Tag Archives: Africa

TechWomen in Yosemite

TechWomen at Yosemite Falls, CA, 27 Mar 2022

I am proud of my daughter Jessica whose annual Yosemite camping trip for her Palestinian mentees has evolved into a TechWomen tradition. This year, there were enough mentors and mentees for two weekends. I was a driver last weekend, joining about thirty others – many of them camping for the first time. We stopped over in Columbia for lunch on the way to our campsite at Tuttletown. We had a lovely time getting to know each other, figuring out how to raise a tent, singing pop songs, and eating s’mores – and Safa of Libya got to touch a river for the first time ever!

TechWomen 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 have been working with TechWomen since I helped to design it in 2010. Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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TechWomen Team Kenya Outings

TechWomen Team Kenya brunch, 19 March 2022

TechWomen Team Kenya has enjoyed two outings during which we worked on the team project pitch. We went to NightLife at San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences, and we had brunch together in Oakland, hosted by my Co-Mentor Ella Morgulis. Co-Mentor Samantha Raniere made ugali and spinach and an apple pie for brunch. Ella and her husband David made chicken, hamburgers, and salad. I brought Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies! We mentors have taken turns driving the mentees to our outings around the Bay Area. Pitch Day will be on Friday, 25 March 2022.

Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

TechWomen Team Kenya, California Academy of Sciences, 17 March 2022

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TechWomen Volunteer Day in the Garden

TechWomen Volunteer Day, St.Stephens-in-the-Fields, San Jose, California, 18 Mar 2022

Today was TechWomen Volunteer Day and twenty-three of us gathered at St. Stephen’s-in-the-Field Episcopal Church – Community Garden in San Jose, California, to work together. We divided into three groups: the Hunters (looking for oak seedlings to pot), the Killers (taking down an oleander hedge), and the Diggers (making an accessible path for elder gardeners). We included technical leaders from the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, some of whom were novices and others who had deep gardening experience, as well as two regular community garden volunteers and four TechWomen mentors. My daughter, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, manages the community garden but she was managing another TechWomen volunteer group today, so I was in charge. It was a fun and productive day!

Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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Welcome TechWomen Team Kenya

TechWomen Team Kenya, 10 March 2022
TechWomen Team Kenya, 10 March 2022

I am honored to work with TechWomen Team Kenya this term. My Co-Mentors are Ella Morgulis and Samantha Raniere. Everyone was at my house in San Jose, California, last night for a team meeting and dinner. We are getting to know each other and enjoying learning together. They had fun touring my caboose office, WP668.

TechWomen 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 have been working with TechWomen since I helped to design it in 2010. Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

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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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