SJSU Celebrates Innovation Design Collaborative with Partners

By Melissa Anderson

On June 8, in the basement of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, students, educators and industry leaders mingled together at the soft launch of San Jose State University’s new Innovation Design Collaborative.

The lower level of the library, which houses the first public materials library as well as shelves of periodicals, is now home to a new interdisciplinary innovation space for students, faculty work together, and test out ideas.

“A few weeks ago, you would have seen a very different space,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for University Advancement. “This is just the start and we are excited to unveil it for all of you. This is a glimpse of what is to come, not just for San Jose State University, but all the representatives here. This is an interdisciplinary space to work together on every type of unit imaginable.”

The IDC started several years ago when representatives from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering connected with a handful of industry partners to discuss ways the university could better prepare students to meet evolving workforce needs. The group grew to include more than 30 industry and educational partners from off campus as well as campus representatives from each college. Now in addition to the advisory group, the university also has a dedicated space for students and faculty to work together to incubate ideas and gain just the type of experience needed to succeed in Silicon Valley after graduation.

During the event, teams of students and recent graduates showcased prototypes of products that are close to launching or ready for national competition. The teams included representatives from different degree programs and colleges who have grappled with technical development, legal questions and marketing.

One team was on the verge of launching a beta version of a digital jukebox that will allow multiple users to develop playlists at gatherings that include songs that appeal to the group – unlike existing music applications that are controlled by individuals.

Another team created an application called Gratis Food that will connect food vendors with excess products to students with food insecurities. The team, which won best overall innovation at SJSU’s Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge and were selected to participate in ZinnStarter through SJSU’s IDEAS program, moved from a nonprofit to a profit model that will be more easily scalable.

“We’ve created a beta version and we plan to expand to community colleges and universities,” said Raghav Gupta, founder and project manager of Gratis Food.

The final team demonstrated Spartan Hyperloop, a magnetic levitation system that they have entered into the SpaceX 2018 Hyperloop Pod Competition, on July 22.

After the networking hour and lunch, President Mary Papazian welcomed the more than 30 industry and educational partners who attended the event, including Joe Pinto, senior VP Technical Services at Cisco Systems, Donna Bell, director of Ford Innovation Research and Innovation Labs, Mark Roenigk, head of hardware at Facebook, Jennifer Andaluz, the co-founder and executive director of Downtown College Prep, and Andrea Schwarz, founding Bay Area executive director of Braven.

“One of the wonderful things about today is that our various programs across the campus are represented and that is where a lot of the magic happens,” Papazian said. “San Jose State University is a place to innovate as evidenced by the Paseo Public Prototyping Challenge and Festival and the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge, our excellent interdisciplinary academic programs, and the high rate at which our graduates are hired in the Bay Area.”

Pinto, of Cisco, said the IDC is an opportunity for SJSU to play a different role than just supplying talent.

“Silicon Valley is unique with intellectual property, venture funding and a group of universities in an area that people from around the world want to come to innovate and design,” he said. “We are strengthening the ecosystem.”

Dean Sheryl Ehrman, of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, spoke about how important collaboration across disciplines is in grounding innovation with the critical thinking that comes from “cross pollination” with others in the humanities, applied health sciences, business or other perspectives.

While SJSU has a vision for an innovation wing that will become part of a science and innovation complex on campus, the library space is helping to increase capacity for interdisciplinary learning immediately.

“Why are we in the library?” asked University Library Dean Tracy Elliott. “This is where multidisciplinary work happens—the university, the community, all of you use the space. We have all disciplines represented throughout the building.”

#ImmigrantHeritageMonth: ‘For a Better Life’

Floriberta Sario

Floriberta Sario

By Floriberta Sario

Hello everyone, my name is Floriberta Sario Perez, but I prefer Flor. I am currently a third-year student at San Jose State University pursing a degree in Business, Management Information Systems with a graduation date anticipated by the Spring of 2021. I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1998 and was the third child of Leonor and Gilberto Sario, as my older siblings Elizabeth and Rafael were already in the picture. Poverty consumed us all and my father made the hard decision to immigrate to the United States. At the time my father decided to leave, I was two and a half months old, but my mother told me how they had to splurge on one corn cob (corn for us was a luxury) and split half between my brother and sister to distract them before my father took off to an unknown destiny. The plan failed and my brother quickly found himself forgetting the corn and clinging to the bottom of my father’s jeans in an attempt to keep him from leaving.

There was no other choice though “porque la hambre es canija (because going hungry is hard).” My mother joined my father only a year after he initially left. They both worked in the fields and saved the little they could so they could eventually bring my siblings and me to the land of opportunities. They had decided to wait until they could afford to give us all the luxuries we couldn’t even begin to dream of. But like any mother would, my mom found it hard to be without us so in 2001 my two older siblings and I were finally reunited with our parents and we were a family once again (regardless of the fact that we were still poor).

As I find myself writing this, I can’t help but reflect on the impacts my identity as an immigrant has had on my life. It’s one of the reasons I decided to attend San Jose State as San Jose State is a designated Hispanic Serving Institution. It is one of the reasons I am a proud member and officer of Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol, a student organization which champions higher education among the Chicanx/Latinx community through traditional Mexican dance. It is one of the reasons why I am a committed Student Success intern at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center, a space dedicated to the success of Chicanx/Latinx Students. I used to be silently proud of my past but through a mixture of events and self-growth, I have found the strength and the need to share my story. All immigrant stories are different, but almost all share a similar phrase: “For a better life.” A life that I am still working on creating but have faith that I will eventually live.

In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month in June, San Jose State University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion along with the University Advancement Strategic Communications and Marketing team collected and shared stories of Spartan students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives. In addition, the university is highlighting research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of our campus community and our society. See some of the photos posted on SJSU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

#ImmigrantHeritageMonth: “Use Your Voice”

Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas was on a path to become a lawyer in her native Colombia when she immigrated to the United States. But when she arrived, in California, most of her university credits were non-transferable and she felt unsure about her written English skills. So she enrolled at West Valley College where she completed an associate’s degree in math while enhancing her language proficiency. She transferred to San Jose State University, where she earned a bachelor’s in mathematics/statistics  in 2001 and a master’s in Public Administration in 2008. Now the deputy diversity officer for SJSU, she started her career at SJSU in 2002, working first in Academic Affairs in the math and biology departments for five years and then in Student Affairs, as director of Campus and Community Relations for 10 years.

“One thing I focused on was access to college,” she said. “For immigrant parents or first-generation children, navigating K-12 can be confusing. I wanted to demystify the college process and help families get their students on a path to higher education. We, as parents, want our children to succeed regardless of our national origin or education background.”

As a mother of two, she said she also wanted to learn more about the United States K-12 system to help her own children.

Perdomo-Arciniegas helped to create College Day, where families of K-12 students could visit SJSU to learn more about preparing for college, and also oversaw the Advancing Latinx Achievement and Success Conference. She helped to facilitate the Spartan East Side Promise, an agreement that offers a clear roadmap for admission for students in the East Side Union School District to San Jose State University.

“As  an immigrant, I feel a responsibility to advocate, to speak up, to use my voice now that I have a place at the table,” she said. “It is very important to remember where you came from and to use your voice to set the stage for those who are coming after you.”

She found herself quite literally using that voice as a Spanish-language translator at times during community meetings between the university and neighborhood families who worried about the effect of impaction on admissions. Through the years, she also found herself advocating for underrepresented minority students, specifically undocumented students.

As the daughter of educated parents who was privileged to immigrate through legal channels, she said she has always empathized with undocumented students.

“While working on a resource guide by and for undocumented students, I learned of their dreams, hopes, difficulties and fears,” she said. “As an immigrant, I related to undocumented students at some level (learning a second language, being misunderstood often, culture shock, etc.), but I could never equate my privileged experience to theirs. They taught me so much during our work together.”

And she also appreciates the importance of cultural traditions, no matter where one lives. She and her family continue to participate in Novena de Aguinaldo (Nine Days of Christmas), in which they pray, sing and tell a special story of the birth of Jesus. Different friends host each year, and the Colombian Consulate collects toys to donate to their native country.

“For us, Christmas is always about family and it’s also a time to give back and be generous with our gifts, spiritual and/or material,” she said. Giving back is a mantra for Perdomo-Arciniegas.

In celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month, San Jose State University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion along with the University Advancement Strategic Communications and Marketing team collected and shared stories of Spartan students, faculty, staff and alumni who have unique and inspiring immigrant narratives. In addition, the university is highlighting research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance our understanding of immigration and contributions of immigrant populations to the fabric of our campus community and our society. See some of the photos posted on SJSU’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

May 2018 Newsletter: Tech Predictions — Then and Now

Recreation Professor Emeritus Maureen Glancy talked with a KQED reporter 25 years ago about her tech predictions. At the time, she had noted the incessant red light on her new office phone that indicated she had unread voicemail messages. In the story update, she noted that mobile devices provide a “digital chain” that keep us tied to work.

In another news report, Francesca Favaro, assistant professor in the Department of Aviation and Technology at San Jose State University, said despite recent accidents, driverless cars are here to stay. She was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal. Counting on hopes the accidents will help identify and correct flaws in the technology, Favaro said California officials, who typically enact stringent regulations, are increasingly allowing autonomous vehicles that meet the highest industry standards. She compares this current auto technology with fly-by-wire, a computer-regulated system of controlling aircraft developed in the 1970s that has led to dramatically improved airplane safety during the ensuing years.

May 2018 Newsletter: Engineering Students Convert School Bus into Small Home

San Jose State University engineering students continue to imagine novel solutions to Silicon Valley’s intractable affordable housing crisis, converting a donated short school bus into a home on wheels. The student project was featured on KTVU. Racing to finish the project by the end of the school year, engineering majors like junior Maria Rivera and senior Semon Ankirsky have already figured out how to outfit the bus with a bed, bathroom, stove, refrigerator, desk and chair, and hope to add a heating unit. It could provide immediate housing help for Ellen James-Penney, an SJSU adjunct professor, who has been living with her husband and two dogs out of their two cars since last summer.