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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "tech"

Local tech culture inspires future changes at George Mason University

Westlake Legal Group george-mason-university-arlington-campus-feature Local tech culture inspires future changes at George Mason University university tech industry tech Innovation George Mason Univeristy Education colleges college Arlington Campus arlington amazon
George Mason University’s Arlington Campus (Photo by Creative Services – George Mason University)

It’s hard not to see the changes the local tech industry is making on the Northern Virginia region.

The upcoming arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 has led to the first of many “Amazon Career Days”, gathering thousands of local applicants; Virginia Tech has announced a new $1 billion “innovation” campus just two miles from Amazon’s future location; and a 2017 piece in The Washington Post made a  strong case that the Dulles tech corridor is a strong Silicon Valley alternative in coming years.

To further ride the wave of tech-inspired changes in the region, George Mason University has announced its own changes and upgrades.

The changes include a plan for an addition to the school’s Virginia Square campus in Arlington, where the university has its sights set on creating a home for the Institute of Digital InnovAtion (IDIA), an extension of Mason’s School of Computing, as well as a home for the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, a statewide program meant to promote the collaboration of Virginia’s cybersecurity researchers. It is also moving forward on offering a new cloud computing degree for future students.

Co-working spaces for small and large companies, of which George Mason is calling “corporate innovation labs,” are part of the property’s plan to mimic other innovation districts across the United States, as well as the destruction of the 66-year-old Kann’s Department Store structure that will be replaced by a 400,000-square-foot building for students and local professionals to share.

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George Mason University is the second school to receive cash from Virginia’s Tech Talent Pipeline, an earmarking sum of money meant for schools looking to educate a new generation in hopes they will be hired by tech companies after graduation, such as Amazon. The $125 million in funding George Mason is receiving from the state will be bolstered further by private funding.

In order to better understand what developments are being solidified by the university, we spoke with Deborah Crawford, vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact, about what these changes mean for future university students and tech-inspired education in the region. Highlights from our conversation are below.

Can you explain what steps GMU is currently taking to develop the tech-inspired campus in Arlington?
We will add new mixed-use facilities to our Arlington campus to enhance innovation capacity on the R-B corridor. Our work is inspired by the concept of innovation districts–geographic locations that nurture and support the growth of advanced industries through the co-location of key assets such as world-class R&D portfolios, a rich mix of corporate and public sector entities, including start-ups that might become the Amazons of the future and, most importantly, world-class talent. And Mason is in the business of producing world-class talent and R&D.

We’re working now on finalizing our plans for these new facilities to begin construction in the next few years. We’re engaged in this planning with not only our own academic stakeholders, but also some of our partners in the region because innovation place-making is a team sport. We want our corporate and public sector partners to co-locate with us, allowing innovators and creatives in those organizations to interact on a daily basis with our faculty and students.

With the development of the Institute of Digital InnovAtion as an extension of Mason’s School of computing, is the goal to have all of the tech and computer-focused students only on the Arlington campus?
No. The development of digital competencies and know-how essential to success in our increasingly digital world is a commitment we make to all of our students. And they wouldn’t all fit on our Arlington campus! In fact, the majority of our undergraduate students will remain on our Fairfax and SciTech campuses, including students majoring in tech fields like computer science, computer game design, cloud computing and so on.

Our Arlington campus innovation initiative will largely house graduate programs—M.S. and Ph.D. programs, including our tech programs, but also complementary programs already housed there such as our law, public policy, M.F.A. and M.B.A. programs.

Co-working spaces and mixed-use spaces have been mentioned for the campus’ improvements. Can you explain specifically what types of spaces you’re looking to develop in Arlington?
We know that innovation place-making requires the creation of lively pedestrian and streetscapes; we know that convening and collaboration spaces and programs are essential to bring people and organizations together to create new innovation opportunities; we know that the spaces we create should support the residents in our local communities. So maker-spaces and a variety of co-working spaces are important. Incubator and accelerator programs for small high-growth businesses are also key.

What other ideas are you taking from innovation districts across the country in order to set this campus apart?
We are thinking about the differentiated strengths we bring to the table, and how they align with those of our partners. This is a digital economy initiative, and so we know that the facilities we create will need to provide our stakeholders with access to state-of-the-art digital infrastructure, like advanced networks, shared digital test beds and direct access to both R&D and talent.

Can you talk a bit about the cloud computing degree and how the development is coming along on that?
We have been working with regional employers, including Amazon Web Services, to define our cloud computing degree requirements just as we did for our cybersecurity degree program. Both of these programs are ADVANCE pathways. They are designed specifically to articulate with programs at NOVA and other community colleges so that students interested in tech careers who begin their higher education journey in community college can complete their four-year degrees at Mason.

Why is this tech-inspired development necessary for Northern Virginia? And why is George Mason University the school that needs to be a fellow driving force?
We need to both grow and diversify our digital economy, building on a very strong base of excellence in tech already developed to support a largely federal market.  Our Arlington initiative is designed to do just that.

And at George Mason University, we are Northern Virginia’s research university, and we’ve grown up with the region’s tech industry. We’re excellent, we’re innovative, we’re committed partners and we’re here to stay. What more can I say?

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How Is Lowering Standards In Industries to Attract Women Not Insulting to Them?

Westlake Legal Group ab3a70e9-aacc-47f3-87e4-fc076b332956.v1-620x413 How Is Lowering Standards In Industries to Attract Women Not Insulting to Them? Women tech Sex men Masculinity industries gender Front Page Stories fields Feminism Featured Story engineering Culture Business & Economy Army Rangers Allow Media Exception

It’s been happening for some time now, but I recently saw two examples of how standards are being lowered in various places so that women can more easily become a part of the whatever organization, business, or field they’re lowering their standards in.

The places that do lower their standards for women seem to be proud of the fact that they did it, and even go so far as to promote it to the world. While they’re patting themselves on the back, I can only read the media coverage and wonder why women aren’t outraged.

First, there’s the report that the Army Rangers had lowered their standards to get more women through training. Where men would fail out as a squad for not achieving certain goals or meeting requirements, women were given passing grades despite being the reason the rest of the squad failed.

Women were also being given greater rewards for doing common tasks in order for their records to look better.

Then, there was this recent report out of Australia that a University was lowering its core requirements to get into engineering school. The guest on The Today Show out of Syndey was exctatic about it, calling it “positive discrimination.”

As I said, there are tons of other examples of this kind of thing happening throughout various industries and fields, but it seems to be happening more and more and with more cheerleading behind it.

I’m not a woman, but I don’t need to be to see the myriad of problems here, and not just for the industries who are lowering their standards.

Why aren’t women completely insulted by the fact that these fields feel the need to attract them to their side by lowering standards? This is essentially saying “you’re not good enough as it is, but we want you to work here so we’re going to dumb things down for you.”

In my 35 years on this planet, I’ve met plenty of women who are far smarter than I am, and I’ve been told I’m no intellectual slouch. I imagine that when it comes to brainpower, there are plenty of women out there who are more than a match for engineering degrees. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, women do just as well as men when it comes to obtaining engineering degrees already. The only problem is that they tend to drop out of the field during or after obtaining degrees, and many reports seem to agree that it has a lot to do with the engineering culture, which is male-dominated.

There were other complaints, such as many engineering jobs not being as “socially conscious” as women would like, but I want to focus on the “male domination” aspect.

Male-dominated industries are a thing, but so are women-dominated industries. It typically comes down to what each gender prefers doing. For instance, you won’t find many women and feminist groups complaining that there’s a huge gender-gap in sewage work, or that there are too many men and not enough women in the lumberjack industry.

Engineering can have a lot of the same things. It’s not going to have a lot of emotion attached to it and can be very logistically driven without ever becoming a people-based field. Women tend to thrive in fields where people are the central focus and prefer to work in those kinds of industries.

Nursing and education are a solid example of that. Women tend to choose these fields over others, making them dominated by women. You don’t see many people raising the issue that not enough men work in these fields either. What’s more, these fields develop cultures more suited to women, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just like there’s nothing wrong with men creating working environments more suited to men in places that are dominated by men. This doesn’t necessarily mean that women become second-class, but men definitely have a different way of doing things than women, and men creating environments where they operate better in a place with other men isn’t sexist, it’s efficient.

Now, it’d be one thing to try to tweak that culture to make it more welcoming for women, which isn’t necessarily an easy task if we’re being honest. Again, men and women do things differently. It’s not sexism, it’s just gender methodology. Instead, however, these fields are telling women that they’ll lower the requirements.

How is this move not sexist?

You’re telling women they’re not good enough as a sex for a job, so you’ll make things less intellectually rigorous? Women aren’t dumb, but that’s the message this is sending.

Furthermore, how does that solve the culture problem? How does that change the fact that women just aren’t interested in that industry naturally? How does flooding the industry with otherwise unqualified women help anyone? It doesn’t. You could look into how you could make a business culture more welcoming to women, but instead, the focus is on dumbing things down for them?

Speaking of helping anyone, how does lowering the standards for the Army Rangers make our armed forces any more effective, and not only that, make it more attractive for women in the long run. At least in the engineering field, lowering standards may just result in slower, less advanced work. Lowering standards in the armed forces means a higher chance that someone could actually die.

Lowering standards is only sending the message that women are weak, stupid, and not worth as much as a man, and we’re supposed to applaud this?

Moreover, how do the “women are the same as men” crowd justify applauding this when industries and fields are clearly sending the message that they’re not with these lowered standards?

If women truly have a passion for industry women aren’t typically seen in, then they’ll do what it takes to be there. Otherwise, this diversity kick is only going to be cumbersome for these fields, and in worst-case scenarios, get people hurt.

The post How Is Lowering Standards In Industries to Attract Women Not Insulting to Them? appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group ab3a70e9-aacc-47f3-87e4-fc076b332956.v1-300x200 How Is Lowering Standards In Industries to Attract Women Not Insulting to Them? Women tech Sex men Masculinity industries gender Front Page Stories fields Feminism Featured Story engineering Culture Business & Economy Army Rangers Allow Media Exception   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Amazon spillover in Fairfax (and what to do about Tysons traffic)

In Virginia, Victor Hoskins, the current head of Arlington County economic development, has been hired by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to serve as its new CEO, and he’s already thinking ahead.

Hoskins was instrumental in the regional effort to bring Amazon’s HQ2 to Arlington County and, while he’ll move across the county line to Fairfax Aug. 5, he is not leaving Amazon behind him.

In fact, Amazon may rely more on Fairfax County than it does HQ2’s own Arlington County home to staff up all those new jobs.

“About 33% of those jobs will be residents of Fairfax County. About 18% will come from Arlington County and 15% from D.C. So everyone is going to benefit, but Fairfax in particular is going to get the lion’s share of the jobs, which is really nice,” Hoskins told WTOP.

Fairfax County has a big pool of talent to offer Amazon. There are roughly 150,000 technology professionals working in Fairfax County, or about one out of every four people.

It is also a highly-educated county, with nearly 60% of the adult population holding at least a four-year college degree. And Fairfax County also ranks as one of the highest household income counties in the country, which will make those big Amazon salaries important for recruiting.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority recently launched a program with a $1 million initial annual budget to develop ways to attract, retain and train more IT talent in the county.

Fairfax County’s crown jewel right now is rapidly developing Tysons Corner, but many people who live or work in the Tysons area aren’t boasting about all the new development. They’re complaining about the growing traffic it brought.

Hoskins said he is well aware of commuter congestion, and has made it a priority to work with developers and planners to address it. But he said he also thinks Metro’s Silver Line, and more development itself — particularly residential and mixed use development — will, in time, actually help ease some of those traffic woes.

“We can really take advantage of those Metro stations, and the great thing is when you build in and around Metro stations, you actually reduce the number of car trips. Millennials don’t like to own cars. We want to create a place where they don’t want to own cars or have to own cars. That is really the focus,” Hoskins said.

By 2050, Tysons may have more than 200,000 people working there, but more than 100,000 people living there, according to projections in Fairfax County’s comprehensive Tysons Corner plan.

Hoskins is entering big territory. Fairfax County covers more than 400 square miles with a population approaching 1.2 million. It is now home to more than 600,000 jobs, more than double what it was three decades ago. It has more than 117 million square feet of office space, one of the largest suburban office markets in the nation.

And, Fairfax County will keep growing. In Tysons Corner alone, a whopping 45 million square feet of new development over the coming decades is either planned, proposed or already under construction.

Arlington County has named Hoskins’ interim replacement when he leaves.

Alex Iams, assistant director at Arlington County Economic Development since 2014, will be the acting director. Before joining the director’s office, Iams worked on land use and infrastructure finance plans for the redevelopment of Crystal City, ground zero for Amazon’s HQ2.


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Arlington County teacher wins Canvas Educator of the Year Award

Westlake Legal Group Arlington-teacher Arlington County teacher wins Canvas Educator of the Year Award tech teacher awards teacher News & Updates national award Education Claremont Immersion School canvas
Wilfredo Padilla Melendez (Photo courtesy of Wilfredo Padilla Melendez)

On July 11, Wilson Padilla Melendez, a fourth-grade language and math teacher at Claremont Immersion School in Arlington, was honored for his work as an educator by Instructure, a company that creates learning management systems used by students and teachers across the globe.

The company is best known for its Canvas learning management platform, which consists of digital and organizational tools used in varying levels of education, from elementary to collegiate.

Padilla Melendez received the Canvas Educator of the Year Award while attending the company’s annual Instructurecon event in Long Beach, California, which is a five-day conference full of speakers, honors and other networking events.

According to Instructure, the award is given to educators who meet the following criteria: redefine traditional classroom activities, improve achievement for at-risk populations and impact student engagement, curiosity and preparedness for the future.

Padilla Melendez, representing the elementary school category, was the only winner from the state of Virginia. He won for his ability to customize students’ learning and teach career-building skills through the use of technology platforms like Canvas. By using data, Padilla Melendez is able to make lesson plans that are interesting and rigorous for each student in his classroom.

Other winners of the Canvas Educator of the Year Award span from Ohio, California, Missouri and Utah.

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Are your kids interested in coding? Sign them up for these 5 local classes

Westlake Legal Group coding-kids Are your kids interested in coding? Sign them up for these 5 local classes Technology tech stem Science Production math Learning. engineering Education coding code
© Gorodenkoff / stock.adobe.com

No matter the career path your youngsters eventually choose, knowledge of basic code provides them with an essential base that opens doors for the future. Plus, it can be fun! From production to engineering and everything in between, here’s where your kids can become an expert in coding and other STEM-related skills. 

Coder Kids
At this innovative studio in McLean, your kids will learn how to create applications, games and websites using their own code of HTML and CSS languages. The tutors at Coder Kids, who all have proper certification and degrees in computer science-related fields, assist each student at their own pace, so no matter the skill level, there’s a course for anyone ages 7 to 13. // 6647 A Old Dominion Drive, McLean; prices vary    

C3 Cyber Club
Since 2011, C3 Cyber Club has been an interactive learning center for children in grades K through ninth, thanks to its computer courses in programming and gaming, offered in seasonal camps, an after-school program and even a birthday party event space. Each student will learn to create digital projects, including live animation, video games and more, which all benefit their overall knowledge of STEM. // 44710 Cape Court, Suite 118, Ashburn; prices vary

Code Ninjas
Through the engaging, game-based curriculum at Code Ninjas, kids will learn a variety of skills that propel them forward as an individual, including teamwork, logic, math and problem solving. The company, which has several locations in the NoVA region, offers drop-in learning sessions, after-school programs, camps, parent’s night out events and birthday parties to ensure your kids have fun while they learn. // Locations vary; prices vary

Digital Kidz
Located in Fairfax County, Digital Kidz offers both computer and technology classes for individuals ages 4 to 14. Whether your child is interested in movie making, graphic design or video game design, this company will show them it all via proper software and programs that are used beyond the classroom experience. // 8216 Old Courthouse Road, Vienna; prices vary

Engineering for Kids
Is your child constantly wanting to build objects and figure out how they function? Now she has the chance to start learning all about the process and answer her many questions. From the junior programs that teach basic science, technology, engineering and math, to the master programs that emphasize the importance of teamwork for completing complex goals, there’s something for everyone. // Locations vary; prices vary 

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Virginia Tech announces change to Innovation Campus location

Westlake Legal Group hokies-photo-1 Virginia Tech announces change to Innovation Campus location Virginia Tech tech National Landing innovation campus Innovation Education amazon hq2 amazon
This rendering is from Virginia Tech’s initial plans to build the Innovation Campus in Oakville Triangle. Design may change as a result of the new location. (Rendering courtesy of Virginia Tech)

Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus for grad students will be built in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, about two miles south of Amazon’s future headquarters in Crystal City, University President Tim Sands announced Monday, June 10.

The campus’s strategic location in the Potomac Yard section of National Landing will place Virginia Tech and its future partners near the nation’s capital, a variety of unique industries and leading tech companies who are making innovative changes on a global scale. While the University had initially made plans in November 2018 to build the academic milestone at Oakville Triangle, it became apparent that the property limited potential growth, according to Virginia Tech and city officials.

“The other site was interesting, but this offers the opportunity to be world class,” Sen. Mark Warner said Monday morning regarding the change in location.

Sands also noted that when choosing this location, the team recognized the larger footprint that would be possible here due to the expansive 65 acres of land, as opposed to the 20 acres available at Oakville Triangle. While the Innovation Campus will not take up the entirety of the land, it will enable valuable partners, retailers and other businesses the opportunity to be close to the facility.

In reference to the current businesses that exist in Potomac Yard, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that the tenants most likely will change as a result of the new campus. According to Mayor Wilson, the city had always planned on redeveloping the area and it is now time for that change to occur.

Virginia Tech has partnered with Lionstone Investments, a data analytics-driven real estate investment firm, to put the idea to fruition.

“We envision this partnership in helping create a vibrant and diverse mixed-use community,” Lionstone President Jane Page said Monday. “One that has best in class living, working, playing and now, most importantly, education.”

Once completed, the new campus will be an education center for about 1,500 master’s degree students and 250 doctoral students. Starting in 2020, though, graduate students will use a nearby retail site in the existing shopping center to begin their studies, while the new campus is built over the next several years.

While the Innovation Campus will primarily be for graduate students, Sands also noted that due to a recent surge in undergraduate enrollment at the university, undergrads will have the opportunity to use the facilities as well. While the details are not concrete yet, Sands stated that undergraduates who have internships in the surrounding area will be able to use the new campus as a home base to continue their studies in the best way possible.

The planning phase for the project will continue for the next six months to a year, according to officials from Virginia Tech. The university’s goal is to have the first buildings complete in four to five years, and the entire campus finished in about 10 years. A more detailed timeline of the building process will be available in a few weeks, following several meetings with the city of Alexandria, the University and Lionstone.

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LexisNexis Snaps Up Legal Tech Startup Ravel Law

When it comes to the future of lawyering, LexisNexis is doubling down on big data. The company took its latest step Thursday toward turning lawyers into data analysts with the acquisition of Ravel Law, a five-year-old San Francisco company that uses its technology to glean insights by mining millions of pages of legal documents. LexisNexis parent company RELX […]

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