EqOpTech Blog Posts

EqOpTech College Talk -- Featuring Kalven Goreal

By Alice Liu, Intern

As the years go on, it’s becoming harder and harder to get into certain colleges. The pressure of getting into a good college puts a lot of stress and work on a student’s shoulders and knowing tips and tricks that can help you get into the college of your dreams is very useful but sometimes hard to find. That’s where Kalven Goreal steps in. Goreal has been a professional writing coach since 2015 and is a lead write for high school and college student publications. Through his years working with and tutoring students, he has gained a lot of insight on the things students need to know while getting ready to apply for colleges. 

Kalven Goreal (left) and Terence Lee

Kalven Goreal (left) and Terence Lee

Crafting Your Story

College preparation is an opportunity to craft your story and tell your tale. The application process is a very competitive and selective environment. Therefore, students have a small opportunity to share why they should be offered admission versus others. Goreal says that a good way to develop this story is by sharing your experiences and distinguishing yourself amongst others. At the same time, it is  important to place limits on what you write about. Things such as insignificant details, redundancies, and events/actions that can be easily interpreted wrong can all cast you in a negative light to the admission officer. Overall, Goreal says that you should share your experiences in a way that highlights your strengths while at the same time distinguishes the potential you have compared to your peers within the school environment.  

What Colleges want to See

“Colleges want to know you made the most of your time,” Goreal says, explaining the things involved in crafting a successful application. Even though earning a high title in a club or activity or winning many awards is a huge factor in impressing colleges, not all students can be presidents or national champions but it’s important to take a risk and work towards what you love. After hearing this, many students tend to join too many clubs, resulting in not being specialized in any area or subject. “Most successful people are focused on one or two different activities,” Goreal explains. He himself was in a lot of clubs but he wasn’t able to be highly specialized to get the most out of it. There was very little he could think of for college applications regarding the clubs and accomplishment aspect. “In a sense it was kind of embarrassing.” Although it is ideal to participate in clubs, Goreal says that you should dedicate yourself to something you’re good at and apply yourself heavily to a few clubs important to you. Over time, commitment can make you very good at what you’re working towards.  

In addition to joining clubs, you must also show off your skills and accomplishments. Think about the skills you have developed over years of practicing the things you enjoy and learning. How do you use those skills to help others and the community? How do you utilize those skills when you are faced with challenges? What is a passion that stems from that skill? Goreal suggests using that skill to help others and collaborate. “When you work with other people, everyone does a better job…” Goreal highlights collaboration and synergy as top points that colleges look for. Among your accomplishments and milestones, colleges also want to see how you are helping your community and your skills. “Illustrate the most exciting things you have done!” 

You also must talk about your passions in life as it is important to pursue what you enjoy working on. In addition to pursuing your passions, Goreal also suggests sharing knowledge with younger students as well. Colleges want to see you continually learning about those things that interest you and actively learn about the subjects or activities that you’re involved in. “When I talk with students at first it can be very challenging to express what you enjoy -- what you’re good at…” Expressing your passions can sometimes be a challenge, according to Goreal. He recommends just trying new and intriguing things to see what you like, and upon discovering your interests, try learning more about them or use them to do good in the community.  

Overall, colleges generally want someone who is well-rounded but especially good in their interests, all while learning new things and helping the people around them. 

Writing Essays

For the most part, applicants choose to write about general experiences such as their activities (both inside and out of school) and how that relates to the major they wish to pursue in college. This can be counterproductive if approached in the wrong way as general overarching hopes/experiences do not reveal much about your inner self. In more depth, you should generally write about your passions, how you help others, your extracurricular, and how you solve any challenges encountered. It is important to include your experiences and write vividly so you can captivate the readers and indirectly display positive character traits. “You should write vividly. And when I say vividly, I mean with a narrative flare.” Goreal suggests. He says that colleges mainly want to see your life experiences, how you’re committed to organizations, how you volunteer for good causes, and how you’re focused on what you’re doing. You must add in all the details while avoiding redundancies. Redundant information and ideas that are not fully developed are some red flags that should be avoided while writing your essays. Furthermore, it is essential to provide narration and tell a story in style. Everybody has their own style. Address that style in your essay. Colleges want to know: what’s different about you? How do you stand out? Making the reader visualize the writing gets them interested, so be descriptive. 

Additional Information:

During the talk, Kalven Goreal also provided some additional important information for applying to colleges. This includes researching, social media, letters of recommendation, and the three application decisions. 

“Research is your best friend.” Goreal encourages researching your schools and application requirements so that you know and have all the information ready and are prepared. Research is often a great tool to learn more about your college and raise your chances of having a fully prepared application. This also includes letters of recommendation from teachers, advisors, or mentors. You would want colleges to view you as a hard worker who is involved with both school and extracurricular activities. Teachers would also want to write a letter of recommendation for someone who is engaged in class, isn’t afraid to ask questions, does well in class, and shares their strengths with others. 

Another key point to look out for that Goreal elaborates on is social media. Goreal states that schools are very protective over the image of a “clean academic environment” that “doesn’t involved negative individuals” so it is very important to know that colleges can look through your social media and public information to see any bad behavior. Schools do not want someone who is disrespectful. Having a LinkedIn page can also be very useful if you are looking to be professional with businesses or college. It is a great platform to share your interests and accomplishments while giving you the opportunity to make professional contact. 

As for the application process itself, it is crucial to know about the three application decisions: early decision, early action, and regular decision. If you are interested in early decision, you must do everything early and sign a binding agreement, which ensures that you are 100% sure to attend that school right away when offered admission. Early decision is only allowed for one school so, as Goreal stated before, research is your best friend! Research the colleges you are interested in to see if early decision is the right decision. Early action, however, is a little different than early decision. For early action, you must also do everything earlier but it is not binding, unlike early decision. Since professors generally want students that do work earlier, it might be an advantage to apply for either of these since it sets you apart from regular decision applicants. Regular decision, on the other hand, is just the regular way to apply, with all the regular deadlines and requirements. There are certain tradeoffs between choosing the different types of college applications. Early decision has an increased chance of acceptance but is much more restrictive compared to early action and regular decision. Both EA and ED need to be submitted earlier leaving you with less time to refine and polish your essays, however, your acceptance/rejection results return much quicker (usually around December) which may alleviate additional stress that can build up later in the school year. Overall, it is up to the student which application method they choose as they are the best person to judge whether their applications are ready by the EA/ED deadline.

Q&A with Kalven Goreal:

Q: The common app has 6 essay prompts plus an essay of your choice. If I pick the topic of my choice, what are the pros and cons?

A: When I look at the common app application, I read all the prompts. I realize that this is the information that they want. That’s why they’re asking these particular questions and providing this particular prompt. They want to know about a time you were a leader or a time you helped solve a problem. Or they want to know what you’re really passionate about, a subject you’ve been studying -- inside and outside the classroom, or how you’ve helped your community. If you have something that is more important than helping your community or showing leadership or overcoming challenges, then you should share. It’s a bit of a risk and it’s very rare that what you share could not be presented in a different way under the other prompts. It’s a risk that I wouldn’t take personally if I was a student because it’s vague.

Q: Aside from scholarships, how big of a role do you think sports play in applications, compared to academics?

A: I played sports in high school and I was also a part of many academic activities -- science bowl and science olympiad being my favorite. I wanted to study physics in college but it turned out the college I went to did not have a physics program and I really wanted to go to that college so I changed my major to finance and economics instead. Ideally, the things you spend time on in high school are the same things you spend time on in college. I did play a lot of sports and spent a lot of time in my sport in college so I felt like I made the right decision for what I wanted at that time. Looking back, tennis is a great activity but spending all of those hours playing tennis was not very beneficial in a professional sense and most of life is professional. However, if you were to receive a scholarship, it’s completely different because the financial motivation to excel at that sport is greater than the passion to pursue an academic subject. Overall, academics are much more important than athletics in the sense that you’re going to be a student in college.

Q: If you weren’t sure what specific field you wanted to go into, how would you go about dedicating yourself to a select few clubs and organizations?

A: It’s really difficult to know what to apply yourself to without applying yourself to everything. If you don’t give yourself a chance, you won’t really be sure of what you’re good at or what you enjoy. Before I went to college, I had seven different jobs in eight months during my senior year of high school. I figured I needed to work and wanted to see all the different things there was to do. I found out pretty quickly -- seven different times -- that if you’re not very specialized, you’re not going to be happy doing the work that you’re doing. My rule of thumb is: if you’re not happy to be there, stop doing that activity. It’s not going to be worthwhile for you. I would definitely dedicate myself to the things that make me happy. 

Q: How important do you consider alumni interviews if they’re optional?

A: Whenever the word “optional” comes up in anything, I’ve learned that it really means mandatory. If they’re giving you the option of doing something, why wouldn’t you do it? So if they have an optional interview with an alumni, be confident! This is your opportunity to get in front of an alumni: someone that’s already been at the school that you want to go to. You get to find out what their college experience was like and you can show them how excited you are to go to that school. If you have the opportunity, you should take it. Otherwise, you’ll have many missed opportunities.

Q: Should I submit optional essays. Are they really optional?

A: Yes. If it’s “optional,” that means mandatory. You should complete it and use as many words as you’re given to complete the task. 

Q: What about the additional essay for details of circumstances or qualifications not related in the application? Is it a good idea to write another essay?

A: Different schools have different essays that ask you to discuss challenges in your life or large and great experiences that are now reflected in your application. Ideally, the great experiences are listed in your application and your essays make it very clear that you are highly involved in these activities that were very successful. The more challenging ones are the details of circumstances in your life that may be very difficult to share. I’ve been in that position and as I’ve grown older, I understand that this is a college application. It’s an application for an opportunity and you want to share the things that will make you stand out in a good way. There have been students that have had challenges and they’ve written about them in their essays. The largest focus for me is showing: how did you grow from this experience? What did you learn from it?

Q: Searching for college advisors is a pretty challenging thing. What is the criteria for selecting a college advisor? What makes the student stand out above and beyond everybody else, so they get to be the person that the college will pick?

A: If you’re looking for a college advisor or if you’re looking for someone that is going to help you through a very challenging process, ideally, you have someone that is aware of the challenges that you’re going to face and willing to make those challenges more manageable but not diminish those challenges. If the application process was easy, you’d just send in your grades and test scores and be done. It would be wise to have someone that makes you stronger as a thinker and a writer when you go through the process. When it comes to writing your essays, there’s a tendency for students to need help. It’s very important to have someone guide the students and help them think for themselves. If a student is not thinking for themselves, then they’re not going to succeed in college. A good college advisor will extract information from students. You have to work with someone you work well with.

Q: There are advisors that charge $10,000+ in hopes of helping students get into an Ivy League. In your opinion, is there anything special that they’re providing?

A: Definitely. When I first began working with high school seniors, I did some research on the area myself. I looked for what other companies were doing and how much they were charging but a lot of them don’t want to share what they’re charging. One of the companies was successful from what I remember and there were four Ivy League graduates that ran the company. They charged $15,000 to apply to one university and $35,000 for a full service application. On their list of services was strategic giving. This is when a company will advise you on making donations to a university strategically so that they remember you. At the end of the day, it’s an application process where students share what they’re good at. You want to be where you’re welcomed, not where you had to force your way into. I’ve observed that you can buy your way into a lot of things in life, but the things that matter; you probably want to work hard and earn them.

Q: You mentioned social media presence. If a person does not have any social media, do you recommend that they start building it younger so that colleges have something to refer to?

A: You don’t have to. No news is good news. If you don’t have anything, it’s very interesting and you stand out since most everybody has some sort of social media. However, if you were really involved in things you should have a LinkedIn page and you should follow some people. When it comes to other social media for recreational purposes, it’s not very impressive for a school. Their main focus is that you don’t do anything that you shouldn’t be doing using your social media. When it comes to sports it’s a little bit different because students have to share their experiences. However, there are websites that are solely dedicated to making athletic profiles. 


Student Discussion Panel - Terence Lee & Kevin Gao

Student Q&A panel, Kevin Gao (right) & Terence Lee

Student Q&A panel, Kevin Gao (right) & Terence Lee

As important it is to know about the whole application process, what goes into it, and how to craft an amazing application, it is also necessary to know about high school and college in general. Kevin Gao and Terence Lee led the student panel discussion where they talk about some helpful tips to prepare for college and Junior/Senior year of high school. 

High School

It is important to start getting ready for college early on during the high school years so you can give yourself a lot more time to try new things and do what you are interested in. Finding your interests can help expand the activities list for common apps and UC apps so colleges can have more to look at. “They see that list and they get a general sense of how you are -- but not much depth into it,” Kevin Gao, rising freshman at UC Berkeley and current president of EqOpTech states. Based on your application and what goes into it, colleges can get an overview of what kind of student and person you are and what you have accomplished. However, essays are where you get to talk about yourself and your experiences so colleges can actually see you in more depth. In the essays, you can talk about what you did in clubs, your accomplishments, something important, your hobbies, and much more. “For me, that was EqOpTech,” remarked Gao. In his common app essay, which was around 700 words, Gao wrote about his experience as president, obtaining the presidential and congressional awards, and how he was really dedicated and involved in EqOpTech. He talked about specific experiences such as delivering laptops and witnessing the emotions of kids receiving laptops for the first time. 

Gao also reminisced back on his time applying for colleges. “It was very miserable for me because I had to rush through it.” During the summer after junior year, Gao went to Japan and Minnesota for camp at a college. He said that he was in a mad rush for early action/decisions that were due on October 31st because he put off starting college apps due to other things. He suggests brainstorming starting at the beginning of summer, writing around september, and start with the UCs. Gao ended up applying to 5 early decision/actions, 7 UCs, and 20 schools in total. 

The application process can be rough, so finding someone to help, such as a college advisor, can be really helpful. Ideally, it should be someone who knows a lot about what you’re writing about. Terence Lee, rising sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and founder of EqOpTech, had his parents, english teacher, family friend, and Kalven Goreal helping with the essay. “It’s good to get as many perspectives as possible,” Lee recommends. “When you get people looking in from the outside, they’re able to catch things and provide you perspective that maybe you didn’t account for.”

College

Terence Lee gave his insight on the college experience in general during the student panel discussion as well. He applied to around 20 different colleges and didn’t really have any expectations for where he could get into or not. Lee applied to a broad range because “you’re never certain what colleges you’ll get into regardless of how much of an overachiever you are.” No matter how good your application looks, you can still get rejected. As for his senior year of high school, “I had a somewhat different senior year than most of you will probably have, as I participate in the high school dual enrollment at Foothill College” Lee assures. For his sophomore year, he took no APs and took 4 APs his junior year. Instead of taking a lot of AP classes, Lee signed up for several AP classes but dropped some in the first week because he took classes at Foothill college. These classes are recommended by him for reasons such as being able to be taught by college professors who were more focused on helping students learn material and get a better understanding rather than focusing on a final AP test. Lee also reminded students to check on the target colleges for transferred credits as not all AP tests are recognized by the colleges unlike community college credits are generally transferrable. 

In addition to high school experiences, Lee talked a lot about the general college experience and what to expect when you go there. For housing, there is usually 1 or 2 options: dorms or private housing. Some colleges require 1 year or more or even none at all for staying at their dorms. Lee states that dorms are “mediocre -- it’s what you’d come to expect” and he stayed in the private housing program, which is not part of the university but is a university certified housing arrangement. As for the food aspect of college, there is usually a meal plan which can be the number of swipes per semester or you can get a certain amount of credits to use for food. The workload in college is often different than in high school. According to Lee, you can’t really get by without putting 100% of your effort into the work given in college. He recommends definitely getting a calendar or planner and not loading up your schedule with hard classes during the first semester. “Don’t prioritize getting good grades over your personal health.” Don’t overwork or overload yourself with classes you can’t manage because in the end, that can result in a lot of stress put on you. 

Another important tip is to not compare yourself to others. In your classes, you’ll often notice that there will be people better than you and worse than you -- don’t compare yourself to your peers, but you can always ask them for help. Lee strongly recommends getting advice for the college life, especially from someone going to that university or an alumni. They’re the best source for that information since they actually attend college and get the firsthand experience.

Q&A -- Student Panel

Q: Realistically, how much time did you spend working on your essays to be satisfied before you submit them?

Terence: I spent most of my time working on the drafts during the summer when I had a lot more time. Even during the school year, I did spend most of my weekends working on the essays. I would say that I spent around 5 hours per day during the summer working on the essays. I had around 10-15 drafts before I was satisfied but that’ll vary with the essays as well as how much progression you make with each draft. Sometimes you’ll find that you will like previous drafts rather than recent ones, so it’s always good to keep a record of each draft you have. 

Q: Nowadays, technology is advancing very quickly. Should you focus on the software/hardware aspect for a “backup plan?”

Terence: It all depends on what you’re interested in. If you’re interested in technology and software, then you should make that choice. Although, there is always the risk that jobs will be outsourced by the time you graduate. It is also useful to find specialities and specialized skills. 

Q: What advice do you have for a rising junior or a rising sophomore?

Terence: It’s always good to start planning early. I would recommend starting to research colleges so you can get a general idea of what you want to major in or what colleges you want to look into. Maybe generate a list of the colleges you’re looking into. I had a spreadsheet of the colleges I wanted to apply to and over time, that list did change. You can always start planning early. As a rising sophomore or junior, you still have time to do the things that colleges look for in a student such as volunteering or taking on a leadership role. 

Kevin: High school is a marathon. You should challenge yourself as much as possible, all while trying to get A’s. You should focus on having a balanced life between school and activities. The college application is an evaluation of the past four years so as long as you follow what you want to do, you’ll do well. 

Terence: Colleges also would much rather see you start something and keep on doing it and bettering yourself at it rather than doing something maybe in your senior year that’s really impressive. They’re looking for time commitment and how you’re striving to do something continuously. So if you can start early, do something that you’re really passionate about and keep on working on it through high school. They want to see that you don’t give up easily.

Kalven: When I was in high school, I was on the science bowl team. When it came to our experiences as a group, we didn’t really get along at the beginning of the year. It was a tough experience but fast forward two years and we were spending two hours a day every Tuesday and Thursday practicing as a team. By our senior year, we won the entire competition and went to nationals. It’s very important to know that if you just take the time to apply yourself to something, work with other people, and working diligently, very good things will result out of that experience. 

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Courtesy of Joshua Kung, EqOpTech Digital Marketing


Featuring Kalven Goreal’ Q&A Students Panel, Terence Lee and Kevin Gao

Featuring Kalven Goreal’ Q&A Students Panel, Terence Lee and Kevin Gao

Thanks to AI in the classroom: the future is now

By Alice Liu

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are taking the world by storm with innovations and functionality in everyday life -- all while providing convenience and utilities to the community. AI is seen and used in simple services such as Siri to more complicated ones such as personalized lesson plans, which are commonly used in the classroom. The field of education has seen much improvement and development over the centuries with its new methods and technology. Whether it’s speech recognition or self-driving cars, AI has proved itself to be a useful force of technology for the future. Now, with the ever growing inventions and uses of Artificial Intelligence, teachers and students alike can find even more uses for tech in the classroom.

Girl has interactive online learning chemistry and biology course. Image credit: Dreamstime

Girl has interactive online learning chemistry and biology course. Image credit: Dreamstime

Personalized learning through AI

Teaching a class full of students and making sure that they all understand and retain the information being taught can be tough, especially when their ways of learning differ from each other. However, with AI in the classroom, teachers and students alike can use certain programs for smart content such as digitized textbooks, or intelligent tutoring systems that are catered to a student’s needs. 

Digitized Textbooks

Millions of students are using different digitized textbook software, namely Pearson, an educational software system that uses students’ data to automatically provide real time feedback like a teacher would. It is one of the many companies transitioning from paper to digital textbooks, making it easier to update new and improved material online and be accessible whenever and wherever. Pearson offers the up-to-date content for a reasonable price, which is something many other companies are doing in an attempt to digitize their paper textbooks and make it easier for students to access them. 

Another popular example of digitized learning is Rosetta Stone, where users can learn different languages with the help of an AI and virtual learning system. It uses image and speech recognition for the best and most effective user experience in learning foreign languages. Its technology identifies the word being spoken and the user’s voice data 100 times per second with native speaker samples and provides real-time assessment. Systems like Rosetta Stone and Pearson are innovative ways of helping people learn through AI-powered systems. Not only can a personalized learning experience be essential for a student’s understanding and success, but it can also provide useful information for teachers about how each student is learning so they can make changes to their curriculum. 

Intelligent Tutoring Systems

Students are different and unique in their own ways, whether it be their learning style, knowledge of different materials, or even personality. Either way, those differences and needs are usually customized by teachers in a learning environment, but could technology help with that even more? The answer is yes through learning algorithm of intelligent tutoring systems (“ ITS”).

ITS, using AI, can transform teaching to adapt to a student’s weaknesses and help them work on the areas they need the assistance on. In a case conducted by ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces), an ITS, the pass rate in a math course at Clemson University jumped from 45 to 70 percent after it was introduced to an AI software. Through cognitive and ITS, students can drastically improve their skills in a specific area. For example, if a student is struggling with a problem, cognitive tutoring systems will take data gathered from how the student answered previous questions, apply what they know from that data, and identify which part of the question that is difficult and follow up with exercises to help the student practice that skill. 

How AI empowers and augments teachers’ capabilities

The main difference between these AI-powered software systems and actual teachers in the classroom is that the former is more accessible through the internet. Despite the increased convenience of smart education systems, they will never be able to replace a good teacher. Instead, researchers are hoping for the AI to augment student learning by performing more menial tasks freeing up the teacher’s time to better motivate and connect with the students. 

On top of that, AI can be used to assist teachers in tasks such as grading and plagiarism checks. One major use of AI is Turnitin, an online plagiarism detector that promotes academic integrity within students and makes it easier for teachers to grade papers. Another system that utilizes AI is Gradescope, a grading software system that helps teachers grade and mark essays more efficiently. 

Needless to say, AI brings so much to the classroom. With other emerging technologies, it is entirely possible that AI may soon be taking over the classroom with new and innovative teaching and learning devices. From personalized courses to digital learning, AI is sure taking a different approach to the more “traditional” way of learning. According to Charles Fadel, the founder of the Center for Curriculum Redesign, “AI is arguably the number one driving technological force of the first half of the century…” AI can be seen improving students’ and teachers’ lives in the classroom by providing access to new information, intelligent tutoring systems, and just overall being a great resource to utilize in the classroom to enrich learning. 

Bottom line: Is AI helping or hurting our education system?

AI is becoming increasingly ubiquitous globally and permeating into our lives without our knowledge, according to the RAND Corporation reports, “AI has so far found a perch in three "core challenges" of teaching: intelligent tutoring systems, automated essay scoring and early warning systems to identify struggling students who may be at risk of not graduating.” As much as AI can be used to level the playing field of education, some fear that it may widen the AI divide as AI tools will help advanced students and affluent school districts excel more leaving other students lagging behind due to lack of computer technology and connectivity. As schools are starting to embrace AI in the classroom, students who do not have technology access are at a huge disadvantage. Researchers have long been concerned about the chicken and egg correlation between wealth and education. Ready or not, the AI revolution is here and is likely to exacerbate the education gap. Take actions, whether you are a teacher, student or technologist, everyone should get involved and collaborate to help shape the future of AI learning. Ultimately, It is up to key stakeholders to work towards lessening the digital divide between the haves and have-nots. Only then, will all be free to reap the benefits of AI.


Alice Liu serves as intern at Equal Opportunity Technology (EqOpTech), a nonprofit organization that promotes equal access to technology. EqOpTech strives to enable at-risk students with refurbished computers to leverage the AI education opportunity.


Works Cited:

Faggella, Daniel. “Examples of Artificial Intelligence in Education.” Emerj, Emerj, 24 Apr. 2019, emerj.com/ai-sector-overviews/examples-of-artificial-intelligence-in-education/.

Griswold, Alison. “This Cognitive Tutor Software Is Already Having A Revolutionary Effect.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 6 Mar. 2014, www.businessinsider.com/cognitive-models-and-computer-tutors-2014-3.

Johnson, Alyssa. “5 Ways AI Is Changing The Education Industry.” ELearning Industry, 15 Feb. 2019, elearningindustry.com/ai-is-changing-the-education-industry-5-ways.

Loeffler, John. “Personalized Learning: Artificial Intelligence and Education in the Future.” Interesting Engineering, Interesting Engineering, 25 Dec. 2018, interestingengineering.com/personalized-learning-artificial-intelligence-and-education-in-the-future.

“Looking for Something? You're in the Right Place.” Rosetta Stone® - Language-Learning Software with Speech Recognition, www.rosettastone.com/speech-recognition.

Marr, Bernard. “How Is AI Used In Education -- Real World Examples Of Today And A Peek Into The Future.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 25 July 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/07/25/how-is-ai-used-in-education-real-world-examples-of-today-and-a-peek-into-the-future/#17123993586e.

McKenzie, Lindsay. “Inside Higher Ed.” Pearson Goes All in on Digital-First Strategy for Textbooks, 16 July 2019, www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/07/16/pearson-goes-all-digital-first-strategy-textbooks.

Sandle, Tim. “Artificial Intelligence Used to Mark Exam Papers.” Digital Journal: A Global Digital Media Network, 29 May 2018, www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/artificial-intelligence-used-to-mark-exam-papers/article/523361.

Vander Ark, Tom. “The Promise and Implications of Artificial Intelligence in Education.” Getting Smart, 1 Apr. 2019, www.gettingsmart.com/2019/04/smart-review-the-promise-and-implications-of-artificial-intelligence-in-education/.

Zimmerman, Eli. “Educators Tailor Services to Individual Students with AI.” Technology Solutions That Drive Education, 27 June 2018, edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2018/06/educators-tailor-services-individual-students-ai.

Dian Schaffhauser, “AI in Education Shows Most Promise for the Repetitive and Predictable.” 28 February, 2019, thejournal.com/articles/2019/02/28/ai-in-education-shows-most-promise-for-the-repetitive-and-predictable.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award. Visit here for more information.

EqOpTech Experiences New Growth

By Sarah Yung

As June draws to a close, summer is kicking into full swing.  The LAHS campus bustles with summer camp and summer school students, downtown Los Altos comes alive with farmers’ markets, and my little sister’s coding camp just got interesting.  Rising seniors like myself ready themselves for the college application process, diving into research and essay-writing.  For EqOpTech as well, the end of June brings a breath of vitality with a new set of volunteer interns. 

EqOpTech Volunteer Intern Orientation 1 Meeting - The View Teen Center, June 22, 2019

EqOpTech Volunteer Intern Orientation 1 Meeting - The View Teen Center, June 22, 2019

This month, EqOpTech welcomed 22 volunteer interns to their ranks, including myself and my younger sister.  The organization’s volunteer count increased greatly from the previous year, alongside its impact.  Volunteers this year express interest in many areas, from computer refurbishing to digital marketing to grant proposal writing.  EqOpTech also received more laptop donations this year and deployed more laptops to MVLA schools and neighboring communities like East Palo Alto and San Jose.  The computer refurbishing program was EqOpTech’s founding project and one of its largest projects today.  The influx of new recruits will support the organization’s increased activity.

Terence Lee (Founder) demonstrated OS installation: Chrome, Linux Ubuntu & Lubuntu, CloudReady & Windows 10

Terence Lee (Founder) demonstrated OS installation: Chrome, Linux Ubuntu & Lubuntu, CloudReady & Windows 10

In the last meeting, new volunteer interns watched a series of demos on refurbishing Chromebooks. They also met EqOpTech’s founder, Terence Lee, and a current intern, Nate Latif. This group learned about a variety of topics related to refurbishing computers - including installing Linux Ubuntu and power-washing Chromebooks. This is the first meeting of a two-part orientation that will educate interns on the refurbishing process. The next meeting will focus primarily on computer hardware. However, volunteer interns can already begin working with computer supplies - the first meeting finished with a supplies pick up.

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My sister returned from orientation with a stack of Chromebooks, old and a little battered.  The car ride home shook off most of the dust from the computer covers, but if you look closely, you can still find some dust collected in the little nooks by the hinges and around the keys.  None of the computers turn on, sitting untouched for so long.  That’s why she also has a charger neatly wound next to the computers.  The computers perch on the corner of her desk as I write this, ready for a second life.  Although she has little experience when it comes to computer refurbishing, EqOpTech provides a number of resources to guide new volunteer interns.  Next meeting, she will bring in the refurbished computer supplies and they will be deployed to one of the schools EqOpTech works with. 

Although new recruits came from different backgrounds in technology, they all approached the computer refurbishing project with enthusiasm.  Terence Lee, the founder of EqOpTech, said they “were able to catch on relatively quickly [...]. This will allow them to explore other projects and/or step up and become mentors themselves.”  EqOpTech encourages volunteer interns to learn and troubleshoot independently, building important critical thinking skills applicable in school and beyond.  Maya Yung, a new recruit, says, “EqOpTech teaches you to be more independent so you can be a problem solver rather than immediately asking for help.”   

As one of the new recruits, I am excited to dive into my projects.  I see my lack of experience not as a disadvantage, but as an opportunity for growth.  EqOpTech also enters a new stage of growth, with more volunteer interns than ever before.  Senior members have the hefty task of guiding the many new volunteer interns.  Integrating these new recruits into the organization will take EqOpTech to new heights.  As June draws to a close, I look forward to helping EqOpTech flourish in July and beyond.


About EqOpTech

EqOpTech Inc., located in Los Altos, CA, is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization that promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities. Visit EqOpTech at www.eqoptech.org

Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award. Visit here for more information.

EqOpTech honors 2018 President's Volunteer Service Award winners

By Kevin Gao

Kevin Gao, Eric Che, Daniel Lim, Nate Latif, Trevor Smith (left to right) - 2018 President’s Volunteer Service Award medalists

Kevin Gao, Eric Che, Daniel Lim, Nate Latif, Trevor Smith (left to right) - 2018 President’s Volunteer Service Award medalists

EqOpTech volunteers receiving 2018 President's Volunteer Service Award - produced by Cedric Chan

2018 PRESIDENT'S VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD

The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role models Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers. EqOpTech, a PVSA certifying organization, shares a similar vision to empower and enable student volunteers with a platform to gain real-world experience and leadership skills and inspires them to give back to the community.

On March 3, 2019, EqOpTech is proud to celebrate volunteerism recognizing students from Saratoga High School and Los Altos High School for their service and commitment to the underserved community in the area of technology and education. We applaud their 2018 community service projects to level the playing field in education via technology.

Congratulations To EqOpTech's 2018 PVSA award winners. We are honored to award the following well-deserving students with the official PVSA medallion, personalized certificate of achievement together with a congratulatory letter from President of United States. 

  • Nate Latif, Bronze Award, Los Altos High School

  • Trevor Smith, Gold Award, Los Altos High School

  • Eric Che, Gold Award, Saratoga High School

  • Daniel Lim, Gold Award, Los Altos High School

  • Kevin Gao, Gold Award, Los Altos High School

"Thanks to EqOpTech for sponsoring this award and providing us this opportunity," said Kevin Gao, EqOpTech President. "We all know how important this is not only to our college applications, but also for being able to recognize the best of the American spirit and inspire everyone to live a life of community service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. Special thanks to EqOpTech’s board, Hing Lee and Lucy Lee for their guidance and support. I also want to thank everyone here for working so hard to refurbish laptops and coming up with creative solutions to improve the refurbishing results in the process of earning this award.”

A special thank you to Cedric Chan, our new intern for producing the 2018 PVSA ceremony iMovie.

Going forward, let's work together to make EqOpTech bigger, better and greater. 


ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD

The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role models Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers. In 2003, the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation launched the President's Volunteer Service Award to recognize the importance of volunteers to America's strength and national identity, and furthermore, to honor the deeply invested volunteers whose service is multiplied through the inspiration they give others.

The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes United States citizens and lawfully admitted, permanent residents of the United States who have achieved the required number of hours of service over a 12-month time period or cumulative hours over the course of a lifetime. To learn more about the President's Volunteer Service Award, visit www.presidentialserviceawards.gov

About EqOpTech

EqOpTech Inc., located in Los Altos, CA, is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization that promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities. Visit EqOpTech at www.eqoptech.org

Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award. Visit here for more information.

EqOpTech Donates Refurbished Laptops to Students in East Palo Alto

By Daniel Lim, EqOpTech Intern

EqOpTech of Los Altos, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit donated 56 refurbished laptops to middle school students living in East Palo Alto, most of which have never owned a laptop before.

Students standing in a circle were thrilled with their new laptops with Kevin Gao, EqOpTech President, standing in the back.

Students standing in a circle were thrilled with their new laptops with Kevin Gao, EqOpTech President, standing in the back.

Many children have never owned a laptop, so they are unable to do research projects or homework assigned to them at school. To make do, they have to borrow their parents’ smartphones when they are home to complete their work. However, the screens are too small and cause a strain on the eyes, not to mention the fact that the keyboards are tiny and unwieldy; a proper laptop is much better for work. The EqOpTech students-help-students program seeks to benefit needy students with technology tools and training to enhance their ability to excel academically. Since 2015, EqOpTech has launched a program to recycle, refurbish and redeploy unwanted laptops to support and teach the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) program benefiting underserved students in San Jose, Mountain View, Los Altos and East Palo Alto.

Each of EqOpTech’s Macbooks have been refurbished to replace their outdated Mac OS software. Students will now have easy access to computers for home use to take online classes such as Khan Academy and collaborate with classmates in online homework and research.  With our laptops, these children can do research at home and write essays using their laptops rather than having to go out to libraries to use public computers. Now, the students can independently browse the internet without needing to borrow the smartphones of their parents, and for as long as they want. We hope that through our laptops donation program, the children will not only open up new opportunities but also empower them to better their own lives with technology.  

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About EqOpTech

EqOpTech Inc. is an IRS-designated tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that enables free, equal opportunity learning via access to technology in under-served community. EqOpTech provides easy access to computer hardware, software, and mentor support in STEM education. For more information, visit www.EqOpTech.org. Follow EqOpTech on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

Congratulations to 2018 EqOpTech Award Winners

The Equal Opportunity Technology Program provides both leadership opportunities and real work experiences for student volunteers. It is with great pride and honor to recognize the following recipients of this year’s EqOpTech Awards for their demonstrated passion and above-and-beyond commitment serving as leaders and role models for others. 

Kevin Gao (right), Terence Lee

Kevin Gao (right), Terence Lee

Daniel Lim (right), Terence Lee

Daniel Lim (right), Terence Lee

2018 LEADERSHIP AWARD *

The 2018 EqOpTech Leadership Award goes to:

·        Kevin Gao, Class of 2019, Los Altos High School

·        Daniel Lim, Class of 2020, Los Altos High School.

Kevin Gao leads the EqOpTech’s Computer Refurbishing Workshop at Los Altos High School with members of National Honor Society. He is very team oriented, engages all volunteers to give back to the community while learning technical computer skills. Kevin is an effective collaborator with community leaders; cultivating community partnership with Rambus Inc. and Sunday Friends to jointly recycle, refurbish and redeploy used laptops for students in need. We thank you, Kevin for your good citizenship, leadership and contributions to promote equal access to technology.

Daniel Lim leads the Computer-in-the-Box program at Egan Junior High School to revive used computers. He trains students in computer skills while giving back to underserved community, and act as a role model for students. On his own initiative, Daniel initiates a laptop donation program to Uganda, enabling a business school student technology access to do homework and research. EqOpTech is especially proud of your passion, initiative and creativity to help needy students to excel in STEM education. We thank you, Daniel for your commitment, contributions and inspiration.

*EqOpTech Leadership Award is sponsored by the Lee Family Trust.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

Rambus Donates Surplus Laptops to EqOpTech for At-risk Students

Los Altos – EqOpTech of Los Altos, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is teaming up with Rambus to deploy used laptops to provide equal access to technology, as part of an ongoing computer reuse initiative to benefit needy students and minimize e-waste. 

Kevin Gao (left) EqOpTech President, Terence Lee (EqOpTech Founder), Minhaj Shahab (Rambus), Ramesh Khanna (Rambus)

Kevin Gao (left) EqOpTech President, Terence Lee (EqOpTech Founder), Minhaj Shahab (Rambus), Ramesh Khanna (Rambus)

Since 2015, EqOpTech has launched a program to recycle, refurbish and redeploy unwanted laptops to support and teach the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) program benefiting underserved students in San Jose, Mountain View, Los Altos and East Palo Alto. Kids from low-income families will now have easy access to computers for home use to take online classes such as Khan Academy and collaborate with classmates in online homework and research.

Rambus Incorporated, founded in 1990, is an American technology licensing company, has donated its surplus laptops to support EqOpTech's computer reuse program. EqOpTech will install new hard disk drives onto the donated laptops helping to prolong their service life and reinstall all operating systems, drivers, and software to restore the computer to its original full functionality. Over the last two years, EqOpTech has given a new and purposeful second life to hundreds of used laptop computers and put them back to productive use for students in need.

About EqOpTech
EqOpTech Inc. is an IRS-designated tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that enables free, equal opportunity learning via access to technology in under-served community. EqOpTech provides easy access to computer hardware, software, and mentor support in STEM education. For more information, visit www.EqOpTech.org. Follow EqOpTech on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

About Rambus Inc.

Dedicated to making data faster and safer, Rambus creates innovative hardware, software and services that drive technology advancements from the data center to the mobile edge. Our architecture licenses, IP cores, chips, software, and services span memory and interfaces, security, and emerging technologies to positively impact the modern world. We collaborate with the industry, partnering with leading chip and system designers, foundries, and service providers. Integrated into tens of billions of devices and systems, our products and technologies power and secure diverse applications, including Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) security, mobile payments, and smart ticketing. For more information, visit rambus.com.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

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KPIX 5 CBS Donates Used Computers to EqOpTech for Students In Need

KPIX 5 CBS surveys conducted within the last year show more than one in ten California households don’t have access to the internet because many cannot afford a computer. EqOpTech Inc. of Los Altos, Jefferson Award winner, deploys used computers to provide equal access to technology and minimize e-waste.

Jeff Jeandheur, KPIX 5 CBS, VP of Engineering (right) and Terence Lee, EqOpTech Founder

Jeff Jeandheur, KPIX 5 CBS, VP of Engineering (right) and Terence Lee, EqOpTech Founder

KPIX 5 has donated its surplus computer equipment to support EqOpTech's computer reuse program. EqOpTech will install new hard disk drives onto the donated laptops and reinstall all operating systems, drivers, and software to restore the computer to its original full functionality. Over the last two years, EqOpTech has given a new and purposeful second life to hundreds of used laptop computers and put them back to productive use for students in need.

Since 2015, EqOpTech has launched a program to recycle, refurbish and redeploy unwanted laptops to support and teach the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) program benefiting underserved students in San Jose, Mountain View, Los Altos and East Palo Alto. Kids from low-income families will now have easy access to computers for home use to take online classes such as Khan Academy and collaborate with classmates in online homework and research. 

A special thank you to CBS/KPIX 5 reporters for producing and airing the Jefferson Awards story and help us get the word out to the community. Community collaboration is key to our success in enabling technology and fighting inequity. We team up with local schools, service clubs and companies to host refurbish workshop, tech talk series and STEM-related workshops to teach, mentor and motivate young learners to develop STEM interests and skills.  Over the last two years, EqOpTech has revived hundreds of used laptop computers and put them back to productive use for students in need.

About EqOpTech
EqOpTech Inc. is an IRS-designated tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that enables free, equal opportunity learning via access to technology in under-served community. EqOpTech provides easy access to computer hardware, software, and mentor support in STEM education. For more information, visit www.EqOpTech.org. Follow EqOpTech on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

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Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

EqOpTech Deploys Refurbished Laptops at Sunday Friends

By Terence Lee

Earning Laptop Computers at Sunday Friends

Kids attending Sunday Friends' program are eligible to earn laptops refurbished by EqOpTech by attending STEM classes and meeting a series of challenging objectives.

Terence Lee (left), Kevin Gao, Vijay Talati - kid earning his first refurbished laptop at Sunday Friends

Terence Lee (left), Kevin Gao, Vijay Talati - kid earning his first refurbished laptop at Sunday Friends

How do low income kids earn the laptops at Sunday Friends?

Kids and families participate in classes and computer guided curricula to learn math, financial literacy and/or computer programming. "It takes perseverance and several months to earn a computer", says Sunday Friends. "You should see the pride and excitement on each child's face when the goal is met!"

Who provides the refurbished laptops?

EqOpTech, a student-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit promotes equal opportunity access to technology for education. The nonprofit refurbishes and deploys unwanted laptops to students in need to enable easy access to the cloud (Google Drive) to complete homework, projects and access online educational content.

EqOpTech receives used laptop donations from the community including tech companies, partners, local school districts, and individuals. EqOpTech student leaders then train volunteers to wipe clean the hard drives, refurbish and reinstall all operating systems, update drivers and software to restore the computer to its original full functionality. To close the learning gap for students without tech access, the team engages school clubs both at Los Altos High School and Egan Junior High School as well as the LAHS National Honor Society, working tirelessly to fix up, upgrade and install necessary software on all donated laptops and tablets.

What difference a Laptop makes?

With these laptops, kids can do homework on their own computers at home, access Khan Academy, making it easier to keep up with school work. Not only do refurbished laptops receive a purposeful second life but students are also given an equal opportunity to compete academically and break the cycle of poverty. With a big smile on their faces, each recipient shares their unique story of what the new computer means to them.

Sunday Friends and my family would like to thank EqOpTech for fixing laptops and tablets and donating them for kids. My children learn so much by using the tablets. By Nubia Tellez
Thank you for fixing computer laptops and tablets and donating them to Sunday Friends for kids to earn. By Michelle Villegas
Thank you so much for your donation to our Sunday Friends program. Thank you for fixing the computer laptops and tablets and donating them to Sunday Friends for kids to learn. By Nataba Botello
EqOpTech student leaders providing orientation to student on his first refurbished laptop

EqOpTech student leaders providing orientation to student on his first refurbished laptop

Vanessa Torres (left to right), Terence Lee, Kevin Gao, James McCaskill, Janis Baron, Arushi Goyal, Vijay Talati

Vanessa Torres (left to right), Terence Lee, Kevin Gao, James McCaskill, Janis Baron, Arushi Goyal, Vijay Talati


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

EqOpTech honors 2017 President's Volunteer Service Award winners

By Terence Lee

Zosia Stafford, Terence Lee, Kevin Gao, Daniel Lim, Trevor Smith (left to right)

Zosia Stafford, Terence Lee, Kevin Gao, Daniel Lim, Trevor Smith (left to right)

2017 President's Volunteer Service Award

Originally created by President George W. Bush, the Presidential Voluntary Service Award ("PVSA") aims to recognize the best of the American spirit and inspire everyone to live a life of community/volunteer service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. EqOpTech, a PVSA certifying organization, shares a similar vision to empower and enable student volunteers with a platform to gain real-world experience and leadership skills and inspires them to give back to the community.

On May 25, 2018, EqOpTech is proud to celebrate volunteerism recognizing students from Los Altos High School for their service and commitment to the underserved community in the area of technology and education. We applaud their 2017 community service projects to level the playing field in education.

Congratulations To EqOpTech's 2017 PVSA award winners. We are honored to award the following well-deserving students with the official PVSA medallion, personalized certificate of achievement together with a congratulatory letter from President of United States. 

  • Zosia Stafford, Bronze Award, Los Altos High School
  • Trevor Smith, Silver Award, Los Altos High School
  • Daniel Lim, Gold Award, Los Altos High School
  • Kevin Gao, Gold Award, Los Altos High School
  • Terence Lee, Gold Award, Los Altos High School

PVSA Volunteers - Thank You For The Inspiration

Thank you to EqOpTech's PVSA volunteers for your passion, leadership and service in providing equal access to technology tools and resources in under-served communities. Your recognition inspires others to make an impact to change the world!

"The EqOpTech Board of Directors and Advisers joins me in congratulating all awardees for achieving this prestigious award," said Terence Lee, EqOpTech Founder. "Participating in the PVSA program has been a rewarding experience for both awardees and EqOpTech. This award has helped further our goals as a nonprofit serving to inspire our volunteers to go beyond what they would normally do and as a result have learned and developed greatly." A special thank you to Sra. Terri Salsman de Rodriguex, LAHS Spanish Teacher & EqOpTech Adviser for hosting the award ceremony and continuous support. 

EqOpTech Inc. is proud to serve as an official certifying organization for the President's Volunteer Service Award. PVSA is offered to several age groups and each level corresponds to a different number of service hours within a 12 month period. Levels include bronze, silver, gold and the highest honor, the President's Lifetime Achievement Award.

For Award Criteria, please visit here. For more information on hours requirements, visit the President's Volunteer Service Award webpage or e-mail contact@eqoptech.org.

About the Presidential Volunteer Service Award

The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes, celebrates and holds up as role models Americans making a positive impact as engaged and deeply committed volunteers. In 2003, the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation launched the President's Volunteer Service Award to recognize the importance of volunteers to America's strength and national identity, and furthermore, to honor the deeply invested volunteers whose service is multiplied through the inspiration they give others.

The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes United States citizens and lawfully admitted, permanent residents of the United States who have achieved the required number of hours of service over a 12-month time period or cumulative hours over the course of a lifetime. To learn more about the President's Volunteer Service Award, visit www.presidentialserviceawards.gov

About EqOpTech

EqOpTech Inc., located in Los Altos, CA, is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization that promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities. Visit EqOpTech at www.eqoptech.org

Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award. Visit here for more information.

Refurbished Laptops Benefiting At-Risk Students at Blach School

By Terence Lee, May 19, 2018

Bhavna Narula (Blach Principal), Kevin Gao (EqOpTech President), Terence Lee (EqOpTech Founder) - Left to Right

Bhavna Narula (Blach Principal), Kevin Gao (EqOpTech President), Terence Lee (EqOpTech Founder) - Left to Right

EqOpTech, a Los Altos 501(C)(3) student-run nonprofit, promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education for students in need.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY FOR EDUCATION AND STEM LEARNING

EqOpTech partners with Blach Junior High School to launch a laptop drive to benefit students in need. All donated laptops are refurbished and deployed to students who do not have easy access to online educational content.

The 21st century project-based learning is the future of education. Technology is deeply integrated into project-based learning; students are expected to learn and leverage technology tools, from online research, collaboration using google hangouts or google docs to shooting video, iMovies for TED talks.

Likewise, teachers use tools like Edmodo, Membean and other Google tools to foster collaboration and student engagement. This collaborative environment aims at sharpening student's research and analytical skills as well as teamwork and project management experience expected of them in the real world. For this reason, it is essential that students have access to laptops both in class and at home. 

BRIDGING THE DIGITAL EDUCATION DIVIDE

The traditional classroom now transforms into a virtual classroom that extends learning beyond the physical classroom. This poses a learning challenge for students who do not have laptops at home. Not only are these students unable to access online research at home, but they also cannot collaborate real-time with classmates to prepare for classroom discussion. Overtime, students without laptop will be lagging behind their peers, learning at a slower pace.

To bridge the gap for students who do not have laptops at home, Lee, Gao, and their tech team, student volunteers, including LAHS National Honor Society work tirelessly in various Refurbish Workshops to repair, upgrade and install necessary software on all donated laptops. The EqOpTech technical team taught students basic PC refurbishing skills (Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromium) such as removal of personal data, restore to factory settings, install drivers, maintenance; operating system & software installation, partition hard drive and dual boot, upgrade and repair; and security etc.

LAPTOP HOME USAGE PROGRAM AT LOCAL SCHOOLS

EqOpTech is seeking functioning laptops (Windows & Mac) with appropriate power adapters on an ongoing basis. Each laptop will be refurbished to its full functionality with operating system and removal of all personal data prior to redeployment. 

"Our goal is to promote equal opportunity learning through technology tools," according to Terence Lee, CEO and Founder of EqOpTech. "All donated laptops will be refurbished and redeployed to kids who do not have easy access to Google Drive and other cloud-based applications." 

This project is funded in part by a community grant award from Los Altos Community Foundation, thank you LACF!

A BIG THANK YOU

The EqOpTech team would like to express its sincere gratitude to the donors, silicon valley tech companies, Principal Bhavna Narula, Ms. Alice Lee, LAHS Teacher Sra. Rodriguex, Principal Wynn Satterwhite, Los Altos School District, Los Altos Town Crier, Nextdoor Community for their support. 

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TECHNOLOGY

About EqOpTech Inc.
Founded in May 2016, EqOpTech is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization managed by students. EqOpTech promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

The World of Data Science - EqOpTech Tech Talk Series #7

By Kevin Gao

On September 16, 2017, EqOpTech hosts a seventh tech talk in a series of Speaker/Workshop for students interested in the tech fields. This tech talk features Andreas Santucci, a data scientist and lecturer at Stanford University. 

In this segment, Andreas talks about how he got to where he is today: the challenges he had to overcome, the path he took to get here, and how he became a data scientist, despite originally wanting to be a lawyer. The world of data science enables him to combine his personal interest using predictive analysis to make sense of the world around him while at the same time provides for an opportunity to problem-solve and innovate.

*Choosing your own path to success*

Andreas Santucci,  Data Scientist, Cardinal Analytx Solutions. Stanford Lecturer

Andreas Santucci,  Data Scientist, Cardinal Analytx Solutions. Stanford Lecturer

Andreas reveals that going straight to a four-year college after high school is not the only path you can take; he describes the path he took, which helped him greatly in discovering his interests and getting him prepared for college. 

After finishing high school at Los Altos High, Andreas was accepted into many schools, including UC Santa Cruz, but instead chose to go to Foothill College, the local community college, as the courses offered at Foothill were more interesting and offered more freedom. 

Many people do not view community college as a typical path, but it does have its merits. For example, some benefits to going to Foothill College include:

-Offers transfer agreement guarantees to all UC’s except UCLA and UC Berkeley, meaning you are guaranteed a spot in the college as long as you take basic courses and maintain a decent GPA.

-Professors are very good, and Andreas comments on how some of his best professors in Stanford, Berkeley, and Foothill have been from Foothill College.

-All the opportunities are there for you to grab; if you are self-motivated, you can get a lot out of the program and widely expand your horizons.

-Being able to enter a 4 year university afterwards knowing exactly what you want to major in and what you want to study, instead of having to start from scratch.

Out of Foothill, Andreas went on to UC Berkeley, where he tried out for diving for the first time ever, and after training 30-40 hours per week, he soon found himself a spot on the diving team’s travel squad. At the same time, he maintained a high GPA and received the highest honors in his economics courses, and from there he went on to Stanford University.

*Deciding on an Interest*

What Andreas’ path demonstrates is that our interests or what we want to major can evolve over time. While he was in high school, he always thought he was going to be a lawyer when he grew up. In Foothill College, he explored other disciplines and developed an interest in economics from among the many courses he took there. In the next two years, he completed all the economics that the college had to offer. At UC Berkeley, he continued taking economics courses, while still believing that he would be going to law school soon enough. In his final year, he took a course in econometrics, an economics class which uses mathematics, and mostly statistics, and he found it to be the “most useful facet of economics”. Before long, he began to delve into STEM, learning to program first in stata, a pseudo programming language, and eventually onto more complicated ones. At an internship in an economics consulting firm, he learned the R programming language, and went on to become a data scientist.

In fact, this is not uncommon at all; statistics show that 80 percent of all students in the United States change their majors at least once, and on average a student will change their major three times. This is valuable because it emphasizes how important it is to have an open mind going into things, and how we should be motivated to try and explore our interests in the early years of college. If you think you’ve got your future job laid out for you already, think twice about it; there are almost 2000 majors out there, and you probably haven’t explored even a quarter of them yet.

*Following your interests*

An obvious point that is not so obvious to many is to choose something you really want to do. And if you have multiple interests, why not do something that combines elements from each interest? Andreas shows everybody exactly this, as he combines two things he really enjoys, data science and sports, into the work that he does. 

At UC Berkeley, Andreas was very active on the diving team, where he frequently went to competitions and slowly made his way up the ladder, starting from scratch and ending up on the travel squad team. At the same time, he was also starting to take courses relating to statistics. Combining these two, he conducted a study on what effects of being a student athlete had on a student’s grades. Later on, he would further investigate similar topics, such as: Is there a causal effect of major sports teams visiting night life teams? What happens the next day; do they get a “hangover” effect? Through this, he was able to use a subject he was interested in, numbers and statistics, to calculate something that he really cared about.

*Don’t be afraid to explore a different path*

Andreas shared that he pursued a different track from his peers at graduate school in Stanford; he took summer courses to jumpstart the program. He focused on a solid programming curriculum and built connections with students that have complimentary skillset such as in applied math and took on joint projects requiring programming and math skills. In his first year, he got an internship at Lawrence Livermore using machine learning to develop early prediction or one-step prognosis of sepsis infection contracted while in hospital. He teamed up with Kaiser Permanente by accessing electronic medical records to analyze patterns while patients are in ICU before getting into septic shock. Andreas built tooling using distributed computing system with Spark to develop the analytics tools. In his second year, he took core PhD courses and qualifying exams for PhD. His reputation of good note taking led him to a teaching opportunity at Stanford. He was voted Graduate Teaching Fellow at Stanford.

Motivated by his personal interest to phase out the time-consuming manual grading by TA, Andreas engineered an AutoGrader system, to facilitate programmatic grading of students' computer programs using machine learning.

At Cardinal Analytx Solutions, Andreas’ role as a data scientist is to use advanced machine learning models to predict future high cost member event and work with clinician teams to recommend medical intervention to improving the quality of care while containing costs.

*From Walked-on to Rising-above*

Andreas "walked-on" to the school's Swim and Dive team at UC Berkeley, and he earned a spot after the official roster had been set. This is Andreas’ inspiring story: his work ethics, passion, hard work and motivation propel him to rise up and achieve great things. EqOpTech would like to sincerely thank our speaker for taking the time to share his experiences and invaluable words of advice.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

EqOpTech Sends Refurbished Laptops to Uganda

By Daniel Lim, EpOpTech Intern

In the Silicon Valley, technology and WiFi are ubiquitous necessities that are used on a daily basis for everything from doing research to finding routes.  However, in many third world countries, the advanced technology that the Silicon Valley takes for granted are rare and precious.

Changing the Life of a Business School Student

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On November 2017, the 24-year-old student, Paul Mwanika, from Uganda received a refurbished Macbook from EqOpTech.  Paul attends a business school, where there is WiFi, yet back at his home village he has no internet connection and the computer is less useful.  Without WiFi, he cannot access the internet and is restricted to simply using the apps he has on his laptop, or anything he has downloaded. Most places in Uganda do not have any WiFi, so technology is a luxury that the vast majority cannot enjoy.  Since receiving his laptop, Paul has been using it in his daily life. As a student, he uses the laptop for note taking, research, sharing files, creating presentations, and social networking. As a young adult, he uses it for personal entertainment by interacting with people from all over the world using FaceBook, Twitter, and email.  

A Portable Resource

Paul believes that ”laptops are embraced because of the technological tools they offer combined with their portability.”  His laptop allows him to access all the materials he needs for schoolwork, including but not limited to classroom notes, articles, or software for creating videos and presentations while he is at campus.  Without his laptop, he either must carry all his class documents with him or look for a communal computer to access class materials.

Note Taking Made Easy

Compared to writing out all his assignments on paper, Paul prefers typing on digital documents much more.  Paul states, “Typing can make the writing process go faster and tools in word processing software make it easier for me to edit my work.”  Before receiving his laptop, he had to write out essays and paragraphs with pencil and paper, which made it difficult to edit and easily misplaced, losing hours of writing and revising.  Paul points this out, saying “digital notes can be stored and backed up so they are not lost unlike paper notes which may become destroyed or lost.”

Future Plans

Seeing the impact the laptop had on a student from Uganda, EqOpTech will continue to donate refurbished laptops to Uganda in hopes of positively impacting more people from around the globe.  

About EqOpTech

EqOpTech Inc. is an IRS-designated tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that enables free, equal opportunity learning via access to technology in under-served community. EqOpTech provides easy access to computer hardware, software, and mentor support in STEM education. For more information, visit www.EqOpTech.org. Follow EqOpTech on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.


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Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

IDT Donates Used Laptops to EqOpTech Through “Acts of Giving” Program

Los Altos – EqOpTech of Los Altos, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is teaming up with Integrated Device Technology (IDT) to redeploy used laptops to provide equal access to technology, as part of an ongoing computer reuse initiative to benefit needy students and minimize e-waste. 

Kristina Bullock, IDT, Principal HR Business Partner and Manager of the IDT Acts of Giving Program (right) and Terence Lee, EqOpTech Founder/CEO

Kristina Bullock, IDT, Principal HR Business Partner and Manager of the IDT Acts of Giving Program (right) and Terence Lee, EqOpTech Founder/CEO

Since 2015, EqOpTech has launched a program to recycle, refurbish and redeploy unwanted laptops to support and teach the Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) program benefiting underserved students in San Jose, Mountain View and Los Altos. Kids from low-income families will now have easy access to computers for home use to take online classes such as Khan Academy and collaborate with classmates in online research.

IDT, a leader in semiconductor solutions, has donated its surplus laptops to support EqOpTech's computer reuse program. IDT has generously installed new hard disk drives onto the donated laptops helping to prolong their service life. EqOpTech will then refurbish and reinstall all operating systems, drivers, and software to restore the computer to its original full functionality. Over the last two years, EqOpTech has given a new and purposeful second life to hundreds of used laptop computers and put them back to productive use for students in need.

About EqOpTech
EqOpTech Inc. is an IRS-designated tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that enables free, equal opportunity learning via access to technology in under-served community. EqOpTech provides easy access to computer hardware, software, and mentor support in STEM education. For more information, visit www.EqOpTech.org. Follow EqOpTech on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.

About IDT

Integrated Device Technology, Inc. develops system-level solutions that optimize its customers' applications. IDT's market-leading products in RF, high performance timing, memory interface, real-time interconnect, optical interconnect, wireless power, and smart sensors are among the company's broad array of complete mixed-signal solutions for the communications, computing, consumer, automotive and industrial segments. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., IDT has design, manufacturing, sales facilities and distribution partners throughout the world. IDT stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Stock Market® under the symbol "IDTI." Additional information about IDT can be found at www.IDT.com. Follow IDT on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and YouTube.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

 

Refurbished Laptop Home Program at Monta Loma Elementary School, Mountain View

By Terence Lee

EqOpTech, a Los Altos student-run nonprofit, promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education for students in need.

Terence Lee, Shanna Bengtson, Gloria Higgins, Monta Loma Principal (left to right)

Terence Lee, Shanna Bengtson, Gloria Higgins, Monta Loma Principal (left to right)

Equal Opportunity Learning via Technology

EqOpTech partners with Monta Loma Elementary School, Mountain View, to launch a laptop drive to benefit at-risk students. “Our goal is to promote equal opportunity learning through technology tools,” Lee said. “All donated laptops will be redeployed to kids who do not have easy access to online educational content.”

Students in the Mountain View/Los Altos School District often work collaboratively on project-based learning using tools such as Google Docs and Edmodo.

“This collaborative environment aims at sharpening students’ research and analytical skills as well as teamwork and project management experience expected of them in the real world,” Lee said. “For this reason, it is essential that students have access to laptops both in class and at home.”

To bridge the gap for students who do not have laptops at home, Lee and his tech team work tirelessly in the weekly LAHS Refurbish Workshops to reinstall all operating systems, drivers, and software to restore the computer to its original full functionality. All personal data removed prior to redeployment. 

The Monta Loma laptop home usage program will be deployed in 2 phases: the first 10 refurbished laptops have been delivered to the school on September 1, 2017.

A Big Thank You

The EqOpTech team would like to express its sincere gratitude to the donors, student volunteers, Monta Loma PTA, Principal Gloria Higgins, Ms. Alice Lee, Shanna Bengtson, LAHS Teacher Sra. Rodriguex, LAHS National Honor Society, Principal Wynn Satterwhite, Los Altos Town Crier, Nextdoor Community for their support. 

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Terence Lee, Shanna Bengtson, Gloria Higgins (left to right)

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY TECHNOLOGY

About EqOpTech Inc.
Founded in May 2016, EqOpTech is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization managed by students. EqOpTech promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

Level The Playing Field with Refurbished Computers

John Wynbeek, San Jose Christian School IT Director (right) and Terence Lee, EqOpTech Founder

John Wynbeek, San Jose Christian School IT Director (right) and Terence Lee, EqOpTech Founder

By Terence Lee

With the wealth of technology here in the Silicon Valley, there is an abundance of old technology slated for e-waste. Yet, many at-risk students do not have easy access to computers to complete online homework assignments or collaborate with classmates on projects. EqOpTech aims to provide free access to technology via refurbished computers to empower students to learn through technology. 

In order to prepare all students to compete effectively, it is critical to level the playing field in education technology. To address the root cause of the education divide, the Equal Opportunity Technology program seeks to empower students with technology tools & service support to learn STEM at an early age. Through partnerships with school clubs and service organizations, we aim to expose these young learners to develop early STEM skills & foster a focused, enriched environment for positive learning

A big thank you to San Jose Christian School for their generous donation of a MacBooks collection to EqOpTech's. Through the Computer-in-a-Box program, student volunteers will install Linux OS as a dual boot to enable access to the latest Google applications onto these MacBooks.

A special thank you to CBS/KPIX5 reporters for producing and airing the Jefferson Awards story and help us get the word out to the community. Community collaboration is key to our success in enabling technology and fighting inequity. We team up with local schools, service clubs and companies to host refurbish workshop, tech talk series and STEM-related workshops to teach, mentor and motivate young learners to develop STEM interests and skills.  Over the last two years, EqOpTech has revived hundreds of used laptop computers and put them back to productive use for students in need.

About EqOpTech

EqOpTech Inc., located in Los Altos, CA, is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization that promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities. Visit EqOpTech at www.eqoptech.org

Terence Lee (left), John Wynbeek

Terence Lee (left), John Wynbeek

About EqOpTech

EqOpTech Inc., located in Los Altos, CA, is a 501(c)(3) IRS-designated tax exempt nonprofit organization that promotes and enables equal opportunity free access to technology for computer learning and STEM education in under-served communities. Visit EqOpTech at www.eqoptech.org


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

From Gold to Bitcoin - EqOpTech Speaker/Workshop Series 6

By Kevin Gao

On August 12, 2017, EqOpTech hosts a sixth tech talk in a series of Speaker/Workshop for students interested in the tech fields. The tech talk features Scott Best, technical director of anti-counterfeiting in the Rambus Cryptography Research Division.

Scott Best, Technical Director, Rambus Crytography Research Division

Scott Best, Technical Director, Rambus Crytography Research Division

**What is Gold?**

Best leads off the meeting by introducing gold: why is it so special? From all the elements on our periodic table, why does gold hold such an important role? 

We all know that gold is a rare and precious metal, but where exactly does it come from? When a star explodes (going supernova!), it scatters precious metals all across the universe. In the form of meteorites, many of these metals landed on our planets hundreds of millions of years ago. Among these were many of our well-known metals today, including nickel, copper, platinum, and of course, gold.

**Money**

Money is something that has been around since early civilization, going all the way back to when Aristotle postulated that a good form of money must be durable, portable, divisible, and have an independent value. For centuries, people have used it as a quick, easy way to exchange goods and to be able to repay a debt without having to bring items of similar values. In his talk, Best describes money as “a matter of functions four: a medium, a measure, a standard, a store”. In other words, for something to be money, it must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Medium: can buy stuff with it?
  • Measure: how valuable is that thing?
  • Standard: how much do you owe me?
  • Store: piggy bank

Two types of money that fits these requirements are our currency and credit cards, both of which we see very often in our daily lives. Before these were created, another type of money used was in the form of gold. Best describes that while other metals may be too abundant or dangerous to serve as a form of money, gold is finite and valuable, fitting the requirements above perfectly. Finally, another form of money has recently come into existence: the bitcoin.

**Security!!**

Best dives into the security of our credit cards; in addition to the magnetic stripes and the 16-digit code with a pattern (Luhn Algorithm), cards are now equipped with microchips that make them even more secure. However, even with all these layers of protection, credit cards can still be hacked. The magical code pattern for the digits of a credit card follows a simple addition algorithm, and other parts can still be replicated. Even if the chance may seem infinitesimal, there’s always a risk of a successful attack. 

In contrary to using addition as a form of security, cryptographers like Best perform what is known as "hashing." In his presentation, Best uses a deck of playing cards to simulate the process of hashing, using random numbers to perform a set amount of operations on the cards, thus generating a final position. When trying to guess the initial number with a final position, however, he demonstrates that it is nearly impossible. Best shows that hashing is “very easy in one direction… and almost impossible in the other”, and explains that while many of the elite cryptographers have tried to break the code, the only method available right now is to guess and check, making it nearly impossible to hack.

**Bitcoin**

Finally, Best covers the big topic: the bitcoin. To many, the term is new or foggy - and it should be. After all, it was launched as a currency in 2009, and has only continued to expand each year. The bitcoin is a form of currency, just like gold or paper money, that can be spent or saved online. To understand the bitcoin, we must also understand the blockchain. The blockchain is essentially a ledger, a group of transactions displayed in a list, and a bitcoin is an entry on that ledger.

What makes the bitcoin so great? For starters, it is much more secure than cash; by using hashing and 256 digit codes, bitcoin is as secure as it gets. Not only that, but it is also more trackable and less anonymous than cash, making it less susceptible to hacking attempts. With the rapidly developing technology today, it’s no surprise that bitcoin continues to grow; transactions and storage are all managed by the speedy and efficient system known as the internet. In addition, bitcoin can only be shut down in one way - by turning off the internet, which certainly won’t be happening anytime soon. 

In retrospect, the bitcoin shares many similar features with gold. Both serve as valid forms of money, and each are finite in value; there is only a limited value of gold on the planet, and there are only so many bitcoins floating around (after all, the amount is controlled). Unlike money, which suffers from constant production, both of these forms of money manage to retain its value and fight off inflation. And finally, gold is extremely valuable to us, and in the same way, so are bitcoins: one bitcoin holds the value of approximately 4,000 US dollars today!!!

**Autodesk Fusion 360 CAD Design Workshop - led by Kevin Gao & Terence Lee**

Last week, students follow instructions to download Autodesk Fusion 360 and learn how to design a fidget spinner. In this week’s workshop, attendees use Fusion 360 to design more complex and advanced designs. Following the big TV screen and live instructions on their laptops, attendees are now able to build and design their own 3D houses and get a better feel for what CAD can do. 

If you miss the Computer-aided Design workshops and wish to learn, access the following PDF documents to download Autodesk Fusion 360 and visit the tutorial for the fidget spinner and house design projects. Enjoy and have lots of fun.

EqOpTech would like to sincerely thank Mr. Best for taking the time to present an intriguing and golden presentation.


Access here for the presentation slide deck:


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

From Sand to Silicon to Chip... From CAD to EDA - Speaker/Workshop Tech Series #5

By Kevin Gao

On August 5, 2017, EqOpTech hosts a fifth tech talk in a series of Speaker/Workshop for students interested in the tech fields. This tech talk features Grace Gao, Principal Engineer, VLSI CAD Engineering, Rambus.

Ms. Grace Gao, Principal Engineer, Rambus

Ms. Grace Gao, Principal Engineer, Rambus

CAD (computer-aided design) and EDA (Electronic Design Automation)

Ms. Gao leads off the meeting by introducing CAD as a highly versatile field that serves as a cornerstone for how we design and build things. How did CAD come into being? What are its historical milestones? And where is it going next?  A short, animated video, "CAD innovation over the years”, answers these questions and takes us through a brief history of CAD from blueprints to the design horizon, and how it has evolved over the years.

Ms. Gao works in a chip design company, so she emphasizes her talk on how to use computer-aided design in Very Large Scale Integration ("VLSI") to make a computer chip, a process called EDA, or electronic design automation. Another short video, "EDA: Where Electronic Begins”, briefly explains the functions of EDA and how it drives the growth of the semiconductor and electronics industries. The video also unveils the whole process on how computer chips have been designed and manufactured by using electronic design automation.

In addition, our speaker also brought real chip samples with her, so seminar attendees are not only able to learn the topics from the presentation and videos, but can also touch and feel them to help visualize what a real "chip" is like. There were several computer chip dies, chip in the package board, and a 12-inches wafer which cost a half a million dollars from a real tapeout. One small chip has been used in Microsoft xbox, and another small chip has a few billions Transistors count in a small 0.5x1 inch^2 area!

Introduction to Electronic Design Automation

The second part of the seminar covers the basics of electronic design automation. Ms. Gao highlights the 7 simplified steps on how a computer chip can be designed and manufactured with the help of EDA. She also briefly talks about EDA challenges and future trend, the Moore's Law and the technology roadmap for semiconductors. It is through this presentation that seminar attendees gain a greater appreciation on how important CAD software tools are in designing complex VLSI chips with billions of transistors, millions of logic, lots of memory, control and interconnect, etc.  

CAD Engineering

Finally, Ms. Gao tackled some of the larger questions at hand:  What does the CAD job look like? What type of work do these engineers do? Who could be the best candidate to be a CAD Engineer? And how would one prepare to work in this field?  She shares the following observations:

  • CAD engineering career field would appeal to someone who enjoys problem solving in both software and hardware 
  • Someone with a creative mindset, interested in exploring and solving problems 
  • Someone interested in new tech at all levels and want to learn new things everyday
  • Someone who feels great satisfaction when they create something useful or help someone through automation
  • Someone who serves as an “unsung hero in a successful tapeout”

Internship experience

CAD engineering attracts young, self-driven students with an interest in software or hardware engineering. Ms. Gao encourages everybody to apply for an internship. She shares an enjoyable experience with a previous intern at her company, remarking that interns bring in new perspectives, new ideas to the company, and are tech-savvy. "Our intern are just like one of us, under appropriate supervising, not only are interns quick to learn a new programming language, but before the internship concludes, he also takes the initiative to benchmark and compare the pros and cons of another programming language he is familiar with; so we both benefit and learn something new," Ms. Gao remarks. "In an age where technology never stops advancing, young, driven interns are quick to adapt and highly versatile at what they set out to do."

Workplace Communication Best Practice

In a work environment, communication and teamwork play a huge role in helping coworkers advance. A general rule of thumb: it is best to conduct prior research on the subject matter before asking a question. "One of my ex-coworker, always outlined in his e-mail a proposed solution for all questions he raised. This way, we can use that as the basis, brainstorm and collaborate to come up with an efficient and effective solution," our speaker recalls.

Autodesk Fusion 360 CAD Design Workshop - led by Kevin Gao & Terence Lee

Workshop attendees learn from the live presentation, watching the entire process on the big TV screen. In addition, they receive one-on-one hands-on experience during the following CAD workshop, where they are able to build 3D models from scratch and get a feel for what CAD is really like. In our workshop, attendees are able to craft their own fidget spinners on Autodesk Fusion 360.

12-inches wafer

12-inches wafer

VLSI Chips

VLSI Chips

Autodesk Fusion 360 demo

Autodesk Fusion 360 demo

EqOpTech would like to thank Ms. Gao for an informative and eyeopening presentation and to Kevin and Terence for their leadership in the CAD design workshop. Thank you for all the fun props and prizes to keep the tech talk interesting and engaging.


Access here for the presentation slide deck:


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.

EqOpTech Tech Talk #4 & Computer In A Box Workshop

By Terence Lee

On July 29, 2017, EqOpTech hosts a fourth tech talk in a series of Speaker/Workshop for students interested in the tech fields. The tech talk features Magdalene Lim, a backend software engineer from LinkedIn.  She is quite new to the industry, having graduated from college in 2015. She hopes to inspire others to try coding and truly believes that everyone has the capacity to do it.

Personal journey to becoming a software engineer

Our speaker, Magdalene, a recent Cal graduate with a CS degree and having worked at both Amazon and LinkedIn, was able to relate to the younger audience about her journey and challenges in her quest to pursue a high-tech career as a female engineer. In that regards, she delivered some very valuable information to our audience.

Magdalene described the challenges in getting admitted to a CS program at one of the nation’s top university and thus giving hope to those in the audience with similar aspirations. Given the highly competitive CS program at Cal, she shared how important it was for her to be able to seek the help of professors and upper classmen to help as she struggled and competed among other classmates who were much more tech savvy than her.

Through hard work, determination and the ability to seek peer support, she was able to overcome her initial doubts and succeed in pursuing her career goal.  She also graciously shared with the audience her transcript that despite not having a perfect GPA, she was able to obtain an internship at a highly desirable company where competition is fierce for the few available positions.

Internship Tips For College Students

Getting the first internship was not an easy task as she showed that it took sending out hundreds of resumes just to get a few reply but it was through hard work and persistence that she was able to land her internship position at Amazon.

She gave valuable insights as to how to prepare for a highly technical interview and provide reference to a book that helped her tremendous. These are especially valuable for those seeking future internships as these tips are not usually taught at college.

Magdalene talked about how the internship gave her an opportunity to experience Machine Learning and how it did not appeal to her interest as she had initially anticipated and how she had redirected her career choice to her current position at LinkedIn. This is a very valuable lesson for the audience as it emphasize the importance of not being afraid to experiment and then change course, if necessary, in one’s pursuit of aligning one’s career choices with one’s passion.

Work Life Balance

Magdalene also pointed out some of the rewards and perks for working in the high-tech industries such as the free snacks and also the freedom to have the ability in pursuing other interest and hobbies while keeping a highly demanding career. The example that Magdalene gave of her friend pursuing his dance passion was excellent in showing that there is life beyond work, sharing the concept of “we work to live, and not live to work”. 

Computer In A Box Workshop

Following the Tech Talk, EqOpTech hosted a Computer In A Box workshop to revive and reuse older laptops as a learning tool to enable needy students with an "equal opportunity" access to the cloud (eg. Google Drive) and to minimize unwanted computers going to e-waste. The Los Altos School District has generously donated its first and second generation old White MacBooks to EqOptech. 

The EqOpTech tech team leads both the Los Altos High School, Egan Junior High School EqOpTech school club members and MVLA Scholars to not only refurbish each laptops to its full functionality but also dives into the latest technology to give the old laptops a new life via a Linux/Mac Dual Boot.

The Best of Both Worlds: Dual Boot with a Dual Mission

By installing a second Linux operating system into an old MacBooks or Windows Laptop, students are now able to access the latest Google Applications and other cloud applications. The Linux dual boot not only allow access to the latest tech applications but also boosts system performance of older laptops so that they are usable. The service project not only inspires students to give back to the community, it also empowers and enriches participants' computer engineering skills while helping other students in need. 

"Quiet Hero" Award - Jefferson Award

EqOpTech Founder, Terence Lee has been recognized as a "Quiet Hero" for his nonprofit work by the Jefferson Award Foundation. The Jefferson Award is a Nobel Prize for public and community service by ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.

During the workshop, CBS/KPIX reporter crew Sharon Chin and Jennifer Mistrot conduct an interview and video shoot of our Founder, Santa Rita Principal, a Santa Rita 5th grader who is a refurbished laptop recipient and a workshop participant. Visit here for the Jefferson Award story.


Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

Visit here for more information.