Super Soaker Inventor Lonnie Johnson Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams

Discbots at FRC 2017 World Championships (photo via Facebook.com)

by Gabe Gutierrez via nbcnews.com

He created one of the most popular toys on the planet — but the inventor of the “Super Soaker” isn’t done making a splash. Lonnie Johnson is now focusing on new battery technology, but his most rewarding pursuit may be sharing his knowledge with a new generation of engineers.

The mild-mannered Johnson grew up in Mobile, Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement. “There was a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress,” he remembered. “When I was a child the ‘White-only’ bathrooms were still very prevalent.” He turned that fear into motivation — and a career as a NASA rocket scientist.

But his “a-ha” moment came unexpectedly while he was designing a water pump. He had built testing the pump out in a bathroom when he noticed something.”I thought to myself, ‘Geez, this would make a neat water gun!'” he said. “At that point I decided to put my engineering hat on and design a high performance water gun.” That idea would change his life.

He built the first prototype for what became “The Super Soaker.” The toy, which first went on sale in the early 1990’s, eventually topped $1 billion in sales. Johnson also went on to come up with the NERF gun and other toys. “It’s interesting that the Super Soaker gets so much attention,” he said. “I really like to think of myself as a serious engineer!”

Now, he’s getting serious about giving back. His nonprofit helps fund high school robotics teams. One of them — the DISCbots from the DeKalb International Student Center — is made up of refugees from nine countries. Kalombo Mukuca fled the Central African Republic a year ago. “Even babies — they kill them,” he said. “So we don’t want to get killed.” Emanuel Tezera came to the United States from Ethiopia. “I want to fix something in this world,” he said.

Incredibly, in just its second year, the DISCbots qualified for the world-wide robotics competition in Texas. For Johnson, this idea may be his most rewarding. “If I can have a positive impact,” he said, “clearly it’s something I want to do.”

Source: Super Soaker Inventor Takes Aim at Funding High School Robotics Teams – NBC News

Outstanding 17 Year-Old High School Student Jahmir Smith Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships

Jahmir Smith (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Zahara Hall via huffpost.com

As a kid, high school junior Jahmir Smith never had a dream college. But for a number of universities, he’s their dream student. The 17-year-old North Carolina native has already been accepted into all eight Ivy League schools and has received 33 full-ride scholarship offers, according to ABC 11 Eyewitness News.

While Smith has a 4.43 GPA at Lee County High School and an impressive ACT score, as well as enough credits to graduate a year early, The News & Observer reported that he’s also constantly being contacted by college football recruiters for his athleticism, receiving hundreds of texts from Division I coaches. Smith, who started playing football in middle school, has a composite three-star rating out of five on the sports website 247sports.com.

Additionally, he was chosen as 2016’s News & Observer’s Metro Football pick after scoring 41 touchdowns and running 2,130 yards in one season. Smith told HuffPost that while he doesn’t plan on making a career out of football, he’s certainly willing to give the NFL a shot. “It’s fast money,” he said. “But I don’t want it as a career because it would take a toll on my body.”

He added that if he doesn’t make the NFL, he wants to explore the medical field, specifically anesthesiology. In whatever he pursues, Smith is aware he’ll face challenges because of his race. But that’s not stopping him in the least bit. “I know the odds are against me because of my skin tone and all, but I don’t really let it get to me,” he said. “I just stay to myself and try to help those around me. I’ve always understood since I was little that people would see me different.”

To read more, go to: Outstanding High School Junior Already Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships | HuffPost

Ne-Yo Invests $2.3 Million in Holberton School, a Free Coding Academy, to help Diversify Tech

Ne-Yo with the Holberton founders Sylvain Kalache and Julien Barbier and Trinity Partner Dan Scholnick (photo via Holberton School)

by Biz Carson via businessinsider.com

The idea of a coding school that charges no upfront tuition was intriguing to Ne-Yo. The Grammy Award-winning artist is certainly not the first musician to invest in Silicon Valley, but he’s one that wants to put his talents and money into helping to solve the diversity challenges facing the tech industry.

On Thursday, Holberton School plans to announce that Ne-Yo invested in the coding academy’s most-recent $2.3 million funding round and is joining its Board of Trustees as a result. “This is not a realistic career for people who came up like me. It’s more realistic to do what I do, be a singer or an NBA star,” Ne-Yo said during a party celebrating his new role at Holberton hosted by Trinity Ventures in San Francisco. “Thanks to these guys it now is,” Ne-Yo said. “I have a platform, and I’m going to use this platform to spread the word.”

While there are plenty of coding schools and bootcamps abound, the Holberton School is taking a different approach by charging no upfront tuition for students to enroll. Instead, graduates have to contribute about 17% of their salaries or internship pay to the school for three years after graduation. Already, Holberton’s free (at least upfront) approach has helped the coding school attract a wide-range of people wanting to break into the tech industry.

Women constitute 40% of its students, and 53% of the student body is people of color.Specifically, Ne-Yo wants to attract more Hispanics and blacks to the coding school based in San Francisco. The school is able to keep its costs low by not hiring formal teachers or giving lectures. Instead much of the curriculum is based around students working on specific projects and helping teach each other. They also work with mentors from companies like Uber and LinkedIn to finish the two-year program.

Already, some of Holberton’s students have interned or been hired at companies like Apple, NASA, and Dropbox. While the coding school is still only about 18 months old, it’s early success is already attracting heavy-hitters like Ne-Yo, along with existing investors including Trinity Ventures, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang, and Jerry Murdock, co-founder of Insight Venture Partners. “I’m very, very excited about this,” Ne-Yo said at the celebration. “Let’s make Holberton one of the biggest schools on the face of the planet.”

To read full article, go to: Ne-Yo invests in Holberton School, a free coding school – Business Insider

HBCU South Carolina State University Creates Program for its Dropouts to Finish Degrees at Lower Tuition Rate

(photo via counton2.com)

article via jbhe.com

South Carolina State University, the historically Black educational institution in Orangeburg, South Carolina, has announced a new effort to get students who had begun studies at the university but had not completed their degree for some reason to come back and complete what they had started.

The Bulldog Academic Resumption Covenant (BARC) Program enables students to complete their degree program through study with the University of Phoenix. Some 2,500 students in 20 degree programs who dropped out between 2010 and 2015 have been invited to join the BARC program.

These students will receive a 50 percent reduction in tuition costs and take online courses through the University of Phoenix that have been approved by the South Carolina State University faculty. These credits can then be used to satisfy degree requirements at South Carolina State. No more than 24 percent of all credits toward the South Carolina State University degree can be taken through the University of Phoenix.

James E. Clark, president of South Carolina State University, said that “the bottom line is we miss our students, and we want them to return home.”

To read more: South Carolina State University Invites Dropouts to Come Home : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Google Partners with Howard University to Develop Future African-American Engineers

Bonita Stewart, VP of Global Partnerships at Google, and Dr. Wayne Frederick, president of Howard University. (Photo: Google/Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

article via thegrio.com

On Thursday, Google announced a new program partnered with Howard University in an effort to recruit more young minds from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Howard has opened a campus at the Googleplex, called Howard West, “a physical space on campus where Howard students and Googlers can grow together,” and hopefully will encourage diversity in a field that sorely needs it.

In a press release, Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick said:

Howard West will produce hundreds of industry-ready Black computer science graduates, future leaders with the power to transform the global technology space into a stronger, more accurate reflection of the world around us. We envisioned this program with bold outcomes in mind — to advance a strategy that leverages Howard’s high quality faculty and Google’s expertise, while also rallying the tech industry and other thought leaders around the importance of diversity in business and the communities they serve.

The move comes as Google and other tech industry giants are still working to find ways to bring diversity to Silicon Valley in an industry where diversity in hiring has not been the norm. Bonita Stewart, Google’s Vice President of Global Partnerships says “students can expect an immersive academic and cultural experience at one of the most iconic companies in the world. Academically, they’ll acquire the skills necessary to excel on real-world projects, taught by the engineers who work on Google products and services every day.

The Howard graduate added, “Culturally, they’ll have a chance to experience daily life in Silicon Valley. On the flip side, we cannot wait to learn from our Howard West students and are excited to see the fresh creativity and innovation they bring to the table.”

Google hopes to expand the program to other HBCUs.

To read more, go to: Google partners with Howard University to develop future black engineers | theGrio

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah Makes History as 1st Black Female Admitted to Johns Hopkins’ Neurosurgery Residency

(image via twitter.com)

article via thegrio.com

Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is making history after being admitted to Johns Hopkins as its first black female neurosurgeon. On Friday, March 17, fourth-year medical students participated in a Match Day event in which they discovered where they would be doing their residency training over the summer. Each student held an envelope with the name of their matched hospital, and when Abu-Bonsrah opened hers, it had the name Johns Hopkins.

Abu-Bonsrah was thrilled, saying, “Everything is special about the match. It will be a dream come true.”Nancy Abu-Bonsrah is making history during #WomensHistoryMonth Read her story on @BBCNews here https://t.co/9k4kaygRTz pic.twitter.com/rAx12tb2vF— Hopkins Med News (@HopkinsMedNews) March 20, 2017

Asked about herself, Abu-Bonsrah had this to share: “I was born in Ghana and spent the first 15 years of my life there. My family and I came to Maryland about 11 years ago. I did most of high school at Hammond High in Columbia, Maryland, and went to college at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I came to Johns Hopkins right after undergrad. I will be the first physician in my family, including the extended family.”

As for her future plans, she said, “I am very much interested in providing medical care in underserved settings, specifically surgical care. I hope to be able to go back to Ghana over the course of my career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure. I will be matching into neurosurgery, a field that I am greatly enamored with, and hope to utilize those skills in advancing global surgical care.

To read full article, go to: Johns Hopkins admits its first black female neurosurgeon | theGrio

Ex-NFL Player and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle Chosen for Harvard Neurosurgery Residency 

Myron Rolle (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

article by Michael David Smith via nbcsports.com

Myron Rolle’s NFL career didn’t last long, but he always made clear that he had higher priorities than playing football, and he’s just taken a major step in his real calling. Rolle, a 2010 sixth-round pick of the Titans who also spent time with the Steelers, has been chosen for a neurosurgery residency at Harvard after he completes his education at the Florida State University College of Medicine this spring.

(Getty Images)

“Seven years of neurosurgery is a big deal, something I wanted for a long time, really excited about it. Today is just great, it’s remarkable,” Rolle told WCTV. Rolle was a star player at Florida State who once arrived late to a game because he had an interview for a Rhodes Scholarship.

He spent a year studying at Oxford between the end of his Florida State career and the start of his NFL career, and although he spent a couple years in the NFL, his primary goal was to become a doctor.“Saving lives and helping people live a better life,” Rolle said, “that’s going to make life worth living.”

Source: Ex-NFL player Myron Rolle chosen for Harvard neurosurgery residency | ProFootballTalk