LONDON--There were 130 invitees aboard a special British Airways charter 747 from San Francisco to London earlier this week. Upon closer inspection, there were 130 good stories to tell as well.
A bit of background: This specially selected group was invited on an unusual mission by a British Airways/United Nations-sponsored initiative called UnGrounded. The lineup consisted of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, educators, venture capitalists, inventors and a few journalists, with ages ranging from early 20s to well into the 60s. What they had in common was energy, a love and/or concern for the improvement of education and a working knowledge of technology.
While on the six-hour, Wi-Fi-less flight, they were given a task to find answers for this question: How can STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) be made more attractive for young people--especially women and girls--so that companies with jobs that are currently going unfilled can find the right applicants?
Judges Select From Four Finalist Concepts
Two days later, after vetting all 24 concepts the group created, a panel of U.N. and sponsor delegates chose from the top four to back AdviseHer, an online community that uses social networks and other pipeline programs to advocate for women and girls in STEM education.
AdviseHer will recruit women in STEM companies, retirees and former IT company employees to advise young women as they show interest in IT education. This will reduce attrition rates in STEM university programs and help raise funds for startups founded by women.
The UnGrounded participants featured energy that was ratcheted to a high level, and that intensity was maintained throughout a six-hour intercontinental plane flight and two days of thinking, conferencing and note-taking.
More Details in eWEEK Articles
You can read more about the details of the trip in these three eWEEK articles:
--U.N. Will Back Project AdviseHer to Aid Women in STEM Education
--IT Thought Leaders Tackle Global STEM Issues in Meetup
--IT Thought Leaders Will Jet to Summit in the Sky June 12
Here, however, we will share highlights about five of the participants. We will follow up with more stories over the summer. These brief descriptions are in no particular order. Five men now, five women next time!
Jon Gosier, founder of metaLayer: metaLayer is a Philadelphia-based cloud-based big data analytics and data visualation service that brings in various data streams, slides and dices the data, then provides custom-based graphical reports for enterprises. "We start where Tableau ends," Gosier said. Here's a video.
Mark Campos, founder of Waze: Campos earlier in the week sold his company to Google for $1.3 billion, but was very modest about it and wouldn't say but a few words on the subject. Israel-based Waze is a GPS-based navigational mobile app, which uses turn-by-turn navigation, as well as user-submitted travel times and route details. Profile
Van Jones, author of "Rebuild the Dream": Jones was a key strategist for both Obama presidential campaigns, is the author of two books, and is currently a contributor to CNN as a political and cultural analyst. Jones was one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2009. Profile
Craig Newmark, Craigslist: Newmark worked at IBM for 17 years as a programmer, moving from New Jersey to Boca Raton, Fla., and then Detroit. In 1993, he moved to San Francisco to work for Charles Schwab, where he was introduced to the Internet, which was commercial-free at the time. He developed Craigslist as a free marketplace where people could come together without charge and exchange information. It has been described as an "Internet commune." Newmark remains active at Craigslist in customer service, mostly dealing with spammers and scammers. Profile
Peter Hinsson: Belgium-based author and highly sought-after speaker who wrote "The New Normal." Hinssen is one of Europe's thought leaders on the impact of technology on society. He has a focus on the consumer adoption of technology, on the impact of the networked digital society, and on the alignment between business and IT. He collaborates with organizations in the areas of IT strategy, transformation, fusion and coaching, in Europe as well as in North America. Profile