Dear Members and Friends,
As we approach the summer months, our thoughts turn to planning for our annual Innovation Days which will be held August 3-5. Our theme this year is, “Next Generation Electronics: Solving Real World Problems.” This is a theme that we aspire to every day and, in collaboration with our 100 members around the country, we can see tangible results of that aspiration. This year’s event will feature a mix of presentations and panels, with talks from NextFlex, DoD, and members, all designed to showcase the progress that has been made over the past year. We are once again planning for a virtual event, particularly since last year’s event was so successful, especially in that it allowed greater attendance from DoD and those who cannot travel. That said, we are carefully watching guidance from Santa Clara County to determine if we can allow some in-person participation and are developing scenarios around how that might be possible while keeping everyone safe. We just do not know yet. Stay tuned for more information about Innovation Days 2021 and watch for the first registration emails to be sent early in June.
A key benefit of membership with NextFlex is having access to the NextFlex Member Portal. This secure website is where our most important documents are shared amongst members: project call webinar recordings, technical working group roadmaps, event presentations, videos, and more. I am pleased to announce that we just unveiled a brand-new NextFlex Member Portal that was designed with member input to help users navigate directly to the information they need. If you are an existing Portal user, check your inbox for your invitation to login and create a new password. If you are a member and have not yet requested access to the Member Portal, now is the time to ask for login credentials. So far, members have been pleased with the upgrade. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just one more item that I wanted to share. NextFlex hosted several high school interns during the summer of 2019. Now, one of them, Leela, is now in her senior year of high school and has plans to study Computer Engineering in the fall at the University of Michigan. She wrote to let us know that it was her experience at NextFlex that inspired her to choose this path. She wrote:
“At NextFlex, I was exposed to a completely new aspect of engineering, and I fell in love with it. It was the main inspiration for me to pursue a major in Computer Engineering at the University of Michigan. Working in the Fab with experienced engineers made complex topics in electrical and computer engineering far more accessible for an untrained high schooler like me and encouraged me to further explore interesting topics I was introduced to through the internship. After learning about the application of concepts of electricity and optics in the Fab, I decided to take Physics E&M at my local community college. I designed and prototyped an Arduino® sensor vest for bicyclists after seeing the work done with flexible Arduino-compatible microcontrollers at NextFlex. Inspired by the education outreach programs at NextFlex, I continued to develop my own engineering education nonprofit for elementary schoolers. NextFlex showed me how I could apply the engineering and leadership skills I was developing to a professional environment and encouraged me to follow my passion to a degree in Computer Engineering at UMich!
Malcolm, thank you so much for your support of high school interns at NextFlex. The culture of mentorship and support for young people you have built at NextFlex provides us with a ton of credibility to our partners in San Jose and supports key relationships. The impact that NextFlex has on individual students is not only helping support the development of critical skill sets in future engineers, but also gives us important insight as we develop and refine our portfolio of programs. “
Obviously this letter warmed my heart, and I pass on my thanks to the NextFlex team who inspired Leela and so many other students over the years to get excited about the possibility of jobs in STEM fields. Good luck, Leela!
I am looking forward to the time when we can all be together again. Stay well.
Malcolm J. Thompson, Ph.D.