Thinkabit World of Work and Robocrafting Labs

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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Urban Alliance Public Speaking Challenge

Dima Al Falahi


Urban Alliance hosts a Public Speaking Challenge for our Washington DC area interns each year.

They give a $100 bonus to those who are in the top 20% of the rubric metrics.  

Of course we like hearing or seeing the reflections shared by our interns just as much as the great work they do for us.



Nina Le

Jose Perez






Friday, June 15, 2018

Augmented Reality in Falls Church City Public Schools

Last summer our H-B Woodlawn and Yorktown high school interns Ben, Bryan, Alex and Eddy built an augmented reality sandbox with one of long-time favorite teachers Carey Pollock and some great folks from NoVa Labs (retired engineers Nick Carter and Sharon Dempsey).  The NoVa Labs folks built their own the following semester.

Carey aimed even higher, developing a plan with a detailed budget that could be replicated by teachers confidently.  She also applied for funding from the Falls Church Education Fund, which always seems receptive to integrated science and technology learning projects. 

Carey's students finished this week.


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Wearable Technology Workshop

Our CyberJutsu Girls partner put on another great workshop today for girls in grades 5 and up (through high school).


Monday, June 4, 2018

Boolean Girl Fundraiser

Student programs

The key program element of Boolean Girl is a progressive, age-appropriate, long-term learning path for our students. Central to our approach is early and consistent engagement.
In small class sizes facilitated by trained instructors, we provide progressively challenging sets of projects that bridge the middle school years. We know our content appeals to girls, because we’ve tested, refined, and improved it. We’ve taught hundreds of girls in camps and schools, and we’ve found a couple of broad themes: girls tend to like projects that have a story; they tend to gravitate toward collaborative work; and they tend to be less interested in skill-based video games like pong. Instead of the traditional computing environment in which girls are opting out, our girls opt in and crave more complex projects. Our goal is to prepare girls to start high school on equal footing with the boys, ready to join the high school coding classes.

Events to inspire and raise awareness

We also introduce girls to the basics of programming through workshops and hour-of-code events sponsored by corporations, community organizations, and other entities. These events are an exciting way to jumpstart a girl’s interest in computer programming, but the events are just the beginning! Our goal with hour-of-code events, day long hack-a-thons, and workshops is to generate interest in launching a series of events or a local club so girls can experience continued exposure to coding.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Our 2017-2018 Graduate Assistant


 Our thoughtful, flexible, adaptable,
 innovative, curious, observant, and simply
 indispensable graduate assistant became
  Dr. Wei Sun last week.  

Wei is an electronics and communications engineer, and came to us with a Masters in bilingual technical education. With all of her doctoral coursework completed, this year she wrote and defended her dissertation (in her third language!) in education psychology on statistical modeling of the factors by which young people establish and retain a technical (STEM) identity.



Teaching schematics of series and parallel circuits.
Wei manages things around the Lab intuitively, and not only embraces our mission, but demonstrates it daily. And her everyday reflections have helped us refine nearly every aspect of what we do with administrators, teachers, librarians and other educators, business and nonprofit leaders, and of course thousands of visiting school-age students.
Robot and servo motor repair.

 Wei has also taken a big leadership role in working with and training more than 20 regular high school interns.

Dr. Wei Sun and five of our terrific Urban Alliance interns (Jose, Aisha, Dima, Nina, and Anfal).




Saturday, May 12, 2018

Girl's Technovation 2018 Event

Today more than 70 middle and high school girls presented a long list of innovative projects, mostly mobile apps, with an emphasis on equity and social justice.  Anyone listening would leave optimistic about iGen/Gen Z and their willingness and ability to tackle future problems.

The middle school presentations room was overflowing.

Helping these all-volunteer nonprofits fits with exactly what we say we do as a university:

Through experiential learning, future-focused research, and an inclusive, spirited culture, Virginia Tech strives to accomplish the charge of its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Despite all the challenges of HVAC, room availability, parking lot yellow tape mazes, and 4 pizza 
deliveries (over 40 pizzas), furniture shuffling, and more, we had really, really great outcomes.


Our interns counted the following:
  • Over 70 middle and high school girls (some were in 5th grade)
  • 11 volunteers  
  • 58 parents (estimated - not all stayed)
  • 10 judges and special presenters
Of course we also heard a lot of "I didn't even realize this (campus) was here", which reveals another important outcome of these events. 

A very big thanks to the Library staff who rescued the day when we discovered the HVAC schedule after the rooms had already been booked, invitations sent, and after a scramble to find space at George Mason ran into similar challenges.

Several sponsors from regional technology companies, nonprofits and government agencies were particularly impressed by the event, and suggested follow-up projects.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Faiza finishes her first year of clinical nursing




Our intern Faiza is the master of rebuilding our electronics kits after each group of visitors.  

But she also studies nursing through her high school's nursing program, and this week is her last month of clinical studies while in high school.  When we saw here in her nursing uniform, all the interns demanded we post a photo.


Friday, May 4, 2018

Reminder - Capture the Flag Cyber Security Workshops

Our Cyberjutsu Girls Academy partner is now offering Summer Capture the Flag (CTF) Workshops for 8th-12th grade young ladies in collaboration with and held here at the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ at Virginia Tech. 

The workshops will be held monthly from May 19 to August (typically 4th Saturdays) and are designed to teach foundational skills needed for competing in CTF cyber competitions. 



For more details, see https://womenscyberjutsu.org/mpage/CGA_CTF_WKSHP18

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Support for Urban Alliance

If you've ever had an internship, especially one that changed your career or life more generally, please consider supporting life-changing internships for under-resourced youth supported by one of my favorite non-profits, The Urban Alliance.


Debbie, an Urban Alliance intern at our Virginia Tech Arlington Advanced Research Center, had people in tears describing her internship experience at tonight's fundraiser.

You can support interns like Debbie at https://www.spring2action.org/p2p/38785/team-nova

There are other ways to support these interns, including mentoring an intern at your work, or sponsoring an internship at an Arlington, Alexandria, or Fairfax nonprofit. Send an email to us at Thinkabit@vt.edu or Workforce@vt.edu, or contact Urban Alliance directly at https://theurbanalliance.org/locations/northern-virginia/ 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Capture the Flag Workshops, May through August

Our Cyberjutsu Girls Academy partner is now offering Summer Capture the Flag (CTF) Workshops for 8th-12th grade young ladies in collaboration with and held here at the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ at Virginia Tech. 

The workshops will be held monthly from May to August and are designed to teach foundational skills needed for competing in CTF cyber competitions. 



For more details, see https://womenscyberjutsu.org/mpage/CGA_CTF_WKSHP18

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Thinkabit Lab at SEAS Conference at George Mason University

Virginia's First Lady, Pamela Northam visited while students from George Mason University and Madison HS explored how traffic engineering can be used in social engineering to facilitate environmentally preferred outcomes.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Anfal is Urban Alliance's Intern of the Week!

Our wonderful, reliable intern, Anfal Afrah was recognized by Urban Alliance as their Intern of the Week.

Anfal is a Senior at Jeb Stuart High School (soon to be Justice HS) in Fairfax County. She has been interning at the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ at Virginia Tech since October.  Anfal works collaboratively with her lab partner and classmate Faiza Aadan, and their individual strengths complement each other nicely. Both are interested in health careers and are in LPN training programs, and planning to continue at Northern Virginia Community College next Fall We look forward to Anfal's arrival at work each day. 

Anfal also takes care of several younger siblings, and even brings them to the Lab on her days off while she works on college plans.





Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Northern Virginia Center is closing at 5pm on Tuesday, March 21


Image result for inclement weather


Due to inclement weather, our building will be closed to visitors after 5:30pm tonight.  We'll be in the Lab until that time.  Sorry for the surprise!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Alexandria and Arlington CTAE Joint Advisory Committee Meeting

In the culinary arts kitchen at TC Williams High School, where Chef Craig Scheuerman and his students hosted our joint Career & Technical Education meeting between the Arlington and Alexandria advisory committees. We reviewed data on internships and discussed a web tool to connect students with employers, while enjoying an excellent dinner made by the students. Leaders from business and labor included Dennis Desmond of LiUNA, supporting CTE. Thank you to David Remick for organizing, and Sherri Chapman and Kris Martini for bringing our advisory committees together. And thanks to ACPS School Board member Ronnie Campbell for joining us for dinner and supporting Career & Technical Education.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Community talk on Arlington's smart and secure future

REGISTER HERE.

Wed, March 14, 2018,  6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Arlington County Government

2100 Clarendon Boulevard, 3rd Floor

Join Arlington County CIO Jack Belcher, staff and industry leaders for a community talk on the impact that the Digital Revolution will have on shaping Arlington for a smart and secure future.
Arlington has a long tradition of smart community planning. Explore the increasing role that technology is playing in defining what attributes and amenities will continue to attract people to live, work, and play in our community. The event will include:
  • 6:00 - 6:30 PM - Networking and Light Refreshments
  • 6:30 - 8:00 PM - Panel discussion
This is the sixth event in Arlington County’s Digital Destiny campaign, that explores the impact of the Digital Revolution on defined aspects of life and what it will mean for the future of Arlington, its residents and the business community.

Deep Learning Analytics recognized a fourth year in a row

Our partner Deep Learning Analytics has been recognized again for its growth and diversity.

Deep Learning Analytics Named Arlington ‘Fast Four’ Company for Third Year in a Row


Startup Monday header
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) John Kaufhold had been working at NIH doing deep learning research, but realized he’d be better off working on his own.
So he quit his job in May of 2013 and began Deep Learning Analytics, which is currently based in Rosslyn, just a month later.
Deep learning finds patterns in data. Some examples of deep learning and artificial intelligence are Siri, when the technology learns a user’s voice and transcribes his or her words, and self-driving cars that learn roads and driving patterns over time.
At Deep Learning Analytics, data scientists specifically focus on the content of images, Kaufhold said. In other words, they find things in images and say what they are.
“You can do that in medical, supply chain management, you can do that in biology, you can do that in defense applications. So there are plenty of applications where you can get a lot of economic value from you have an image and then you have to say what’s in it,” Kaufhold said.
Some of the first projects Deep Learning Analytics worked on included analyzing combat casualty care and predicting school dropouts for Arlington Public Schools.
One of the biggest and most surprising projects the startup won was a government program by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on analyzing radar images. DARPA was having a problem looking

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Building your own computer input devices

Makey Makey is a great tool for helping learners of all ages appreciate the broad scope of input devices that could become widely useful in a 5G wireless environment.  Our 9th grade intern Maddy led a workshop today for our CyberJutsu Girls camp and the results were terrific.

More on the Women's Society of  CyberJutsu and the Girls Academy:
 https://womenscyberjutsu.org/

More on Makey Makey kits:  https://makeymakey.com/

Friday, March 9, 2018

Part-time Instructor Positions

Please share this with any terrific teachers/former teachers in your DC/Northern Virginia circles who might be interested in part-time instructor roles at our Lab at the VT/UVA campus at West Falls Church metro. Positions are available this Spring and early Summer, but also again in August/September.

No grades or paperwork, but lots of innovation and optional research opportunities. We also help to build maker spaces in regional schools.

We're looking for great instructors (who genuinely, demonstrably enjoy working with kids) interested in working 8 to 20 hours a week, primarily 9:30am to 1:30pm, and also with options for those interested in occasional afternoons and Saturdays. Most positions will be 2-3 days per week. Lab visitors are from age 6 to over 70 (but most are 4th-9th grades, teachers, and HS interns).

You'll learn a lot of new skills that are very relevant to new and proposed public school requirements for computer science, technology and engineering education, arts integration, technical career exploration, robotics and maker space design and instruction. We will also help licensed teachers expand your teacher certifications.

Interested teachers can apply through the formal university process.

Assistant Instructor position(s) - https://listings.jobs.vt.edu/postings/84466

Lead Instructor position(s) - https://listings.jobs.vt.edu/postings/84467


For more information, contact Thinkabit@vt.edu

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Poe Middle School STEAM Lab

Jessica Ittayem and her students are teaching us all kinds of new things in their Poe MS STEAM Lab, one of our first "Inspired by Qualcomm" Labs.  Her approach to Project-Based Learning hits all the metrics of student voice and choice, real -world problems, student autonomy, and real audiences.

Their ongoing weather unit featured a visit by WJLA/ABC 7 meteorologist Veronica Johnson.




Day 2 (of probably 3 or more) of 3D Printer Building

Our colleagues in Fairfax County Libraries invited us to participate in 3D printer building in January and then again today.  We're using the Build notes provided by NOVA Labs, of which we're active members.

Library staff meet in our Lab monthly and explore a wide variety of technologies relevant to IOT, Smart Cities, and our future workforce.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Instructor Opportunities at our Lab!


Human Resources published our instructor position descriptions today!

Please share this with any terrific teachers/former teachers in your DC / Northern Virginia circles who might be interested in part-time instructor roles at our Lab at the VT/UVA campus at West Falls Church metro. Positions are available this Spring and early Summer, but also again in August/September, and interested teachers can interview now regardless of their immediate availability.

No grades or paperwork, or planning, but lots of innovation and optional research opportunities. We also help to build maker spaces in regional schools.

We're looking for great instructors (who genuinely, demonstrably enjoy working with kids) interested in working 8 to 20 hours a week. We can offer flexibility in how that might work, but primarily 9:30am to 1:30pm, and also with options for someone interested in occasional afternoons and Saturdays. Most positions will be 2-3 days per week, also with the flexibility of alternating or skipping weeks. We can also provide week-to-week flexibility for other priorities and travel.

Lab visitors are from age 6 to over 70 (but most are 4th-9th grades).

You'll learn a lot of new skills that are very relevant to new and proposed school requirements for computer science, technology and engineering education, arts integration, technical career exploration, and maker space design and instruction.

Apply through the formal university process but please also let the Director (see below) know you applied.

Assistant Instructor position(s)https://listings.jobs.vt.edu/postings/84466

Lead Instructor position(s) - https://listings.jobs.vt.edu/postings/84467

To get more information, please contact
Jim Egenrieder, Research Faculty and Director,  JimE@vt.edu  or  571-482-8298


Monday, February 19, 2018

Virginia Tech CyberX in the State Budget

excerpted from Richmond Times Dispatch:

CyberX

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the proposed House budget is a plan to spend $40 million in the second year to establish the CyberX program in Northern Virginia. The ambitious initiative would be led by Virginia Tech to push higher education research and master’s degree programs for cybersecurity, data analysis and computer science, and unmanned vehicle systems in partnership with those growing high-tech industries.

The CyberX plan would establish a research and educational institute in leased facilities in Tysons Corner in Fairfax County that would serve as the hub of a new program connecting the “spokes” of research colleges and universities across the state — the University of Virginia, Old Dominion, George Mason, James Madison, Norfolk State and several community colleges federally certified for their cybersecurity programs.

The program would offer a five-year plan spanning three years of undergraduate study, a year of internship, and a year of master’s work in sought-after fields.

The plan envisions an additional $50 million in privately raised money to help recruit top researchers who would hold dual appointments for CyberX and their respective higher education institutions, which also would pay a share of the cost. The proposed budget also includes $10 million in unused

Friday, February 16, 2018

Girls Create Solar Tent for the Homeless

From Mashable (last year):


"We wanted to offer something besides money," her classmate, Veronica Gonzalez, chimes in.
That was the starting point for their invention: a solar-powered tent that folds up into a rollaway backpack. The girls and 10 others from their high school had never done any hands-on engineering work before, but with the help of YouTube, Google, and trial-and-error, they got it done.
They hope that one day, their tent will improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness in their community. 
The teen girls from San Fernando High School worked on their invention over the course of a year. On June 16, they presented it at MIT as part of a young inventors conference. The teens, none of whom had coded, soldered, sewn, or 3D-printed before they joined forces, won a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program to develop the invention. 
They were recruited by DIY Girls, a nonprofit that teaches girls from low-income communities about engineering, math, and science, to go after the

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Aisha is the Urban Alliance Intern of the Week

Urban Alliance recognized our own Aisha Ali this week.

UA Intern of the Week: Aisha Ali

Aisha interns at Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™ at Virginia Tech under the leadership of her mentor, Dr. Jim Egenrieder. Aisha’s mentor stated that she has emerged as a leader at Virginia Tech Lab. She is modest, but uncommonly thoughtful, intuitive, and competent in everything she tries. The Thinkabit Lab setting is admittedly more like graduate school or a tech startup than perhaps a traditional work place, but her mentor stated that she can thrive anywhere.

Her mentor also also stated that “Aisha is the go-to person for special research projects, but also a skilled designer, programmer, and troubleshooter that regularly volunteers to teach others. She has a great sense of humor and is thoroughly enjoyable as a collaborator.” Dr. Egenrieder looks forward to any opportunity to advance Aisha’s education and career interest. He stated, “I knows that she will make me proud to have been a very small part of her many inevitable successes.”

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Harrisonburg STEM Office (and Thinkabit Labs) wins Title 4 grant


Image result for amy sabarre


Our colleague Amy Sabarre will be sending 20 teachers to CTA for computer coursework, then developing a 1-week summer school curriculum for summer school students around CS, cyber hygiene, internet safety, and social media.

Amy is also working on a vertical map of CS integrations for elementary and middle in HCPS. She is a prominent example of how all of our Thinkabit partnerships take us in new, better, broader directions.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Dogwood 4th grade Engineers

Photos courtesy of Dogwood Elementary School.

Our university teaching lab regularly has visitors from 8 to 88, from kindergartners to doctoral students to retired lifelong learners. These photos are from 4th grade engineers from Dogwood Elementary School, one of our favorite partner schools.

(With Wei Sun, Jackie Kwon, Mark Moseley, Terry Freeman, Elise Barth, and Tara Murphy). - Photos by Jackie.

Monday, January 22, 2018

AT&T and Verizon 5G


5g

from Business Insider.

AT&T's and Verizon's 5G networks are coming this year, and your internet speeds will be insanely fast when they arrive.

AT&T announced that it would begin rolling out its mobile 5G network later this year.

That now makes for two major telecommunication companies in the US that will offer 5G networks in 2018, as Verizon said late last year that it would also be rolling out its 5G network.

Verizon and AT&T haven't explicitly stated the speeds we can expect when their 5G networks arrive, but we know that they will be much faster the 4G LTE mobile networks we have today. And they even have the potential to be faster than wired internet connections, too.

When the 5G wireless standard hits the mainstream, our mobile and home internet speeds have the potential to be so fast that we'll be downloading 4K movies, games, apps, and any other large form of content at a fraction of the time.

More here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thinkabit Intern recognized by Urban Alliance

         Intern of the week: Nina Le!

Nina Le is this week's UA Intern of the Week!  Nina interns at our Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab at Virginia Tech under the leadership of her mentor Jim Egenrieder. 


Nina has been doing an exceptional job, forming formed meaningful bonds with interns from her group and from other schools, demonstrating great interpersonal skills. 
Jim described her as the prefect liaison and diplomat who makes everyone feel connected regardless of where they’re from and always willing to help others with their assigned projects. 



Friday, January 5, 2018

CSC Meteorology Workshop - January 6

Got an aspiring meteorologist in your family? WUSA Channel 9 Winter Weather Workshop this Saturday with meteorologists Topper Shutt and Melissa Nord.

More details at
https://childsci.org/event/wusa9-winter-weather-workshop/
— at Children's Science Center.

Monday, January 1, 2018

JC Parry - Aviation, Technology and Engineering Education, and Technical Drawing Teacher

JC Parry, Aviation and Engineering Teacher
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.

Jim Egenrieder  -  JimE@vt.edu