizona SciTech trophies. “Dr. Jeremy Babendure (executive director, AZ SciTech Festival) contacted us one day after seeing that we made the awards for the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation event.  The trophies were unique and were a great showcase for 3D printing.  We have done the awards for every AZ SciTech Festival so far and plan to continue for as long as the Festival does,” he says.

The company grows significantly, probably because it succeeds in applying its core philosophy: to provide flexible solutions of a higher quality in less time for less money. After all, what client doesn’t appreciate that kind of promise? The result is definitely positive. Now PADT can be found not just in Arizona, but also in three other states.  “Just recently we opened a support office in Utah. This office, along with Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, make four states with a physical PADT presence,” Heaps states.

A career at PADT seems to promise a bright future. The company treats the staff as its most important asset. They ensure that the company is dedicated to exceeding its customer’s expectations. To achieve this goal, PADT hires graduates from some of the top universities in the country, and brings experienced experts on board who have worked for industry-leading companies in the past.

Now, if you’re still a student wishing to work for the company someday, what can you do to prepare for this opportunity? “Try to learn as much as you can about as many things as you can. If you don’t know how something works, take it apart and figure it out. Don’t stop with learning, do things.  Join a robotics or computer-programming club at school.  In college, make sure your professors know who you are, tell them your career interests and ask for their advice about it,” Heaps advises.

Heaps recommends that students build a good relationship with their teacher in order to launch their career in the industries. “Most university professors are very well connected in the industries that they teach on and often have great perspectives.  The people who work at PADT (engineers, administrators, salespeople) are experts in their fields.  They have a top-notch education and the real-life experience to back it up,” he adds.

As a STEM-based company, PADT sees science and technology education is very important. Unfortunately, some people are discouraged from pursuing engineering and technology-related careers because they think that it is limited to math, spreadsheets, and computer simulations of jet engines. “Yes, those things are part of it.  But the core of what engineers do is identifying problems and working out systematic solutions to them.  Maybe the first solution doesn’t work or isn’t very good.  That’s okay.  Document the failed attempt and start again, this time with all the knowledge and experience from the first time under your belt.  The process has improvement built into it by design,” Heaps explains.

In the long run, the ability to think critically and figure things out is what actually allows human beings to understand universe, and then, to make it better. “Today’s students are tomorrow’s employees, customers, and partners.  The world can never have enough people who aren’t afraid to face challenging problems head on,” Heaps adds.

So, students take up the challenge and work on it!

PADT is a distinguished Bronze partner of the 2014-15 AZ SciTech Festival.


2STEM Matters

S.T.E.M. Matters Manager: Marisa Ostos 

S.T.E.M. is all around us, from the moment we wake up with the warmth of the sun to the time we go to sleep with wane of the moon. Both you and your family experience it wherever you go. It may be possible that you’ve looked down at your beautiful child and been in awe at how life could produce life, while wanting the best for your little one. But have you ever wondered if they might have the chance to go into the S.T.E.M. fields later on and actually enjoy it? Well, they do!

The world of future career possibilities involving S.T.E.M. is endless, and new career paths are constantly being shaped and developed with our ever-expanding world of technology and discovery. Yes, you may have wondered if they might become doctors or engineers someday, but those professions make up just a small percentage of all the possibilities that are out there!

Take a minute and observe your child. What do they love to do? Do they constantly come inside with dirty hands due to their love of capturing water-bugs? Do they spend those extra few seconds looking up at the stars? Do they have fun learning about the uncovering of King Tut’s tomb? All of these are enjoyments that can be fostered, and all are related to S.T.E.M.! Yes, you may be familiar with the career-ideas of an astronomer, or an archaeologist, but even if they have the slightest interest in anything S.T.E.M.-related, it’s possible to turn that interest into a future career, one they would love doing each day.

There are researchers who set traps for bugs and observe their life-cycles. There are music therapists who use the science behind hearing/language/and the like as a therapy for others. There are people whose careers can involve making sure that a scene in a movie depicts the science and engineering behind a space-launch. The possibilities really are endless, and it’s all a matter of knowing that your child, whether young or adult-age, has so many options that they may not even know that their future career exists! S.T.E.M. is quite exciting in and of itself, and it’s potential for future career opportunities just keeps growing!

2Ted Kraver

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

Every once in while entities from individuals to nations have to take a step back and reposition themselves. For the most successful the challenge is the toughest. There are few reasons to challenge past decisions and current pathway.  Sports teams work this problem in the off season. Students face this challenge during high school graduation. In my rural town in the 1950s both genders were very engaged in high school which had defined their life. At that time, most girls did not go to college or into the military both many boys did.  During my HS reunion was talking with a group of lady classmates. They related their day-after-graduation stores of an overnight loss of purpose and fading self-image.

STEM institutions also have this problem but in a much different way. Usually they are hugely successful as they survive the startup phase, experience rapid growth and then coast into successful maturity. They may be ranked number one in the world. But long range studies have shown that many of the top ten corporations 20 years ago are no longer on the list. What about STEM colleges?

MIT, Cal Tech, Harvey Mud, and many other STEM colleges have been in the top ten ratings for decades. Recently Georgia Tech has claimed that MIT is the Georgia Tech of the north. Because of rapid population growth of a factor of 7 (seven) over the past 50 years, Arizona’s two largest public STEM colleges have had the leadership[, resources and growth spurt over the last 60 years  to move into the top 50 rank.  The question for Arizona STEM advocates is how to make the next giant step in quality into the top 20 STEM Colleges. One of the means touted by the AZ Capital Times higher education panel was to use exemplar schools as models.

MIT’s planning and design has been based on pedagogical innovations starting with hands on problem-solving in 1861. The Institute then evolved with learning communities using theories of Piaget and Papert. After WWII the 1949 Institute plan was built on lessons from the rapidly shifting global, technological, economic and political landscape. The planning frequency has increased along with rapidly increasing changes in civilization. The 1998 plan addressed the information revolution.  The 2006 plan focused on undergraduate institute requirements. Their current July 28, 2014 task force report in the Future of MIT Education includes a comprehensive situation assessment of higher education and MIT’s emerging challenges for the next couple of decades. The result was 18 critical issues that started with: Extending learning to the global community with its growing demand at all socio-economic levels while addressing escalating cost.

The strategic pathway includes flexible degrees with a  mix of school, research, service and professional work. A driver is would be an initiative for bold experimentation to transform pedagogy of undergraduate education including online and blended learning, learning communities, service opportunities, maker faculties everywhere and access to graduate curriculum. Then extend these residential innovations to the world based on MITx and edX experience by using OpenCourseWare Educator. Class modularity, game-based learning, open ended problem discussion, and partnering with other colleges are the means to this end. Challenges that must be undertaken  are 22%/78% female/male MITx participant, a knowledge base for the 1000 edX communities, and in integrated strategy for the MIT’s 80 K-12 programs  To support both current and new MIT, plus the world engagement require creating certificates, pricing of services , improving access and affordability, and expanded fundraising activities.

Talk to any successful entrepreneur and he will tell you of the ideas of others that he has used.   Arizona higher education must put on the boots of and entrepreneur to repositions itself for Arizona’s Great Second Double Decade of the 21st Century.

2Ted Kraver

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

Many ideologists call for tax reductions and decreased public spending to improve the economy —a scheme that has been proven to do the exact opposite.  Unfortunately, some of these leaders have been successful and we have paid a high price. Our nation’s public debt has soared into the $Trillions. Our nation’s public roads and much of our other transport infrastructure are deteriorating for lack of maintenance, repair and upgrades as traffic levels and cargo weights increase. As a result we waste a $100 Billion a year in time and gasoline because a low gasoline tax. In Arizona our annual investment per student in education is of the lowest in the nation assuring that a large percentage of students fail to receive an education which addresses their needs.

History tells us that USA’s rise to dominance has been due to our 200 year history of funding public schools for the three R’s (steM), the creation of public high schools (SteM), and finally our public career education schools and college system (STEM).  Each period of history has had a huge increase in USA economic power and citizen well-being caused by wise government investment in emerging technologies. In the 19th century it was steam boats, railroads and water ways. The 20th century saw huge dams, the Panama Canal, airports and aviation breakthroughs, and bio-medical products, the rural electric grid and Tennessee Valley Authority, the Eisenhower highway system, and then the Internet.  Each of these required immense amounts of public funding for emerging technologies that were sourced from taxes.

“Tax and Spend and Prosper” was the way of our forbearers. When  an anti-tax sentiment problem arose they addressed it. General George Washington and his patriots crushed the Whiskey Rebellion which was all about not paying taxes. More recently other rich countries have raised taxes commensurate with the needs of their citizens. In the USA our taxes have been constant as a percent of Gross National Product for 60 years. Compared to peer countries our wealthy individuals and corporations pay lower income taxes.  As a result our system of leadership fails to fully implement the findings, knowledge and skills of our scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians for our nation’s advantage.

I believe that a major cause of the current decades of the Great Recession, unique in the history of our nation, is the lack of bold risk taking by our leaders. The Arizona STEM research and practice has produced the “know how” and talent  pouring out of our and public research universities and driving high tech enterprises . The scope is broad from electronic to biotech to aerospace to education technologies. What we need are folks in leadership that will implement a STEM based “Tax – Spend” vision in the public sector to support the “Prosper” in the private sector and for our citizens.

We have an opportunity between now and November 4th,  election day. Do your part.

Reference: Porsches, Potholes and Patriots, Nicholas Kristof, NY Times, July 3rd, 2014.

2STEM Matters

S.T.E.M. Matters Manager: Marisa Ostos

It’s common knowledge that we as humans need water to live, but why is this? What makes water so vital to our own survival?

If we start at the molecular level, we’ll find that each cell within our body contains organelles, enzymes, genetic material (DNA), and such which help us to survive. Regardless of all this, each cells contains mostly empty space, with this empty space being taken up by a liquid called the cytosol, which again is largely water. The liquid cytosol, along with the organelles, enzymes, and such all work together to help each individual cell function and survive. Without this organization, and without each part of the cell serving its proper function, the cell would not survive. As our bodies are made up of cells, the proper functioning of each cell is important to our own health.

On a larger level, water is known as the “universal solvent,” necessary to all organisms’ surival. As you know, water is made up of H2O: 2 molecules of hydrogen and 1 molecule of oxygen. Our own bodies undergo a number of chemical processes that utilize water or the elements within water, one example being the “citric acid cycle” which helps to create energy for our bodies. Looking at an even larger scale, water does a number of things for our bodies including, but not limited to the following: thinning the blood which helps decrease our risk of heart attack; lowering blood presure; helping us to feel less hungry; flushing out toxins; regulating our body temperature; and more [BestRealHealth].

All in all, water is such an important chemical that we (and pretty much all organisms) quite literally would not survive without it. This is why, in searching for life on other planets, astronomers and such search for signs of water. For life as we know it, water is necessary to survival, so drink up!

*Sources: http://0.tqn.com/d/chemistry/1/S/F/m/citricacidcycle.jpg, http://bestrealhealth.com/science-water/



Por Carmen Cornejo: Coordinadora de Relaciones Hispanas; Propietaria: Critical Mass Communications, LLC.

Imagina a un niño enfermo que vive en una pequeña y remota villa en México, lejos de servicios médicos especializados que permitan diagnosticar y tratar un problema cardiaco. Imagina la frustración y desesperación de su familia que no tendría recursos para hacer un viaje a una gran ciudad y hacer que ese niño sea tratado por un prestigioso cardiólogo. Entra en escena el  Dr. Iglesias, quien está preocupado en llevar servicios médicos especializados a muchas comunidades gracias a su proyecto de medicina a distancia, o telemedicina. El y su equipo pueden llevar servicios de salud a ese niño y paz a su familia, conectando el pequeño paciente y servicios médicos a larga distancia a través de la tecnología.

El Dr. Carlos G. Iglesias es un médico Mexicano que reúne socios y expertos en campos de la alta tecnología para llevar servicios de diagnóstico y tratamiento médico a distancia para que llegue a comunidades lejanas con su compañía Tecnologías NeteMedical.

Su proyecto de telemedicina adapta hardware y software para construir estaciones de computadoras que auxilian en el examen de pacientes, manejo de records médicos, toma videos, fotografía y conecta estas estaciones con doctores especialistas y hospitales, compartiendo la información regulada por estrictos códigos éticos y de protección de privacidad. Technologías NeteMedical usa multimedia en alta definición para recolectar la información de los pacientes, además de información por escrito para hacer diagnósticos posibles.

El Dr. Iglesias está comprometido a llevar el acceso a sistemas de salud de una manera rápida, eficiente, con más opciones y de alta calidad, no importa donde se encuentre el paciente

Su proyecto ha recibido reconocimientos y premios de compañías de Estados Unidos de alta tecnología como  Microsoft and Intel. Aquí esta un video del proyecto.

“Nuestro sistema de telemedicina reduce costos de una manera increíble,” explica el Dr. Carlos Iglesias. “Tú puedes rápidamente conectar a especialistas médicos entrenados con un paciente, donde quiera que se encuentre, aún que este se encuentre en una villa remota. Tú puedes tener a los más prestigiados especialistas atendiendo pacientes inmediatamente.”

Actualmente Tecnologías NeteMedical  está trabajando en hacer estaciones de diagnostico aún mas portátiles con la integración de tabletas y aún teléfonos móviles al sistema, además de encontrar aplicaciones adicionales para otros mercados médicos en países en desarrollo.

Sus productos son actualmente usados en México y Tecnologías NeteMedical está en negociaciones para llevar la telemedicina a Guatemala, Africa y Brazil.

Para más información sobre este interesante proyecto STEM, SIGUE ESTA LIGA.