Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Women in S.T.E.M. Reception 2015, OKC, Part I

For Oklahoma FIRST Robotics Competition 2015, in which robotics teams from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma fought with brains, metal, and electronics, Oklahoma women engineers organized a Women In S.T.E.M. Reception.                                                                                                                                                         Approximately 32 engineers came to table-mentor. Three made presentations, which showed how creative and challenging a future is ahead for women engineers.                                                                                                                                                                                                   On a smaller scale, this mentoring model can be hosted all over Oklahoma.                                                                                                                                    
Registration: Smart girls, girls, girls...
Woodrome; Wollmershauser, P.E.; Crissup, P.E.
Beginning of the Reception 
In March 2014,  Harold Holley, director of Oklahoma Robotics, asked the Society of Women Engineers  to host the reception. SWE invited the Oklahoma Engineering Foundation, Tulsa Engineering Foundation, and Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance to co-sponsor the first event last year. Harold, who had observed the event at the Texas Regional Competition, wanted the same interaction to happen in Oklahoma. Thus he talked to Barbara Wollmershauser.
Girls on FIRST Robotics Teams may not have many opportunities to meet women engineers. This special event provides contact, interaction, and inspiration.

Last year,80 young robotics competitors and 31 women engineers enjoyed meeting.

We don't have this year's numbers yet.
Fruit, chips, queso, salsa, 
tea and lemonade
'So many robotics competitors that tables had to be added!

Opening Remarks  
Xan Black's opening was so powerful that we post it so you can share and inspire.

Xan Black begins the program
"I’d like to tell you about a very strong woman named Sonia Kovalevsky. She was born in 1850 in Moscow. As time went by, her parents decided to remodel their home. Since there was no Pinterest – what could they do? When making wallpaper selections, they decided to take Sonia’s uncle’s calculus book apart and use the pages to paper young Sonia’s bedroom walls.  She recalls spending her early childhood working to understand the calculus that papered her bedroom walls and to figure out the original order of the pages.  So now you know what you need to do when you are a mom – paper the kids walls with a calculus or physics book and all will be well!

Those early years had a profound effect on Sonia Kovalevsky. She became not only interested, but very talented in mathematics. Alas, in Russia at that time, women could not attend University. So Sonia decided to leave Russia. Another hurdle was that in order to travel abroad, Russian women had to have written permission from their father or their husband. So what could Sonia do? She married! She married Mr. Kovalevsky, a young paleontologist who later worked with Charles Darwin! The young Kovalevsky’s moved to Germany where Sonia was able to enroll at the University [of Heidelberg]. She was not, however, allowed to enroll in classes – she could only audit them. [Later in Berlin where she was not allowed to audit classes,] she paid friends to take the classes she wanted to study and then share notes with her. Sonia Kovalevsky overcame all of these odds and became the first woman to receive her PhD in Mathematics and is noted for her work in Differential Equations.

Fast-forward 100 years from the time of Sonia’s work and you will be in the time frame when I was pursuing a degree in Petroleum Engineering. I didn’t have to pay anyone to attend classes for me, although I was definitely tempted to do so on more than one occasion! We didn’t have any struggles of the magnitude that Sonia faced, but we did face our own challenges! I recall being either the only female or one of two or three girls in all of my classes. The other students and faculty were largely supportive, but not entirely so! I remember one occasion when our Society of Women Engineers group was invited to attend an engineering banquet. Our advisor recommended that we dress “like guys” – wear pants and a shirt. They told that to the WRONG one! I wore my frilliest peach dress with ruffles on the shoulders that stood above my ears! I do not and did not surrender my gender to become an engineer!

In closing, I have been very inspired by a quote from Sonia Kovalevsky and hope that you will find it encouraging as well:

'Say what you know, do what you must, come what may.'

Say what you know – you don’t have to pretend to know things that you don’t – but you dare not hold back on saying what you do know!  

Don’t be a shrinking violet – stand up and say what you know!

Do what you must – you may need to get up early, stay late, get to be best friends with Khan Academy, or join the stinky geek study group!  Whatever it takes – do what you must!  
Our country, state and region are depending on you to do that!

Come what may – Once you have your mission, don’t let anyone or anything stop you!  

Don’t avoid taking risks because you don’t know how things are going to turn out.  

Step out and step up – start today – COME WHAT MAY!"

X. Black (Personal communication, March 31, 2015)

About Ms. Black from the event brochure
Chickasha OK Team 3931

Robotics competitors at the reception

Reception-goers looking at their free copy of
Celeste Baine's "Is There an Engineer Inside You?"

Baine's reader-friendly book, being perused above, is available through PDF also.


Listening and eating

Before reading the next post about the reception, learn more about the competition below.

In the robotics competition "pit" are
Barbara Wollmershauser, P.E., and
Xan Black, P.E., and 

Program Director,
Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance

Oklahoma Regional and FIRST

Since 2007, the annual Oklahoma FIRST Regional has been held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. Teams from across the country compete in the robotics competition designed to pair professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem and compete.

FIRST, which stands for “For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology,” is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen. Kamen is an inventor, entrepreneur, and a strong promoter of science, technology, and engineering. He is best known as the inventor of the Segway. Kamen noticed that the number of American students in the science and technology field was widely decreasing and he wanted to inspire young adults to join the vast field of science and technology.

http://www.oklahomafirst.org/                                       Ret. 3-27-15

Monday, March 30, 2015

Good Mentoring Relationship

Thanks to Kansas Mentors' Facebook on February 17, 2015 for this post.


Rajesh Setty Headshot

9 Characteristics of a Good Mentoring Relationship

Posted: Updated: 


A good mentor is a gift from the Universe. If you find one, do everything you can to convince them that it is worth their while to mentor you. I am fortunate to be on both sides of the table almost on a weekly basis -- meaning I have awesome mentors that inspire me and hold me accountable and I also happen to have awesome mentees who are enthusiastic about learning and are like my extended family.
Here are 9 characteristics (in no particular order) of a good mentor:
1. Conversations
In general, the basic mode of mentoring is having meaningful conversations that will move the needle in areas of your life or business that matter most to you. A conversation that moves the needle is "effectuation in action." It is one that makes the most of your strengths, factoring in your current constraints and creates a set of possibilities that will show you how to make meaningful progress in a reasonable amount of time.
2. Commitment
A good mentor goes beyond to change his or her agenda and strive to make you a better YOU. Such a mentor is committed to your growth journey through the ups and downs you experience, and entering and navigating you out of your "comfort zone" to make something extraordinary happen.
You can measure the commitment of a mentor by the tough questions they ask, with the intent to get you to see things that you are not otherwise seeing, and get you 'unstuck.' If a Mentor is always saying great things and making you feel really good all the time, perhaps he or she is being a 'cheering friend,' but not a 'caring mentor.'
3. Curiosity
As they say, "if you are doing what you have been doing, you will continue to get the results you have got." There are exceptions to this rule, but that's outside the scope of what we are discussing here.
There is a reason why you continue to do what you are doing even when it may not be producing the results you are expecting in your life or business. These less-than-effective activities may have become 'dragging' habits. Whatever the reasons may be, it is not too late to change course.
As Charles Duhigg says in his landmark book, "The Power of Habit," the three elements of creating a habit are cue, routine and reward. A cue triggers an almost automatic routine that is producing a reward as a result of you engaging in the activity.
So, to a start a new and better habit, you need to start with a different cue - something that you may not be aware of. A pre-cursor to that is for you to generate the curiosity to look at the same things that you are exposed to today with a different set of eyes.
A good mentor opens up the doors to curiosity so that you get back that childlike enthusiasm to learn and grow.
4. Clarity
Clarity is the side-effect of a good mentoring relationship. Think about it - you are very close to your life/business so it is hard for you to get a "helicopter view" of the same. In a good mentoring relationship, this comes automatically as your mentor is someone who cares about your life and business and by default has a "helicopter view" of both of them. The conversations automatically help you discover the "forest for the trees" - thus bringing clarity to your goals and actions.
5. Capacity
Power from a philosophical perspective is the "capacity to take action to produce meaningful results." You increase your capacity and you can produce better and bigger results in the same amount of time. Sometimes it's a small shift in the way you are thinking that will put your capacity into high gear. Your mentor can unlock that untapped capacity which you can put to work to accelerate your success rate.
A good way to know this is if at the end of a conversation with your mentor, you begin to find some things that seemed "impossible" seem totally "possible."
6. Confidence
Confidence will empower you and will give you the motivation to take the right actions. Sometimes what might be preventing you from taking those right actions (even when you know you should) are the limiting beliefs you have about yourself and the lack of confidence in pulling something off. A good mentor may not give you strength, but helps you discover your hidden strengths and help you move beyond your limiting beliefs. "A good mentor believes in you lot more than you believe in yourself, and becomes your champion," says Dr. Ravi Gundlapalli, a global thought-leader in mentoring and CEO of MentorCloud.
7. Connections
The right connections for you at the right time can instantly open new doors, expand your capacity and give you credibility by association. A good mentor thoughtfully connects you to the right people via his or her network. It is important that you grow and earn that right to deserve such introductions.
8. Choreography
Navigating out of your comfort zone is never easy and fun. Logically, there is discomfort on that path that generally creates resistance tempting you to go back to the "tried and tested" approaches. A good mentor can not only help you choose among the available options at hand, he or she can teach you how to choreograph the sequence of steps so that you get maximum leverage.
9. Celebration
In a good mentoring relationship, a mentor and mentee celebrate their relationship, the mini, micro and macro victories that they co-create together as they build a relationship that steers your life journey in a compelling way.
Last, but not the least, good mentoring relationship is a two-way street and both of you are co-creating your future. Mentor benefits too by being there and watching you grow in your journey. "Teach someone if you want to know how much you have learned. Mentor someone if you want to know how valuable you are to those around you." Good Mentors are those that enjoy being of immense value to others and seeing good things happen to those they care about.
Related Reading:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Soft Skills - Assistant

Many students choose work-study programs to help pay for their education or work full-time during the day and attend post-secondary education in the evenings. 

Mentors can encourage mentees to seek a higher employee skill base during the mentoring relationship. 

8 Soft Skills That Make for a Great Assistant

Posted: Updated: 


If you've ever seen The Devil Wears Prada, you may believe that being an administrative assistant is a stepping stone to something greater. Though it can be a proving ground that opens doors to other positions, being a personal assistant to an executive or middle manager can also be a fulfilling career that is currently totally in vogue. Candidates may not need previous work experience as a receptionist or assistant, there are several crucial soft skills that make a candidate the best person for an administrative or executive assistant position.

Soft skills are those character traits and interpersonal skills. Character traits tend to be ingrained unlike occupational or hard skills, which are learned and honed over time. They're less what we know and more the core of who we are. While experience in similar positions may get you the interview, your ability to showcase these soft skills should get you the job.
Not everyone can be an administrative assistant. It takes a very specific set of skills to assist an executive or manager. The following soft skills make for a great assistant: time management, project management, strong communication, and active listening skills, as well as common sense, a flexible personality, attention to detail, natural curiosity and research ability.

1. Curiosity and Research Ability
An assistant with a natural curiosity and research ability benefits the executive or manager in many ways. The perfect candidate is someone who reads a lot, gathers information and builds bridges between ideas. Executives and managers dream of the kind of assistant who reads trade news, keeps him or her up-to-date, points out networking connections that should be made, and research the boss's new ideas with vigor.

2. Attention to Detail with a Great Sense of Urgency
The great executive assistant must be meticulous in all things. However tiny, details are expected never to go without notice. Assistants must pride themselves on noticing things others do not. All those arguments about work-life balance? A great assistant is the key to helping an executive or manager achieve it. When a great assistant respects his or her boss's need to balance work with their family or private life, he or she approaches the details of the boss's day with urgency and accuracy. Arrive well before the boss does, stay after the boss is gone to prepare for the next day, and work their calendar with proper planning and recommendations.

3. Common Sense
Despite what the name implies, common sense is rare. The great assistant is capable of filling in the gaps and demonstrating initiative. When given incomplete ideas, the assistant uses knowledge of his or her company and boss to round them out, all while keeping the executive informed and in approval along the way.

4. Active Listening Skills with Vision for the Future
Listening leads to learning. While most people are "hard of listening" rather than "hard of hearing," the great assistant processes information quickly and boldly asks questions to fill in his or her understanding. When an assistant understands the direction his or her boss is heading in and the strategy behind every move the executive or manager makes, the assistant will be able to have a greater impact on this growing partnership. Ultimately, the assistant will accurately anticipate what goes next.

5. Flexible Personality
A great assistant must have the ability to interact with all people. Whether you meet in person or over the phone, the assistant must build rapport. With as many unique personalities as an assistant must deal with, he or she must be able to build rapport in a number of ways. An assistant must remain flexible and patient with all people.

6. Strong Communications Skills
Communication is key. Understanding and conveying information between people is absolutely invaluable. There's perhaps nothing in the world more valuable to customers, clients and business partners than understanding and being understood. Strong communications skills could be the difference between your legacy as "The Greatest Assistant Ever" and "What was their name again?"

7. Time Management Skills
A great assistant needs to know how to prioritize and keep things on schedule because the job of assisting an executive or manager includes scheduling his or her meetings, events and other means of spending time. An executive assistant works with his or her boss to understand priorities and help manage daily scheduling so that the executive can spend more of his or her valuable time on long-term goal planning and setting.

8. Project Management Skills
As much as an assistant's ability to manage his or her time and the boss's daily operations so that the boss has time for big-picture thinking, it's incredibly important for an assistant to help bring the boss's big picture thinking to life. That means being able to help manage the projects the executive or manager is working on. Big pictures are made from many little ones. With each project, there are many moving parts and you'll be invaluable to your boss if you can help manage these moving parts. That may mean managing the deliverables assigned to all project team members or just making sure that the boss is working on the right project at the right time. It also means being able to pick up the threads of projects that have been tabled earlier but are now the boss's focus. A great assistant is one who can make his or her boss's job easier by tackling things like comparing expenses on financial statements, analyzing client trends or even simply highlighting a budget. These things make a huge difference in growing the partnership between an executive and an administrative assistant.

While the job title and description of an assistant may seem straight-forward, it can be less so in practice. An assistant's job requires the delicate use of dozens of desirable skills that people mostly notice when there's a distinct absence of them. If you've got at least some of these skills, you've got a shot at being a great assistant.


Ret. 3-17-15

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Model: OK Student Inventors Exposition

All Oklahoma school-age inventors should compete to attend this statewide exposition.

Many school districts, however, are located in sparsely populated areas and/or do not have finances to transports students far. We salute the founders of this 25+-year-old model, which can be adapted regionally, by counties or districts--large, small or cooperatively. 

Every school--public or private--can create its own version of this event. Recruit judges from business, college, military, Career Tech, or others. Eventually, create a pathway to get local winners to the Oklahoma Student Inventors Exposition.                                                                        

The Oklahoma Student Inventors Exposition allows students, 1st through 12th grades, to show their inventions. Winners and their teachers receive money awards, trophies and medals. For example, in 2013, winning students and their teachers were given $150 each. 

The 2015 event, the 26th, was on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. at Rose State College's Hudiburg Chevrolet Center, Midwest City. 

Patent attorneys, parents, the public, and others attend. Proud parents bring folding chairs and sit near the jam-packed display tables where their children show off their inventions. In 2013, 162 students earned the honor of competing. In 2015, over 400 youths from 85 schools displayed their inventions. Each year the expo grows. Some schools represented in 2015 were Bethany, Del City, Guthrie, Moore, Oklahoma City, Poteau, Seminole, and Shawnee. 

The public is encouraged to attend this event, as the young inventors enjoy showing and explaining their creations to visitors. Positive comments from guests also help encourage the students’ creativity and propel them forward to more problem-solving challenges. If someone strolling through does not inquire, the inventors often will engage the onlooker first. "Let me tell you about..."

Each year the enthusiasm, creativity, confidence, and professionalism of even the youngest inventors increases. As we walked, these first graders articulately and professionally with a generous addition of passion discussed their inventions. 'Only first graders? 

Regardless of grade-level, each had a problem to solve. One young inventor's dad drives much, and she was concerned he would fall asleep at the wheel. Her invention was an electronic device that would send a voice warning if the driver's hand was off the steering wheel for three seconds.

Another young man invented a garage attic ladder slide because his mother had difficulty carrying large plastic bins down the attic stairs. 

One young man's friend had a heat stroke so the inventor found a way to insert in a hat, cap or helmet a hot or cold gel mask. In the above photo, the young inventor on the right, a soccer player, used a variation of a hot and cold gel pack, secured inside a cloth cover, to attach with Velcro to his soccer shirts. 'Suitable for all kinds of weather! 

The list is endless as is the creativity, and the sophistication and practicality of the inventions varied. Undoubtedly, some of these students will soon be on ABC's Shark Tank.

Trifold display boards crowded the tables. Young inventors chiefly stationed themselves by their creations. Family members can be seen in the photos as well as some fatigue-clad judges, provided by Tinker Air Force Base. 

Each inventor provided business cards printed with his or her name, invention, school, school address, grade, and teacher. Even the "business" cards varied widely in design.

Judges Cori Fowler, OKAN Americorps volunteer, and Cedric Currin-Moore, STEM coordinator for the Oklahoma Afterschool Network, flank Jesse Chavez, inventor. Jesse envisioned the perfect spy device for everywhere--underwater, in the woods, outside a house, in a planter by an office building, in the snow, etc. His Spy Rock, equipped with a camera and with retractable, mechanical legs like a spider's, could be activated by remote control yet camouflaged for any location. How original is that!

Fowler, Chavez, Currin-Moore
Below are Suzi and Shannon Stephens. Suzi wanted to demonstrate how kids can be creative rather than watch television, play online games, or roam the internet. She wrote a script for a video entitled The Mystic Island, built the set, shot over 200 still photos, moving the action figures in each photo, timed the play sequence so the action appeared like a movie, and posted the finished product on YouTube as an example for others. (Suzi's proud grandmother Summer was also at the expo.)

Suzie & Shannon Stephens
Mystic Island still photos

Betty J.C. Wright is a co-founder and chairperson for the Oklahoma Student Inventors Expo. A truly extraordinary teacher, Betty is a 2014 inductee of the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame among a myriad of honors and achievements. A genuine and loving dynamo, who never seeks glory for herself, Betty continues to create or make a way for students.

 The event brochure

From a 2014 KFOR video and article:

Betty J.C. Wright and Julian Taylor, Co-Founders
Oklahoma Young Student Inventors 

MIDWEST CITY, OKLAHOMA — Too dark to find something in the bottom of your purse?

Reanna Glenn put a light bulb with a cell phone charger.

“Yeah,” she says after illuminating the inside of a large handbag. “There’s a secret pocket inside.”

Got a messy sandwich on your hands and not in your mouth?

How about Abigail Tardibono’s Food Buddy invention?

She says, “It keeps all of your food from spilling everywhere and making a big mess.”

Abigail Tardibono
For answers to these and hundreds of other everyday problems all you have to do is ask imaginative kids like Jared Stewart and Tyler Whitlock who came up with a perfect way to slice pizza.

Their invention is two scissors welded to a triangular sheet of aluminum.

“You put it under the pizza and it makes a perfect slice every time,” says Jared.

“It’s safe for kids,” adds Tyler.

25 years ago there were just a handful of kids who presented ideas for the first Oklahoma Inventors Exposition.

Teacher Betty Wright and inventor Julian Taylor helped organize it.

Betty, now retired, says, “We see even more creativity now.”

Don’t like the taste of dental x-ray slides?

Olivia Atkinson has a spray for that.

“I’ve got a tasty x-ray spray,” she says.

Want to learn to skateboard but don’t want to get hurt?

Gavin Beverly has training wheels for that.

“Have you tried it out,” asks an exposition visitor?

“Yeah,” says Gavin. “Does it work,” is the follow-up question. “Yeah,” says Gavin again.

Caleb Burns has a hearing impaired uncle.

The younger Burns came up with a pillow that doubles as an alarm clock.

“He had a hard time hearing it,” he explains.

Baby brother lost his soothie?

No problem if it’s attached to Tyler David’s Pacifier Positioning System.

“You can find it with the push of a button,” she explains.

So what are kids thinking about?

Moore students Jaden Wattle and Kylie Thompson came up with a safety vest for kids to wear if they’re at school and a tornado hits.

Highlighting one of its many features, Kylie says, “There’s a flashlight that you can shine on one of the reflector strips.”

Kaden Fox from Poteau was thinking about recent school shootings when he came up with his Safe Haven School Desk.

A full scale model would be made of steel and allow single students to lock themselves inside.

He says, “I thought, ‘what can I do to prevent something like that.”

A wealth of ideas and treasure for the best.

Winners in several categories received $150.00 in cash.

Their teachers got the same.

If you’re worried about the future, the solution is probably walking around in here.

Ret. 3-25-15

Updated 3-31-15