This is the archived SXSW 2012 schedule. Please see the current schedule here.

Building the Next Generation of Innovators

#sxsw #geninnov8


Do you believe the geek shall inherit the earth? Technology is changing our world and geeks are reaping the benefits. This innovation is built on a foundation of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). President Obama issued a rally cry about the importance of supporting STEM in his January 2011 State of the Union to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world, [because] innovation doesn’t just change our lives, it is how we make our living.” Yet the U.S. is still lagging behind.

How can we get kids excited about math, make science cool and inspire kids to pursue careers in STEM?

Discover strategies for engaging kids in compelling STEM programming and examine successful STEM case studies, like Connect a Million Minds (CAMM), Time Warner Cable’s (TWC) philanthropic initiative. TWC is working with FIRST to cultivate innovation among youth to inspire them to develop STEM skills to be the problem solvers of the future.

Attendees will learn unique ways to connect kids to STEM and explore how to cultivate innovative thinking from youth. The panel will exhibit a FIRST robot, built by FIRST kids and a TWC mentor, demonstrating that innovation and teamwork go hand-in-hand.


Allison Rich Student Anderson High School

Allison Rich, Senior at Anderson High School in Austin TX has
chosen to pursue a career in engineering after becoming involved in
FIRST. Allison started dance at age 8, performed with the Austin Lyric
Opera in Turendot and Tosca and was headed for a life in the theatre.
At a FIRST competition in 2008 Allison noticed a young women decked
out in high heels, flashy costume, standing beside the driver of a
robot. Curious, Allison followed the girl and asked her questions.
Allison came away annoyed because the girl knew nothing about
engineering and was there just to get the team noticed. From that
point on, Allison set the goal of being on an all girls FIRST team, so
that people would know that girls had brains, could use power tools
and build a robot. FRC #2881 the Lady Cans has earned the Rookie
Inspiration Award in 2009 and the Judges Award in 2010. Allison is in
the top 4% of her class, plays the double bass in the Anderson HS
Orchestra, dances 10 hours a week at Dancers Workshop, and is
currently working on her Girl Scout Gold Award. Allison could have
chosen pursue liberal arts or dance but instead chose engineering.

Jon Dudas Pres For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

Jon Dudas, President, FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology)
Jon’s notable 14 years of service with the U.S. Government culminated with his role as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from 2004 to 2009. As the head of the USPTO, Jon led a performance-based government agency with 9,000 employees and a $2 billion annual budget. During his tenure, the USPTO achieved a four-fold increase in meeting key annual objectives. He also personally spearheaded an unprecedented number of patent cooperation and development missions with China, India, Europe, Brazil, and several other countries to improve IP systems globally and help inventors establish and enforce IP rights throughout the world.

Dudas most recently was a partner with the law firm Foley & Lardner LLC, specializing in intellectual property strategy and policy. Prior to his Under Secretary role, Jon held several senior staff positions for the House of Representatives. He started his career in private legal practice in Chicago. He received his law degree, with honors, from the University of Chicago and a bachelor's degree in finance, summa cum laude, from the University of Illinois.

Kumar Garg Policy Analyst, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy White House Office of Science & Technology Policy

Kumar Garg is a Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy focusing on education and broader innovation policy.

In particular, Kumar leads President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM). As part of Educate to Innovate, which already has secured over $700 million in private sector commitments, Mr. Garg works with a broad range of industry, foundations, philanthropists, states, non-profits, professional societies, and federal agencies to build on the President’s call to action.

Prior to his time in government, Kumar worked on behalf of parents and children seeking educational reform as an education lawyer and advocate. He served as a Supervising Clinical Lecturer at Yale Law School, supervising students in complex litigation in education. Kumar received a B.A. from Dartmouth College in political science and a law degree from Yale Law School.

Lori Donaldson Dispatcher Time Warner Cable

My name is Lori Donaldson and I work for Time Warner Cable in Lincoln Nebraska. I began my career with TWC in 2004 as an installer; from there, I spent nearly four years in the billing and care departments and I am currently a part of our local dispatch group. Prior to joining the TWC team, I spent 4 years as the manager of a local Italian restaurant and 7 years working at United Airlines. Because of Time Warner Cable and the Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative, I was afforded the unique opportunity to co-coach an all-girl FIRST Lego League robotics team aptly named, GIRL-TECHS. The team took part in the Nebraska State Regional championship and placed second in the teamwork competition. This amazing experience truly brought me a renewed sense of optimism toward the future of our nation, and the world as a whole. Additionally, I have spent the last 3 years as a full time student and in July of this year, I will graduate from the College of Saint Mary in Omaha Nebraska with my degree in business leadership.

Tessie Topol Sr Dir, Strategic Philanthropy & Community Affairs Time Warner Cable

Tessie Topol is Senior Director of Strategic Philanthropy & Community Affairs at Time Warner Cable since April 2008. In this role, she is responsible for reinvigorating the company’s community giving and engagement strategy, and managing its signature philanthropy program, Connect a Million Minds™ (CAMM). CAMM is a five-year, $100 million cash and in-kind initiative to increase education and career opportunities for youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

CAMM was launched in November 2009 at a White House event with President Obama, in conjunction with the Administration's Educate to Innovate campaign, where he recognized Time Warner Cable’s leadership in STEM education. In 2010, CAMM was voted “Community Relations Program of the Year” by PR News, CableFax magazine and the Association of Cable Communicators, and named an official Webbie Award honoree for

Prior to joining Time Warner Cable, Ms. Topol was Director of Strategic Partnerships & Public Affairs at MTV, where she helped lead the company's effort to develop the first ever online activist community for youth (, which empowers young people with powerful tools to change their lives, communities and world for the better.

Before MTV, Ms. Topol served as Director of Development at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, where she launched the 125-year-old-organization's first ever Young Leadership division, now a multi-chapter program with thousands of volunteers. She was also a Junior Fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Ms. Topol holds a Master’s in international affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs and a Certificate from the Harriman Institute of Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies, both at Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.

Time Warner Cable is among the largest providers of video, high-speed data and phone services in the U.S., and connects more than 14 million residential and commercial customers to entertainment, information and each other.

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