Passion Talks 2020 – Register to Attend!

We are excited to announce the program for Passion Talks 2020 (August 14-August 15). We will have six total sessions of talks ranging from technology to justice. This year the speakers span a great diversity of disciplines, expertise, and regions of the world including Singapore, Canada, Mozambique, and Costa Rica. From industry we have experts who’ve come from Google, Facebook, VMWare, WhatsApp, Boeing, and NASA. We have a wide range of academics and professionals as well, featuring the sciences, engineering, medicine, education, government, and business. Below is a sample of the talks that we will feature this year. Registration is now open on Eventbrite.

The Ministry of Reconnection: How we work to end the marginalization and disconnection of black and brown young adults in the U.S.

Nearly 5 million people in the U.S. are labeled as Disconnected Youth; young adults between the ages of 16-24 who are neither working nor in school. These critical years of a person’s life, if “connected”, provide the opportunity for developing agency and confidence, learning about themselves and others, and more. Disconnection has lasting impact on these individuals, and society as a whole. A significant number of these disconnected youth are Black, Indigenous and people of color, with nearly one in five black youth experience disconnection. Systemic and institutional racism – which play out in discriminatory school disciplines practices among other things, historical disadvantages, and low levels of human development are all key factors. The Ministry of Reconnection takes a look at a particular approach that is being launched in Memphis, TN to remedy this issue.

Shamichael Hallman serves as the Senior Library Manager for the Memphis Public Libraries. This work includes overseeing the multi-million dollar renovation of the historic Cossitt Library in downtown Memphis. His 2020 TEDx talk, given in February, focuses on how this project is working to create a space where everyone belongs, and that generates opportunities for shared experience among people of all incomes and backgrounds. Shamichael is currently a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying nonprofit leadership. As part of his studies, he is working to launch The Zoe Center; a social venture aimed at decreasing the number of disconnected youth in Memphis. Shamichael serves on a number of non-profit boards in Memphis, is the Campus Pastor of a multi-site church, and was recently named with a 40 Under 40 honoree by the Memphis Business Journal.

Glimpses of Heaven on Earth: My Journey in Science & Faith

Scientific evidence strongly suggests that our universe had a beginning, commonly referred to as the Big Bang. What does this mean for those who believe in God as Creator? In this presentation, Dr. Leslie Wickman investigates how faith and science go together, sharing insights from her own journey to reconcile the two fields. In this faith-affirming presentation, Dr. Wickman gives an overview of the evidence for God’s existence from the findings of modern science, as well as the history of science. She interprets complex scientific discoveries in widely accessible ways, giving her audience a better understanding of how Scripture, science, and creation fit together.

Leslie Wickman, Ph.D, is an internationally respected research scientist, engineering consultant, author and inspirational speaker. For more than a decade Wickman was an engineer for Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, where she worked on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station Programs, receiving commendations from NASA for her contributions and being designated as Lockheed’s Corporate Astronaut (hence the nickname “Rocket Girl”!). Dr. Wickman now divides her time between teaching and serving as an Advisor to the President at Azusa Pacific University. She also works as a research scientist on technical and policy aspects of national aerospace and defense issues. Some of her recent projects include climate change impacts on national security, assessment of future human spaceflight missions and technologies, human factors problems for extreme environments, fighter pilot proficiency training, sustainable agriculture and water reclamation. Wickman holds a master’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering and a doctoral degree in human factors and biomechanics, both from Stanford University. She graduated magna cum laude from Willamette University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Designing Public Policy Like We Design Airplanes

It is not enough to stop the virus. Or to get the economy moving again. Both are important. So how do we define public policy for a flourishing society trapped between good, competing objectives? Airplane design is also caught between important competing objectives including but not limited to range, safety, efficiency, carrying capacity, and affordability. The process cannot be simply to listen to the loudest or most persuasive proponent. Instead, the experts from various fields must work together for a larger objective, applying expertise from each area to define a product that meets a larger objective: a safe, affordable, efficient airplane that can meet the carrying requirements of the airlines. We imagine a process where infectious disease modelers, economists, behavioral psychologists, and policy experts work together toward a flourishing community.

Dr. Al Erisman spent 32 years at The Boeing Company, the last decade as Director of Technology where he led a 300-person research staff exploring innovation paths for the company. Since retiring from Boeing in 2001, he has taught in the Business School at Seattle Pacific University and spoken on business, technology, ethics, and theology on six continents. He is co-chair of the board for The Theology of Work Project and a founding board member for KIROS (Christians in Business in the Seattle area). In the past five years, he has authored The ServiceMaster Story: Navigating Tension between People and Profit; The Accidental Executive: Lessons on Business, Faith, and Calling from the Life of Joseph; Direct Methods for Sparse Matrices (with two co-authors), and The Purpose of Business (co-edited). Currently he is writing A Mathematical Way of Seeing: Mathematics as a Liberal Art.

How can we design truly helpful technology?

At Google, we strive to ensure that there is a clear user benefit when we develop new products. Rather than celebrate technology for technology’s sake, we want to celebrate its usefulness. And we thoughtfully invent new tech if we see a clear user need. I’ll talk about how can we think about the big questions of true ‘usefulness’ and also ‘access’ to the technology. Because even the best ideas are useless without thinking through how to get them to the end user.

Sanjay leads product management for Google Nest Wifi, a highly successful Google hardware product that makes your Wifi at home actually work. Making the decision of WHY to make a new product is one of the key ones he wrestles with, almost daily. In his personal life, Sanjay is the dad of teen boys and involved in several communities outside of work. As such, he’s had the opportunity to reflect on his approach to how to think about problems worth solving, and how to approach them. It’s been a great template for product management and for life!

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