Saturday, August 30, 2008

inspiring kids to learn about technology

Computer Science is awesome, but it needs our support. For some crazy reason enrollment is declining. I don't get why; its one of the best jobs ever. Building the newest and coolest technology is so much fun and so challenging. I don't get why kids are eating it up. Nevertheless, things aren't that great in the computer science field these days. here is a little quote from a recent google blog

At a time when more and more digital technologies are becoming indispensable to millions of people, the field of computer science (CS) is in trouble. Enrollment and retention of CS students, particularly those historically underrepresented in the field (women, African-Americans, Native-Americans, and Hispanics) has declined sharply. According to the Computing Research Association, CS enrollment in the U.S. was at its peak in 2000, with 15,958 undergrads. By 2006, enrollment declined by roughly half: 7,798 undergrads. And enrollment among already-underrepresented groups has dropped even more sharply.

i totally think we need to promote computer science to kids in grade school to get the more interested and inspired to want to join our field. i would like to really figure out how i can do that in hawaii. so far, i've been limited to events like lacy veach day of discovery and the college of engineering junior expo. those were awesome events, but i want to reach a broader audience. i often wonder how much career guidance is done in elementary and intermediate schools. do we do any at all? do we need to do more? can industry participate.

here is one idea to reach kids; Pathways in Computer Science. this video is put together by the university of washington Computer Science & Engineering school. its a pretty good video that explains why the students got interested in computer science (its probably appropriate for intermediate kids).

wouldn't it be cool if all students in hawaii watched this video? how would i go about doing that?

btw, UWCSE has a lot of other videos. check it out here.

or maybe we need to teach innovation!
standford's entrepreneurship week is another attempt to foster creativity and innovation. the cool thing is that this creativity and innovation eventually leads to technology.


there are so many great resources here:
  • imagine it! - What would happen if you gave thousands of students around the world a single pad of Post-it® Notes and challenged them to innovate... in one week! What would they do? How would they use their imaginations? What would they create? This is the story behind the first film in the documentary series imagine it! (you can download this version).
  • imagine it2! - Imagine It!² ("squared") weighs in on the most important conversation of our time. Imagination, creativity and innovation can unleash human potential to help solve the world's grand challenges. Imagine It!² proves that positive is greater than negative, and in the process takes you on a journey to a brighter, more prosperous future, where the next generation engages their curiosity in ways we can only imagine. Imagine It!² isn't just a movie…it's a movement.
  • winners of the 2008 innovation tournament - These videos were recognized at the Stanford Innovation Tournament Showcase. Teams were given one week to create value from rubber bands and then documented their work with video. Click on the links below to see the winning submissions and other videos that were recognized.
  • Thursday, August 28, 2008

    should have tried to do the android competition 2

    a few months ago i wrote about should have trying the android competition. a couple of cool things about this post was a guy named Jeffrey Sharkey had a similar idea than i had. jeff's idea was called android scan. another cool thing was my post had a comment from software by rob (well at least i think its him):
    This is a good idea; I've discussed this exact concept with a few different people over the past year. I'm glad someone finally executed on it.

    I actually explored it pretty intently about 6 months ago and started to put a team together to pursue it, but decided against it due to lack of resources and time - apropos given my quote. I knew I'd have to shut down my consulting business and go full force at this one for it to have a chance at working, and the timing wasn't right.

    You're on the right track. Let me know when you have another idea like this one :-)

    anyway, back to jeff and his android work. i just found out that jeff's android scan has made it all the way to the 275K prize. congrats goes out to him. he slightly changed the name and the description; but CompareEverywhere still has similar ideas that i had. oh well, i suck and jeff rocks.

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    guy kawasaki on bytemarks cafe

    guy kawasaki was on bytemarks cafe the other day. i got a little quote (from the hawaii blog) about what he said on hawaii education.

    Calling himself a “supply-side guy,” he said the best thing Hawaii could do is “to properly fund and create the school of Engineering at the University of Hawaii.”

    “If you have a great School of Engineering, you have great engineering professors and great students and those great students will come up with great ideas. And if you have students with ideas, the money will flow, the corporate financial attorneys will flow, the PR firms will flow… everything is because of two guys in a garage with a great idea. Yes, you can create funds to make that easier for two guys in a garage, but if you don’t have two guys in a garage, it doesn’t matter how many funds you have.”

    first of all, i absolutely agree. its all about the students and generating awesome talent. but, i'd like to point out to mr kawasaki that there is a College of Engineering and a Department of Information and Computer Sciences.

    I felt like i had to make this comment because I'm starting an ICS alumni group, and its hard to shine the spotlight on the smaller ICS department. in general there is a lot of support for the CoE, but not so much for the ICS department (for example the engineering banquet vs the ics alumni lunch). my goal is to change this. even if it takes one student at a time; i'm going help make them awesome.

    and you can help me! check out the ICS topcoder competition.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Dept ICS TopCoder Software Engineering Competition

    YES!!!! this is going to be awesome.


    Exciting news! The department is putting on a coding competition (see
    the ics website). This is great news and should be a really fun experience for the students.

    We are planning to support the department by providing mentors for the teams and prizes. I'm coordinating our support effort and have been in communication with Dr. Ikehara. The wheels are already in motion:

    - Tomorrow I'm meeting with a few of the alumni that have already volunteered to help.
    - I have already talked with a couple of the Dual Use companies about donations for prizes and general support
    - I'm looking into forming a formal alumni association; non-profit organization. i'll hopefully setup a meeting with the College of Engineering alumni association soon.
    - We are considering changing to use NING instead of Google Groups for our ICS alumni website.

    There is so much to do. But, I'm so happy that the department has made a commitment to the students. And I think that they really need our support to keep these sorts of events and activities alive.

    Please let me know if you can help in anyway. A few very small things that you can do now is
    1) spread the word about the competition
    2) find the ICS alumnis in your company and spread the word about the ics alumni association

    thanks, Aaron Kagawa

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    ics alumni association for real this time

    okay, so i'm really going to start to push for an alumni association for the department of information computer sciences at the university of hawaii. the department has some needs that i need to organize to support. here are some of my tentative action items in no particular order:
    1) form an official no profit organization
    2) talk to our accountant to see how best to handle money
    3) decide on whether to use NING to host our ICS alumni club
    4) form a board; we need a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer
    5) find donations for an upcoming event
    6) find mentors for an upcoming event

    thats a pretty big list. i better get started really soon. anyone want to help?

    Friday, August 1, 2008

    2008 high tech leaders questions

    i got an email that i was nominated for the 2008 high tech leaders awards. i think the deadline is tomorrow, so i have to rush to get the answers out. hopefully, i'm not too late.

    here are some questions that i'm working on. this might be a work in progress through out tomorrow.

    Memberships in apst and current professional organizations (board memberships, trade organizations, etc) dates of affiliations, and offices held:

    um.. none. :) that was easy.

    Affiliations with past and current volunteer organizations (church, school, charity, etc.) dates of affiliation, and offices held:

    I'm working on starting the University of Hawaii Department of Information and Computer Sciences Alumni Association. This is a work in progress as there has never been an alumni association for the department.

    1) In your primary responsibilities at work, how do you use technology to improve or advance your organization?

    At Referentia Systems, Inc I am an engineering supervisor and technical lead. Part of my duties as such is to provide technical leadership to my projects and department as a whole. I help my company by providing software design, quality, and process expertise. As an example, I am a part of a leadership team that is developing business processes to help manage and improve our entire company.

    How do you contributions to professional organizations demonstrate your commitment to excellence in your profession?

    I am a volunteer member of the Collaborative Software Development Laboratory. In this organization we work on open source software that was created by the University of Hawaii at Manoa. This year, we won a grant from Google, Inc to mentor students on a summer project. My contributions to CSDL is one way for me to give back by helping mentor students and project members and to just help put Hawaii on the technology map.

    Where do you see Hawaii's technology industry in five years? How have you helped to realize this vision?

    My goal is that in 5-10 years that Hawaii has jobs that rival jobs in companies like Google. I believe we can get there. We must nurture our students and industry and continue to grow our expertise. I try to play my part, by working with students of all ages. I have helped to setup and participate in high school career fairs, technology showcases for high school and intermediate students, mentoring of university students, and events like the Lacy Veach day of discovery or the College of Engineering Junior Expo. I work with students, interns, and even write blogs to do everything I can to try to help Hawaii's students.

    How do you "give back" to the community (need not be technology related)?

    When I was younger, I was able to spend a lot of my time volunteering and coaching for Little League Baseball. Since entering into my career, my involvement slowly halted to a stop. I've realized that I needed to give back in other ways. Through my company, I started several community initiatives; student activities and mentoring events, a Lokahi Family Adoption drive, a yearly Hawaii foodbank drive, and other community service events. I had a lot of support from my company and coworkers. The evens were such a success that I won the first annual Referentia Community Service award.

    hm.. i wrote this fairly quickly. what do you think? i guess i need to work on it a lot more tomorrow....