Inspiration and Innovation in Local Community STEM Volunteering

It was the first week of December 2012. Dozens of students filed into the school’s little-used computer lab for the Hour of Code lesson I was leading as a volunteer. They pushed aside the desktop computer keyboards, pulled out their new school-issued laptops, and opened the lids. Wirelessly they loaded the Scratch website. And in five minutes they were ready for their first computer-programming lesson.

Moments of inspiration can lead to innovation, and this was one of those moments. I realized every student in the school now had a tool they could use to learn to program anywhere in the school building. They were no longer limited by access to a desktop or laptop computer or the installation of desktop software. Imagine what they could do with such a tool!

But Hour of Code at that time was a once-a-year activity. How could we create a sustained computer programming activity?

It took another moment of inspiration a month later before the idea crystalized. On a teleconference gathering of like-minded volunteers in IBM, a team from Dublin, Ireland, presented their work on teaching students to code. It was through an organization called CoderDojo, the free, open-source coding club.

CoderDojo was the last piece to the puzzle. With the combination of the school’s Chromebooks, Scratch, and CoderDojo, we could create an activity that was inexpensive, accessible to all students, and focused on coding.

This is just one example of the many amazing ideas that flow regularly from the minds of innovative IBMers who have a passion for K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The ideas drove a project to collect innovative examples of local community STEM volunteerism.

We tapped into IBM’s On Demand Community, a collection of over 287,000 registered volunteers. These volunteers have collectively donated over 19 million hours since the program’s inception in 2003, to schools and not-for-profit organizations worldwide. On Demand Community builds on established IBM corporate citizenship programs such as DiscoverE, Teachers TryScience, and World Community Grid. The Points of Light Foundation has deemed On Demand Community “a program without peer” for its innovative, comprehensive approach to supporting volunteers. [1]

Within this community we found volunteers who have devoted significant time and skills to improving student access to STEM activities, not just through those existing IBM-established activities, but also through new STEM activities that they have invented. They have consulted with schools and established activities to meet local community needs. They have donated their time. And they have made these contributions because of a love of STEM, knowledge of what it takes to help students fall in love with STEM, and a vision of the future of technology thanks to their IBM jobs. Mostly, they have a deep desire to help the communities they live in.

This collection of ideas became an IBM Academy of Technology white paper – Local Community STEM Volunteer Innovation. We hope you find moments of inspiration reading this white paper that you can use to innovate in your own community.

Posted on behalf of Peter Gegen. These are the opinions of the author; all thoughts expressed are solely his own.
CoderDojo, Hour of Code, and Scratch are not affiliated with IBM. IBM employees have provided resources to CoderDojo as part of CoderDojo’s crowdsourced support.

[1] https://www-01.ibm.com/ibm/ondemandcommunity/downloads/ODCfactsheet-2017.pdf

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Infrastructure Designed for Cognitive Workloads: Why is it crucial?

DSC_8619_r
Xavier Vasques

Systems Hardware Technical Leader
IBM Systems Hardware
Research Publications: 89
Articles: 40
Books: 3
Patents: 1
Connect with Xavier: LinkedIN, Twitter, ResearchGate

The expression artificial intelligence (AI) appeared in 1956 with the objective to build systems to think and act as humans. Machine Learning (ML) came in the seventies with a more pragmatic and humble approach, with algorithms able to accumulate knowledge and intelligence based on experiences, and guided via their own learning, rather than explicitly programmed. But the technology’s growth was hampered due to a lack of data and computing power.

Today, data transforms industries and professions. When we look at cognitive algorithms, there is a classical loop starting with learning, transmitting and improving what needs to improve. AI can learn from expertise and existent knowledge such as books, images, videos or scientific papers.

And data is hardly a gap today. Data flows from every IoT device, replacing guessing and approximations with precise information (1).

Why IT infrastructure is key

Circuit board brain concept. Vector illustration.Let’s take an image and think about infrastructure in parallel. When we speak about transmitting, we speak about Systems; Systems able to process information, and Systems tuned for cognitive computing. A well-known system to process huge amounts of data and provide cognitive insights in real time is the human brain, with a memory of more than 2.5 million Giga Bytes, more than 80 billion neurons, and more than 100 thousand billion synapses. The brain only uses around 20 Watts continuously and is around 1450 cm3 in volume, and weighs an average of 1300g. Ideally, computing Systems should process data as efficiently and with the performance of the human brain.

What happens if the System doesn’t reach the expected speed and efficiency?

If the System lacks adequate capacity or efficiency, it will lose memory and thus data, will have I/O bottlenecks, will not store data in the right location, and will not provide answers when they are needed. In short, the System won’t be able to handle cognitive workloads.

Servers, storage and workload management need to be designed from the ground up for cognitive workloads. There are several critical requirements such as:

  • rapid access to data (low latency and fast storage)
  • faster time to insights (compute infrastructure designed for big data)
  • accelerated performance for complex analytics/machine learning algorithms (hardware acceleration) and
  • preventing data ingestion bottlenecks (unified access to block, file and object data).

Besides caches, memory bandwidth and IO bandwidth, other important components on the server design is to use new types of hardware accelerators, such as co-processors, hardware accelerator units in the processor, GPUs and FPGAs to offload processor-intensive tasks to more optimized hardware units.

Businesses today require cognitive systems that can gain insight from the structured and unstructured data flowing from their IT infrastructure. In our (2) latest study we provide information about cognitive workloads such as deep learning, machine learning or text mining, the main solutions in the market and open source community, and why infrastructure is a key element.

Read complete study

  • IBM Point of view, 2015; https://www.ibm.com/it-infrastructure/us-en/
  • Infrastructure Designed for Cognitive Workloads: Why is it crucial? Xavier Vasques, Laurent Vanel, Madeline Vega, Angshuman Roy, Gerd Franke, Jun Sawada, Raghava Reddy Kapu Veera, Shantan Kethireddy

Posted on behalf of Xavier Vasques.
These are the opinions of the author and while a distinguished member of our Academy and IBM, all thoughts expressed are solely his/her own.

Agostinho de Arruda Villela

Humans of IBMAoT

A series on our inspiring and inclusive academy of eminent technology thought leaders who have an enduring impact in making the world better.

Agostinho de Arruda Villela

We did not need to look far for the first profile of our new series: Agostinho de Arruda Villela is an inspirational leader of our IBM Academy of Technology (AoT) who manages our Latin America Affiliate Region, aruguably the most prolific.

podcast

In this 10 minute podcast, Agostinho shares his personal journey in IBM that led him into becoming a inspirational leader in IBM Latin America.

What does an IBM Academy of Technology (AoT) leader of an Affiliate Region do?  Here goes:

Agostinho oversees the Latin America AoT Affiliates which are  6 in total:

  • 3 affiliates – Brazil, Mexico and Argentina
  • 2 emerging affiliates – Colombia and Peru
  • 1 emerging affiliate candidate – Costa Rica

This entails, at least, biweekly calls (one with the affiliateibm latin americaleaders, one with the AoT Technology Themes focal points, and, sometimes, one for the Nurturing AoT Candidates initiative) which are, arguably, some of the most productive AoT affiliates in the world.

In this role, Agostinho also oversees and participates actively in 4 AoT initiatives – in pursuit of AoT Affiliate Exemplary Status, Affiliate Insights submissions, Nurturing of Latin America AoT Candidates and AoT Technology Themes (Environment & Sustainability and Future of Energy).

In addition, Agostinho is the Costa Rica AoT Champion, mentoring them to become an emerging affiliate next year. He’s been a member of the Global Selection Board for Latin America AoT candidates for 2 years in a row. For the second year in a row, he’s been an evaluator in Latin America for OTAA prize in the Innovation Category.

Moreover, he does presentations to clients as an AoT member multiple times a year at meetings such as the Brazil Innovation Reference Center and events in universities and schools.

And, he’s extremely active as a Brazil AoT Affiliate member, heading their  Outreach Committee and leading their Blockchain study – which successfully concluded on August 25th.

Whew!

All of these activities Agostinho does with a contagious passion for IBM’s technical community – a testament of his personal dedication and contribution to our IBM Academy of Technology’s mission and IBM values.

Bravo, Agostinho!

So, what does Agostinho do in his off time? Does he have time? We asked him a few rapid fire questions:

rapid fireMac or PC: I’m fine with a PC, as long as it has Windows 10 and an SSD drive

Movie:  The Fifth Element, Heavy Metal, A Good Year, The Sum of All Fears, The Last of the Mohicans, The Big Short, Trinity is My Name, La Armata Brancaleone

-New technology: Blockchain, IoT, AI, Quantum Computing

Author/Book: Isaac Asimov (Foundation Trilogy),  Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma), Michael Lewis (The Big Short), Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm), James Clavell (Shogun and Tai-pan)

Vacation:  Barcelona, Lisbon, Oporto, Ouro Preto, CuritibaAgostino bike

Food:  Sushi/Sashimi

Animal: Jaguar

 Sports – Bicycling, Soccer

-Hobbies:  Bicycling, Going to the movies (saw yesterday “Star Trek – Beyond”), Watch TV series (my favorites are “Person of Interest” and “The Blacklist”)

Yes: Agostinho finds time to balance it all.

The postings on this site are our own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.
You may contact us at academy@us.ibm.com or Twitter @IBMAoT.