Monday Jul 20, 2009

Volunteering @ Sun: NJ/NY BEN Hosts 60+ HS Students...2009 Governor's School

For the fourth year in a row the Sun Black Employee Network and a whole bunch of other Sun volunteers came together to host 60+ students from this year's NJ Governor's School of Engineering and Technology Program. We were back in our Somerset office once again which made for easy logistics this time around - the program ran pretty much on time most of the day although it was tough to keep the session s from running over.

This year we have a Facebook fan page where we've been posting information, photos, and videos about the program.

We experimented with fewer but longer sessions this year - 6 sessions lasting 30 mins vs 9 sessions lasting 20 mins. I think the new format went over well but our survey responses are still coming in so I'll report back on the general consensus from the students. They kept their energy levels up all day and many said they got a lot out of the content. It doesn't hurt that I'm sure they enjoyed the tons of giveaways we had for this year's program. And speaking of content I promised I'd put the presentations up on my blog so the students could dive into the issues discussed in more detail.

In addition the website referenced during the Student Learning Services lunch time session are as follows:

Lastly I just wanted to say a big thank you to all the Sun volunteers for all the help. Pulling off these events are never easy - throw in a few hiccups into the mix and things get even more interesting ;-) That said I think the program ran rather smoothly even with less people actually volunteering this year.

At the end of the day I think the kids got a lot out of the event and I'm sure their lives were positively impacted. Without help from you guys we could never make things happen - Diane Mathis and I really appreciate all the tremendous efforts and look forward to your help next year.

Thursday Aug 14, 2008

Volunteering @ Sun: Governor's School Podcast

My co-worker and partner in the struggle, Diane Mathis, was interviewed by the folks from Sun.com Headlines. Volunteers at Sun will be featured in a new regular podcast called Philanthropy at Sun. Check out the inteview (MP3).

Wednesday Jul 16, 2008

Volunteering @ Sun: NJ/NY BEN Hosts 80 HS Students for a day

I'll post more later but for the third year in a row the Sun Black Employee Network and a whole bunch of other Sun volunteers came together to host 80 students from this year's NJ Governor's School of Engineering and Technology Program. The students had to endure a lot getting to our 101 Park Ave NYC office from Rutgers in Piscataway - half of them had to walk from the Lincoln Tunnel because of the mid-town gridlock due to the All-Star Game festivities. Even with all that they kept their energy levels up all day and many said they would have stayed even longer since they got a lot out of the content. And speaking of content I promised I'd put the presentations up on my blog today so the students could dive into the issues discussed in more detail.

I'll discuss more about the day, upload some pictures and video in my next post. In the meantime I'd love to hear some comments from any student that attended the event. I'll see you guys on Friday at Rutgers...

Thursday Dec 20, 2007

Volunteering @ Sun: NJ/NY BEN Hosts 100 HS Students for a day

I'm woefully behind in entries so I'm doing my end of the year rush. One of the things I've been most proud of is helping run a great volunteer event at Sun. During this past summer the employee group I'm a part of (Sun's Black Employee Network) along with a number of other Sun volunteers once again hosted 100 high school seniors from the NJ Governor's School of Engineering and Technology Program. this was the second year in a row we did in a whirlwind of a day where we gave the students exposure to how Sun creates, sells, uses, and services technology that impacts the world at large.

We kept the format from last year of having a fast paced day with small groups. We divided the students into 9 small groups and rotated them through 9 breakout sessions. Each session was 20 mins - we planned for 10-12 minute presentations, 5-7 minutes of Q&A, and a few minutes leftover to move the groups to their next sessions. Our post-event anonymous survey of the students got us a 96% positive rating on the day so while we've got a few things to tweak it's clear the students are getting something out of our effort.

We had some special keynote speakers in Hal Stern, Senior Vice President of Systems Engineering, and Jim Parkinson, Vice President, Collaboration Engineering who both did a great job in opening and closing the event. Them along with all the great speakers, student team leads, people who helped us get swag for the students, etc all made the day another reason why I still like working at Sun.

Last but not least here's a picture of some of the team that pulled off another great event.

We're now confirmed to run the program again next year so we'll have another chance to experiment with the format and maybe allow for longer sessions so the students can have more in depth presentations or demos. Looking forward to the next go around...

Monday Jun 11, 2007

The State of Diversity and Trends in the Technology Industry

On May 31st the Sun NJ/NY Black Employee Network hosted one of my mentors Alfred Edmond to speak about the state of diversity and trends in the technology industry. Alfred currently serves as the editor-in-chief of BLACK ENTERPRISE Magazine and is a senior vice president of Earl G. Graves Publishing Company Inc. Of course if you know Alfred he can speak to a wide range of topics and has an opinion on almost everything - the conversation branched off into a number of issues and lasted nearly 4 hours.

He spoke at length using no presentation or notes which allowed us to solely focus on the conversation which was a great change of pace. Once again of course I'd expect nothing less from a fellow Rutgers grad ;-) I've made the audio of the session available as part of our standard practice to share the experience.

Streaming Audio: Realplayer, Windows Media Player/iTunes

Podcast: MP3

Friday Mar 30, 2007

Hurricane Katrina: 18 Months Later...

On March 15th the Sun NJ/NY Black Employee Network hosted my good friend Dr. Jeffrey Robinson to speak about the impacts of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast region. A majority of the time we focus our bi-weekly meetings on our own internal needs or on topics explicitly related to our industry. However I always find it refreshing and beneficial to look outside our narrow focus from time to time to see how our talents and resources can be used to impact the community at large (last summer's Governor's School Event with 100 HS students being an example).

Dr. Robinson (a fellow Rutgers alumni) is an Assistant Professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and has been working over the last year with the Small Business Administration on ways to speed redevelopment of the region. His presentation was an excellent dissertation on the state of the Gulf Coast and as you can imagine the amount of improvements that have happened in the last 18 months is severely lacking.

He literally got off the plane at 1:00 AM the night before and was showing us pictures and video that was less than 24 hours old. Seeing areas that were completely decimated with very little to no progress in the rebuilding process was sobering to say the least. His presentation went way beyond the visual and detailed the state of affairs in areas such as health care, education, crime, repopulation, grants/loans, and insurance. The presentation was so good in my mind I'd say it was the perfect follow up companion piece to Spike Lee's documentary "When the Leeves Broke" - it was just that impressive. Of course I'd expect nothing less from a fellow Rutgers grad ;-)

If you have been lamenting the fact that the general news media has largely moved on from giving the Gulf Coast region the regular coverage needed to make rebuilding a priority for our country then please take the time to listen and review the presentation.

Presentation: Hurricane Katrina: 18 Months Later (PDF)

Streaming Audio: Realplayer, Windows Media Player/iTunes

Podcast: MP3

The session is a little over 100 mins long but believe me it will be time well spent. If you know of anyone displaced by the hurricane and they are still trying to get back to the region there is a lot of good information in the last 40 mins of the presentation on resources they can leverage.

Tuesday Jul 25, 2006

Volunteering @ Sun: NJ/NY BEN Hosts 100 HS Students for a day

In my last entry I mentioned the employee group I'm a part of (Sun's NJ/NY Black Employee Network) along with a number of other Sun voluteers would host a great event on July 18th at our Somerset office. We had 100 high school seniors from the NJ Governor's School of Engineering and Technology Program in a whirlwind of a day where we gave them exposure to how Sun creates, sells, uses, and services technology that impacts the world at large.

Needless to say pulling this event off was not a picnic. We had a very short runway to create and execute on our plan and having the annual July 4th US shutdown to contend with didn't make things any easier. However it is a testament to the folks I proudly work with here at Sun that made this a very enriching experience not only for the students but for the Sun employees as well. A special thanks goes out to Diane Mathis, Valerie Barnes, and all the team leaders who made this event a pleasure to participate in.


(Click on pictures for larger versions)

Given that we were dealing with HS students we decided on having a fast paced day with small groups. We divided the students into 9 small groups and rotated them through the 9 breakout sessions I mentioned in my last entry. Each session lasted 20 mins - we planned for 10-12 minute presentations, 5-7 minutes of Q&A, and a few minutes leftover to move the groups to their next sessions.


(Click on pictures for Realplayer video)

This seemed to workout well because holding the kids attention was a big concern so we hoped the fast pace not only gave them a wide range of content to digest but the physical moves every 20 minutes keep the juices flowing. Even still after lunch we had a few drowsy eyes here and there ;-). We combatted that by having tons of giveways (t-shirts, wifi locators, mugs, hats, etc.) that were graciously donated to us by many people throughout Sun. Prentice Hall/Pearson Technology Group, the publisher of Jim Mauro's and Richard McDougall's latest book, donated a few copies of Solaris Internals: Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris Kernel Architecture, 2nd Edition that Jim could give away during his session on Solaris & Galaxy engineering.

The feedback we got from the students was extremely positive. We had an online survey they could do up to 5 days after the session so we could get anonymous feedback on how to improve the event. The response rate was rather high - we had 70 out of the 100 students participate overall and had 66 who left detailed free form comments. One student put his comments in the form of an Ali style rhyme which had a few of us cracking up. All the sessions rated well - in particular the Sun Ray session scored through the roof but that is not surprising since I haven't run into anyone who has seen a Sun Ray in action the first time not walk away highly impressed. Sun Ray's just have that cool factor that's hard to beat but of course my co-worker Jeff Reilly made the demo that much better by showing the full range of what a Sun Virtual Desktop can do. Even sessions that I thought would have scored lower due to not having that wow factor were well rated I'm sure because the presenters did a bang up job of making the material fun - of course I'm sure a few well timed giveaways helped too ;-).

In any case I hope this becomes not only an annual event at our office but hopefully will inspire others within Sun to do the same. With that said here are a few pictures to give you more of a taste of what the day was like.









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