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How Emily Calandrelli And Her Children’s Book Series Are Inspiring The Next-Gen “Techettes”

Emily Calandrelli, West Virginia University alumna and Morgantown native, is set to release the fifth and final book in her children’s series, The Ada Lace Adventures, next week on Feb. 12.

Also known as The Space Gal across various social media platforms, Calandrelli has amassed thousands of followers, posting about topics ranging from the untapped renewable resources in the Appalachian region, to the effects of climate change happening globally. So the question poses itself: Who is Emily Calandrelli?

Just A Young Cadet

Although a current San Fransisco resident, Calandrelli was born and raised in Morgantown, W. Va., where she later went on to attend WVU to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering in 2010. During her time there, she won numerous awards such as becoming a Truman Scholar, being named to the all-academic team by USA Today in 2009, winning the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, and being voted Ms. Mountaineer by her classmates.

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After an eventful four years at WVU, she went on to receive two Master’s degree at MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as Technology and Policy in 2013.

A Takeoff Of A Career

Since Calandrelli left her college days behind, she’s had an even bigger impact in the professional sphere.

Currently hosting her own show, Xploration Outer Space—now in its fifth season—Calandrelli’s personality and love for space is tangible through the screen. It’s so tangible that her work as a host earned her a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards nomination for Outstanding Host in a Lifestyle/Children’s/Travel or Family Viewing Program in 2017. Not only does she host her own show, but she’s also guest-starred on Netflix’s special, Bill Nye Saves the World numerous times.

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As if these accomplishments aren’t impressive enough, Calandrelli is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch, focusing on topics like furthering equality between women and men in STEM, space exploration and scientific literacy. Not only does she write about these topics, she speaks professionally about them, too, giving talks for enterprises like Google and Pixar.

A beloved alumna—and one who isn’t shy from giving back to her college—Calandrelli frequently returns to WVU for various events, including as a speaker at last year’s TEDx WVU event.

Soaring Book Series

On top of all of her accomplishments, Calandrelli has written and published a widely-successful children’s book series, The Adventures of Ada Lace, with the fifth and final book set to come out next week. The series has won acclaim from large publications, school systems, parents and their kids alike.

“What I wanted to do was create a character that was female who had these types of adventures and did these types of science experiments. So that kids could have a female character to look up to,” Calandrelli told the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast (episode 318).

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Ada Lace, the star of the series, is an elementary-aged girl with a passion for science, math, and solving mysteries. Whether she’s trying to build the perfect robot or fighting with her dad, the topics these books cover are not only relatable to girls (and boys!) that age, it also stands to help inspire our youngest generation.

Kids all over the country love the series and Ada herself, but parents might love her even more. “My daughter (8, the same as Ada) loves them, and we can’t wait for the next book in the series,” writes Jamie Greene, for Geek Dad.

Where Will She Land?

It doesn’t look like Calandrelli will be slowing down anytime soon, and for the sake of our girls, let’s hope she doesn’t. To keep track of her future journeys, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @TheSpaceGal, or on her website. Like a red dwarf star, she’s shining bright and here to stay for a long time.

Screaming Into The Void That Is The Internet, And How Women Deal With The Subsequent Issues

It’s no secret that women have a lot on their plate. Between abortion rights coming under fire, to more and more young girls seeking asylum for protection against their abusive families, roughly half of the world’s population has so much to worry about.

When you get down to the nitty-gritty and look to the niche communities and subcultures within the overall population of women on this planet, you’ll find even more problems—more specific problems—that these groups have on top of the ones they already face. So what issues do women in the tech industry face? Well, for starters, a lot. Here are just a few:

How to Break Into the Male-Centric Tech Industry, and Stay There

Across the board (and world), men still lead in careers centered around science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Catalyst reported that when averaged across the regions surveyed, women make up less than 30% of the positions in science research and development in 2014, and even less in positions of power in the industry.

Balancing the Masculinity that Comes with a STEM Career and One’s Own Femininity

The information technology industry has been well established as a male-dominated workforce and because of this, many women in it feel, “…they need to put on a very assertive, almost aggressive mask to get ahead in a masculine dominated workplace,” blogger Mia Lockhart wrote. Finding an equilibrium between preserving their own femininity while still being taken seriously by their male coworkers has proven to be a bigger challenge for women in tech than first expected.

How to Inspire Next-Gen “Techettes”

“Children are our future,” is a phrase everyone has heard, and rightfully so. If we didn’t have a next generation to keep building upon what we have created and learned thus far, what was the point of it all?

Over the past few years, various organizations, campaigns and movements have been created in hopes of pushing younger girls to follow their passions for STEM subjects and turn them into careers. Whether it be the creation of coalitions like Girls Who Code, providing kids with “skills for success,” or age-old groups like the Girl Scouts pledging funds towards bringing girls into STEM, the women in the technology industry don’t want their work to stop with them. With one common goal for all: how can we inspire—and keep inspiring—the next generation of women in tech.

Dealing With the Hate, Toxicity and Antiquated Legacy Systems

One issue that has been decently chronicled is the toxic atmosphere that’s been perpetuated by the tech community, and Silicon Valley has been the heart of it. From drug-fueled sex parties, to good ‘ole (invite-only) boys clubs, it’s no wonder it’s so hard to find women in this field of work. 

“Tech is shaping what the offices of the future will look like, what the jobs of the future will look like, what the relationships will look like. Currently only a tiny percentage of that is being shaped by women. We risk, 20 years down the line, creating a world that is even more patriarchal and masculine than it is now,” Zara Nanu, CEO of Gapsquare, told GQ.

Our Mentors and Our Teammates: Thank You to the Women Who Helped Us Get Where We Are

Having a mentor to help you navigate through life is an unmatchable relationship. Having someone who’s had the experiences you’re going through at work, before you’ve had them and can in turn help you through them? A Godsend.

“Finding a mentor can be an invaluable career asset for women—especially in industries not renowned for their gender diversity, like technology. As well as boosting confidence, mentors can help open up networks, set and achieve goals, and generally give a sense that someone is looking out for you,” writes Jessica Bateman for The Guardian.

As COO of Facebook and tech giant herself, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote in her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Clearly women deal with a lot. Some could say too much. And the women in the technology market are no different. If this post has only highlighted a few of the major issues the community is concerned with currently, it’s insane to imagine all the others that are out there. Keep reading to see what comes up.

 

Trump Hates [Smart] Girls AND Shut Down The Government, But That Won’t Stop These Women

The United States is currently seeing the longest government shutdown in the country’s history due to a major standoff between the president and congressional democrats—specifically Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—over funds for national defense (e.g. The Wall). From this, over 800,000 federal employees have been without pay for weeks. In response, the Women In Tech Summit is offering scholarships for its conference to women who are dealing with the fallout.

With the government’s inability to come to an agreement, citizens have been left to take measures into their own hands, supporting one another, financially and otherwise. However, this isn’t the first of this kind of behavior we’ve seen from President Trump.

Since Donald Trump was sworn into office almost two years ago to the day, he’s made 45 nominations across nine agencies related to STEM areas, according to CNN Politics. Of these nominations, 39 of them were men and a grand total of six were women. How generous of him. So, what IS Trump’s problem with smart women? Or just women in general, for that fact.

In a study conducted by Girls in Tech prior to the outcome of the 2016 election, almost 78% of respondents said they felt that a Trump presidency would be harmful to women in the workforce.

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Following his presidential win, numerous organizations centered around forwarding women in the technology industry have expressed their worry with what Trump’s impact might mean for them, writing open letters and forming new campaigns to band likeminded women together.

On the other end of the mobilization spectrum, hundreds of women have started running for office, more than doubling the amount of women who ran for Congress in 2016. “We’ve never seen anything like this. Ever seen anything like this,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, told NPR.

As we head into the second half of Trump’s presidency, a lot remains to be seen as to what he’ll do concerning his treatment towards women, especially when it comes to placing them in positions of power. For now it looks like it’s up to organizations like the Women In Tech Summit to keep pushing each other forward. Keep fighting the good fight, ladies.

 

 

 

 

Tesla Named Its First Woman Chair, And No One Cared

Amidst the controversy surrounding the tech giant, Elon Musk, Robyn Denholm was named the new chair of Tesla in November of 2018. As great of an accomplishment that is, it barely made a blip in the news, much less in the minds and mouths of the public.

With the rise in digitization, advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and now the exploration of Mars for water, the overall progress our world as a whole has made in the realms of science and technology has been immeasurable. And yet we have still to see the advancement of the women who are behind these trends, inventions and our general need to know more.

If you picked a stranger off the street, this person would easily be able to tell you that Steve Wozniak is the co-founder of Apple and Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon, among many other male leaders in the tech industry. Ask them to name an influential woman in a STEM role and they’d be hard-pressed to come up with one.

Whether it’s the legacy system of yesteryear that doesn’t push girls toward STEM fields the same way it does to boys, or it’s the toxic environment that women often find themselves in once they break into the tech industry, it’s time to rethink how some of the greatest minds alive currently are being treated.

“I have found that being a woman in tech makes me stand out, and sometimes not for the right reasons. I think it can be easy for unconscious biases to take hold, and it’s both genders’ responsibility to make sure we evaluate everyone on the merit of their contributions,” Nancy Wang, the first female product manager at Google and now the head product manager of the tech startup, Rubrik, told Silicon Republic. Alongside these accomplishments, Wang founded the non-profit, Advancing Women in Product, as a way to advocate for a more diverse ecosystem within the tech community.

This isn’t the first organization of its kind, as more and more like-minded groups have popped up in recent years to help combat the assortment of roadblocks women often face when trying to break into this industry. Consortiums like Girls Who Code have created numerous resources for women of all ages in order to enable them with the skills and mindset they need to work in a STEM position, or just an outlet that will help them explore an interest or hobby. Not only do they have a membership base of nearly 90,000, the non-profit is also partnered with major (and diverse) corporations like Adobe, IBM and Kate Spade.

So, if the groups, the resources and the support are there, why do women still receive so much pushback? The gender gap that has emerged within the tech industry is astounding—almost too large to believe—and many are pushing for a greater diversification of the trade.

Obviously, there isn’t one right answer to this issue, and we most likely won’t see any major improvements to this epidemic in the near future. Looking back to the start of the technology boom, it’s impressive and inspiring to see the strides that women have made and the accomplishments they’ve achieved, whether they received recognition or not. Comparing the start place to now is consoling—but the fight isn’t over yet. Women have come a long way in the technology sphere, but the progress made still shows that there is an equally long, if not longer, journey ahead.

 

 

 

Adobe Illustrator Work

In continuation with my class, here are few pieces I created using Adobe Illustrator. At first, I hated the program and swore up and down I’d never use it, the “pen tool” was the bane of my existence and InDesign was the only design platform I’d use. I really should stop being so quick to judge… Nevertheless! I love Illustrator and I love the pen tool. (Don’t worry, I still love InDesign.) I’m excited to start playing with my Wacom Bamboo tablet and keep bettering my design skills. Anywho, here are a few pieces I’ve created.

Balloon

I can’t say this piece took too much time or effort, but it was really fun to do. Who wouldn’t love an electronic version of their name in balloons?

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This project was centered around creating a personal logo or logo for an imaginary company. I chose a logo for personal use, clearly. I based the design around my tattoo, breaking the image a part into a rough shape of my initials. In true millennial fashion, I placed the pattern in a colored circle (my favorite color) and used the concept of negative space for a more modern approach. To make sure everyone understood what the image was, I put my name underneath-all under-case letters to fit my aesthetic and in “Quicksand,” aka my favorite font.

Anne Parker Info Poster

Considering this is my third(?) infographic, I’ve realized I love infographics. The point of this project was to become very familiar with typography and I definitely used a lot of that in this one. Who doesn’t love a sans serif type? Helvetica Neue, condensed bold to be exact. We could pick subjects that we’re passionate about, so naturally I chose drinking water and proper hydration, because duh. I love the color scheme I chose and I hand made every graphic on this poster, from the pie chart to the water bottle (Nalgene FTW) to the droplets.

Adobe Photoshop Work

Currently, I’m taking PR 319, which to anyone not taking it could basically be described as a graphic design class. The curriculum is centered around three programs: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. The first portion of the class focuses on Photoshop, learning the basics, eventually working up to more and more advanced tools and techniques. Here are a few pieces I’ve created in the program.

Add Sub Project

For this project, I photoshopped an old picture of the late JFK into a restaurant scene having a lovely meal all by his lonesome. To my the picture more realistic, I made the entire picture black and white, and gave the illusion it was a “National Inquirer” story.

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In this picture, originally black and white, I used effects that recolored the entire photo in a way I thought it would be. I also photoshopped the picture of the cactus woman into the picture frame, also recolored.

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This is probably the project I’m most proud of. A fabricated magazine ad, I made this entire picture from scratch bringing in each individual piece, from the bottle to the hand to the sandy background, and working on them separately. I gave the type a plastic texture so it would truly look as if it was part of the bottle, as well.

I Didn’t Want to Go to WVU & Now I Can’t Imagine My Life Without It

The night before National Decision Day, I cried thinking about my future and the college I would eventually end up at, realizing that that place would be West Virginia University.

Picture1Like most high school students, I began my college search during my junior year. I didn’t have much of an idea of what I wanted to do and it never helped that my twin sister knew exactly what she wanted to do. After sitting down one night for hours scouring various undergrad programs and a broad set of majors offered at almost all universities, I came to the conclusion I wanted to go into communications and journalism.

The summer before my senior year I began touring colleges and seriously thinking about where I would be finishing my education. I’m from Ohio and there is definitely no shortage of higher education institutions all across the state but the first schools I toured were in Chicago, IL.

My mother is an alumna of WVU—more specifically the Reed College of Media—herself so like anyone with any kind of pride in their alma mater, I had to look there too. Because my sister’s major is so specific and only offered at a few universities in the entire country, not including WVU, she escaped our mom’s persistent pressure to apply.

After all was said and done, I applied to five schools, two in-state and three out of state. I never really considered WVU as an option and only applied to appease my mom, making it last on my list.

Months went by and I found myself at the end of my senior year and high school career. I still hadn’t made an official decision of where I would be attending school in the fall but I had a general idea. I had been accepted to all my schools but it was fairly easy to rule out three of the five.

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My mom was always there in the background pushing for WVU. The more she did, the more opposed I grew.

I love my mom a lot and she’s one of my biggest role models, but with that said, we’re the exact same person and it gets to be too much sometimes. We have very similar personalities and despite having a twin, she is the most relatable person in my family. We either completely agree on something or fight adamantly over another thing because we’re so stubborn when it comes to our opinions. The thought of going to her school to pursue her major was overwhelming, especially after how my life had already seemed to emulate her young adult life.

Looking back now it seems ridiculous but we argued so much over how I felt that she was trying to relive her college experience through me.

It was nearing the deadline to accept a college offer and I was still so unsure of where I would be going. My top choice school was extremely expensive and despite all the scholarships I got, their program for what I wanted wasn’t worth what I would be paying off for the rest of my life. It was hard for me to accept that I wouldn’t be going to a school I had fallen in love with, but now I see that I ended up exactly where I’m supposed to be.

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One of the deciding factors that made me choose WVU was the media college’s Scholars Program. Because of this program I have met so many amazing other students who share a love for media like I do and strive to be the best in our field.

I might not have originally wanted to go to WVU, and I wasn’t even happy about it for a while but the summer before college I grew to be more and more excited about the prospect of it all.

Once I got here and started classes, I quickly realized that WVU was the perfect school for me and I found my home in the Reed College of Media. I joined Martin Hall Agency and learned a lot about my major and future career path in such a unique setting.

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Being a dramatic high schooler was all a part of my process of getting to WVU and I’m thankful my mom kept pushing me to step outside of my comfort zone, even when I pushed back hard. I can happily say that I walk the campus and attend classes in the same lecture halls of Martin that she did thirty years ago, all while wearing her sweatshirt from when she was a student.

I didn’t want to go to WVU and now I can’t imagine my life. This school has brought so many good things into my life that I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.

 

Infographic Designing

Buffalo Flats Artist Association

For my Strategic Communications 315 class (Advertising & Public Relations Writing), we were tasked with working with a non-profit organization located in Grafton, WV. Buffalo Flats Artist Association was established so that the people of Grafton and the surrounding area had a place to share and create art, come together as a community and find interest in new things. My team in particular focused on the entertainment side of their company, helping them to gain recognition in the area and a larger attendance at their events. I took the lead on the infographic section of our project and these are the few I created for BFAA. For those unfamiliar with what an infographic is, it’s generally a visual representation of information typically in the form of a graph or chart. I created both on Canva.

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I wanted the first infographic that I designed to be more of an overview of the organization. The way I laid this print out gives the basic information of the company, highlighting the biggest points any company wants a potential new member of customer to know. I used the color scheme and general font family (League—Gothic and Spartan) that we used for our entire media kit, which includes a dark blue (2d4578), light pink (eea5b2) and a light blue (869bc2).

BFAA Infographic 1

Since the main focus of my team was entertainment, I focused the second infographic around BFAA’s event calendar for December. The holidays are their most active time of the year and they really wanted us to help them get the word out for their various upcoming events. This piece is specifically designed to go with a social media post (i.e. Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) to let BFAA members now in advance when planned events will be happening. It’s also perfect to be paired with another flier promoting a singular event (which we also created and included in our final media kit). I took all of the events listed from their editorial calendar and wrote descriptions based on assorted posts I found linked to similar past events. I went with a simple red and green color scheme for an iconic Christmas theme, adding a holly and berries illustration at the bottom.

How I Ran a Half-Marathon in 21 Days

Yes, you read that correctly. 21 days as in three weeks. You’re probably thinking, “Who on earth decides to run a half-marathon with only three weeks to train?” Well that person is me, apparently.

Let me start this off by saying that I’ve been a runner for the past eight years of my life so it’s not like I started this completely out of nowhere. It’s always been a goal of mine to run a half-marathon ever since I really started to get into the sport my underclassman years of high school and I watched my teammates and coaches complete them. Although I’ve always wanted to accomplish this distance, I never ran more than nine miles consecutively during a practice and then, the injury.

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The summer before my senior year of high school I broke my ankle, completely shattering the tip of my fibula. Devastated, I was out for almost my entire season. (Refer to the picture of me fake smiling though ugly crying in the emergency room). Towards the end of the season and a few months after the injury I started to get back on my feet (pun intended) and doing a few low mileage runs when the pain wasn’t too unbearable. After months of what should have been a fairly easy heal I was still experiencing a lot of pain in my foot and ankle. Fast forward a few doctors’ visits, tests and x-rays, I learned I had nerve damage as a result from the break. Beautiful. I sat my entire senior track season in the announcer’s booth instead of on the track racing like I should have been. I spent the following summer leading up to college in physical therapy to try and combat the nerve damage but made little progress in the few months I had before I went away to school.

I went on to start college that fall at West Virginia University in a completely different state than I had always known and basically gave up on running. Mountain life was not the easiest transition for me and even harder for my ankle.

Months went by, I grew more accustomed to my new home and its landscape but I still wasn’t ready to get back in my sneakers.

IMG_2057Towards the end of the semester when my stress levels hit new records I knew it was time to get back out there, so I did. What a feeling that was.

I probably only ran a handful of times my entire freshman year of college but that was all it took for me to realize what I had been missing for the past two years.

Summer came and I ran exactly one time. Whoops. But I was determined to fix that when school started. It also helped that my sister took my old pair of running shoes with her so I was “forced” to get a new pair. As if anyone has to twist my arm to do that.

Sophomore year of college started and that was a whole other story in itself. I needed running more than ever so that’s exactly what I did. Nothing too crazy but I always made sure to run two to three times a week.

As I said earlier, it’s always been an aspiration of mine to run a half-marathon and eventually go on to run more than that. For some reason I started really thinking about doing one sooner than later; nothing serious but it was always a nagging thought in the back of my mind.

How I Did It

Like I already said, I’ve been running for the past eight years and even though I had a major setback and wasn’t where I use to be, I was still running a few times a week. When I decided to run the half-marathon with only three weeks of training, I was extremely over-confident.

Thankfully I have the best support system ever that encourages any idea I have, no matter how insane it is. There’s no way I could have done this without the people in my life, guiding me through a brand new experience or encouraging me when I got cold feet and began doubting myself.

Because I am so lucky, my best friend turned roommate’s mom is a half-marathoner herself and last time she visited us she promised to send me her training schedule. With the help of her program and another one that I found online, I was set.

The only problem was that these were 18 and 12 week programs and I had to do it all in three. Good luck to me, right?

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In the end, I mostly just winged it, combining the two plans and doing what I thought felt best for me personally as a runner. I alternated between longer and shorter runs, generally getting around four to six miles on an average run.

I had my longer days where I would run between eight and ten miles but the run that made me finally realize that I could do this half-marathon was the Sunday two weeks before the race when I ran 12 miles for the first time in my life. I’ve never run that far before and it’s probably one of my top favorites runs to date. You really can’t beat West Virginia scenery.

The second week of my training proved to be a challenge because that’s when I could feel all the injuries coming. I felt guilty giving myself a rest day since I was so behind in training but I knew if I actually wanted to make it to the race I was going to have to take a few days off. Out of the total 21 days of training I didn’t run four of those and that was probably my saving grace. It was hard letting myself sit and rest but I know it would’ve been harder if I hadn’t.

Diet wise I didn’t change mine much. Of course, I tried to eat somewhat healthier than I had been but I’ve never been good at forcing myself to stick to a regulated plan. I was hydrating more than ever (like I should have been prior to this but we’re not perfect people) and drinking less of others things, but over all my training focused more on running than my nutrition.

The biggest thing that got me through all of this was my drive. I haven’t wanted something this badly in a long time and that’s how I actually did it. No matter how much training, how much dieting, how much preparing you do, none of it matters if you don’t want it. 

But More Importantly, Why

I’ve talked about what led me here and I’ve talked about how I did it but I think what the most important thing is why I did it.

Yes, I’ve always wanted to do one, but that’s every runner’s goal. As stubborn as I am, I feel the need to prove myself. Not to other people but to myself. I wanted to show myself that I could come back from a devastating injury stronger and better than before.

Thanks to the Columbus Marathon and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I finally had a place to do that, not to mention an even better cause to support while doing it. I’ve always been interested in philanthropy and plan to pursue it as a career after college so it’s only right that my first half-marathon be dedicated to the amazing children fighting for themselves every day.

I’m extremely grateful for this experience and can definitely say, like others, I’m officially addicted to the marathon life. Who knows when I’ll do my next one but there will be a next one, I know that much.

Oh, and I totally did it for the medal.

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