Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon July 6, 2012 at 12:27 PM EDT
Ed note: this post originally appeared on DipNote, the U.S. Department of State’s official blog
Our inaugural class of 25 TechGirls arrived in New York City late on the evening of Monday, June 25. For almost all of them, it was the first time they had set foot in the United States from their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa. We could immediately see what an amazing, talented, and passionate group of young women we would have the privilege of working with.
In July 2011, Secretary Clinton announced the launch of TechGirls -- a three-week, intensive youth exchange -- "to encourage innovation and promote the spread of new technologies to give women and girls the support that they need to become leaders in this field." Our Embassies ran a very competitive selection process, identifying the best and brightest young women with high achievements and aptitude in mathematics, science, and technology. There was no better example than Mai, a young woman from Alexandria, Egypt, who is a self-described “computer freak” who wants to be a cardiologist when she grows up. Mai believes that technology can provide better services for citizens based on her experience during last year's protests in Tahrir Square. Back in February 2011, Mai witnessed how Egyptians used social media to bring food and medical supplies to those who needed it most. She is inspired by this example and wants to replicate and extend it among a wider community in her home country.
Our TechGirls kicked off their adventure with three days in New York City, organized by Legacy International whose mission is to strengthen civil society and foster peace-building and conflict resolution worldwide. During that time, they had the opportunity to connect with Rachel Sterne, Chief Digital Officer for New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg; Global Kids, which works to develop youth leaders for the global stage; DoSomething.org, an organization which encourages young people to create their own vision for making a difference in their community; Souktel, which designs and delivers mobile phone services that link people with jobs and connect aid agencies with communities who need help; and an amazing team of female engineers and business development leaders at Google offices in NYC. Through these discussions, the TechGirls were able to see a variety of ways in which women can becomes leaders in the science and technology space.
The TechGirls came down to Washington, D.C., at the end of last week. On their first full day in the District, they spent the afternoon meeting many women in senior leadership positions at the White House, including the Office of Digital Strategy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The TechGirls were joined at the White House by young women from West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Virginia. The TechGirls and the American students had meaningful discussions, sharing their enthusiasm for science and technology and experiences in science fairs around the world -- after just a couple of hours together, they walked out of the room promising to stay in touch and continue the conversation.
For their remaining time in the United States, the TechGirls will participate in the Wonder Space Tech Camp, hosted on American University's campus. The girls will have the chance to develop hands-on skills, such as programming, robotics, mobile application building, web design, video graphics, and 3D game design. They'll also connect with many players in the growing D.C. tech community, and develop the community projects they'll carry out when they return home.
It has been an absolute blast getting to know our inaugural group of TechGirls. The Department of State, like the great team behind Girls Who Code, recognizes the importance of inspiring young women to pursue educational and professional opportunities in the science and technology sphere. TechGirls is proving to be a fantastic exchange program for these young women, providing emerging talent with the skills and resources to pursue their dreams.
Suzanne Philion serves as the Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
- Posted byon June 29, 2012 at 4:54 PM EDT
Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden greet and pose for a group photo with winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching on June 29, 2012 in the South Court Auditorium. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
A group of nearly 100 junior high and high school teachers from across the country received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) this week. Today, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden, a longtime educator, met with these teachers at the White House to thank them for their commitment to our Nation’s students.
- Posted byon June 26, 2012 at 3:12 PM EDT
Today in Beijing, China, the United States and the other member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) finalized an important new treaty for performers who work in movies, television, and digital media. The new treaty, known as the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances (BTAP), will strengthen the economic rights of film actors and other performers. The United States delegation played a leading role in negotiating the treaty, which represents a big step forward in protecting the rights of film and television actors around the world.
- Posted byon June 21, 2012 at 3:41 PM EDT
The international crew of four aquanauts has been working in its home in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat off the coast of Key Largo, 63 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. [Photo courtesy of NASA]
Yesterday I placed a call to the explorers currently undertaking a 12-day mission beneath the waves of the Florida Keys to help us test and prove concepts for outer space missions. The 16th crew of NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) is focusing their activities on helping us understand what a mission to an asteroid will be like.
- Posted byon June 18, 2012 at 5:43 PM EDT
Today, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a historic agreement to coordinate standards for transporting both government and non-government astronauts to space. The two agencies will provide a stable framework for the U.S. space industry, avoid conflicting requirements and multiple sets of standards, and advance both public and crew safety. Today marks an important step towards the success of the new public-private partnership model that is the future of America’s space industry.
"This agreement is the next step in bringing the business of launching Americans back to American soil," Charles Bolden, NASA administrator said. "We are fostering private sector innovation while maintaining high standards of safety and reliability to re-establish U.S.-crewed access to low-Earth orbit, in-sourcing work to American companies and encouraging the development of dynamic and cost-effective spaceflight capabilities built to last."
- Posted byon June 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM EDT
Prizes have a long history of driving important breakthroughs: Napoleon's 1800 Food Preservation Prize resulted in the invention of canning; the 1927 Orteig Prize helped inspire Charles Lindbergh to make the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris. More recently, the 2011 Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge spurred an Illinois company to create a cleanup method for oil slicks that is four times more effective than any previous one.
It is with that powerful history in mind that today, in Washington, hundreds of leaders from the White House and Federal agencies joined their peers from some of the Nation's most recognizable companies and organizations to develop strategies to use prizes and competitions as a key method to spark innovation and deepen citizen engagement.
You may ask: Are prizes still relevant? Absolutely. New social media tools have enabled smarter and more cost-effective approaches, and the public sector has begun to take advantage of prizes as a way of tackling some of the most perplexing challenges that affect us all – with promising results.
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