The future of work is hybrid. But is it accessible?

Beyond the Microscope Blog Post | April 29, 2021

By Michaela Goss, Communications Volunteer

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced all schools and businesses to move to remote operations, if they were able. One year later, as vaccines roll out, schools and businesses are attempting to figure out life after the pandemic.

Many businesses have already pledged to remain remote for good, while many schools will return to fully in-person operations as soon as possible. A new model many workplaces may turn to is hybrid, where staff will be part-time in-person and part-time remote. For many workers, this approach may seem ideal: They get to maintain the flexibility of remote working, yet they can also go into offices if they so choose. But is this accessible for everyone?

The ability to work from home seems inherently accessible. The worker wouldn’t have a commute, and, therefore, any company could hire an employee regardless of where they live. However, this idea assumes that everyone has internet and broadband connectivity at home, which is not the case. Rural and low-income urban communities, in particular, are more likely to lack internet access at home.

The main issue with this inaccessibility is that people in homes without internet connections would be fully unable to work, learn, or both from home, so they could potentially lose a source of income or fall behind in school. This is what is commonly referred to as the digital divide, or the gap between those with the benefits of technology and the internet and those without.

Many rural and low-income people and families are inherently disadvantaged by the digital divide. However, some cities, including Philadelphia, are partnering with internet service providers to provide connectivity into the homes of low-income students and their families.

The digital divide also strikes in a more tangible form, as well. Remote workers and students can’t do their work without devices like computers or tablets, so some organizations have also donated Chromebooks to low-income students, and some school districts are providing Chromebooks, as well.

The pandemic still leaves many technology-related questions unanswered, though. Are free internet access and gifted devices acting as band aids for the more detrimental issues the digital divide presents? Will Philadelphia and other cities still provide internet access to those low-income households after students can return to school in-person? Will students get to keep the devices they’ve been gifted by organizations? Or will the world return to the divided normal it was back in early 2020 and before?

In a more optimistic angle, maybe the world won’t return to the pre-COVID normal. Maybe these students will remember the impact of the pandemic and the exacerbation of the digital  divide it caused, and will want to make a difference. Instead of a return to what was normal, the world could enter a brighter digital age, where more students decide to enter technology fields in order to innovate connectivity globally.

Maybe more students will feel excited, educated, and empowered to enter careers in technology, just as Kids In Tech hopes they will.

The State of STEAM Education

Beyond the Microscope Blog Post | April 14, 2021

by Aimee Khan, Communications Volunteer

I went to school in the 90s. Back then, children of all races and genders were encouraged to pursue mathematics and science as well as interdisciplinary subjects like history and English. A well-rounded education is necessary in being able to decide a path in college and beyond. I find that the state of a student’s education improves with inspiring teachers who encourage them to pursue their dreams, goals, and passions. Schools may also provide resources in the form of comprehensive libraries and internet access, well-reviewed curriculums, and superior after school programs.

The opportunities present for college students today provide an interactive ability for them to rise beyond what they thought they were capable of. As an alumni mentor, I heard from a university student about the use of 3D printers to perform bioengineering experiments and accessible computational courses to further enhance scientific understanding and ability. There is also an increased usage of tablets to convert handwritten notes to typed text, changing the face of notetaking and multimedia resources. Even though much has changed since I was a student, when it comes to education, inspiration is key. Those experiences light up the mind of a student who would have otherwise not known or not discovered their own potential or interest in the subject matter and then they seek a role models to aspire to.

Firstly, students must have the opportunity to be exposed to many different scientific concepts and these topics should be presenting in a tangible way. This enables the student to decide if this is the path to pursue in the future regardless of any stereotypes present based on the student’s race or gender. Usually, self-belief overcomes biased thinking especially regarding skill or merit. Tune into the Beyond the Microscope Webinar series to learn about The State of STEAM Education on April 28, 2021 and hear from our guest speakers.

How does Massachusetts approach STEM education?

Beyond the Microscope Blog Post | March 4, 2021

By Michaela Goss

Massachusetts aims to fulfill two key goals for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education: ensure students can actively engage in data analysis and ensure they can relate what they learn in the classroom to life outside the classroom.

The Massachusetts Department of Education’s (DOE’s) website lays out the state’s standards-based academic vision for what students learn in school. It also discusses how the state’s focus on STEM education derives from the role of Massachusetts as a growing hub for STEM careers – particularly, in technology and engineering. Massachusetts appears ready to build a pipeline of students from the state’s schools into full-fledged STEM careers after graduation.

The foundation for this pipeline starts in elementary education. In elementary schools, the goal is to spark interest in STEM that can lead to a lifelong love of the subjects and a future STEM career, which have some of the highest paying entry level positions. Schools rise to meet this goal by involving students in content-based learning, as well as applied learning.

Applied learning enables students to apply concepts they learn in the classroom to projects or situations either relevant to their lives or to help them visualize the concepts they are taught. Videos on the DOE’s website showcase students building, working together to complete science experiments and learning math as it applies to real-world issues – rather than simply numbers on a page.

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How the Arts Can Help Redesign STEM Curriculums

Beyond the Microscope Blog Post | February 17, 2021

By Michaela Goss, Communications Volunteer

School science projects are rarely complete without a giant poster board, colorful lettering and pictures to help describe the project. Technical engineers who build software and websites can’t fully complete their jobs if they can’t picture how the end product will look and how the designs must come across.

The innate logic of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classes and projects makes the acronym as a whole seem almost stiff – strictly logical, with formulaic answers and solutions and little room for much else. This, however, is not a full picture of STEM, as one critical element undercuts the field and is often overlooked: art.

This isn’t to say solving mathematical equations and painting go hand-in-hand. Instead, think of the scientific method. This starts with a question, which leads to research and a hypothesis. The mere act of developing that question and formulating a hypothesis based on known facts requires creativity. That creativity could be the spark many young students need to develop an interest in STEM.

Kids are known for having big imaginations, so the idea of a formal STEM education may lack pizzaz or a hook to draw them in. However, when they learn how mixing different chemicals can create a rainbow of beakers, or how to create a Punnett square and draw what that person would look like, or how to create a website, their imaginations are fed and could kindle a lifelong interest in STEAM.

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Fluorescence @home: STEM Explorations That GLOW!

Beyond the Microscope Blog Post | February 11, 2021

Fluorescence is a tool used widely in the sciences and beyond. But it is also a fascinating phenomenon in its own right. Use the handheld P51™ fluorescence viewer to explore the world of fluorescence right at home!

Learn more about this topic in our upcoming Beyond the Microscope event “Fluorescence @home: STEM Explorations That GLOW!” on March 17.

Register here:

#gobeyondthemicroscope

Building a Pathway for Diversity, Equity and Belonging in STEAM

Beyond the Microscope Blog Post | January 21, 2021

by Aimee Khan, Communications Volunteer

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) education and career paths are often overlooked by people of color and women due to a lack of interest or belief in themselves. Without enough immersion and education opportunities, these minorities could forego the discovery of a lifelong passion. That is why Kids in Tech provides the knowledge and resources for these students to excel in a STEAM domain of their choosing and become future leaders in tech and science.

In 2009 according to a survey (Abiola A. Farinde, 2012), only 9.7% female and 14.9% black undergraduate students graduated with a STEM major. We expect today, more than a decade later, those statistics have risen, in part due to work from outreach organizations and afterschool programming.

As a woman in tech, I feel strongly about the inclusion of all races and backgrounds in STEAM education and enrichment. I experienced an undergraduate education in Chemical Engineering from UMass Amherst and was a member of the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) where I tutored many underrepresented minorities trying to earn an engineering degree. I found that what they most struggled with was confidence. They would know the answer but were too afraid to make the assertion that they were right. That caused them to stumble and doubt themselves. I believe that culture enforces those stereotypes that get into our subconscious mind, making us feel inferior or lesser if we are not like the majority. Therefore, not only are programs that encourage students to be exposed to STEAM topics useful, they ease them into having a strong intuition about these topics so they can develop the confidence they need to succeed.

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Interview with JPMorgan Chase & Co. Cybersecurity experts

Blog Post | October 31, 2020

Hi guys! This is Jael Whitney, volunteer for Kids in Tech. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month and #MassSTEMWeek, I’m going to be talking to professionals all across the cybersecurity industry about the future of STEM. Today, I’m interviewing a few members of the Cybersecurity teams at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. : Ileana van der Linde, Cybersecurity Awareness Program Lead, Kevin Tompkins, Cybersecurity Awareness Associate, and Sheldon Spence, Cybersecurity Operations Associate for the Cybersecurity and Technology Controls Team.

Sheldon Spence

Ileana van der Linde
Kevin Tompkins

Tell me about your background in cybersecurity!

Ileana: My path into Cybersecurity has been an interesting one. I went to college to study Economics and Languages, and also took programming classes along the way. I ended up working in the college computer lab, helping people understand how to fix their computer problems. It helped me learn how to not just deal with technology, but also with people. During my career I took those same skills, and combined my understanding of business, people, and technology. And today, I educate bank clients on how they can be more cyber secure in their everyday life, so again I am using my knowledge of business, people, and technology.

Kevin: Currently: Cybersecurity Awareness Associate at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Formerly: Infrastructure Automation Business Analyst at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Graduated: Syracuse University with a BS in Information Systems Management

Sheldon:
Currently: Cyber Warfare Operations Officer At The United States Air Force
Cybersecurity Operations Associate At J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Formerly:
Detective/Digital Forensics Technician At The New York City Police Department

Graduated:
Long Island University with a BS in Information Systems
Fordham University with a MS in Cybersecurity

Certifications:
Comptia Security+ CE
EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker
GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst

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Interview with Mark Turner and Maxim Weinstein from Sophos

Blog Post | October 30, 2020

Hi guys! This is Jael Whitney, volunteer for Kids in Tech. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month and #MassSTEMWeek, I’m talking to professionals all across the cybersecurity industry about the future of STEM. Today, I’m interviewing a few members of the Cybersecurity teams at Sophos, an international security software and hardware company: Mark Turner, Senior New England Field Channel Account Executive, and Maxim Weinstein, Senior Director of Market Intelligence.

Credit: Mark Turner
Credit: Maxim Weinstein

Tell me about your background in cybersecurity!

Mark: Born in the UK, came to america in 1998 to go to college. Got into cybersecurity when I came out of college, started working for Sophos in 2006. Started as a sales development representative and worked my way up to channel account executive. Have been working in the local New England area for the last 7 years.

Maxim: I am a technologist and educator with a passion for information security. Since first learning to write BASIC programs on a TRS-80 Color Computer with 16 KB of RAM, I have gone on to deploy Active Directory, manage firewalls, teach IT support, build several PCs, earn MCSE and CISSP credentials, make TCP jokes with Vint Cerf, get quoted as a security expert by the BBC and the New York Times and lead the non-profit anti-malware organization StopBadware. I am now the Senior Director of Market Intelligence at Sophos. I live near Boston and have an unhealthy love of dessert.

How long have you been involved in Cybersecurity? What do you enjoy about it?

Mark: 14 years – I enjoy how it is always changing and adapting.

Maxim: 12+ years. Cybersecurity is a dynamic field. There’s always something new to learn: A new term, a new technology, a new competitor, a new threat. Meanwhile, you get to do something good, protecting people and businesses from criminals and saboteurs. It also forces you to think in new ways. If you tend to see risks, you have to think about how to protect against them. If you tend to be solution-oriented, you have to think about how someone might exploit your solutions.

The theme for this year’s Massachusetts STEM Week is “See Yourself in STEM,” with a particular focus on the power of mentoring. How can we help more young people see themselves in STEM?

Mark: Help them understand how critical technology is to not just the world but to everyday life. How it can be both beneficial & dangerous.

Maxim: Focus on the opportunities instead of the challenges. Young people don’t need more reminders of how difficult the field is, the biases that exist, or the gatekeeping that takes place. They can see those for themselves. Instead, introduce them to available resources, the limitless potential of your field, and people willing to help them get ahead.

Anything else you’d like to say to those who are interested in exploring the field more?

Maxim: Attitude is everything. When young people turn away from STEM, it’s because they’ve convinced themselves that the field isn’t for them. But STEM, and cybersecurity in particular, has room for anyone willing to immerse themselves in it.

Interview with Diana Kelley, Co-Founder and CTO of SecurityCurve

Blog Post |

Hi guys! This is Jael Whitney, volunteer for Kids in Tech. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month and #MassSTEMWeek, I’m talking to professionals all across the cybersecurity industry about the future of STEM. Today, I’m interviewing Diana Kelley, Co-Founder and CTO of SecurityCurve, an independent IT research and consulting company. 

Credit: Diana Kelley

Diana Kelley’s security career spans over 30 years. She is Co-Founder and CTO of SecurityCurve and donates much of her time to volunteer work in the cybersecurity community, including serving on the ACM Ethics & Plagiarism Committee, as CTO and Board member at Sightline Security, Board member and Inclusion Working Group champion at WiCyS, Cybersecurity Committee Advisor at CompTIA, and RSAC US Program Committee. Diana produces the #MyCyberWhy series, hosts BrightTALK’s The Security Balancing Act, and is a Principal Consulting Analyst with TechVision Research. She was the Cybersecurity Field CTO for Microsoft, Global Executive Security Advisor at IBM Security, GM at Symantec, VP at Burton Group (now Gartner), and a Manager at KPMG. She is a sought after keynote speaker, the co-author of the book Cryptographic Libraries for Developers, has been a lecturer at Boston College’s Masters program in cybersecurity, and is one of Cybersecurity Ventures 100 Fascinating Females Fighting Cybercrime.

Hi Diana! How long have you been involved in Cybersecurity? What do you enjoy about it?

Over 30 years. I enjoy that it helps people and touches every aspect of our lives. We can’t benefit from technology if we can’t trust it, and we can’t trust it if it was built with security and privacy by design.

The theme for this year’s Massachusetts STEM Week is “See Yourself in STEM,” with a particular focus on the power of mentoring. How can we help more young people see themselves in STEM?

By showing them all the different ways that STEM helps people and all the different kids of people in STEM. Also by letting them know that it’s not a binary situation – I love computers and english lit and art. I’m self taught in cybersecurity and majored in English Lit in college. One of my managers was shocked to find out I was an English major because I’m so technical. If students knew it’s OK to be good in a lot of areas and that STEM doesn’t limit them to one area alone – think that could help to encourage more people to study it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

That we need a diversity of skills, backgrounds, and brains in cybersecurity. Yes, we need engineers and data scientists but we also need graphics experts and great communicators and storytellers to help raise awareness. And financial experts to fund the next great idea. And psychiatrists to help with insight about how to educate end-users of cyber awareness and to categorize and better understand our adversaries. These are just a few examples.

Interview with Dr. Kelley Misata, President and Executive Director of The Open Information Security Foundation

Blog Post | October 29, 2020

Hi guys! This is Jael Whitney, volunteer for Kids in Tech. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month and #MassSTEMWeek, I’m talking to professionals all across the cybersecurity industry about the future of STEM. Today, I’m interviewing Dr. Kelley Misata, President and Executive Director of The Open Information Security Foundation.

Credit: Dr. Kelley Misata

Dr. Kelley Misata is a cyber and information security executive with 15+ years of experience in strategic initiatives, business development, community and customer growth, marketing, and communications. Today, she is expanding her groundbreaking dissertation research on the security preparedness of nonprofits into a new venture, Sightline Security, missioned to helping underserved enterprises and community sectors. Her current role as President and Executive Director of The Open Information Security Foundation and past role as Communications Director at The Tor Project allows Kelley to spotlight her expertise in open source and network security. Proven success bringing complex cyber and information security principles to business and non-technical audiences, Dr. Misata is an expert in bridging the gap between technical and non-technical. A business-minded researcher with a groundbreaking dissertation in the information security of nonprofits, she continually draws on current trends and conversations in information security and privacy to create strategies that intersect people, process, and technology. Dr. Misata holds a Ph.D. in Information Security, a Masters Degree in Business Administration and Marketing, and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

Hi Dr. Misata! How long have you been involved in Cybersecurity? What do you enjoy about it?

I have been involved in cyber and information security since 2010 as a result of a personal event.  Looking in the rear-view mirror, I see today that what happened to me put me on this path for (maybe) what I meant to do – empower and inspire people to come into the fold of cybersecurity.  Yes, it can be scary, complicated, and overwhelming, but if I can do it – you can do it!

The theme for this year’s Massachusetts STEM Week is “See Yourself in STEM,” with a particular focus on the power of mentoring. How can we help more young people see themselves in STEM?

We can help more young people by keeping a “seat at the table open” for them – meaning diversity of thought, experience, and ideas is as valuable as a passion for computing and security.  Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine how your “superpowers” and skills fit in – it is my hope as a mentor to help people discover their path and value their contribution.