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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