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June 7 Newsletter


Welcome to the New SIMCAC Weekly Newsletter....
....Where each week, we'll share SIMCAC announcements, member spotlights, local/national industry news, upcoming events, and recaps of past ones! 

Local FIRST Robotics Team 9794, The "Wizard.exe," to join SIMCAC at Upcoming Event on June 26 

We are delighted to announce that the eleven local students who make up FIRST Robotics Team 9794 "Wizard.exe" will be joining us at our upcoming 6/26 SIMCAC event to talk about their recent success and demo their robot! The Wizards.exe received the top award—the “Inspire Award”—at the FIRST Tech Challenge international championships last month and will go on to represent the United States at the 2018 FIRST Global Challenge (FGC ) in Mexico City on August 15, 2018. The FGC is an “Olympics”-style robotics event, where FIRST Global invites one team from every nation to participate in an international robotics challenge that builds bridges between high school students with different backgrounds, language, religions, and customs. For more on the Wizards.exe, see the interview below with their coach/mentor, Pankaj Oberoi. 
Interview with Wizards.exe Lead Mentor and Coach, Pankaj Oberoi
-Tell us a little bit about your team as well as your personal role? 

I am the lead mentor and coach for a FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team called Wizards.exe. The team is formed of 6 girls and 5 boys from 8th grade to 12th grade from 5 different schools in Montgomery County, Maryland. This team was formed 3 years ago, and the 11 kids on the current team have been working together for 2 years. The origins of the team started 6 years ago when I coached and mentoring a FIRST LEGO League (FLL) team and since then, I have mentored over 10 different teams. Many of the current students have been on my FLL teams and love the philosophy of FIRST. On the surface, FIRST programs appear to be about robotics, but they are "More than Robots." In additional to the technical skills the kids learn, it is so important for young students to learn soft skills like communicating with others, marketing their ideas, giving presentations, and working in a team.  

Above: The Wizards.exe with Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST Robotics 

-The Wizards.exe just won the top award at the 2017-2018 World Championship, the Inspire Award. In your opinion, what has led to your team's success thus far?  

The Inspire Award is awarded to a team that not only has a strong robot, but also conveys the princples of FIRST. Throughtout the season, the robot performed at the top of every competition. It has several innovative mechanisms, but what stood out to the people I talked with was how consistent their robot performed. They have the philosophy that whatever they want their robot to do, it must do it all the time. In my opinion, their success is coded in their name: Wizards.exe. The EXE is not a nerdy reference to an executable, although that is how it started out. Their mission is to Engage, X-pand, and Educate their community about STEM and FIRST. They spent their summers building up their technical skills, and then they turn around and teach other through videos, presentations, classes, and even coaches trainings. They first start by engaging their respective community whether it is elementary and middle schools, or STEM festivals like the USA Science and Engineering Festival, or engaging groups like the SIM. They then try to "X-pand" what they do. This year they held over 100 outreach events, but what they did to X-pand the community was to start new younger teams. This year they started FLL Jr. teams (K-3rd grade) in 3 different elementary schools. They worked with a non-profit, Kid Museum, to host FLL Fridays. Finally, they Educated the groups they expanded. They mentored teams, such as an all-deaf FTC team from Washington DC and ran trainings for coaches and teachers, including a title one elementary school. They were successful because not only are they giving back, they engage mentors from companies through their monthly design reviews. The team is working with one of their mentors, Chris Harris, a neuroscientist, to create programs to teach neuroscience in high schools. But what I think makes the team successful is that they all go after their own passions and leverage the entire team to amplify whatever they do. They are clearly greater than the sum of individuals.
-In August, your team will travel to Mexico to compete with over 1,000 high school students from more than 160 countries while representing the United States in the FIRST Global Challenge 2018. How is your team preparing for this "Olympics"-style robotics event? 

After winning the Inspire Award, we were nominated to represent the United States at the FIRST Global Event in Mexico City in August 2018. It is such an honor and privlage to be ambassadors for our country and what we do in STEM. FIRST Global was founded to bring STEM opportunities to every country and even thouse that are less fortunate. One of the founding principles of FIRST is Gracious Professionalism. In a nutshell, you not only create high quality work, but you have great values and respect others. This means that you help others and make the entire world stronger. The team is preparing for the FIRST Global Challenge by helping others. Since our team is fortunate to have access to resources that are not available in every country, the team is creating videos to show how to build. The team will be putting their engineering designs on-line in hopes of inspiring others to build innovate machines. Last year our team advised Team Palestine. In addition to competing this year, we are advisors for Team Bosnia and Herzegovina. They hold SKYPE meeting at 5:00 AM on Tuesday mornings before they go to school.

While the team is very excited to work on their robot, they are finishing up school now and then will have 4-6 intensive weeks of building, programming, testing, and sharing. They have brainstormed their ideas and strategy for the competition this year and are currently in the prototyping phase. Over the next few weeks they will reach out to engineers and other robot enthusiasts in the area to present their design and prototype to get feedback and to help them brainstorm. We hope to also set up a help desk and video chat for other team so we can interact with them and have out mentors also help them. The team is preparing by sharing and spreading their love for STEM.
-We understand that the team's goal for FIRST Global is to connect with STEM leaders from other countries and share ideas on "Energy Impact," the theme for this year's competition. Can you tell us a little bit more about that theme?

FIRST Global was founded on trying to bring attention to the 14 Grand Challenges identified by the United States of America's National Academy of Engineering. Each year, a different Grand Challenge will take center stage as the theme of that year's FIRST Global game, which will be held in a different nation each year. The challenge and the robot game bring to light the ways that different energy sources impact our lives. From fossil fuels to environmentally friendly resources like wind and solar. The team will spend some time reaching out to local companies and resources to learn about what is done in our area and different challenges we face. They hope to share those ideas with other teams in Mexico City and see how we solve these issues globally. At last year's FIRST Global event in Washington DC, the team volunteered to help run the event. They learned that several teams did not have access to electricity for more than 1 or 2 days in the week. This left an impact on many of the team members. I hope this event will allow them to help others and continue their EXE mission globally not just locally.
-In your opinion, how is FIRST supporting the development of future talent for STEM careers? How is FIRST helping to close the STEM equity gap? 

I've interact with 1,000s of students that have been involved in FIRST. I am a Judge at local and World competitions and I have the privilege of listening to students on how FIRST has impacted their lives. From our team, it has strengthened the desire for most kids to go into engineering or programming careers, but they are a special group. What I've seen is that through the FIRST community teams help other teams and that means giving back to the community and those that don't have the resources. Our team raises funds to start FLL Jr. programs in under-privileged schools. FIRST has created a community of mentors that can give support to kids. What our team has done is to help mentor coaches in these under-represented communities to help close the equity gap. If we can train others to train others, we'll spread STEM exponentially. Dean Kamen, the founder of FIRST, says this is the Sport for the Mind and it is the only sport where anyone and everyone can go pro. 

I'm also very aware of the equity gap between boys and girls. We all know about the statistics that if girls are not inspired by STEM at an early age, they are less likely to go into a STEM career. That is why our team is equally balanced with 6 girls and 5 boys and we focus on inspiring younger girls, in particular at the K-3rd grade level. One story that resonates with me is when I asked one of the parents of a girl in our FLL Jr. program how she liked the program. The mother said, "I was shocked at how much it impacted my daughter. I did not know if she would like building with LEGOs, but every time she came back from the meetings, she could not stop talking about what she built. The most surprising thing was that this Christmas, she asked for LEGOs to build with." Her daughter is 6 years old and was inspired by FIRST to build things and create. That is how we close the equity gap...By inspiring kids at an early age.
To learn more about The Wizards.exe: 

Visit the team's gofundme page and make a donation towards their upcoming trip to Mexico 

Visit the Wizards.exe team websites here and here 

Visit the Wizards.exe Facebook page 

Don't miss the Wizards.exe at our upcoming event on June 26! The team will be there to talk about their recent success, demo their robot, and talk about their upcoming trip to Mexico for the 2018 FGC! 
More Information on the Upcoming SIMCAC Event - "Technology Megatrends & The Future of Work"
Tue, June 26, 2018, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM EDT

SIMCAC welcomes current and eligible prospective members to join us for an evening of networking, dinner, and lively discussion. For the first time ever, we encourage attendees to bring their children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren (ages 11-18). We have a great night planned that promises to be fun and educational for all!

We will start the evening with robotics and AI demos, conversations about the future of work (with a focus on what it means to the next generation of workers), and a casual dinner.

After dinner, SIMCAC is proud to host keynoter, futurist, and professor Christina “CK” Kerley as she takes all of us across the innovations and megatrends that will shape the future of work:
Yesterday was about billions of smartphones—but tomorrow belongs to the trillions of smart things digitizing all objects, products, and places within the physical world. The AI Arms Race is officially on, and IT leaders must turn their operations into “real-time, data-driven, know-it-all organizations” just to keep pace. Digital transformation is our destination . . . and blockchains may well hold the key in getting us there.

As headlines of job-killing robots abound, the real story escapes our view: Automation’s not taking our jobs away, it's giving executives back their time. Freed from administrative tasks, the “CoBots” will liberate employees to focus on creating new forms of value. A Reskilling Revolution—unrivaled in size, scope, and scale—will prepare our people for this fast-approaching future. And leap we must, while many in the US view automation as a big threat, China sees it as a BIGGER opportunity (and is investing the billions to achieve it).

Please register early, as we expect a heavy turnout and have limited capacity. We look forward to seeing everyone on June 26!

Register Here!

Event Speaker

Innovation keynoter and futurist Christina “CK” Kerley focuses Fortune 500s on the 10+ tech of the next 10 years.

A powerhouse of next-level content, “edu-taining” delivery, and razor-sharp insights, CK has wowed audiences at Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Amazon, The United Nations, E*TRADE, and Best Buy.

A faculty member at Rutgers Business School for Exec Ed, her in-demand topics span Tech Megatrends, AI, Robotics, IoT, Health Tech, and Mobile. Her eBooks include Future-Proof and The Smart Revolution.

Passionate about closing the opportunity divide, her pro bono program —impaCKt—gives a leading edge to underserved groups. For CK’s videos, eBooks, and more:

3-Minute Video Clip of Christina on IoT: "Smartening Our World"
Events and Announcements Around SIM

-The fourth national SIM Women Leadership Summit to be held on September 27th in Schaumburg, IL

-IT Trends Study Closes Soon: We’re Behind last year’s response rate and the 2018 SIM IT Trends Study will close at 11:59 PM on Monday, June 11 
Check out the new SIMCAC LinkedIn Page 

We'll periodically be posting updates here at the new SIMCAC LinkedIn Company Page. Please follow and share via your personal page so we can spread the word about SIMCAC updates and events!
Attention SIMCAC members! Since our members are the lifeblood of this great chapter, the success of this newsletter depends on our ability to share the happenings within it! So we're going to ask for your help in making this newsletter the best it can be. If you or fellow SIMCAC members have announcements, articles, pictures, videos, or any other content you'd like to share (and please do!), email to