September 29, 2018

A Month in Review

The bloggers at STEM-VRSE have been silent lately. Why, you may ask. The answer is time. Musicians, painters, and poets often create art around the theme of how time is a thief. B.B. King once cried that, “Yes time is a thief/That will steal your tomorrows/And leave you only yesterday” and Joseph White once wrote, “A thief of love, breath and living life slips away on cat's feet.” The last month at STEM-VRSE shows that actions constitute a powerful anecdote to time, the thief.

So, what did the actions of STEM-VRSE in the last month do to fight time? Let us start with a brief recap. Between November of 2017 and May of 2018, STEM-VRSE started the process of being recognized as a formal non-profit organization registered in Texas. The mission of this new organization centered on supporting STEM researchers and empowering STEM educators. In addition, the organization supported three early career researchers in conducting research in New Zealand. Also, the organization began the process of creating a web presence and local community presence through social media platforms and local community activities. Beginning with the summer, STEM-VRSE took off in meeting the organization’s stated mission goals. First, the organization supported an early career STEM researcher through the creation of the Morris Schulman, Jr. Scholarship – named for one of the original board members of STEM-VRSE. Second, the organization received 501 (c)(3) recognition from the federal government and completed the registration to act as a non-Profit organization in the state of Texas. Finally, we began uploading 360 content across multiple online media platforms to “get our name out there.” I say all this to get you ready for what came next.

Jordan blog photo Jordan on his recent trip to Alaska!
Moses blog photo Moses trying out VR for the first time!

The last month, or so, marked another major change in the development of STEM-VRSE as an organization. We began and ended this period with the efforts of our two newest actors to STEM-VRSE, Jordan and Moses. Jordan, our computer programmer, joined the organization in the middle of the summer. His work with the organization began to show in the last month as he worked on linking the organization’s content to people through the internet. In addition, Jordan captured incredible 360 footage of Alaska during a recent trip to the Great Northwest. Moses, our newest intern, joined the organization at the beginning of the fall semester. His work to create Texas A&M University (TAMU) centered content began to show itself as he worked with Dakota to create a 360 experience of the Aggie Bonfire Memorial. Also, Moses worked with us at the last First Friday in downtown Bryan, TX to connect with Spanish speaking members of our community. In between the efforts of these individuals, other people at STEM-VRSE worked hard in pushing the organization. Below, we outline some those people and their efforts to make STEM-VRSE a success in supporting early career STEM researchers and empowering STEM educators.

first friday blog photo

Where to begin? Cash recently completed the first National Science Foundation (NSF) grant request with the help of the experts at STEM-VRSE. He immediately began writing a second grant for NSF. We believe that Cash will be invaluable in assisting future members of the organization in completing grants to support research. Katja, our fearless Marketing Director, went to Mexico to work on her SCUBA skills. She took some wonderful 360 footage of the reef communities off the Atlantic coast of Mexico. In addition, she spent time in Native American ruins and gathered some additional 360 footage. We hope to soon have content from both activities on our website and VeerTv. Dakota has continued to work with Moses, as mentioned previously, and work toward his Bachelor degree at TAMU and look forward to working a graduate course of study at Boston College University. He also has recently completed a blog on the past and current state of 360 technology, something I encourage everyone to read. Dane has been busy working on the STEM-VRSE Business Plan and assisting the researchers associated with STEM-VRSE. We hope his work on the business plan will attract the funds needed to support the work of STEM-VRSE members in the future. Also, he began work toward recruiting a grant-writer to work with STEM-VRSE on a permanent basis. Keep a lookout in the near future for the addition of another member or two to the organization’s family. Finally, Kat continues to provide leadership as STEM-VRSE’s President. Her tireless efforts in the past few weeks led to the development of a new t-shirt design for a fall fundraiser, generation of a banner for use at organization events, and the continued development of the STEM-VRSE newsletter. She also recently began writing her own NSF grant and found time to build professional connections with two local schools. In doing so, Kat provides evidence that STEM-VRSE does indeed support STEM research and empower STEM education. Keep an eye out for more changes at STEM-VRSE in the coming months. As always, contact us with any questions you might wish to ask someone at the organization. If no one knows the answer, we can likely find the person with the answer.