Silicon Valley Youth Tech Day a big success

(L-R) SVP/GM VMware Charles Fan, CEO of Pulse Secure Sudhakar Ramakrishna, CEO QMAT Francois Henley, VP/GM Intel Geetha Dabir, CFO AMD Devinder Kumar. VP Dhana Pawar with moderator and organizer Shivaum Kumar, Sophmore Saratoga High School.
(L-R) SVP/GM VMware Charles Fan, CEO of Pulse Secure Sudhakar Ramakrishna, CEO QMAT Francois Henley, VP/GM Intel Geetha Dabir, CFO AMD Devinder Kumar. VP Dhana Pawar with moderator and organizer Shivaum Kumar, Sophmore Saratoga High School.

The first annual Silicon Valley Youth Tech Day was conducted on September 12 and was run by the youth of the Silicon Valley community at Saratoga’s Joan Pisani Community Center. Shivaum Kumar, founder of Silicon Valley Young Coders club was the event chair.

There were various panels, speakers and presenters at this event.
The Panel 1 topic was: Policies to foster innovation in Silicon Valley.

The speakers were Assemblymember Kansen Chu, President of Santa Clara County Dave Cortese, Mayor of Milpitas Jose Esteves and San Jose Councilmember Ash Kalra. Moderator: Councilmember Rishi Kumar, Saratoga

The Panel 2 topic was: Why does Silicon Valley succeed the way it does. The speakers were VP/GM Intel Geetha Dabir, VP Dhana Pawar, CEO QMAT Francois Henley, CFO AMD Devinder Kumar, SVP/GM VMware Charles Fan, CEO Pulse Secure Sudhakar Ramakrishna. Moderator: Shivaum Kumar, Founder Silicon Valley Young Coders Club

The Panel 3 topic was: Girls and Technology – a great combination.
The speakers were: SVP/GM Symantec Ana Pinczuk, VP Mobile Innovation SAP Shivani Govil, Board of Director Van Dang, Former CEO Cavirin Purnima Padmanabhan, CEO SilRay April Zhong, Sr Director Citrix Minoo Gupta. Moderator: Vidushi Somani

The Segment: Whiz kids of Silicon Valley was anchored by Shivaum Kumar. Youth presenters were Daniel Bossnov, Raj Janardhan, Krishna Ramesh, Samaira Mehta, Lakshay Maharana, Patrick Li, Rohan Koodli and Pranav Luxmi

Dhana Pawar discusses the event with Shivaum:

Shivaum, I was happy to join and support the first Silicon Valley Tech Day. What were the highlights that stand out for you from that afternoon?

Shivaum: I was thrilled to make the first annual Tech Day happen. Many volunteers jumped in to help and I was quite pleased with the team effort. I wasn’t quite sure how it would all turn out, but we had fun putting it together, and it was a great event. The panelists that came were great, the elected leaders, industry executive and women-in-technology panel were all very insightful and informative. I enjoyed moderating one of the panel discussions, a first time for me. What stands out though was the energy of the youth presenters.

I was so amazed to see what the youth of our community were doing, because some of them were less than 8 years old. We see the panelists who obviously were famous and successful, but I enjoyed seeing kids like me up there presenting.

Some of the projects were quite complex and I was wondering if I could ever do something like what they showed. We had Jamba Juice and granolar bars provided to our participants after every panel discussion and some felt that was the best part of the event too.

Tell us Shivaum, how did Tech Day come about?
Shivaum: We launched “Silicon Valley Young Coders Club” in June earlier this year. My dad was running the Lego Robotics Club team formation day in Saratoga and I realized that all the programming interest I had, came about from the programming we did for Lego Robotics. A piece of code that makes magic. I wanted to see how we could continue the learning for kids who had ‘graduated’ from the Lego Robotics. Thus the idea of the Coders club came about to me.

For the first meeting, I was expecting 10 kids to show up and when I started seeing the RSVPs, I realized we would have 200+ parents and kids in the room. We quickly changed the booking to the larger multi-purpose room in the Community Center. From the start, we always had an industry executive join us to provide the industry view.

For example at the kick-off event in June we had a Google executive join us and she talked about coding, the industry viewpoint and also about Google. But after a few weeks of our weekly club meeting, only 25 serious kids were showing up regularly. And I thought, there are many more kids who are programming building apps. How do we raise awareness and make it one day of condensed learning, awareness and in-depth insights over and beyond just coding. Then idea of an annual Tech Day came about.

Explain to us Shivaum what was the thought process in extending the weekly club meeting and putting together this agenda and outline for the first Silicon Valley Youth Tech Day?
Shivaum: Silicon Valley is always creating new technology for the world. Facebook has a billion users now every day. That was created right here in Silicon Valley. We have Tesla that was created right here.

Innovation happens everyday, but the first time I learn programming in school was only this year as a 10th grader. I notice that kids in middle school are already programming. There are clubs in high school that help with collaboration, but nothing in middle school. I thought if we can just help the middle school kids to learn programming that would serve a good purpose. My dad attends many conferences, but I don’t think kids attend these conferences. I thought, why not have a conference for kids, run by kids? Why not have a technology centric learning and awareness just for kids.

If we can make it a fun learning experience, interaction, invite some industry executives who have made it big in Silicon Valley high-tech they could potentially inspire the young kids to aim for similar career paths. The rewards of a technology career, even pursuing MSET Program would become clear. It would help motivate kids. And my mom suggested having a Women-in-Technology panel to inspire girls to pursue a technology career.

She went to Columbia University and has been at Cisco for many years, and I think happy that she made this choice when she was in high school. Why not create this awareness with kids of our community. And as young kids, we sometimes ignore the world around us as decisions are made. My dad suggested inviting political leaders to raise awareness to the youth of how decisions are made in Sacramento and that is how we added policy making on the agenda.

How is the weekly club gathering going?
Shivaum: Like I said, the weekly club gatherings have reduced from the 200 that showed up the first day back in June to only 25 now. We heard that kids wanted to learn about app program that is the most popular meeting we have. We have done primarily 3 things teach iOS programming, Android programming to build apps for Apple and Android phones and also teach programming/scripting languages like Java, C++, Python etc.

We also decided we did not need an industry executive to show up every week, we do it once in a while now. We have a total of 5 youth instructors who take turns teaching. Our instructors, including my brother and myself, create tutorials for kids to try out stuff at home. We put these tutorials on our website and also on our Facebook group. These 25 kids had many ideas. Someone suggested we teach technology to the seniors.

When my grandparents visit they are always asking me how to do this on the laptop, how to do this on the tablet and smart phone. I thought it was a great idea and we have already taught seniors at Saratoga Senior Center and Priya Living. We have also asked the Retirement center in Saratoga. What we are hoping that we will start soon is to collaborate for larger projects, maybe startups.

We also hope to provide internship opportunities for our coders. We are also working on rolling this club to other parts of the bay area like Fremont, San Jose, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto etc. to help other kids learn this as well. The opportunities are there to help everyone in Silicon Valley access opportunities for learning.

Tell us are you thinking of running a 2nd Annual Tech Day? Will it be the same format or you are thinking?

Shivaum: We are actually running a survey to get feedback from our club members. Based on what we hear, we may make changes to the format of the Tech Day. But we are going to do a couple new things.

Firstly, we would like to get a few Silicon Valley companies to sponsor this event that would help establish the branding of this event. Secondly, we would like to run a competition for the best ideas or projects.

We would like to invite the Venture Capital teams to judge these projects and we plan to give out a prize to the best ideas. And of course, if a VC team decides to fund it, that would be really nice. We are also going to run this event the first weekend after school breaks out the beginning of summer, instead of Fall. Also, a hackathon would be nice – we may engage a larger group for this purpose.

Thank you Shivaum for running such a fabulous event for the larger community.
Shivaum: Thanks for joining us on Tech Day and we will be sure to invite you again next year. We would love to get your feedback and ideas from the readers here

Dhana Pawar is an industry veteran with over 14 years of experience leading product teams for startups & Fortune 500 companies. She has worked extensively with wireless carriers as well as leading brands like P&G, COVERGIRL, Walmart, NBC and Disney.

Ms. Pawar is a regular speaker at tech events and has been quoted in a wide variety of leading media outlets, including CNN, ABC News, and All Things Digital. Ms. Pawar has been the Managing Director for the Silicon Valley Girls in Tech and sits on the advisory boards of Float, PersonalShopping and Xyleo Labs.

Dhana Pawar

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