The Bridge to Somewhere

Admiring Santa Barbara Public Library’s Adult Literacy Programs

The Bridge to Somewhere (SB Public Library's Adult Literacy Programs) was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on March 18, 2021.

The Bridge to Somewhere (SB Public Library’s Adult Literacy Programs) was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on March 18, 2021.

Pivoting, but still paving the way to knowledge, despite budget cuts and so many services shut down during the pandemic, the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Adult Education Programs have found creative ways to provide service during the past year. I recently joined the City Library Advisory Board and was impressed with all of the free programs they still offer, despite their physical doors being closed to the public.

Headed by Devon Cahill, an adult education librarian and former volunteer tutor, the Adult Literacy Program trains volunteers to work one-to-one with learners to help them achieve language literacy and other adult education goals. Prior to the pandemic, the tutor-learner pairs would meet up at the library to work on their language skills together. Since last spring, they’ve switched to 100 percent remote and have about 50 tutor-learner pairs
working together.

Though it’s challenging, Cahill said that pandemic learning has been a success. Grants provided funding for Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots for those that needed them. “Our success rate normally is over 90 percent with learners reaching the literacy goals that they have set,” he said. “During the pandemic, we’re working with fewer learners and tutors, but our success rate has gone almost up to 100 percent—it was at 98 percent last quarter.”

Rachel Altman, a retired grant writer, has been a tutor for the past four years, working the entire time with Cecilia, a native Spanish speaker. Part of Cecilia’s motivation is that she works as a housecleaner and her employers want to be able to leave her written instructions. In addition, she is in her fifties and would like to be able to find less physically demanding work eventually, explained Altman, who was partially motivated to volunteer because her own parents were immigrants who learned English as a second language.

The two women meet for about an hour twice a week (one hour a week is the minimum requirement). They are currently meeting by phone, which is a bit more challenging than in person or on Zoom, but Cecilia is not computer savvy. Rather than read side-by-side, Altman mails materials to Cecilia from the variety of resources the library offers. “She’s very interested in history and current events,” Altman said.

While being apart isn’t ideal, there are some upsides. “I think the biggest advantage to the phone is we talk more … and she needs to practice more conversational English,” said Altman. “It seems like the phone allows for that a little more, rather than just going right to the book.”

Improving her conversational English was also one of the reasons Sebnem Vural joined the program about a year ago. “I have always struggled with my English pronunciation in the past, so I decided that it would be a good idea to obtain an environment where I could hear the language more often,” said the native Turkish speaker. “I’ve had tons of people supporting me and encouraging me all throughout my journey. I can’t explain how helpful
this program was.”

The tutors go through eight hours of initial training, with an emphasis on a learner-centered peer tutor approach, patience, cultural competency, and empathy. The nuts and bolts of how to help a learner achieve their goals depend on the person and what they want from the program. Learners’ goals run the gamut, Cahill explained, from being able to read a story to their children or help with homework to passing a citizenship test or getting a GED or driver’s license to shopping at a retail store, improving digital literacy, or being able to read and write in graduate school in a second language.

Being able to read to kids or talk to their teachers is a common goal, said Cahill. Malena Mackinlay, whose first language is Spanish, joined the program about four months ago. “I’ve always found motivation in wanting to be able to communicate in English, but my one-year-old granddaughter inspired me to continue learning,” she said. “My experience has been amazing. I got the best tutor, and I’m finally able to enjoy each of my lessons.”

Working remotely has been a plus in some cases, Cahill said. He’s been able to record his Zoom tutor trainings, so if someone isn’t able to attend, they can make it up later. In addition, “Sometimes that one hour a week that the tutor and learner meet is the only hour
that that learner has to work on their English because they’re so busy working multiple jobs or caring for kids,” he said. “This really frees up all that extra time it would take for the tutor or the learner to get back and forth to the library.”

He anticipates they will continue to offer a hybrid option for training and tutoring sessions when the pandemic is over.

Library technicians also run weekly English and Spanish conversation groups, which are open to all learners, with no registration required.

To learn more, call (805) 564-5619 (English) or (805) 962-7653 #3 (Spanish), email literacy@santabarbaraca.gov, or visit santabarbaraca.gov.

Santa Barbara Independent Cover, March 18, 2021Click here to see this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on March 18, 2021.

UCSB Teaches Thriving During Chaos

UCSB Teaches Thriving During Chaos, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent Self-Care issue, January 7, 2021.

UCSB Teaches Thriving During Chaos, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent Self-Care issue, January 7, 2021.

The pandemic has been stressful for all of us, but the abrupt shift to online learning —coupled with social isolation, political unrest, and the loss of just about everything that makes college fun— has been particularly difficult for students.

Last spring, Smaranda Lawrie, a graduate student in UCSB’s Department of Psychological
& Brain Sciences, saw how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted her students’ lives. “My students were really struggling,” she said. “I was teaching a lab course online, and there were a lot of hard conversations with them. There were tears and lots of emotions, so I started incorporating positive psychology practices into the class.”

Using techniques designed to “help individuals be stronger versions of themselves,” Lawrie observed such positive results with her students that they were thirsty for more.

Working with undergrads, particularly Samantha Blodgett, “We thought, ‘Let’s just start a series of talks and see what happens,’” said Lawrie. The speakers they approached were enthusiastic, and students even more so. “We were hoping for 20 students, and we ended up cutting it off at close to 1,000 because we didn’t know how to manage everyone.”

Now, four sessions into the UCSB Resilience Summit and Certificate Program, “I’ve just been surprised about these discussions that students are having during the actual lectures,” said Lawrie, who taught the first course, called Positive Psychology and the
Science of Thriving, before opening up to other lecturers on such topics as mindful
attention training, conditioning for resilience, and overcoming imposter syndrome.

“They are very vulnerable and very open, and it seems like they are really relating to the material and appreciating the information and appreciating the speakers,” added Lawrie, who is trying to make the summit live on. “It’s the pilot year, so we’ll see how it goes. I would love to get this info to as many people as possible.”

Upcoming seminars will discuss finding your inner hero, monitoring mental wellness in students, finding silver linings in negative events, supporting “at-promise” students, post-traumatic growth, and more. See ucsbresilience.wixsite.com/resiliencesummit.

Santa Barbara Independent Cover, Self-Care, January 7, 2021.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on January 7, 2021. To see this story as it appeared in print, please click here.

2020 Schools of Thought

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Here are the links to all of the stories in this special section:

Introduction: Schools of Thought 2020

Crane Country Day School’s Flexible Approach

Montecito Campus Embraces Its Outdoor Superpowers

Laguna Blanca’s New Center for Science and Innovation

Hope Ranch Campus Provides Proper Home for Project-Based Learning

Coding Meets Community at Providence School

Students Create App to Connect Kids with Nonprofits

Big Learning on the Littlest Little Farm

O’Connor Family and AHA! Engage Students on a Hope Ranch Annex Property

Waldorf Education Honors the Head, Heart, and Hands

101-Year-Old Tradition Offers a Holistic Approach to School

S.B. Middle School Pedals Through the Pandemic

Riviera Campus Finds Creative Challenges to Keep Kids Active

Montessori Center School Creates Positive Kids with Positive Forces

Developing Well-Rounded Students with Time-Tested Techniques

S.Y.V. Charter School Grows Green Thumbs

Irises—and Intellect—Bloom When the Garden Is a Classroom

Midland Boarding School’s COVID Advantage

Historic S.Y.V. Outdoor School Is Great Fit for Today’s Teens

Marymount School Embraces a Broad New Vision

Independent School Welcomes Diverse Backgrounds

SBCC Foundation Delivers the Promise

An Update on the College’s Signature Project

SBCC Career Center Opens Job Pathways

Helping Students Begin School with the End in Mind

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

SBCC Foundation Delivers the Promise

SBCC Foundation Delivers the Promise, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

SBCC Foundation Delivers the Promise, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

An Update on the College’s Signature Project

The SBCC Promise — which provides regional high school graduates the opportunity to attend Santa Barbara City College full-time, free of charge, for up to two years — started its fifth year this fall, with 5,000 students projected to have benefited by the end of the year.

SBCC Foundation CEO Geoff Green gave us an update.

Have there been any changes to how the SBCC Promise works? We’ve been adjusting the offerings of the Promise based on feedback, so for us it’s a real-time experiment. One of the things we’re trying to figure out is how many students complete two or three years of the Promise but still have to stay one or two or three more semesters to be ready to transfer.

We’ve also gotten requests from a few students saying, “I’m ready to go, but I can’t afford to pay for all of these transfer applications.” So we just added that if they go to a counselor and say, “I need help with this,” we’ll pay for their transfer apps. We’ll do that for students who were Promise students in, say, 2016-17 and are just now completing what they need for transfer.

You also changed the program so students who have a unit load accommodation, and take fewer classes because of a disability, can stay in SBCC Promise for longer. Yes, as we learn about different things, we’ve been doing that kind of stuff as we’ve also tried to measure and monitor.

Does SBCC Promise pay the college the same amount it would get if the students were paying individually? Yes, and in fact this was one of the unanticipated benefits that [former SBCC president] Jack Friedlander told me about the first semester we did this, before he retired. He said, “Do you realize you actually generated a half million dollars last semester for the college? All of those students, who based on previous data would not have been full-time, they went full-time so they could take advantage of the Promise. Because of those additional units they paid for, that equaled half a million dollars of revenue for the college.”

How are you doing right now in terms of funding? It’s tough. We have now sustained it for 4.5 years. [Initially,] we raised about $3.5 million within six months. So we raised enough money to get all the way through year one and two and part of year three very early and then it sloughed off. Basically, we were excited, we put all our energy into the program, and now we have to circle back and kick up our fundraising. So you can expect after the pandemic moment starts to shift back to whatever our new normal is, you’ll see a big public campaign around funding the Promise.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

SBCC Career Center Opens Job Pathways

SBCC Career Center Opens Job Pathways, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

SBCC Career Center Opens Job Pathways, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Helping Students Begin School with the End in Mind

Offering a range of services, from internships to job fairs, résumé help to interview prep, the Santa Barbara City College Career Center helps prepare students for future success in myriad ways.

“When you come into college, there are literally hundreds of majors that you could choose from and thousands of different kinds of jobs, so one of our approaches is trying to simplify that for students as much as possible,” said SBCC Career Center Director Chris Phillips, who uses the “Guided Pathways” model to clarify a career path for students. “We try to help them make good, informed choices about their direction at the college.”

To do so, the center helps students narrow down their major and then follows up with work-based learning content. “We bring employers to campus and we try to get them internships and have kind of a career awareness about what they’re going to do after their major,” he said.

With that end in mind, the center offers one-on-one academic counseling, workshops, career planning classes, and faculty collaborations. Two staff members focus on employers and one specializes in internships, even helping employers develop an
internship program if they don’t have one. There’s also an online job and internship posting system exclusively for SBCC students.

The center works closely with the Office of Equity. “We are really trying to acknowledge the populations of our students who might not be getting this information,” said Phillips. “We want to really actively reach them and try to bring some more equity to the students when it comes to finding jobs and supporting all of our students. That’s really at the front and
center of what we’re doing as a career center and as a college.”

sbcc.edu/careercenter

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

This Land is Our Land

Discover local spots to explore, like Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park, at 50greatpubliclanddestinations.org. Photo by Deborah Williams.

Discover local spots to explore, like Lost Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park,
at 50greatpubliclanddestinations.org. Photo by Deborah Williams.

Hoping to encourage her environmental studies students to get out and explore public lands within a 300-mile radius, UC Santa Barbara lecturer Deborah Williams has created a new website for all to enjoy. Great Public Land Destinations (50greatpubliclanddestinations.org) spotlights 50 parks, monuments, preserves, and open spaces, where visitors can appreciate natural beauty and historical significance.

“One of my goals in creating the site was to remind us of the rich diversity of our public lands,” Williams says.

In addition to well-known national parks, like Yosemite and Joshua Tree, her impressive compilation tallies lesser-known spots, such as Manzanar National Historic Site—a World War II Japanese internment camp in the Eastern Sierras, and the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, preserved through fundraising efforts led by conservationist Jane Pinheiro, including a 1970s “Pennies for Poppies” drive to which schoolchildren contributed. All of the sites are within a day’s drive of the 805.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Apeel’s Santa Barbara Appeal

Apeel's Megan Opp, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

Apeel’s Megan Opp, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

In a creation story fit for a feel-good film, the food-preservation company Apeel Sciences was founded by UCSB grad student James Rogers when he heard a radio story about global hunger while driving through California’s lush farmlands. He wondered how so many could be so hungry when there was much food around.

Upon learning that the culprit is spoilage, the materials science PhD candidate developed a product—made entirely from natural things in the food we already eat—that slowed down the rotting of various fruits and vegetables. Rogers won UCSB’s New Venture Competition, and the seeds of Apeel quickly began to sprout, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation due to the promise of fighting malnourishment around the world.

That was around 2012. Fast forward to today, and Apeel, which is headquartered in Goleta and employs nearly 200 “Apeelers,” is growing like crazy, developing products for dozens of produce categories and working with a range of partners, from small organic growers to the world’s largest food brands.

In late August, Apeel, which is currency valued at more than $1 billion, announced a partnership with the largest German retailer that will put Apeel-treated avocados and oranges in more than 11,000 EDEKA and Netto stores.

And they’re just getting started. I spoke with “Chief People Officer” Megan Opp about Apeel’s appeal.

WHY IS EVERYONE SO EXCITED ABOUT YOUR COMPANY? The technology and product are so innovative and world-changing. We are thankful for UCSB for providing a strong pipeline of incredible talent, which of course includes our founders. People have the opportunity to positively change how the world accesses and enjoys fresh produce. What’s exciting is that it all started in this beautiful community of S.B. and has grown very quickly into a global company.

Most of our R&D happens right here at headquarters, but innovations can come from any part of the world. You can be based in Santa Barbara but also have opportunities to travel and work in new places. This is one of the most globally mobile companies I’ve seen, where we’ll give these opportunities as a way of sharing our company values and culture in different locations and also as a way to grow in one’s career and skills and global mindset.

WHAT ARE SOME HIGH AND LOW POINTS OF BEING A BIG EMPLOYER HERE? We’re extremely fortunate to have great access to top tech talent who have chosen to study and live in the Santa Barbara area. We’ve also been able to attract talent from surrounding metro areas, including L.A. and the Bay Area. We always notice an uptick in applications from the East Coast and Midwest during winter months! Like any region for tech talent, Santa Barbara isn’t without its challenges. Santa Barbara’s cost of living and housing availability is one.

WHAT ARE SOME CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN SANTA BARBARA COMPARED TO OTHER TECH HUBS? Our employees are very philanthropic, connected with nature, and embrace all of the outdoor adventures and amenities this area has to offer.

DOES BEING A HUMANITARIAN-FOCUSED COMPANY LEAD TO A CERTAIN TYPE OF EMPLOYEE? We are a global company that hires talent based not only abilities but the aligned belief in our mission—enabling a world that works with nature; we use food to protect food—and wanting to be part of something that will change the world. We hire and reward people with strong alignment with our values, which include humility and teamwork. We support each other and want to see us all succeed so that Apeel produce will be available throughout the world.

HOW ARE YOU HANDLING HIRING DURING COVID? Food waste is a global crisis, and we are continuing to aggressively staff up to be able to tackle this issue head-on. Even through this challenging time of COVID, we’ve come up with creative ways to create a welcoming virtual environment for candidates and new hires. We always put people first and have created additional programs to support our working parents and caregivers and all of our employees during these challenging times.

We feel so fortunate to be based in the Santa Barbara area with so many benefits within our reach!    apeelsciences.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

TIA: Where Inventions Meet Industry

Sherylle Mills Englander, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

Sherylle Mills Englander, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

From filament LED lighting and cloud computing to medical diagnostics, virtual reality, and everything in between, researchers at UCSB have played a key role in developing technologies that improve our lives. Tasked with building relationships between UCSB and industry is the Office of Technology & Industry Alliances (TIA), which was established in 2005 with Sherylle Mills Englander as director. She answered some questions about the office’s role.

HOW DOES TIA WORK? A lot of our discoveries are what’s called curiosity-based research, aimed at getting a fundamental understanding. The more we understand fundamentally how things work, the more innovation we can place on top of that. A lot of the research we do is extremely important and not necessarily ready for a commercial partnership.

CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE? Let’s say we have a new way of sorting cells for diagnostics where we can really quickly separate out cancer cells from any other cell and we can do it very rapidly and very effectively, so that’s got a definite benefit. If our researchers publish in scientific journals to let others learn about it and build upon it, that’s great; we’ve given a whole new process to the world.

But if absolutely anybody can use it commercially, that can be a disincentive for a company to develop it. We need a company partner to invest in making that initial discovery something that can be used in every doctor’s office.

SO THE SCIENCE AND THE PRODUCT ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS. It’s a very different question. How do you sort cells quickly and rapidly without hurting them? Or how do you build a machine for it that is going to be affordable, reimbursable, and easy enough to use to be in everybody’s office?

If we simply publish, would a company invest the millions of dollars it takes to create a product only to have the fundamental discovery of that product be able to be used by competitors? Most likely not. So to encourage it to be translated into actual commercial products, we apply for a patent on that original idea and then we go to a company who has a strong passion and expertise for it. If they commit to developing something that will benefit the public, we will give you the exclusive access to that patent.

What we’re basically doing is using the intellectual property scheme of patents and copyrights to encourage and facilitate companies to create products and services based on our discoveries.

DOES UCSB GET COMPENSATED FOR SUCCESSES? What we do is called a license, effectively giving permission for a company to use it. There are some standard deal structures. Obviously, we require royalties. Essentially, we want to assure that if they do succeed with the technology, the University of California shares in that success in a reasonable way. We are looking to make sure our innovation and our contribution to their company is fairly compensated, but it’s structured in a way that allows them to spend the money to develop a product and to get it out there.

HOW ABOUT THE INVENTORS THEMSELVES? Most of our innovations have students named as an inventor or author because they are so active in our research. The university will give the inventors 35 percent of our net revenue, and they share it equally. Just because you are a faculty member doesn’t mean you get more. If there are three inventors, they each get a third of that net revenue.

Their job is to teach and to discover science, and it takes an enormous amount of help to make that innovation happen. So that 35 percent back is a recognition of the effort of the effort that they are doing to take this invention out.

IS THIS A BIG MONEYMAKER? This is not a scenario where tons of money is coming in. The university has over 12,000 active inventions. The top 25 patents earn anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of our income in a given year.

We want our contribution to be respected, and we want the California taxpayers to get a return on that investment. Every bit of money we get in royalties is reinvested to support future research at UCSB, and we want to keep that going.

SO THE MOTIVATION IS NOT THE FINANCIAL RETURN. The reason we are doing this fundamentally is we want our innovations to turn into products that actually help people.

tia.ucsb.edu

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

UCSB Technology Management Program’s Startups

A List of More Than 30 Companies Whose Founders Participated in the Certificate Program

This is a select list of startups that were formed by UCSB alumni who went through the school’s Technology Management Program at UCSB. Unless otherwise specified, these companies are still located on the Central Coast.

58phases (affiliate marketing coupon websites): Houston, TX; 58phases.com

Active Life Scientific (bone density measurement without radiation): activelifescientific.com

Apeel Sciences (plant-based edible coating to preserve fruits and vegetables longer): apeelsciences.com

AppScale (open source cloud computing platform): appscale.com

Aptitude (medical diagnostics — aptamers): aptitudemedical.com

Because of Hope (BOH) (handmade jewelry site supporting widows and orphans in Uganda): becauseofhope.org

BioIQ (health measurement technology): primary location in Atlanta, GA; bioiq.com

Compandent (telecommunications and secure voice software and hardware): Los Altos Hills, CA; compandent.com

DejaLearn (app to help students with memorization tasks): dejalearn.com/#4

Emergency Medical Technologies (medical alert “WriskWatch”): North Miami Beach, FL; emergencymedtech.com/index.cfm

Endotronix (wireless heart health monitoring): Lisle, IL, and Dublin, Ireland; endotronix.com

EVmatch (peer-to-peer electric-vehicle charging network): evmatch.com

Fluency Lighting Technologies (laser diode lighting): fluencylighting.com

Groundswell Technologies (software for natural resource management): groundswelltech.com

iCracked (iPhone and iPad repairs and buybacks), acquired by SquareTrade: squaretrade.com

Infanttech (baby monitor for cars): Montebello, CA; infanttech.com

Inogen (portable oxygen therapy): inogen.com

Life Cube (portable instant shelters): lifecubeinc.com

Milo Sensors (wearable alcohol-sensor technologies): www.milosensor.com

NEXT (organic photovoltaics): nextenergytech.com

Nitride Solutions (manufacturing materials that enable solutions to critical problems in electronics): Wichita, KS; nitridesolutions.com

PeraHealth (healthcare efficiency software): Charlotte, NC; perahealth.com

Polar Pro (accessories for GoPro Cameras): Costa Mesa, CA; polarprofilters.com

Sirigen (High Sensitivity Fluorescence): La Jolla, CA; sirigen.com

StudySoup (peer-to-peer learning marketplace): San Francisco, CA; studysoup.com

SyncIn (mobile time tracking): Van Nuys, CA; syncinnow.com

Tamarisc (early-stage venture investment): Boston, MA; tamarisc.com

TrackR (Bluetooth tracker): thetrackr.com

Ubersense (sports analysis tool): hudl.com

Vanguard Computer Technology Labs (VCT) (engineering services): vctlabs.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

TMP: Practical Education for an Evolving World

Students in UCSB’s Technology Management Program listen to a recent presentation on Nectir, a new system for connecting classrooms. | Credit: Courtesy

Students in UCSB’s Technology Management Program listen to a recent presentation on Nectir, a new system for connecting classrooms. | Credit: Courtesy

Preparation meets opportunity in UCSB’s Technology Management Program (TMP), which trained 2,400 undergraduate students last year alone.

The certificate program covers subjects such as business strategy, entrepreneurship, marketing, management, finance, and startup business models as well as current issues in technology, business, and society.

“Because UCSB doesn’t have a business school, students aren’t really exposed to the basics about what it’s like to work in an organization,” explained Kyle Lewis, TMP’s chair. “So we have courses that the students would otherwise not get.”

TMP is technically part of the College of Engineering, but it’s open to all students, and 80 percent who enroll are not engineers. “Often, these are very motivated students, and they’re taking our courses because they believe it will help them get jobs, and in fact it does,” she explained. “So we have a lot of students who have gone through the certificate who have been very, very successful on the job market with majors that could have made it more challenging for them to get good jobs.”

Lewis said that a primary goal is to keep students of all backgrounds aware of how technology is changing our world. “What we’re able to bring to the classroom is research that we’ve been doing for a long time that’s now very, very relevant,” she said. “How does tech influence human behavior and decision making? And how do humans affect technology?”

The COVID pandemic is making this sort of training all the more relevant. “Change equals opportunities in this type of environment,” said Dave Adornetto, the executive director of TMP’s entrepreneurship program. “So there’s just going to be all sorts of new problems to solve with technology.” He sees that revolutions are particularly underway for healthcare and education.

“The challenges, of course, are around engagement,” he explained, “how to keep people engaged when they are remote.”

Michael Curtis, who completed his Masters of Technology Management degree in June, is seeing these changes firsthand in his new job as an associate project manager at Apeel Sciences, which itself was launched after winning TMP’s New Venture Competition in 2012. He was hired in April, right as everyone went into full lockdown. “We had a virtual online orientation, and it went a lot better than I was anticipating,” Curtis said.

“I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with how much of a relationship I’ve been able to build with a lot of my coworkers. I thought that being online would be a little weird, but I do feel like I’ve been absorbed into the community and culture of Apeel.”

This kind of training and connection is becoming the new social norm. “With so much change happening in the world right now,” said Adornetto, “I’m excited to see what’s going to come out in terms of student creativity and ideas, because I think natural applications will emerge from their experiences with these technologies.”

Though TMP has long been associated with startups, that’s not the program’s only application. “A lot of the students are thinking about joining established firms, and they’re joining in positions where innovation is required,” said Lewis. “The skills and the learning are absolutely portable to all kinds of organizations where innovation has to occur constantly, and they are learning how to do that.”    tmp.ucsb.edu

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20