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Week One, Internageddon.

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The Intel Ultimate Engineering Experience has officially taken off! We’ve launched activities in 4 of our 6 locations already and our students are weighing in on their experiences. We thought we’d share with you some of what we are hearing from them. We hope this is the first of many blog posts we get from our participants. This one was written by one of our students in Arizona.  Tamara is currently going to Chandler Gilbert Community College in the engineering program with the goal of transferring to ASU. This fall will be her second semester going to school full time, prior to that she was also working full time. She is going back to school to get an Aerospace Engineering degree with a focus in Astronautics. Prior to this, she worked in the IT industry for 15 years in various roles, including as a user and server admin, but found that her aptitude for computer work didn't translate into career satisfaction. She has two children, a boy who is eight and a girl who is six, a wonderful husband who pays the bills so she can pursue her dreams, three dogs that are all rescues from various paces, and a cat that terrorizes everyone.

Hello young engineering (or other related field) major. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to show up at the Hilton, entirely unsure of what to expect of your new internship. It’s not that you didn’t try to figure out what was in store. You combed over the emails that were sent back and forth confirming your participation. You googled Intel and tried to glean any possible information you could about what was in store. But you failed. Why? Because you, along with 600+ students at a total of six other sites, are among the first to ever experience this program.

Going into a giant ballroom set up as a conference room with 119 other students can be a little intimidating, to be honest. But then everyone is so nice, and the people from Intel aren’t scary at all. In fact, they’re there because they genuinely want you to succeed.

“So you’re telling me the whole world isn’t sitting around just waiting for me to fail?” I have great news for you… they really aren’t. Not all of them anyway. Just, well… okay most of them are. But seriously, are you going to let that stop you? Of course you aren’t, or you wouldn’t have even applied to be here.

You know what that means? You’re winning, you’re around all these other winners, and you have a new network of people who want to see you succeed. You know what? Charlie Sheen would be so proud. Actually, he doesn’t care.

Okay, so maybe we could all avoid taking pages out of Charlie Sheen’s recent playbook… so let’s focus on what made the first week so memorable.

First of all, there was Andy Tryba. Our initial keynote speaker, and the Director of Corporate Strategy and Business Platforms at Intel, he gave us all a succinct idea of what being an engineer is like.
He also gave us insights on the benefits of persistence, hard work, and some creative networking were entertaining and informative. He recounted how he was able to become Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Because he knew someone who worked in the White House, he was able to get a letter of recommendation written on official White House letterhead, which gave him a competitive advantage when being chosen for a position that would consult directly with the President’s Jobs Initiative staff in Washington D.C. Clever? Absolutely. Resourceful? Without a doubt. Psychologically sneaky without being dishonest? Just a little.

The first day wrapped up with us being introduced to the idea of using technology to help underserved communities. We met Mindy Elias, Director of the local Boys & Girls Club. She talked to us about the needs of the community, and what challenges she faces in a position where she tries to serve the community to the best of her ability. Mindy’s insights had several main categories including Education, Immigration, Gangs, Insurance/Health Care and so much more.

At this point, teams of six people were created to devise a plan to use technology to help underserved communities, by solving one or more of the issues (or root causes) that would help people in those communities to live better lives.

Henrik Scheel and Khalid Smith came in to talk about ideation, business planning, and entrepreneurship. Their presentations were energetic and informative. At one point, Khalid said, “Who wants 20?” – One of the students in the front had their hand in the air even before the sentence finished coming out of Khalid’s mouth. We learned about the importance of early adopters and first followers. We learned that those with the insight to recognize and support a good idea are just as (if not more than) important as the first “lone nut” who comes up with the idea in the first place.

If people don’t exist that will use our product, follow our ideology, or believe in our mission, then we have no product, no value, and nothing but an empty idea. Ideas are easy, but realization is difficult.

At the end of the week, the teams gave a three-minute presentation on their ideas, and a panel of Intel personnel and Mindy Elias judged the entries and presentations. 3 great teams emerged as the winners. Unfortunately, none of the groups proposed providing food to those who were hungry by way of small RC helicopter. Not that it worked out so well for TacoCopter.

Tacocopter.jpg The FAA didn't think tacos should fly.

Seeing the innovative ideas the groups came up with was brilliant, and in just a few days, people presented fantastic solutions that served the community. It was an encouraging start to the program, to see the brilliant minds of all the people around, and to have the opportunity to work with a few of them in the individual groups. I fully expect the rest of the time will be equally as enlightening, fun, and educational as this time has been. Oh, and awesome. I expect the time to be awesome.

Pie.jpg Not as awesome as Nimoy Sunset Pie.