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.



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


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


 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

October 19, 2015

Entrepreneurs' Organization, Idea Center call for entries in global student competition

The South Florida chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO-SOFLO) and Miami Dade College’s Idea Center are calling for local entries in the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), a competition in which college students from 50 countries vie for a total of more than $500,000 in combined prize money and services.

To be eligible: 

  • Entrants must be an undergraduate student currently enrolled at a recognized university or college.  The student must be the owner/controlling shareholder of the business and principally responsible for its operation.
  • The business must be structured 'for-profit' and have generated $500 or received $1,000 in investments by the time of application. The company must have been in business for at least six consecutive months.
  • The top six finalists from any previous year's GSEA global finals competition are not eligible.

The deadline to enter is October 29, 2015

Eight local finalists will be chosen to participate in a live competition Nov. 19 at MDC’s Idea Center.  The winner will be invited to compete against 25 student entrepreneurs at the GSEA national finals in February of 2016.

The national finalist will win $10,000 in cash and services, as well as the chance to earn the global grand prize worth $40,000 awarded at the conclusion of the competition in Bangkok, Thailand in May of 2016. 

“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-SOFLO’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.  We want to hear and reward them.”

EO-SOFLO is one of the world’s largest EO chapters, with approximately 1800 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-SOFLO and the Idea Center have partnered to support entrepreneurial innovation for MDC student entrepreneurs and other South Florida startup businesses. “We are thrilled to be a part of this opportunity for our students to build their network, learn from their peers and innovative industry leaders at EO,” said Leandro Finol, Idea Center Executive Director. 

To enter the GSEA competition, visit www.eonetwork.org.

October 02, 2015

Young NFTE entrepreneurs pitch for $11,000 in prizes and support - and the winners were ....


Photo by Jasen Delgado/JasenDelgado.com

About 100 supporters gathered last night at the Miami Dade College Idea Center for Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s (NFTE) LaunchED Challenge to cheer on four accomplished young entrepreneurs.  The “shark tank” styled event allowed the four students to pitch their businesses to a panel of entrepreneurs and executives for a chance to win a portion of $11,000 in seed capital to invest in their business.

These students were selected from 21 participants in Startup Summer, an intense eight-week teen business incubator organized by NFTE at the Idea Center for advanced high school entrepreneurs under support from the Citi Foundation.  Over the summer, each student received a laptop, $1,000 in seed capital, a $1,000 stipend and intense one-on-one mentoring and support to launch the business.

At last night’s event, the young entrepreneurs were judged on the viability of their business and progress achieved over the summer. The winner, Khareem Oliver (pictured above), is a 17-year old student from Coral Gables Senior High School. He was awarded $5,000 for his business Find or Found, an innovative approach to helping pet owners locate their lost pets through a special technology-enabled tag, linked to an app and a website.  Said Albert Santalo, founder of CareCloud who was one of the judges: “Khareem’s business stood apart because of its scalability and innovative approach. The market for pet products is enormous.”

The other finalists included Gabriel Martinez, who won $3,000 for his school supply vending machine business GAMV; Janeiya Henderson who won $1,500 with Pebbles Tutoring; and Justin Rivas who also won $1,500 for his basketball tournament company Top Level Athletics.

In addition to Santalo, judges included Natalia Martinez, founder of the Awesome Foundation in Miami; Luke Palacio, managing director for Southeast US - Citi Private Bank; and Wifredo Fernandez, director of CREATE Miami at Miami Dade College.

NFTE's mission is to provide entrepreneurship education programs to young people from low income communities.
See a short video recap the Launched event by NFTE alumus Valerie Chapman.

June 15, 2015

Attn. software engineers: New TEALS program at MAST Academy needs you

 Wifredo Fernandez has been working with a school board member, principal and dedicated parent to help bring a program called TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) to MAST Academy. Part of the project includes recruiting four software engineers from the community to help teach over the course of the year and is hoping for some leads.

Here is his post with more information:


Calling all software engineers of South Florida!

Have you ever wanted to teach high school computer science and help shape the next generation of programmers and teachers?

MAST Academy has been accepted into the TEALS program, a Microsoft-backed organization that is on a mission to bring computer science to every high school.

What is TEALS?

TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools) is a grassroots program that recruits, trains, mentors, and places high tech professionals from across the country who are passionate about computer science education into high school classes as volunteer teachers in a team teaching model where the school district is unable to meet their students’ computer science (CS) needs on its own.

TEALS works with committed partner schools and classroom teachers to eventually hand off the CS courses to the classroom teachers. The school will then be able to maintain and grow a sustainable CS program on their own.

We are looking for 4 brave software engineers from the community to volunteer (with a modest stipend) their skills and brain to this effort for the first year. The commitment is 2 first period morning classes per week at MAST in Key Biscayne.

If you are interested, please fill out this brief form. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly at wfernand@mdc.edu