Early Acceptances for Passion Talks 2017

Here’s a sample of the early acceptances for Passion Talks 2017. We are doing a last call for talk submissions. For more information on the conference, click here. Join us on August 5th for the main event!

ARTS and SCIENCE: Music, Chemistry, Community, and Data Science

Music, chemistry, community, and data science may seem like disparate topics, but have all been part of my job at some point in my life. Every day, I draw on parallels and connections between them to shape the music I’ve made, the liturgy I’ve written, the experiments I’ve designed, and the way I’ve approached problems at work. In this talk, I’ll explore some of the threads and themes that tie these domains together, and how each of of them is an expression of context, creativity, and computation.

The speaker is a data scientist who has worked on projects ranging from bioinformatics and event operations to data visualization and analytics. She’s also spent time as a musician and music teacher, and still performs and writes her own music.

SOCIAL MEDIA: When a Little Blue Bird Flaps Its Wings: How Twitter is Changing the World

If I’ve learned anything from chaos theory (via math research, not Jurassic Park), it’s that small changes in initial conditions can have large effects later on. Design choices in a social media platform like Twitter (news feed, public-sharing-as-default, asymmetrical social layer, etc.) have had massive, unexpected results. Twitter’s problems have been frequently discussed, but I will point to the ways Twitter has become a can’t-live-without tool for a number of fields, including politics, entertainment, academia, education, and the church. With Twitter we have an opportunity not to broadcast, but to connect meaningfully, to find affinity through niche spaces. At its best, Twitter functions like Jesus’ parables; let anyone with ears to hear, listen.

The speaker’s calling is to work toward a more generous Internet, one person at a time. In addition to being the Director of InterVarsity’s Ministry in Digital Spaces, he is a PhD student at Michigan State University, where he’s studying the Internet and human connection. More specifically, he’s researching digital affinity spaces (e.g. online videogames, Twitter hashtags, fan forums, podcasts, and YouTube channels) and social capital. the speaker is an avid gamer motivated by exploration and social connection, primarily in Elder Scrolls Online but in many independent games as well. He still keeps in touch with his first online friend, from AOL in the early 1990s.

STORYTELLING: Realigning Your Life Narrative

Much has been said in the last 40 years about Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” idea, which is a psychological study on how we find similar ways of telling stories across society. As a fan of the Hero’s Journey, I have found it to be an excellent way to discuss the bible, movies and any story that develops a narrative over time. However in my personal life, I am found with myself and with others, a similar motif that has developed over time, “The Victim’s Journey” a narrative that we tell ourselves over and over again so that we can wallow or stay stuck in the pit of whatever obstacle that may stand in our way. Through this special Passion Talk, I will break down “The Victim’s Journey” and empower the audience to break past it, enabling them to discover the passion that God has for them to reveal to the world.

The speaker is an author, educator, content creator, and technology consultant based in Phoenix Arizona. He has a B.A. in English from Benedictine University, a B.A in Film and Video and Columbia College, and M.A.M in Media Management from Columbia College and a M.A.E. from Antioch University in Education and Social Justice. He is a member of the International Game Developers Association and a board member of Blacks In Games SIG, a special interest group dedicated to increasing African American participation and influence in the interactive media industries. He is the owner of two companies, Intuitive Visions, a Trans-Media production company and Culture Con, a blogging and event production company. He is currently adjunct faculty at Grand Canyon University. He recently was co-author of the paper “Can Games make a Difference in the World?” The speaker has written 10 screenplays, 2 television pilots and 3 graphic novels, and is about to launch his new work “Black Dragon” next month.

ENGINEERING: How Machines Learn

Are you Procedurally Literate? It’s the step beyond Computer Literacy, where you not only know how to use a computer, but also understand how the computer accomplishes your requests. The current Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) boom is raising the bar for the logic behind our tech. Take Google, for example. In the last five years, there has been an exponential growth in the use of Machine Learning in Google products. As much as we ask ourselves “how?,” this talk asks the questions of “why?” How you define AI is only as meaningful as the community you find yourself in, and even then, it slightly changes every so often. What is more meaningful is the lifelong curiosity on what it means to be human, and how we can be better at that.

The speaker works with games product groups and Machine Learning tools at Google as a Developer Advocate and a Software Engineer on the Google Brain team as a Machine Learning Ninja. Additionally, she is a pre-collegiate instructor for Stanford University. She’s taught at Stanford and around the world in five different countries. Her PhD work is in Computer Science, researching storytelling and Artificial Intelligence.

EDUCATION: How to Engage Learners Through Facilitation

For more than seven years Ivan has been facilitating financial literacy training to empower underprivileged students and address systemic cycles of poverty. But how do we create an environment of learning? How do we make the subject easy to digest and relatable to the unique demographic? Can we design a classroom experience where students learn from one another? And how does improving financial literacy address a growing problem of economic disparity? Ivan will be sharing his experience of coaching over 200 students from East Palo Alto and improving their financial literacy skills by 71% within nine months.

The speaker is a training facilitator and program manager who is passionate at helping people and organizations find and fulfill their purpose so they can thrive. He has been activating people to reach their full potential and creating environments of learning in every step of his career. Combining eight years of managing complex projects at Apple, seven years of facilitating financial literacy training courses, and five years of managing an inclusion and diversity team, the speaker now manages Learning & Development Programs for purpose driven organizations such as City Year Americorps.

BUSINESS: How passion leads to miracles: a Google Marketer’s job hunt story

“If you don’t mind me asking… how did you get into Google?” I love this question, because my response always comes as a surprise – especially when people find out that I never applied to my current job. In Fall 2015, I grasped for clear direction and direct answers while searching for jobs, only to discover the infinitely greater treasure of God’s gracious, trustworthy, and reassuring character, and how he defines “success.” It was this experience that truly confirmed to me how much God desires each of us to become the person he made us to be; to do the things he created us to do; and to steward all our gifts, relationships, and stories to not only see–but be a part of–his work on earth. And when we follow him, miracles happen.

Having grown up in the Bay Area, the speaker has been fascinated by tech and media all her life, but it wasn’t until college that she started to realize how actively God was present and moving in everything – including areas often labeled as “secular” such as tech, media, and business. After graduating from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in May 2016, she started at Google as an Associate Product Marketing Manager within SMB Marketing in September 2016. Her other experiences include marketing at InterVarsity/2100 Productions, channel marketing at TiVo, and digital marketing at the California Academy of Sciences. In her free time, she enjoys meeting new people, building community, mentoring students, and exploring new (food) places.

MEDICAL: Of Men and Maintenance/Usability and the Art of Med Device Maintenance

The challenging assertion that “plumbers run the world” belies the premise that it is enough to let innovation drive engineering design. While “plumbing” may seem particularly dull for engineers eagerly drawn to “new and shiny” designs, often a greater proportion of effort is required for “mending” (maintenance) to help sustain “making” (innovation). For medical device design, incorporating “reusable” can be both resource-sensible and perhaps more eco-friendly. Yet there are important lessons, from a human factors perspective focused on use (rather than user) errors, which should be considered collectively for effective medical device design. In addition to use by the primary user (e.g., clinicians or patients), secondary users for maintenance of the device should also be considered. We will review when “plumbing” or maintenance issues have proven dangerous design flaws, and discuss design considerations for the safe and effective use of medical devices.

The speaker, Ph.D., a human factors engineer at Intuitive Surgical, had an unintended (yet happy!) path into med device development. She studied ChemE in undergrad and BME (molecular imaging / cancer research) in grad school. Before med devices, she briefly explored industry (pharma) and government (brain imaging), and is so grateful to mentors and sponsors for their guidance in her career path. She has found “flow” in applying engineering for patients / people, and finds joy in teamwork with engaging challenges focused on human-centered design issues. In med device development, she has had experience in design engineering, clinical studies, quality engineering, risk management, and now has been enjoying the field of human factors engineering.

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