April 26, 2016

Code Art Miami funds MDC scholarship to encourage women to get into animation, gaming

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Members of Code Art Miami’s event committee present MDC with a check to fund a new scholarship for Animation and Gaming students at MAGIC. From left to right: Diana Bien Aime (MDC Wolfson Dean of Academic Affairs), Josie Goytisolo, Sofia Garcia, Mauricio Ferrazza (MAGIC Chairperson), Amy Austin Renshaw, Lander Basterra, Maria Mejia, Lisa Hauser and Allison Cammack.

By Amy Austin Renshaw

For the past two years I have had the privilege to be an instructor with the Girls Who Code Club at iPrep Academy. The club was founded last school year by then junior, Maria Mejia, who was inspired to get more girls into coding after completing the Girls Who Code summer immersion program. This year Maria wanted to do even more to inspire girls to learn to code, and from that was born the idea for Code Art Miami, an event aimed at encouraging more girls to learn to code by highlighting the creative side of computer science through a student digital art exhibition and speaker symposium. 

Volunteers from three local Girls Who Code Clubs (iPrep Academy, The Idea Center @ MDC, and Pinecrest Library) and CODeLLA, a local organization that teaches coding and tech skills to Latina girls, came together to plan the event, which was hosted in early February at the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at MDC Wolfson Campus. The event was a great success with over 300 attendees and over 150 student submissions of art-generating programs that ran on digital flat screens throughout the event venue.

In addition to the event, Maria worked to establish the Code Art Miami Scholarship fund at MDC to give back to our host and to make a positive impact on more lives. "A disadvantaged student should not be limited by finances in order to pursue an education, especially when the odds are already against her. Just as I have been fortunate enough to have an entire network of supportive friends and mentors, the Code Art Miami scholarship is my way of providing those same resources to someone else,” said Maria. 

"In setting up the scholarship, we were amazed to learn that just $7,000 would cover tuition costs for one student for both years in the two-year MAGIC program,” said iPrep math teacher and Girls Who Code Club advisor Lisa Hauser. Funds for the scholarship were raised at the event through a silent auction, which included donations from Miami Heat player Chris Bosh and artist Ahol, and through continued post-event sales of a limited-edition print donated by London-based artist Ryca. By early April, we reached our fundraising goal, and on April 20th, Maria and the rest of the Code Art Miami planning committee presented MDC with a check for $7,000 to establish a scholarship fund for women or other underrepresented minorities enrolled in one of MAGIC’s two-year programs. “Currently only about one-fifth of gaming developers are women. This new scholarship will help encourage more women to enter this field,” said Mauricio Ferrazza, MAGIC Chairperson. 

Volunteers who helped Maria make the event and the scholarship fund a reality include my event co-chairJosie Goytisolo and executive planning committee members Lander Basterra, Allison Cammack, Marina Ganopolsky, Sophia Garcia and Lisa Hauser, all of whom share a passion for education — particularly computer science eduction — and a belief in its ability to change lives. Speaking for the group, Allison said, "Coding teaches problem-solving, teamwork, and tenacity. Whatever you can dream, coding gives you the tools to build. And with imagination and determination, you can change the world.” 

Work is already underway for next year’s event. We are reaching out now to area schools to schedule information sessions and workshops in the fall for both teachers and students in the hopes of involving more girls next year. In addition to including more students, we plan to add age brackets and categories for next year’s competition. “It was incredibly difficult to choose just three winners from this year’s submissions, which came from girls in grades 4-12 and included still images, 3D-printed art, animations, and interactive art programs,” said Head Judge Marina Ganopolsky. To learn more about Code Art Miami or schedule an information session at your school or club, email amy@codeart.miami.

March 19, 2016

Tick-tock, Business Plan Challenge deadline looms - your questions answered

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Planning to enter the Business Plan Challenge? Time is ticking away.

We offer three tracks to win our contest, which is sponsored by the Florida International University Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center. There is a community track, open to all South Floridians; an FIU track for the university’s students and alumni; and a high school track. You can enter our contest with a business idea or an existing business if it is not more than 2 years old. The deadline is March 28 for the community and FIU tracks and April 4 for the high school track.

Here are some common questions we have received.

I entered last year but did not win. May I enter again?

Yes, we welcome repeaters, as long as you were not one of the top three winners or the People’s Pick and your business isn’t more than 2 years old. Several of our winners of the past did not bring home the win the first year they entered. Freshen up that plan and try again.

May I enter both the community and FIU tracks with the same plan?

Nope, pick one. For the FIU track, at least one member of your top management team must be student or alumnus of the university.

Is there a required template I should follow for my entry?

The short answer is no. Your entry is a three-page business plan, with one addendum page allowed for a chart or graphic, and we allow people the freedom to send it in as they would like. But we suggest you consider including all or most of this information: brief product or service description; problem it is solving in the market (market need); a little about your target market and competition; relevant experience of your team; your business model — how you will make money — and growth strategy (how will you scale it); your marketing strategy (how will you get the word out and sell it); and some financials, for example your startup costs and three years of projections. It can be done. Keep each section brief — bulleted items are your friend. Many use their extra page for their financial chart.

Some people download templates for business plans (easily found in a Google search) and include the categories most relevant. Some use an executive summary they already have written and add to it. People who already have investor decks already have the info in a concise way — just put it into a three-page word doc and you are done. If you are starting from scratch, good for you! You have probably been meaning to do it anyway, and it will be a roadmap you can continue to update in months and years to come. Find the rules of the Challenge here.

Why the page limit?

Short business plans are in vogue, actually. Investors (and judges) tell me they want the information fast and brief and will ask for more info as they need it. Learning to be concise is both a science and an art, and our judges (who are often in positions where they read a LOT of business plans) have told me over the years that in real life, if you don’t capture their attention in the first page or even the first paragraph, they will move on. Pro tip: Ask someone who doesn’t know anything about your business or business concept to read your plan, or at least the first few paragraphs, to make sure they understand it.

Also, though our judges are almost super-human, we can’t ask them to judge hundreds of full business plans. You can meet our judges here.

What is the biggest mistake people make when they enter?

A lot of entrants spend too much of their precious three pages talking about all the features of their product or service and don’t include enough about the problem it solves, your target market, your business model and how you plan to make money, your team, your financials and your marketing strategy.

Another judge comment I see on a lot of plans: Think bigger. A lot of entrants have concepts with market growth potential but don’t express how they would expand beyond their initial markets. A lot of advice was shared at our recent Business Plan Bootcamp – read about it here.

Any other tips?

Yep. Show your passion. Make every word count. Keep each section brief: Bullet points are your friend. Don’t forget financials: Judges want to see you have thought through startup and operating costs and would like to see projections for at least the first three years. Don’t wait till the last minute. Here are some good reasons to enter.

May I enter more than one business idea?

Yes, as long as they are separate entries.

Why don’t you have a social entrepreneurship track?

We welcome social entrepreneurial companies in all our tracks. We’ve had several winners in recent years with social-impact missions, particularly in the high school track. The plan must be for a for-profit business, not a nonprofit.

My daughter is in the eighth grade. May she enter in the high school track?

Yes, we welcome ambitious middle school students in the high school track. Good luck to her!

Ready, set, enter! Find everything you need on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Have a question? Email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com and put Challenge in the subject line.

March 02, 2016

Miami hosts national student entrepreneur competition


Barry and kids at GSEA2Twenty five student-age startup CEOs will compete in  Miami this week for the national finals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), hosted by the South Florida chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization  and the Idea Center at Miami Dade College.

Two local students, Andres Cardona of Florida International University and Connor Masterson of University of Miami, will be among the finalists vying for a trip to Bangkok for the global finals and $40,000 in cash and services to build their businesses.

Cardona has launched the Elite Basketball Academy, Inc. and Masterson’s startup is the Royal loyalty rewards program. Other finalists include students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania and schools throughout the nation and Puerto Rico.

"The ambition and drive of these young CEOs is so impressive,” said Mark Sanna, GSEA chairman and past past president of EO-SOFLO. “We’re very proud to welcome their energy to the city and to serve asthe host chapter of this competition.”

“We feel honored to host this event, and provide MDC’s students the opportunity to learn new experiences from top U.S. entrepreneurs,” added the Idea Center Executive Director Leandro Finol.

The final student presentations will take place Thursday at 2 p.m. and are open to the public. 

Pictured above: Barry Kates, president of EO-SOFLO, with Andres Cardona and Connor Masterson.  

Update: Winner of the $10,000 prize and heading  to the global competition is Peeyush Shrivastava, a student at Ohio State University, His startup is Genetesis (www.genetesis.com), a medical tech company. 

 

 

February 03, 2016

Pine Crest School 7th graders win Best in Nation, $20,000 grant in Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Best In Nation3

This winning team will also get help from MIT to develop their app that helps measure, manage concussions in football.

A team of South Florida students have earned Best in Nation honors, a $20,000 grant and wireless tablets in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge for their new technology concept that aids in the study and management of concussions and brain injury in football.

The seventh-graders from Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest School also have won the opportunity to work with top developers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to turn their Force Transmission Data Collector  idea into a working wireless app.

 

The technology would incorporate a sensor in each player’s helmet to record and send real-time data on collision force.  The information would be immediately available to coaches, trainers, parents and others.

The concept was one of eight Best In Nation winners selected from more than 1,200 submissions nationwide.

A team from Miami’s  Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High won a Best In State award and a $5,000 grant from Verizon for their LanguaSign  concept, which would help the hearing impaired translate sign language into speech.

 

 The competition, created by Verizon in partnership with the Technology Student Association, and presented in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, challenged student teams across the country to come up with ideas for mobile apps that could solve a problem in their schools or communities, with no coding skills required.

"Each year, students have raised the bar for the App Challenge and we are continuously impressed by their thoughtful solutions to such a broad range of societal issues," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education and technology programs for the Verizon Foundation.

 In June, members of the Pine Crest team and the other Best In Nation winners will present their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Nashville, courtesy of Verizon.

Best In Nation1

January 23, 2016

Code Art Miami: Inspiring girls to code through art

Students, parents, educators and the tech community are invited to Code Art Miami’s inaugural event. It will be hosted at the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at MDC Wolfson Campus, February 6, 2016.

Code Art Miami is a collaboration between Girls Who Code Clubs and CODeLLA, a non-profit organization teaching coding and tech skills to Latinas from underserved communities. Code Art Miami seeks to inspire more girls to code and to foster community among participating student groups. 

As part of the event, Code Art Miami is sponsoring a friendly competition for girls in grades 4-12. Students submitted digital and 3D-printed art created through coding that will be displayed throughout MAGIC’s facility. Winners will be announced at the event.

 At the event, there will be a short, entertaining speaker program, which will include Mary Spio, founder of Next Galaxy Corp, a Miami-based virtual reality company.  A silent auction will be held featuring unique art and tech-related items. Offerings include two newpieces created just for this event. A painting by world-renowned South Florida native Ahol, and a limited-edition print by London-based artist Ryca. 

There will be a raffle to win a one-week summer camp scholarship at MAGIC for ages 14-19 in animation or gaming and family-friendly MAGICal experiences in the venue’s green screen capture studio and sound recording studio. Net proceeds will fund scholarships for women enrolled in MDC’s gaming or animation program. The goal is to raise $7,000 to fully fund one student for two years.

The event is free and open to the public. It begins at 4:00 pm on Saturday, February 6th, at MAGIC at Miami Dade College, 315 NE 2nd Ave., 1st Floor. To learn more and reserve tickets, visit www.codeart.miami, or email us at info@codeart.miami. To donate to the scholarship fund, go to www.codeart.miami/donate.

“Women represent only 18% of computer science graduates and 22% of gaming developers. The Code Art Miami event will help increase those numbers. Coding is the language of tomorrow, and we want all girls to feel like they can be a part of the future,” said Maria Mejia, student founder of Code Art Miami.

  Maria Mejia is the founder of the Girls Who Code Club at iPrep Academy and student intern with CODeLLA. She graduated from the Girls Who Code summer immersion program in 2014. Since then, she has worked to expand opportunities for young women in computer science.  Code Art Miami was formed as a result of Maria bringing together local coding clubs at iPrep Academy, the Idea Center at MDC, Pinecrest Branch Library, and CODeLLA. Maria's vision is to make Code Art Miami an annual event that builds community and provides opportunities for South Florida girls interested in coding.

-submitted by Code Art Miami

 

January 19, 2016

Girls Who Code programs returning to Miami; registration open

LLcybergirls0800 Lab MSH (1)

At Tech Station at Florida International University's School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS), Taty Graesser, 15, of Cutler Bay, center, and Riya Srivastava, 16, of Miami, right, were among 20 high school girls who participated in an intensive computer skills summer immersion program in 2015 presented by SCIS and Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization that equips girls with computing skills. MARSHA HALPER MIAMI HERALD STAFF



Girls Who Code, a tech education program for high school girls, is returning to Miami to provide another three years of Summer Immersion Programs, with $500,000 in new support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Applications for Girls Who Code’s 2016 Summer Immersion Program opened Tuesday in 11 cities across the country, including Miami. The program will begin this June and run for seven weeks, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The two Miami-based programs will include a total of 60 rising high school juniors and seniors who demonstrate a passion for technology, regardless of prior coding experience. Applications will be open until March 1 on the Girls Who Code website at girlswhocode.com/apply.

Launched in New York in 2012, Girls Who Code pairs intensive instruction in programming fundamentals, mobile phone development and robotics with engagement opportunities led by top female engineers and entrepreneurs. “The gender gap isn’t just a Silicon Valley issue anymore,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “The shortage of women in technical roles, whether it’s retail, entertainment or finance is an enormous crisis both in terms of innovation and socio-economic equality throughout the United States.”

Since its founding Girls Who Code has taught more than 10,000 girls in 42 states. The nonprofit conducted programs in 2014 and 2015 in the Miami area with Knight Foundation support.

January 18, 2016

Vote to help 2 So. Fla. high school finalists win more $, support in Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Creating apps to tackle big social challenges such as communicating with the hearing impaired and studying the risks of concussions, student teams from Miami’s Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High and Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest (PK – 12) School have earned Best in State honors, $5,000 grants and wireless tablets in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.

The teams can earn an additional $15,000 -- and support from MIT Media Lab developers to turn their concepts into working wireless apps -- by winning the Best In Nation award or through online Fan Favorite voting.

Voting is open now and ends January 31, 2016 at http://appchallenge.tsaweb.org/vote.

Krop students developed an app concept called LanguaSign, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-llIJcvHxY) which helps the hearing impaired translate sign language into speech.

 

LanguaSign2

Pine Crest students created Force Transmission Data Collector (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YReTCxLdMc) to help in the study of concussions and related brain injuries in football.

 

MS5 App Challenge

The winning concepts were selected from more than 1,200 submissions nationwide.

 Approximately 1 million high school freshmen each year declare interest in a STEM-related field, but of these students, over 57% will lose interest in STEM by the time they graduate.  Because of this, the Verizon Foundation, in partnership with the Technology Student Association, created the Verizon Innovative App Challenge to spark greater student interest in STEM as early as middle school and to make students aware of tech-related career opportunities.

Voting is open through 01/31/16. Fan Favorite and national winners will be announced 02/02/16.

 

November 24, 2015

GEW Shark Tank-style at Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School

Stopit

Submitted by Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School

The  MAV Tank, a business plan competition featuring student business plans and celebrity judges, highlighted Global Entrepreneurship Week  at Archbishop Edward A McCarthy High School last week.

The third annual MAV TANK featured four entrepreneurial student teams who created companies for the annual competition.  FIND Me, an innovative way to find a wallet was presented by Tommy Rodriguez, Rhett O’Donnell and Andy Rodriguez; BEBECOEUR a crib sheet with an alarm to help prevent sudden infant death was presented by  Neilah Richadson, Vincente Giordano and Christina Martinez-Mercado; STOPIT, a magnetized multiuse door stopper, was presented by Daniel Imbriaco, Nick Henning, Adam deArmas and Andrew Infante; and EXERO, the ideal way to incentivize a fitness program, presented by Josh Samarista/Miramar and Osmar Coronel/Weston. 

The first-place winner of this year’s MAV Tank was STOPIT (pictured above) and  received $500.

“At its core, MAV Tank is a platform for our students to fully develop their ideas and then put them into practice,” commented Kim Zocco, a teacher of Business Education at Archbishop McCarthy. “Our faculty fosters a culture of innovation which empowers and inspires our students to enter college and the world as change-makers.”  John Anfuso and Ashley Murphy, members of the MAV Tank teaching team, implement the business plan element into all the economics classes, in addition to the business entrepreneurship classes.

MAVSThis year’s Celebrity Judges were Tim Robbie, former owner of the Dolphin Stadium and the Miami Dolphins, President of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers Soccer Team; Bianca Moreiras, founder of Bianca Moreiras & Associates Consulting Firm, handles high level acquisitions and mergers, managed top level law firms for over 30 years; James Donnelly, founder of Castle Group, NOVA University’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame recipient; Chris Cerda, Maverick Alumni, CEO & Founder of KANYU, FAU Business Student, Entrepreneur.

Led by Zocco, the entrepreneurial spirit thrives year round at Archbishop McCarthy.  Students have competed and placed in the top ten ranking at the Wharton School of Business Finance Competition for High Schools  and support the Café Cocano project by selling organic heirloom coffee beans and iced café lattes at the school directly benefiting and empowering Haitian Coffee Farmers to earn a fair wage. 

 

November 23, 2015

Andres Cardona of FIU wins regional finals of Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

Andres

 Miami entrepreneur and college student Andres Cardona took home the big win at the regional finals for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards last week.  The regional finals for the contest, in which college students from 50 countries ultimately vie for a prize of more than $500,000 in cash and services, was sponsored by Entrepreneurs' Organization South Florida and hosted at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College.

Six finalists were chosen to participate in a live pitch competition Nov. 19 at MDC’s Idea Center, which also included a keynote speech by Peter Kellner, venture capitalist and co-founder of Endeavor Global. For winning, Cardona received $1,000 in cash and $20,000 in services such as web, accounting and marketing from EO South Florida professionals.  Cardona will now go on to compete against 25 student entrepreneurs at the GSEA national finals in the spring, which will also be hosted at the Idea Center, and a $10,000 cash prize. The winner of the national competition will go on to complete in the global finals in Bangkok Thailand in May, with a $40,000 cash prize plus services.

Cardona, a  Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship alum and now a finance major at Florida International University, created the business plan for and began working on a youth basketball academy called Elite Basketball Academy (http://www.eliteballacademy.com/) while in high school because the student athlete was passionate about coaching young athletes and found a big need in the market. He's continued to grow the academy while a full-time college student,  and now the academy  has nearly 200 students/athletes. It's the largest of its kind in Miami, he said.

 “Our mission is to instill success principles in the youth of our community using the sport of basketball as a tool. We emphasize academic success, hard work, dedication, and a no-excuse mentality in order to achieve success. We focus on creating habits that will be everlasting and always present in the minds of our disciples,” said Cardona, who has also been honored by NFTE and Ernst & Young. Within three years, Cardona hopes to expand nationally, he said.

“This competition is special because the winners are not chosen solely on profit potential or the financial merits of their business plans, but largely based on their entrepreneurial journey,” said Mark Sanna, National GSEA Chairman, and EO-South Florida’s past president. “What challenges did these student entrepreneurs overcome, or what problem are they solving for others?  Compelling questions like these play a big role in the competition, and we know there are many great stories like this in South Florida.”

EO-South Florida is one of the world’s largest EO chapters, with  180 members whose businesses account for more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 30,000 jobs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. EO-South Florida and the Idea Center, Miami Dade College's entrepreneurship hub, have partnered to support entrepreneurial innovation for MDC student entrepreneurs and other South Florida startup businesses.  To learn more about the GSEA competition or EO-SOFLO, visit www.eonetwork.org.

 Photo above is Andres Cardona presenting his business at the event and to the left is Mark Sanna of EO-SOFLO.

 

October 23, 2015