Tag Archives: Africa

Introduction to Physical Computing

Wissa Wassef, weaving by Reda Ahmed, Egypt
Wissa Wassef weaving by Reda Ahmed, Egypt

TechWomen has started its first Virtual Delegation and I am one of the delegates from the Silicon Valley to Cameroon. On 14 June, I gave the online keynote speech on “Building a Global Network.” On 17 June, Maryann Hrichak and I (TechWomen Mentors) are leading a session on “Introduction to Physical Computing” with 100 students in Douala and Yaoundé, working with TechWomen Lead Fellows Janet Bih Shufor and Gisele Beatrice Sonfack.

Maryann and I will introduce the online discussion through the history of computing and weaving, specifically Jacquard looms, considered a precursor to modern computing technology. The idea for this approach came from my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman who was one of the Mentors on the 2018 TechWomen Delegation to Nigeria during which she gave a workshop on “Teaching Binary and Encryption Through Weaving.” Our Physical Computing session this week will be relatively short but we plan to cover the relationship of physical objects (like looms and yarn) to computing devices. We will show parts of the hands-on video “Personal Jacquard Weaving” and will end with a more futuristic view in the video “Knightscope – Present and Future” from Knightscope, the robotics company where my long-term TechWomen Co-Mentor, Mercedes Soria is Executive Vice President of Software Engineering, and Chief Intelligence Officer.

Some key dates from my introduction: 1804 Jacquard loom, 1837 Babbage Analytical Engine (programming by Ada Lovelace), 1884 Hollerith punched card tabulating machine (used in 1890 U.S. Census). Punch cards and paper tape continued in use until the 1990s.

Gisele and Janet will lead the students through an exercise using the MIT Media Lab’s Scratch program. Gisele wrote this about the exercise: “To control a system, or automate its operation, we use the variables which can be random or fixed depending on the type of sensors, we apply the conditions. Loops are uses to do the same thing infinitely. These concepts are the basics of physical computing.” This is their handout.

Here is our 17 June 2021 session plan:

  • 10 minutes – Introduction to Physical Computing (Katy Dickinson & Maryann Hrichak) on Zoom, including Arduino weaving video segment
  • 25 minutesScratch activity in two Zoom breakout rooms with about 50 students each, one in Douala (lead by Gisele), and the other in Yaoundé (lead by Janet), with ten TechWomen mentors helping
  • 5 minutes – Reflection (Katy Dickinson & Maryann Hrichak) on Zoom, including Knightscope robots video

TechWomen is a mentoring program of the US State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

TechWomen Maryann Hrichak, Katy Dickinson, Janet Bih Fofang, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Zoom 2021-06-15
TechWomen Maryann Hrichak, Katy Dickinson, Janet Bih Fofang, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Session Planning Meeting 2021-06-15
Xaviera Nguefo Kowo and Janet Bih Shufor, TechWomen Cameroon Delegation Screen Shot 2021-06-17
Xaviera Nguefo Kowo and Janet Bih Shufor, TechWomen Cameroon Delegation 2021-06-17
Fellows Janet, Jessica, Gisele of TechWomen Cameroon Delegation Screen Shot 2021-06-17 Screen Shot 2021-06-17
Fellows Janet, Jessica, Gisele of TechWomen Cameroon Delegation 2021-06-17

Thanks to Jeannice Farrer Samani, Janet Bih Shufor, and others for their recommendations on materials below. During our TechWomen-Cameroon Physical Computing session, I knew many of the girls might have network connection problems or would not  fully understand the Zoom-based presentations because we spoke in English and many of them are French speakers. I want the “References and Resources” to present inspiring materials they could read later. I selected physical computing examples focused on weaving and robotics and included women and girl role models not only from Cameroon and Africa but also from the U.S. I hope that the girls will find these materials helpful!

References and Resources:

Additional Information from TechWomen Mentor Suzette Shipp:

1640 Weaving Room, Carlyle House, Alexandria, Virginia USA (postcard).

Updated 22 June 2021

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Fabric from Africa

Face masks, fabric from Sierra Leone

Since we are sheltering in place during the Covid-19 lockdown, and I have a new machine, I have been sewing. In particular, I have had time to use some of the sophisticated and beautiful wax print fabrics I carried home from 11 trips to Africa since 2010. Some of it has become face masks and some curtains. My dining room is now bright with potato print tablecloths featuring elephant and guinea fowl patterns from Zimbabwe, and fish pattern curtains I made from fabric purchased in Sierra Leone. In the curtains, matching the leaping fish on either side of the center took some planning!

Earlier Katysblog posts with pictures of arts and crafts from some of my travels in Africa:

Potato print tablecloths from Zimbabwe
Dining room with African fabrics August 2020
Fabric purchased Sierra Leone 2017
2014 TechWomen in fabric shop, Rwanda2014 Rwanda
2017 Sierra Leone
2019 Sierra Leone Fabric2019 Sierra Leone

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Images Copyright 2014-2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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20th Wedding Anniversary on 4 July


John and I are looking forward to our 20th wedding anniversary this weekend. Thinking back on some of our adventures and looking forward to many more. It is fun to be married to your best friend!

2020 virtual family dinner
2020 Mother’s Day
2018 family vacation
2018 Paul SJSU graduation
2018 St Andrew’s
2017 Katy Dickinson and John Plocher with UP1983 engine, Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 20172017 Reno
2016 Ashland
2016 Ashland
2016 Jessica Matthew John Paul Dunsmuir CA2016 Dunsmuir
2016 John Katy Klamath River CA2016 Klamath River
2015 Amtrak trip
2015 St Andrew’s
2014 John and Katy Lalibela, Ethiopia2014 Lalibela Ethiopia
2012 St Andrew’s
2012 Katy John Natural Bridges CA2012 Natural Bridges
2012 Jessica CMU graduation
2011 Jessica + Matthew
2011 Jessica Matthew wedding2011 Jessica + Matthew
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family camp2010 Lair of the Golden Bear camp
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family campLair of the Golden Bear camp 2010
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Aswan Egypt Katy John2010 Egypt
2010 Paul John Cairo Egypt2010 Cairo, Egypt
2008 John flying to Baja Mexico2008 Flying to Baja Mexico
2008 Katy flying to Baja Mexico2008 Baja
2007 Katy India2007 India
2007 John India2007 India
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 Caboose move
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 move
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John St Petersburg Russia2006 St. Peterburg, Russia
2006 John Katy St Petersburg Russia2006 Russia
2005 Katy John Beijing China2005 Beijing, China
2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China 2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China2005 China
2000 Katy John wedding mementoes 2000 Katy John wedding ketubah2000
2000 wedding
Paul Katy John Jessica wedding 4 July 20002000 wedding

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Images Copyright 2000-2020 by Katy Dickinson.

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Silicon Valley and the Congo

Please consider joining me in donating to ERD. I am part of the Episcopal-Anglican Congo Network that coordinates information and support for the DRC. Violent militia raids against villages are common – causing people to flee to the relative safety of one of 60 internal refugee camps. Covid-19 and Ebola are active.

Think this has nothing to do with you? Congo produces 60% of the world’s cobalt, used to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, laptops, and smartphones. We in the Silicon Valley helped to create this mess. Let’s work to solve it. Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is coordinating much-needed aid. What ERD does: “Episcopal Relief & Development works in collaboration with church partners and other local organizations to facilitate healthier, more fulfilling lives in communities that are struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease.”

Recent stories from the Congo:

Not all the news is bad, some Silicon Valley companies are working on recycling as an alternate solution to the problem of needing Congo’s  cobalt. For example: “Daisy is Apple’s new iPhone-recycling robot” (The Verge, 19 April 2018)

The Congo Network is chaired by the Rev. David Copley, Director of Global Partnerships and Mission Personnel, Ministries Beyond the Episcopal Church.

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Christmas 2019

Matthew Katy John Jessica Paul Christmas 2019

May this blessed Christmas season bring you and your family joy! It has been a busy Christmas, starting even before I turned in my last (16 and 18 page) term papers at the Graduate Theological Union. So far, our adventures have included:

Reading group for Dickens Christmas Carol Dec 2019
train, railroad ornaments Christmas 2019
Santa Clara First Baptist Church Bethlehem Christmas 2019
Santa Clara First Baptist Church Bethlehem Christmas 2019
Tenzin at Islamic Networks Group lunch Christmas 2019
Paul Katy Sally at Chinatown Christmas 2019
Katy Dickinson with TechWomen US State Department certificate Christmas 2019
Jessica Paul Katy at Dickens Fair Christmas 2019
Christmas candle 2019
Jessica Matthew Katy John Paul Star Wars movie Christmas 2019
Paul D. Goodman with reclaimed hardwood cutting board Dec 2019
John at St Andrew's Episcopal Church Christmas Eve 2019
St Andrew's Episcopal Church Christmas Eve 2019
Katy John at Elmwood jail Christmas 2019
Matthew Katy John Jessica Paul Christmas 2019

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Images Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson.

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Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Church, Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

TechWomen Team Algeria

Team Algeria TechWomen 30 Sep 2019

I am happy and honored to be a TechWomen Impact Coach for 2019 Team Algeria. TechWomen is a program of the US Department of State that brings emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program. I was the 2010-2011 Process Architect for TechWomen and am so very proud of this program!

Four capable and inspiring TechWomen Emerging Leaders, Celia Ouabas, Imane Chekirine, Imene Henni Mansour, and Sara Dib of Algeria, are working with my Co-Mentors Mercedes Soria, Fatema Kothari, and me to develop an educational improvement program for them to take home next month. The seven of us are meeting several times a week in workshops and social events to develop the plans and the Pitch Night presentation for Team Algeria.

Team Algeria TechWomen 30 Sep 2019 by Saul Bromberger
TechWomen Team Algeria 8 Oct 2019
TechWomen Team Algeria with WP668 Caboose 8 Oct 2019
TechWomen Team Algeria in WP668 Caboose 8 Oct 2019
Team Algeria TechWomen 11 October 2019
Team Algeria TechWomen 11 October 2019

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Images Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson, and Saul Bromberger.

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Best Mentoring Practices

Katy Dickinson moderates TechWomen panel on Best Practices in Mentoring, 17 Sep 2019

Yesterday, I moderated a mentoring panel for the TechWomen Mentor Kickoff event (hosted by SurveyMonkey in San Francisco). The experienced and inspiring panelists were:

Some of our advice:

  • Katy: Look for long term success, this is a personal relationship in a professional setting
  • Roojuta: Be flexible, make introductions, find people to help
  • Jennifer: Create handouts for events, give good directions with pictures, be flexible, reach out to other mentors
  • Kiko: Provide resources, help the group find value in each other, encourage teamwork, stay focused, show up and listen

I also offered my five best questions:

  1. What problem are you solving? (define the challenge)
  2. How do you know when you are done? (success/completion metrics)
  3. Who is your customer? (target audience)
  4. What is your data? (quantification)
  5. What difference will it make? (impact)

These are on my Mentoring Standard website

I was proud to attend this event with my Co-Mentor and daughter, Jessica Dickinson Goodman. She is a Country Coach for Palestine and I am a Country Coach for Algeria this year.
Katy Dickinson and daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman, TechWomen Mentors, 17 Sep 2019
Katy Dickinson moderates TechWomen panel on Best Practices in Mentoring, 17 Sep 2019

Just for fun – some of my collection of magnets from the 22 TechWomen countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia:
TechWomen country magnets - collection of Katy Dickinson 2019
TechWomen country magnets - collection of Katy Dickinson 2019

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Images Copyright 2019 by Katy Dickinson – with thanks to Jessica Dickinson Goodman.

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