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Maywood Now Has a ‘Tech District’ That Offers Weekend Courses in 3-D Printing

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A series of Ultimaker 3-D printers inside of a classroom at the University of Illinois College of Business MakerLab. | University of Illinois || Below, Bridgette Chatman-Lewis, Vena Nelson, Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Maywood Trustee Isiah Brandon, Tumia Rumero and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis inside of Nelson’s Global Business Center in Maywood earlier this month.

tech-picWednesday, October 26, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 5:35 p.m.

“A 3-D printer can make a prototype of a Porsche in a matter of days or hours,” said business consultant Bridgette Chatman-Lewis earlier this month while hosting roughly 40 people inside of the Global Business Center, 840 S. 17th Ave., in Maywood.

The Center, which offers temporary office space and wraparound services to burgeoning businesses, is considered the hub of a technology district that Chatman-Lewis envisions for Maywood.

The Center has, for the last few weeks, also been a site for training young people in the magic of 3-D printing, a manufacturing process that creates three-dimensional objects like cars or even houses from digital files (click here for more info on the technology).

Chatman-Lewis, a native of Maywood, heads up the Oak Brook-based Chatman Lewis Consulting, which specializes in bringing economic development to hard-pressed communities.

After years of trying to gain a foothold into Maywood and at the urging Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Chatman-Lewis said her firm is now establishing a presence in the community where she was raised.

Earlier this year, Chatman-Lewis announced that Maywood would be among the communities her firm is seeking to “adopt,” in order to lure economic opportunities to town — a process the strategist said she’ll execute under an arm of her firm called the Economic Growth Initiative.

Chatman-Lewis has said EGI will execute its five-point plan in three phases. Those points include creating jobs, decreasing crime, increasing per capita income, providing youth and senior programming, and improving the community’s aesthetic landscape.

The Global Business Center, which is owned and operated by Maywood entrepreneurs Andre and Vena Nelson, was the site of the Oct. 14 kickoff for the technology aspect of EGI’s mandate to bring more youth programming into the village.

Saturday, Oct. 15 marked the start of the first session of instructional courses in 3-D printing at the Center. The eight-week training program, which takes place on the weekends, will offer young people, ages 16 to 24, the opportunity to earn a certification in 3-D printing technology, which they can then leverage into employment opportunities.

“The starting pay for 3-D printing jobs is between $45,000 and $75,000,” Chatman-Lewis said. “There’s a big demand for it in everything from soup to nuts. It’s huge.”

The course is offered through collaboration among EGI, Microsoft, the University of Illinois MakerLab and the Global Business Center — the latter of which has offered up some of its employees to serve as trained 3-D instructors. Maywood native and technology guru Sy Bounds, a frequent collaborator with the Nelsons, will facilitate the program.

The 15-person maximum enrollment level for the program’s first training cohort has already been reached, Chatman-Lewis said; however, interested young people can still apply for open spots in other 15-student cohorts. The maximum total number of students the program will accept is 100, she noted.

Although the training is free, participants will need to each fund-raise at least $100 to offset the cost it takes to administer the program.

“It’s a circle of accountability we’re going to build,” Chatman-Lewis said.

The first session will take place from October to December, with the next session taking place between February and April 2017. Although the program targets young people, 16 to 24, older applicants won’t necessarily be turned away, Chatman-Lewis said. Their names will be put in a lottery for open slots.

But the technological buzz at the Center won’t be limited to just those training courses, EGI officials said. Chatman-Lewis deemed the Center Maywood’s technology district. Bounds, she said, will serve as its czar.

The concept is to give area young people the expertise to take advantage of 21st Century economic opportunities while also maintaining a sense of place that will commit them to serving their communities even after they’ve seized those opportunities and secured those high-paying jobs.

“My research has shown that we have an incredible amount of brilliant young people,” Bounds said during the Oct. 14 kick-off event. “The problem is that we have to make sure they don’t take that information and head to Corporate America.”

In addition to 3-D printing and technology training, Chatman-Lewis said EGI will also host training courses in areas such as entrepreneurship, web development and product licensing, among others.

She said EGI is also looking for volunteers to man other community events, such as the Walk/Run it held in June and for which planning has already started for next year, a social/emotional learning program, an annual Global Initiative Network Event (GINE) and a Bulls/Sox lock-in for 3-D printing participants who successfully raise $100.

Tumia Rumero, an aide to Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th), who was in attendance at the Oct. 14 event, connected the training young people in Maywood are receiving to the wave of technology companies that are planting roots in the Chicago area.

“We have Google in our congressional district, Amazon has a headquarters here, Pandora just opened up a headquarters, Microsoft is at the Aon Center, Motorola just re-headquartered here,” Rumero said.

“With all those resources,” she said, “how do we begin to match what they’re doing with the people in the communities and so that’s where our technology advisory committee is going?”

Rumero touted a series of technology events the Congressman has been hosting over the last year, including a forum at Google’s Chicago headquarters, as an example of connecting area young people to opportunities in the technology field.

A group of students and administrators from Proviso Township District 209 High Schools attended the Google event, along with Chatman-Lewis and Bounds, who is on Davis’s technology advisory committee.

One challenge some attendees at the Oct. 14 event pointed out was how young people would be persuaded to take advantage of the tech training.

“How do you get them interested?” one attendee asked. “If you know that there are youth out here who have the brainpower and you know they can do it, how do you get them away from sports?”

Shanee Edwards, a 3-D printing course instructor and the marketing and sales specialist for Vena Nelson’s Go Big Accounting — the Business Center’s principal tenant and an associated company — said the trick to grabbing a young person’s attention is to make the learning fun.

“I would probably be inclusive. If it was my son, I’d explore the possibility that you can even design a new form of cleats,” Edwards said.

“Involve the interests they already have versus just trying to take them completely away from something they already love,” she added. “But if you find a way to incorporate [technology training inclusively], they’ll be able to make connections on their own.” VFP

For more info on the courses, email info@chatmanlewisconsulting.com

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Proviso Youths See Google, Tech World Close Up

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Nikyah Little, left , and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th), experience Google Cardboard viewers, which take wearers on a wraparound 3-D trip of virtual reality. Davis hosted a youth tech summit on June 17 at Google’s new Chicago headquarters. Below, Brittany Orr, left, and Barbara Cole, during the summit. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal

Google summit_B Cole and OrrMonday, June 20, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || @village_free || Updated: 6:05 p.m.

It was Brittany Orr’s first time at Google’s chic new Chicago headquarters. The 19-year-old graduate of Proviso East High School wants to break into computer coding and network security, but could see herself checking in at the high-tech 10-story office building with wraparound views of the Chicago skyline.

“I like it here,” said Orr, who had come at the insistence of Barbara Cole, the executive director of Maywood Youth Mentoring. “I wish I worked here, actually.”

Orr was one of at least 100 young people from the western suburbs and Chicago’s West Side who attended the June 17 Youth Technology Initiative hosted by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th).

Davis said the tech summits are designed to bring young people, particularly minorities and young women, face-to-face with leaders in business, technology and government. The summit at Google, his office noted, is the first in a series of others that will take place inside tech hotspots. Another will be held inside Microsoft’s Loop headquarters.

The congressman said he hopes to make stories like that of Kaitlyn Lee, a recent graduate of Barrington High School who’ll head to Harvard in the fall to study computer science math, routine in schools like Proviso.

The summit couldn’t come at a more pivotal time, according to Bernard Clay, the executive director of Introspect Youth Services who brought a small group of young people who participate in his organization along with him to Google.

“We’re in a race to get as many African-American kids involved in STEM as possible and we need to step up the pace,” Clay said.

Sabrina Chung, Lee’s best friend and co-presenter, fleshed out the opportunity ahead for the enterprising student of color who decides to forge a path in the STEM field.

“The number of computer science jobs will triple by 2020, so just the sheer number of computer engineers we need by this time is huge and we are not fulfilling the number of jobs that we need,” said Chung. “This still leaves 25 percent of the estimated 1.35 million jobs vacant, which is really, really scary. So we just need engineers to fill these jobs. The salaries of these computer scientists is twice the national average.”

But it could be difficult for minority and female students to realize the high pay and prestige of STEM careers, many of the summit’s attendees noted. Just responding to those challenges takes its own kind of innovation.

“You’ll have many, many, many challenges,” said summit presenter Dyani Cox. “But I encourage you today, while you’re here, to not focus on your challenges, but on your endless possibilities. You can do anything you want to do, because there are people to support you.”

Cox, who heads up Black Girls Code’s Chicago chapter, eventually overcame those high hurdles to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering.

Chung and Lee took matters into their own hands and started a computer coding club for girls in response to the intimidation, Lee said, of being one of two girls in her AP computer science class at Barrington High.

Proviso Township District 209 Board President Teresa McKelvy said she brought along around 24 district students to Google. McKelvy said the trip is one part of a more comprehensive plan to expose students in the district to career paths in the tech field.

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“Education is moving to blended environments,” McKelvy said. “Most of the children know way more than we did at their age, but technology is here to stay. So we have to keep investing in them and in their education, and provide them with the tools and career paths so they know that options are available We’re trying to put them in contact with organizations like Google and Microsoft to show them the way.”

In addition to networking with leading technology experts, the students also got hands on with one of Google’s newest ‘it’ gadgets — the Google Cardboard viewer, a pair of binocular-shaped cardboard eye pieces that are this century’s DIY equivalent to the View-Master — and a robot named Eragon.

Jackie Moore, the founder of Chicago Knights Robotics, an organization that promotes STEM learning among young people by, among other activities, taking them to robotics competitions, said technology is a metaphor for life in a modern society.

Eragon, Moore said, was built by one of her robotics teams for a competition in Australia, where it won awards for its resilient design. The robot, however, is merely the product of  a much more comprehensive process involving a team of different people with specialized skills, she noted.

“The team is much more than just the robot,” Moore said. “In addition to building the robot, we have to market the robot, recruit students, raise funds and develop an online presence via social media. The way we do robotics is really very holistic. There’s probably not a subject in a class you’ve taken that doesn’t get addressed.”

Davis reinforced Moore’s metaphor, before sharing a high-tech experience of his own.

“In this summit, we’re trying to teach young people not only about technology, but about life,” he said. “Society now is so data-driven that technology is the absolute wave of the future. I’ve seen people using robotics to perform surgery and it’s nothing unusual, you know. The doctors were getting ready to operate and rather than putting on rubber gloves they were pecking on the computer.” VFP

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Former Proviso East Pirate Now In NYC Helping Google Diversify

Manny Proviso East AlumWednesday, March 30, 2016 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || 3/29/16 || By Matthew Hendrickson 

In a photo of Manuel Miravete in high school (see photo left), he is thin and moody looking, wears a black Lollapalooza T-shirt, tucked into his light blue jeans and a set of Converse All-Stars sneakers. His hair is shaggy and dark. He stands behind a bicycle and in front of the Proviso East welcome sign — the bike he earned as part of a student incentive program.

When he looks back on his time in Forest Park in the early ’90s, he says he’s surprised where he is today.

These days, Miravete doesn’t look all that different (see photo below). He still wears his hair long and shaggy, and despite the years that have gone by, his face has retained its boyish qualities, albeit with sparse facial stubble now. The Lollapalooza shirt, however, has been replaced by a white shirt and tie, an argyle sweater and a dark sport coat. He wears glasses now, but the thick rims suggest an alternative vibe. He still looks like he could be in a rock band.

A career in the music industry, in fact, could have happened. After college, Miravete worked as a DJ for an Illinois rock station. But on a fateful trip to New York City to visit a friend, he caught a bug for the city and decided that’s where he was destined to live. It was there he caught the first wave of the Dot Com Boom, working for AOL, Myspace and Microsoft.

Miravete still lives in New York City, currently in Brooklyn, and is now an employee with Google, about as big a corporation as you could hope to work for, in the company’s advertising department, helping Fortune 500 companies reach U.S. Latinos with their messaging.

He’s a long way from where he started.

Miravete moved to Forest Park in 1986 from Mexico with his mother and sister and lived in a house in the 900 block of Dunlop Avenue with his extended family. He came to this country and overstayed his tourist visa. When he enrolled at Forest Park Middle School he was barely able to speak English.

“I learned [English] quickly though,” Miravete recalled recently. “Kids at that age, they pick things up quickly, and by the end of the year I was a fluent speaker.”

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Miravete said he was briefly exposed for being in the country illegally and had to move to Lombard to live with an older cousin the summer between eighth grade and his freshman year of high school. He returned to Forest Park after the summer and his aunt, who gained her citizenship through an amnesty program in the ’80s, began the process of adopting him.

Miravete recalled being slightly nervous before his first year of high school at Proviso East. He credits Glenda Gwynn, then the school’s principal, with helping to put him on the track that would lead to his success later in life.

“It was never really brought up; I don’t think anyone really knew,” Miravete said of his immigration status in high school. “[Gwynn] said I needed to be in school, and she saw I wanted to learn, and she enrolled me for freshman year. I’m really thankful for that. They prioritized my education over what my [immigration] status was.”

Miravete said he didn’t consider his high school experience to be all that different from other students, except that he couldn’t get a driver’s license and had a hard time getting a job, due to his immigration status. That’s how he ended up working as a summer caddy at the Riverside Golf Club in 1988.

“It was a job that paid cash,” he recalled. “I really enjoyed it. But I wanted the job because I had heard of [the Evans Scholarship] and that it would pay for college. My family didn’t have the money to pay for it. Ever since I could work, I worked.”

The Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship is given to hardworking caddies and provides the student full tuition and housing for college. According to the scholarship’s website, the fund sends more than 800 caddies to college each year.

He knew early on that he wanted to attend college. He worked hard in high school, graduating 14th in his class of about 500 students, he said.

“I really took advantage of the dedication of the teachers,” he noted. “I was able to exceed because I’d ask for help, after-school tutoring, that kind of thing. It’s not because I consider myself an exceptional person.”

At age 15, Miravete was able to get a green card as a result of the adoption process and finally received his citizenship in a ceremony in New York City near the Statue of Liberty in 2001.

Miravete now has a 7-year-old son and a job he’s extremely proud of with Google.

“Most audiences use Google platforms regularly — Google to search YouTube [etc.] — Latinos use these, too,” Miravete said. “A lot of marketers want to engage Latinos in the U.S. I provide them with the tools to do that in a relevant way.”

He enjoys Google for its corporate culture.

“Our company is fantastic. It’s a great place to work because you’re just surrounded by people who are so intelligent and so accomplished.”

When asked to review his own accomplishments and the obstacles he’s had to hurdle to achieve them, however, he quickly turns humble.

“These things that were obstacles were just a part of my life — I didn’t think of them much,” he said. “And I got help; it wasn’t a solo journey.”

For students currently attending Proviso East who might be in a similar situation, he advises knowing when to ask for help.

“The advice I have is to explore all your available options, all available resources,” he recommended. “To get a higher education, you should take advantage of all of these. There are people who will help you if you look for it and ask for it.” VFP