Cisco Distinguished Quality Engineer Alka Jarvis shares why passion and persistence has gotten her to where she is today.

Alka Jarvis needed to make sure this interview happened.

We had scheduled several meet-ups before this chat, and for some reason or another— either an absence of Wi-Fi, unexpected meetings—something had always come up.

“I got up today and I thought, I must make sure I attend this meeting,” Jarvis tells me during our interview, “At any expense.”

It’s this kind of tenacity that finally brought us to our chat—the same tenacity that has sparked fire to Jarvis’ career throughout her time as an engineer.

“Why don’t you do something about it?”

Jarvis, who was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, is of Indian ancestry. She says that culturally, she grew up in Kenya under a lot of British influence. The engineer—who is now known as Cisco’s only Distinguished Quality Engineer–first entered the world of quality in a fateful job on a sales team of a small company.

“I accompanied the sales teams as they did demos,” says Jarvis, “The sales person would try to show customers certain files but the files weren’t there. With my experience in computer science and software development, I continued to raise concerns: It was a small company and I was the only one saying that our software doesn’t work. One time I was finally challenged by the senior VP of operations, ‘Why don’t you do something about it?'”

It was that one challenge that got Jarvis on her path towards quality assurance.

“I went to Golden Gate University Library and learned everything I could about software testing and quality assurance,” says Jarvis. At that time she also co-founded Bay Area Quality Assurance Association by contacting companies through the Yellow Pages to discuss the field of software quality and processes. 

Software quality assurance, Jarvis tells me, is making sure that all of the products and services work according to the customer requirements and exceed their expectations.

Learning to teach

In her in-depth studies of quality assurance, Jarvis started looking at the UC Berkeley-Extension curriculum in software engineering. She found out that all of the classes taught programming but none were actually about quality and testing.  After approaching one of the Directors at UC Berkeley, the school asked her to develop and teach a class.

After 21 years, Jarvis is still manning teaching podiums and teaching quality at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz-Extension, Santa Clara University, and has published seven books. 

“This is where Cisco shows industry leadership,” says Jarvis, “When an employee teaches or participates in industry events—it shows Cisco as the leader. This type of industry participation makes students and people more aware of Cisco and of the talents we have within the company.”

Quality work

Persistence, Jarvis stresses, is what got her to this point in her work. She encourages others also to take an active pursuit of their interests in life and career.

“If you have a passion for any topic within Cisco, take it upon yourself and go after it,” says Jarvis, “You are the master of your career. It might just seem like a very small thing right now that you’re involved in. I was only on the sales team to watch demos, but I thought that I had to get involved and did not stop at that.” 

And she doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. Her next venture into telemetry—within the Technology and Quality functional organization of Supply Chain—has just begun. Jarvis would like to emphasize on leading indicators like “predictive” telemetry to track issues and stay steps ahead of customers.  

 If we can predict the way Jarvis has pursued her career, and even this interview, we can expect big things for her in this next step. 

Source: Cisco

What it will take for us to trust AI Like humans, computers need to behave as we would expect

What it will take for us to trust AI
Like humans, computers need to behave as we would expect
By Guru Banavar, IBM Research

The early days of artificial intelligence (AI) have been met with some very public hand wringing. Well-respected technologists and business leaders have voiced their concerns over the (responsible) development of AI. And Hollywood’s appetite for dystopian AI narratives appears to be bottomless. This is not unusual, nor is it unreasonable. Change, technological or otherwise, always excites the imagination. And it often makes us a little uncomfortable.

But in my opinion, we have never known a technology with more potential to benefit society than artificial intelligence. We now have AI systems that learn from vast amounts of complex, unstructured information and turn it into actionable insight. It is not unreasonable to expect that within this growing body of digital data — 2.5 exabytes every day — lie the secrets to defeating cancer, reversing climate change, or managing the complexity of the global economy.

We also expect AI systems to pervasively support the decisions we make in our professional and personal lives in just a few years. In fact, this is already happening in many industries and governments.
However, if we are ever to reap the full spectrum of societal and industrial benefits from artificial intelligence, we will first need to trust it.

Trust of AI systems will be earned over time, just as in any personal relationship. Put simply, we trust things that behave as we expect them to. But that does not mean that time alone will solve the problem of trust in AI. AI systems must be built from the get-go to operate in trust-based partnerships with people.

The most urgent work is to recognize and minimize bias. Bias could be introduced into an AI system through the training data or the algorithms. The curated data that is used to train the system could have inherent biases, e.g., towards a specific demographic, either because the data itself is skewed, or because the human curators displayed bias in their choices. The algorithms that process that information could also have biases in the code, introduced by a developer, intentionally or not. The developer community is just starting to grapple with this topic in earnest. But most experts believe that by thoroughly testing these systems, we can detect and mitigate bias before the system is deployed.

Managing bias is an element of the larger issue of algorithmic accountability. That is to say, AI systems must be able to explain how and why they arrived at a particular conclusion so that a human can evaluate the system’s rationale. Many professions, such as medicine, finance, and law, already require evidence-based audit ability as a normal practice for providing transparency of decision-making and managing liability. In many cases, AI systems may need to explain rationale through a conversational interaction (rather than a report), so that a person can dig into as much detail as necessary.
In addition, AI systems can and should have mechanisms to insert a variety of ethical values appropriate to the context, such as the task, the individual, the profession, or the culture. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Ethical systems are built around rules, just like computer algorithms. These rules can be inserted during development, deployment, or use. And because these are learning systems, researchers believe that AI systems can, over time, observe human behavior to fill in some of the gaps.

It is incumbent upon the developers of AI systems to answer these questions in a way that satisfies both the industry and the general public. This is already well understood throughout the technology industry, which is why IBM is working together with some of its fiercest competitors — including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook — on the “Partnership on AI,” a unique and open collaboration designed to guide the ethical development of artificial intelligence.

Business leaders considering artificial intelligence solutions should include trust and accountability as part of their criteria for adoption. They should be thoughtful about how and where this technology is introduced throughout the organization. And they should work with their technology vendors to identify any unwanted behaviors and correct them if necessary.

But delaying the implementation of artificial intelligence is not an option. We pay a significant price every day for not knowing what can be known: not knowing what’s wrong with a patient, not knowing where to find a critical natural resource, or not knowing the hidden risks in the global economy. We believe that many of these ambiguities and inefficiencies can be eliminated with artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence is an undeniably powerful technology. And as with any powerful technology, great care must be taken in its development and deployment. Just as it is our obligation to apply this technology to complex, societal problems, it is our obligation to develop it in a way that engenders trust and safeguards humanity. In other words, building trust is essential to the adoption of artificial intelligence.

And we believe that its adoption is essential to humanity.


A Big Event is happening in Rio de Janeiro for the first time starting August 5 and after 112 years golf will once again be played. Construction of a new golf course was needed, and Cat® machines helped make it happen.

Located in the Barra da Tijuca zone, the project took about two years to complete and opened in late 2015. The 970,000 square meter course is considered one of the most modern in the country and the only course in Brazil approved by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA).

The construction was led by Tanedo S/A and an international team specializing in the development of golf courses. This team has a tradition of using only Cat equipment where they’re contracted.


Cat dealer Sotreq provided several pieces of Cat equipment for the project, including the D6N and D6K Dozers, 315D and 324D Excavators, 416E Backhoe and 305E Mini Excavator.


“Sotreq was responsible for providing equipment with high production capacity that would achieve the level of quality and accuracy required by the committee,” explains Alexandre Bastos, Sotreq Commercial Manager.


The main challenge faced by Sotreq was providing machines with both agility and productivity, as Tanedo S/A committed to completing the golf course in the very short period of time stipulated by the events’ committee.  To achieve this, Sotreq recommended the use of tilting buckets. “They are suitable to achieve the type of finish and terrain profiles needed by the committee. The use of such equipment made all the difference during field preparation,” says Bastos.
“Given the importance of the project and especially the historical context, we could not be out of it. The golf course was designed with a new concept of design and is considered one of the most modern in the world. Being involved brings our dealership a tremendous amount of pride,” concludes Bastos.
Source: Chevitarese, Camilla. “Sotreq nas Olimpíadas.” ELO News, July 2016

Today, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) celebrated as the plant’s two millionth vehicle

March 29, 2016 – Today, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) celebrated as the plant’s two millionth vehicle – a white 2016 Sorento SXL – rolled off the assembly line in West Point, Georgia.

Representing an investment of more than $1.1 billion, KMMG began mass production on November 16, 2009 and today produces more than forty percent of all Kia vehicles sold in the United States.

“Assembling two million vehicles in less than seven years is a remarkable achievement, and one that each of our team members can take a lot of pride in,” said KMMG President and CEO Hyun-Jong Shin. “The world-class quality that goes into every Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan we build is a direct result of the hard work and commitment of our team members, and today we salute their commitment to excellence.”

Together with on-site and local suppliers, KMMG is responsible for the creation of more than 15,000 jobs in West Point and the surrounding region, and achieved its highest-ever ranking – top five among vehicle assembly plants in the U.S. – in J.D. Power’s most recent Initial Quality Study.

“Together, Kia and Georgia have a strong reputation of success,” said Governor Nathan Deal. “The company’s continued investment in the state speaks volumes to our pro-business atmosphere, and we will continue to support them as they grow here. I want to congratulate Kia’s team members on this accomplishment.”

About KMMG

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) is the first manufacturing site in North America for Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, Korea. With an annual capacity of 360,000 units, KMMG is located on 2,200 acres in West Point, Georgia, and began mass production on Nov. 16, 2009. KMMG is home to the Sorento CUV and the Optima mid-size sedan, two of the brand’s top selling models in the U.S.

Honeywell Engineer Awarded Prestigious NASA Silver Snoopy Award

Honeywell Engineer Syed Hasan has been awarded the prestigious Space Flight Awareness Silver Snoopy Award by NASA which recognizes outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success.

Astronaut Anna Lee Fisher presented Hasan with the award at a ceremony at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland this week. The award, which is given out to NASA employees or contractors, honors the contributions made toward enhancing the probability of mission success, improvements in design, administrative/technical/production techniques, business systems, flight and/or systems safety or identification and correction or preventive action for errors. The award consists of a silver “Snoopy” lapel pin flown during a NASA mission, a commendation letter, and a signed certificate. Hasan’s pin was flown aboard a 2006 Space Shuttle Mission to the International Space Station.

Hasan, a 10-year Honeywell veteran, is the Lead Collision Avoidance Engineer for the Earth Observing System missions (Terra, Aqua and Aura) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. He was nominated for his dedication, commitment, and outstanding support to the Space Flight program while working in the Flight Dynamics Facility as the Human Space Flight lead. He played a major role in the success of the early SpaceX Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demo Flights. Syed developed a process improvement in tracking the unmanned SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft during reentry. His process, which involved a more efficient way to process SpaceX-provided trajectory data, yielded better tracking and better communication with the spacecraft on re-entry. Post mission, SpaceX reported highly improved tracking results and expressed their pleasure with the performance of the new support method.

Aerospace, Defense, Space


SHPE Technical Achievement Recognition (STAR) Awards Announced

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) announced today the recipients of this year’s prestigious SHPE Technical Achievement Recognition (STAR) Awards, honoring key contributors in the Hispanic community in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

The annual STAR Awards are SHPE’s premier event, recognizing individuals and corporations nationally for their dedication, commitment and selfless efforts to the growth and advancement of Hispanics through STEM careers.

The STAR Awards offer several honored categories representing exceptional college students to industry professionals and public and private corporations.

The recipients of the 2015 STAR Awards will be recognized at this year’s SHPE Conference, November 11-15 in Baltimore, Maryland at the Baltimore Convention Center.

SHPE is pleased to announce this year’s 21 outstanding STAR Award winners in each of our honorable categories.
•Community Service – Marjorie Blanco, The Boeing Company
•Company of the Year – Northrop Grumman
•Corporate Achievement – Paul Rivera, Caterpillar Inc.
•Diversity – Dr. Raquel Romano, Google
•Educator of the Year, Higher Education – Brian Vazquez, East Los Angeles College
•Green Engineer – Alejandro Olivares, Delphi Electronics & Safety
•Government Agency of the Year – America*s NAVY
•Hispanic in Technology, Corporate – Ismael Rodriguez The Boeing Company
•Hispanic in Technology, Government – Margarita Varela-Rosa, Department of the Navy
•Innovator Award – David Estrada, Ph.D, Boise State University
•Jaime Oaxaca Award – Mike Cruz, Retired (NAVAIR)
•Junipero Serra Award – Naomi Hernandez, Booz Allen Hamilton
•Manager of the Year – Nestor Alexis Bautista Alvarez, Ford Motor Company
•Pioneer of the Year – Luis Robles, ArielZeus
•Professional Role Model – Rudolfo Trevino, Raytheon
•Promising Engineer – Juan D. Quintero, Chevron
•SHPE Star of Today – Lauren Hamburg, Newport News Shipbuilding
•SHPE Star of Tomorrow – Erick Rodriguez-Ramos, Exelon Generation
•Student Role Model, Graduate – Fidel Hernandez, Stanford University
•Student Role Model, Undergrad – Jose Campos, Utah State University
•Young Investigator Award- Dr. Lydia M. Contreras, University of Texas at Austin

“The recipients of this year’s STAR Awards are truly outstanding and have made a significant contribution to Hispanics and STEM in the past year,” said Richard Morley, SHPE CEO. “I am honored to recognize these key individuals for their continued support and commitment to the Hispanic community, but most importantly, for paving the way for the next generation of STEM leaders.”

SHPE Conference 2015

The SHPE Conference is the largest annual Hispanic STEM conference in the nation bringing together more than 5,000 professionals, educators, students and corporations from throughout the U.S. for technical and professional development workshops, design contests, technical competitions, engineering challenges, network opportunities and Career Expo. Pre-register online and learn about travel and hotel discounts. More information, including early conference registration rates effective through September 30, 2015, can be found by visiting the SHPE Conference website.

About SHPE

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers offers a network of more than 400 chapters nationally. SHPE’s mission is to change lives by empowering the Hispanic community to realize its fullest potential and to impact the world through STEM awareness, access, support and development. SHPE provides a variety of programming and resources including hosting the largest annual Hispanic STEM conference in the nation. For more information, visit

SOURCE Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)

Black Engineer of the Year honoree inspires youth to excel in STEM

There’s more to receiving a Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) award than being a winner, says Aaron Brundage of Sandia National Laboratories.

“The intent of the award is to provide guidance to young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” he says. “It gives them a role model.”

Brundage was named a 2013 BEYA Minority in Research Science Emerald Honoree in the category of Most Promising Scientist – Government. “I’m honored to be part of something that is bigger than the award itself,” he said. “At Sandia, I have the privilege of doing world-class research, working with and being mentored by the best minds in the country and using the best facilities in the world.”

BEYA awards recognize the nation’s best and brightest engineers, scientists and technology experts. They are a program of the national Career Communications Group, an advocate for corporate diversity, and part of its STEM achievement program. Brundage will receive his award at the 28th BEYA conference Feb. 6 in Washington, D.C. The event precedes National Engineers Week.

Brundage works in modeling and simulation of energetic materials, penetration mechanics, thermodynamics, and combustion and shock physics. He first came to Sandia as an intern in 2002 while earning his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Purdue University. He also has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Brundage feels strongly about giving back to his community. He serves on the board of directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico. In 2011, he and his wife founded a nonprofit, Tools for Learning Outreach Services, that provides workshops in partnership with schools and community programs. Their STEM education programs, intended to reach children who are underserved, at-risk or underrepresented in STEM disciplines, provide hands-on activities and opportunities for learning through play.

Brundage also brought STEM to underrepresented youth in the sixth through 12th grades by volunteering for eight summers as an instructor for HMTech, Sandia’s summer science and engineering program, and by teaching ACT courses at the University of New Mexico.

Brundage is a former director and chairman of the New Mexico section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is a member of the society’s K-11 Technical Committee on Combustion.

Jeff Isaacson, Sandia’s vice president of Defense Systems & Assessments, said Brundage “is the epitome of the type of researcher we need to deliver innovative solutions to some of our nation’s toughest technical problems.”

“There is more that makes Aaron an exceptional employee — the desire and ability to teach mathematical and scientific concepts to the next generation,” Isaacson said. “Aaron is active in our community promoting STEM at the elementary through post-secondary levels.”

Brundage said role models are most effective when they work directly with youths and offer hands-on experience. “Our job is to share our stories to inspire the next generation and help them understand what they can achieve,” he said.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

-Sandia National Laboratories

Soyuz to launch astronauts for a year long mission

Expedition 43 Soyuz Rollout

The first one-year crew for the International Space Station is set to launch today. NASA Television will provide extensive coverage of the launch and the crew’s arrival to the orbital laboratory.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend a year living and working aboard the space station and will launch with cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. The trio will become part of the station’s Expedition 43 crew.

NASA TV coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. EDT March 27, with launch scheduled for 3:42 p.m. (1:42 a.m. Saturday, March 28 in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio will ride to space in a Soyuz spacecraft, which will rendezvous with the space station and dock after four orbits of Earth. Docking to the space station’s Poisk module will take place at 9:36 p.m. Friday. NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 8:45 p.m.

Hatches between the Soyuz and the station will be opened at approximately 11:15 p.m., at which time Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA and his crewmates, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), will greet Kelly, Kornienko and Padalka. Hatch opening coverage begins on NASA TV at 10:45 p.m.

Kelly and Kornienko will spend a year on the space station to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. Data from the expedition will be used to determine whether there are ways to further reduce the risks on future long-duration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

The crew will support several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth. Data and samples will be collected throughout the year from a series of studies involving Scott and his twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. The studies will compare data from the genetically-identical Kelly brothers to identify any subtle changes caused by spaceflight.

Padalka will spend six months aboard the outpost, during which he will become the first four-time station commander and record holder for most cumulative time spent in space.

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