The mission of the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ at Virginia Tech, National Capital Region, is to serve Washington, D.C. area students, teachers, administrators, parents, and collaborators in technical career exploration and the hands-on electronic and programming foundations of IOT and Smart Cities sensors, actuators, and data collection and analysis. In doing so, we are preparing our future STEM workforce and our increasingly diverse, technology-driven community for jobs that may not yet exist. VT-Thinkabit will work with like-minded teams, organizations and individuals interested in promoting curiosity, innovation, creativity, and students’ self-actualization and self-determination.
JC Parry was a long-serving Aviation and Engineering teacher in several schools in Arlington Public Schools: the Arlington Career Center, the Governor's STEM Academy in Arlington, and H-B Woodlawn. He died last night on New Year's Eve, after a 2.5 year battle with pancreatic cancer. A memorial service is planned for JC on February 10, which would have been his 70th birthday.
The STEM acronym was created in Arlington in 2001. And JC Parry was an important part of just about every STEM initiative in Northern Virginia in that first decade and beyond. He pioneered many statewide courses in Engineering Education, and participated in all of our regional Math in CTE (Career and Technical Education), and STEM and CTE programs promoting interdisciplinary teaching.
Of course, as an Air Force Captain and engineer, JC inspired many young pilots in Arlington, who secured their initial pilot license through him. Many also had their first flying experience with JC, as he regularly volunteered his time on weekends at the Manassas Airport.
JC was a foundational instructor for the first Governor's Career and Technical Academy (in Arlington), the Governor's STEM Academy that became the foundation for Arlington Tech in 2016. He was a leader in dual enrollment initiatives with Northern Virginia Community College, and he was my go-to teacher for piloting initiatives for the new Northern Virginia STEM program, Systemic Solutions, back in 2013. He helped us significantly with the many other regional initiatives, always offering his classroom for Chamber of Commerce Education and Workforce meetings, many pilot programs for Arlington Community Learning, and connecting parents and the businesses community to the Arlington Career Center.
We started teaching together at the Career Center together at the turn of the century, and even shared an office for several years.
FRONT, from left: Marshall Webster of Mary Riley Styles Public Library; Senior Center volunteers Debbie Massey and Ellen Salsbury; Dr. Diane Murphy and Associate Provost Bridget Murphy of Marymount University; Danny Schlitt, director of the Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department. Back, from left: City Council members Letty Hardi, Karen Oliver, David Snyder, Mayor David Tarter, Vice Mayor Marybeth Connelly, Phil Duncan and Dan Sze. (Photo: City of Falls Church)
Dr. Diane Murphy, a Marymount University (MU) professor, was commended by Falls Church Senior Center volunteers and the Falls Church City Council on Nov. 27 for her work in helping seniors learn and adapt to new technologies.
“She has relieved technology anxiety for a lot of us,” Ellen Salsbury, a volunteer, said. “She brings in graduate students to assist in our tech classes, and as a result we seniors are much more comfortable with technology and social media. We’re even texting!”
Salsbury introduced Professor Murphy, and Bridget Murphy, associate provost, who accepted a plaque from Falls Church Mayor David Tarter “in appreciation of the Marymount University faculty volunteers for exceptional generosity and expertise in providing outstanding practical and academic classes that enrich the lives of seniors.”
Salsbury said 11 different Marymount faculty members had volunteered their time and more than 220 seniors had been enrolled in eight classes since the partnership began in 2014. She credited Dr. Liane M. Summerfield, an MU professor who was then associate vice president for academic affairs, with helping start the popular classes.
Dr. Murphy, chair of Marymount University’s Information Technology, Management Sciences and Cybersecurity Department, has enjoyed her involvement.
“It’s been very satisfying to teach seniors the technology that has been promoted by their children and grandchildren and see them develop some skills,” she said.
Falls Church Recreation and Parks Director Daniel Schlitt said that since MU became involved they’ve helped take the Senior Center workshops “over the top.”
Cedar Point Elementary School is one of the first schools in Virginia to get its own version of the Thinkabit Lab. More and more labs like Cedar Point’s have popped up all over the Mid-Atlantic, with plans of opening as far as New York. Read More
One of the best discoveries among our school partners is that visiting school groups get a solid two hours or more of coding experience in an Arduino-based C++ language similar very similar to the programming language supporting their cell phones and school robots, and many, many other things in our daily lives. Best of all, they apply their program to real, moving circuits, sensors and/or actuators. Then we provide loaner kits for teachers to extend learning back at their schools.