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B is for Bioinformatics

September 19th, 2014

We continue with our STEM and Girls alphabetology today for the #STEMPrincess2 Campaign on Kickstarter!

B = Bioinformatics, and Princess Bella from The Amazing Adventures.  Here’s the scoop on bioinformatics:

May your week end be bioinformatic-tacular!!!!

(Don’t worry.  I’m not ready to quit my day job for a career in puns…)

A is for Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

September 18th, 2014

When I was a kid, I had ZERO clue what I wanted to be when I grew up.  It really wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school that I figured it out.

On the other hand, I really didn’t have a book or series of books that could show me my options when I was a young girl, either.

So, I’ve decided that during this #STEMPrincess2 Kickstarter campaign, I want to focus more on each of the 20 princesses, show the world some superstars on EARTH that are women rockstars in each professional STEM area of the 20 princesses, and gear kids up early for what they can dream to be when they grow up.  After all, go big, or go home!

 

Today we begin at the start – with Princess Abigail.  She’s the aerospace/astronautical engineer in our first book.  But – there are some amazing women from Earth that rock this “space” too (get it)?  Also, I’m going to check and see what the top educational programs are in each area of STEM to share with the bigger audience.

Here we go!

 

Are 3D Printing and Maker Spaces Ways to Engage Kids in Engineering?

September 17th, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 10.45.01 AM

3D printed objects

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The “goo” 3D printer

I’ve been on a bit of a quest of late.  A quest to figure out how to make 3D action figures for the #STEMPrincess project.  Every parent out there says I need an action figure or stuffed STEMPrincess to go along with the book series.

So, I was lucky enough to reconnect with a friend yesterday afternoon, Kim Brand, president of 3D Parts Manufacturing, LLC, to hear more about 3D printing – mainly for bringing my #STEMPrincesses to life.  But I got a lot more out of the conversation.

First, I learned about Maker Spaces.  Indy even has one, called Club Cyberia.  They are places with large industrial tools and classes on making things.  I think of them as co-working spaces with tools.  Apparently, there is a resurgance of people who want to make things with their hands, and Maker Spaces are where people can do just that.

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Mid-level 3D printer

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UV Oven for objects from “goo” printer

Between that, and 3D printing, I was excited.

Apparently, Kim is helping get 3D printers into schools, so kids can learn hands on about 3D printing, but more important, like and see how practical things like math and engineering play in the real world through hands on learning with 3D printers.  His shop has a partnership with Junior Achievement now.

Kim argues two ideas, which I thought about overnight, and agree with to some extent. 1. We are forgetting how to make things with our hands, and need to bring back the practical arts to the schools all over the U.S. (Who didn’t take shop class? Apparently a lot of kids today. Sad!) 2. 3D printing is a cool way to help kids see how math, science and engineering play out in the real world.  That is, we all learn these subjects in school, but to have the real-world hands-on application of concepts seems to be missing in our classrooms these days.  We’ve got to get back to hands on experiential education.

I suppose I take this for granted in pharmacy, since we have 4 years of experiential education now for our students.  But I wonder, how many other programs have an experiential component?  Law doesn’t.  Should they?

All I know is that although Kim and I can’t really work together on my 3D action figures project for a couple of reasons, I’m glad I had the chance to catch up with him and learn more about this fascinating world.  That, and challenge your schools to ensure they have opportunities for kids to have hands-on, maker based learning.  We’re doomed without them!

Smarter Cities: How Do We Make Them?

September 16th, 2014

I was asked the other day what cities can or should do in order to attract the educated.  My opinions wound up in this article over at WalletHub, on the smartest cities ranking (who knew Ann Arbor, MI was so smart)?

Anyway, I’m a firm believer in education being a solution to so many problems in the universe.  Most notably, I’m fired up about girls/women and STEM education.  There are not enough women going into STEM careers, as I’ve shared before.  Currently, the U.S. workforce in STEM is only 24% women.  Women are single digits in engineering professions.  When city growth and economic development is so dependent upon a STEM educated workforce, we HAVE to have cities that help make its citizens smarter.

Today, I’m launching my next Kickstarter campaign to continue a book series on educating young girls ages 5-9 about STEM careers, through the #STEMPrincess project.  After the first book’s campaign (for The Amazing Adventures of the Princesses from Planet STEM), backers suggested that they wanted to have the power to give books away everywhere, not just in Indiana, so this campaign I set up differently, to give the power to the backers on giving copies of the second book away, instead of me deciding who should get copies.  Press release is below.

I’m happy to help the entire U.S. educate girls and boys about STEM through this potential book series.  I hope that we have enough backers to step up and support this potential book series.  I’m sad that I only had the opportunity to introduce the STEM princesses in book 1–so now I must continue the series to get 20 different STEM career options and princesses in front of girls everywhere in more depth and detail.  If I can just inspire one girl to become a doctor, or an engineer or a theoretical physicist, I’ve done my job with this book series.  I hope you can help–our girls (and boys) desperately need it in order to ensure we continue to have smart cities in the future!

#STEMPrincess2 press release – The Amazing Adventures of the Princesses from Planet STEM book 2 from Erin Albert

You asked. I deliver.

September 15th, 2014

The #1 question I’ve had all year:

“Albert – WHEN are you going to write book 2 for the #STEMPrincess project?”

Answer:

Now.

Let’s do this.

#STEMPrincess2 will run until Rocktober 24th.

Do I have some fun surprises planned?  Absolutely.

I can’t NOT do this.  This needs to be done.  When it comes to STEM and girls, we still have a LOT of work to do.

I hope you’ll join me in the effort to help girls get on board with STEM.  After all, our future depends on it.

Pharmacy: Please GET WEIRD

September 13th, 2014

pharmacyweirdIf I blindfolded you and walked you into the center of any major drug store, then took off the blindfold, could you tell quickly which pharmacy chain you were in?

I’m not so sure I could answer that question – it may be a guess – that is, if I was unblindfolded.  Why?  Because ALL THE RETAIL PHARMACIES ARE THE SAME!  I honestly think this is a problem.

This week, I was on a conference call with a committee working on pharmacy education when I finally busted out that pharmacy needed to get weird if we really wanted to challenge the profession.

Someone clarified if I said weird.  “Yes,” I replied.

This summer, I had the chance to meet with the gal who runs Keep Louisville Weird – an initiative to support local entrepreneurs and indie businesses in the Louisville area.  (And yes, I personally think Louisville does a pretty good job in keeping their town indie and weird.)  Weird cities rock.

And if we’re going to talk about weird cities, we have to go to the motherland – Austin, TX – and discuss their initiative: Keep Austin Weird.  They have festivals and books.  They even had controversy over their weirdness in TIME magazine.

I think both towns do a nice job of celebrating and supporting independence – thought, skills, businesses, people.  Where I think pharmacy fails is that they consistently talk about 2 settings of practice: 1. the hospital, and 2. the community retail pharmacy.

We used to be weird.  Look at all the crazy products pharmacists invented.  Soda fountain stuff (like Dr. Pepper), OTC drugs, etc.  But – has regulation, the Affordable Care Act, and all the crazy law around pharmacy killed innovation?  I don’t know.

As a profession, if we want to survive and thrive, we have to get over the setting and get out of the box, kick it to the curb and move on…literally.  What about wellness for pharmacy?  What about an Apple store concept for pharmacy?  What about LegalForce for pharmacy?  Why have no pharmacies ever ended up in banks – where security could serve both the bank and the pharmacy?  Pharmacies with one of a kind third spaces could rule too, as I’ve previously mentioned.  What about pharmacists like NomNomPaleo–who mix nutrition up with pharmacy to create cookbooks and informational portals that are useful and cool?  Or my nurse friend over at SimpleeWellness, who does one on one counseling and behavioral interventions with executives (she, technically is a nurse, but there’s no reason why a pharmacist couldn’t do this too.)  What about co-wellness spaces like co-working spaces for entrepreneurs?

Pharmacy is not traditionally a profession that gets weird.  However, I argue that we MUST get weird and STAY weird if we really want to try new ideas, spread into more practice settings, help create new practice settings, and help our patients stay OUT of hospitals and STAY well.  Weird isn’t a series of steps.  It’s a state of mind.

Cheers to the weird…and may it find pharmacy soon!

 

2 out of 3 Taboo Subjects in This Post: Why did the MayDay SuperPac Fail?

September 12th, 2014

They say there’s 3 things one never should discuss in public:

  1. Religion,
  2. Money, and
  3. Politics.

Today, I thought I’d discuss 2/3 to really rile the masses. Ready?

So, I donated to Lessig’s MayDay SuperPac. If you’ve heard nothing about this, Lessig is trying to crowdfund a superpac to end all other superpacs. If you’ve never ran for public office, the one thing all campaign educational programs teach you is that you must, must MUST be able to raise funds in order to win elections.  What’s money got to do with public office? Everything, unfortunately. Money wins elections—as sad as that sounds to say.

Back to Lessig’s SuperPac – he was using this crowdfunded pile o’ money to support in a bipartisan fashion candidates that are running with a major platform of campaign finance reform.  That is, if the candidates are elected, they promise to support and lead a charge to reform campaign finance laws.

Unfortunately, the first candidate MayDay backed didn’t win.  Why?

I’m not sure.  Perhaps everyone is so focused on their own individual issues with government that the last thing they think about when it comes to good government is campaign finance reform.  However, I’m here to state that I think ALL OF US should be very concerned about campaign finance reform, because it affects how lawmakers work.  A simple example: POTUS not taking on immigration law reform until after the 2016 election.

Really?

How many of us can decide at work whether or not to just stop doing our jobs?

The last thing I want this tiny blog to turn into is a political rant page.  However, I’d like you to consider this issue and ask your lawmakers and candidates about it.  Where do they stand on campaign finance reform–or are they just too busy raising money for their NEXT campaign that they aren’t doing the job they were already elected to do in the first place now?

This is important to ALL OF US.

#CarChick without Wheels

September 10th, 2014

Memo to:    All Current Vehicle Manufacturers
From:         Erin Albert

Re:            Not enough cars for women

To Whom it May Concern:

I have a Jeep Liberty.  It’s actually my second Jeep Liberty, and my third Jeep overall in my life.  Historically, I’ve dug the Jeep brand, and specifically the Liberty–because it’s a cool SUV, but it’s also girly.  It looks like a kinder, friendlier Jeep.  Nice.

I’ve had my current Jeep now for almost 10 years. It’s honestly time for me to buy a new one.  However–no offense Jeep–the new Liberty model–is ugly.  I can’t even candy coat it.  It’s like a box on wheels.  The Cherokee is kind of cool, but seriously – $30K for a new car is insane.

Also, I’ve had the opportunity to rent a few cars this year, and I’ve tried out some other brands.  I’m just not in love with any vehicle these days.  And if I am going to drop 5 figures on a car, shouldn’t I be in love with it?

I’m here to tell you, dear manufacturers, that your cars–are ugly.  We need more cars for women and girls.  And while I think the VW Beetle is awesome, it’s just not enough to cater to women across the board.

Here’s what we need for more girl power when it comes to car offerings:

1.  Style – seriously – style shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.  If Target can come up with cool items in their dollar bins, can’t the car manufacturers come up with cool features that cater to more women than men, considering women make the purchasing decision on a LOT of cars in this country?  We need more cars with curves, specifically.  One of my favorite features on the old Liberty is the light and grill configuration.  It’s also a curvier car.  I don’t get this from the Jeep boxes currently on the market.  Also, I DO NOT MEAN offering a PINK car here, either.  That’s not going to cut it.

2.  Space – If I had a dime for every time I went elbow-deep into my ONE storage bin for lipstick or car wash tickets or a quarter to feed a parking meter and couldn’t find what I wanted–I’d be a rich woman.  Women. Need. Storage.  Give us some place to put our stuff in our cars!

3.  USB ports – One bucket list item for me to one day own is a convertible.  Right now, the front runner is the VW Beetle (as I previously gave a shout out to in this post).  However, it doesn’t come with a USB port.  REALLY, VW?!? Our smartphones with a USB port convert our vehicles into GPS-toting, favorite music-playing, phone-charging wonder mobiles–but not all cars have this option.  It’s 2014.  This should be standard, y’all in every car – or at a minimum an option.

4.  Interesting color palettes – While exterior colors may vary, I’m thinking more of interior colors here.  Can’t we get more than black, gray and tan?

5.  Storage – Yes, this is a repeat of #2. It’s that important and worthy of repeat – I need a place for my stuff instead of it flying all over the place when I have to slam on the brakes.

6. Cleanable – I’m certain I’m not the only person on the planet who can’t seem to clean out all the garbage between the driver’s seat and the center console in my car.  It’s too narrow a space to jam in a vacuum cleaner, but yet still visible enough to drive those of us who like our cars neat completely insane every time we peek down that slot.  Make cars cleanable.

I could go on.  I won’t.  Suffice it to say – I’m not ready to drop 5 figures yet–until I’m in love.  And I’m not in love.  I’m not even dating.  GM has a woman CEO behind the wheel now – let’s start seeing more variety when it comes to our cars, por favor!

Should Healthcare Own Wellness?

September 10th, 2014

WellnessWordleErinAlbertQuick!  Think about the last time you visited your doctor.  Think about some words that described that experience.

I’m sure there are many words you can find to describe it.  I’m also betting that it had little to do with wellness or preventative care either.  Maybe it did, but there is a higher probability that something more pressing or acute drove you to the doctor on your last visit, rather than just wanting to improve your wellness.

After reading about MIT’s media lab launching an innovation in wellness initiative after receiving a $1M grant yesterday – I wonder, should healthcare own wellness?

The reason why I’m questioning whether or not wellness should be owned by healthcare professions is that healthcare, by its nature, focuses on fee for service.  It focuses on fixing acute problems, rather than focusing on preventing problems from happening in the first place.  Besides, wellness to me means a lot of things, not just health.

As I’ve stated here before, I still have no third space that I immediately think of as a hub for wellness or learning about wellness in my life.  There’s the gym, but that only covers the physical body.  That doesn’t cover other areas of wellness–like wellness of the mind, wellness and food, financial wellness, spiritual wellness, etc.

The other hot area on the entrepreneurial side of the universe is co-working spaces.  But what about co-working spaces for wellness?  I checked and of course Austin, TX has something cool called Space 12, which includes wellness space (and right now, I can’t seem to determine if it’s still open, but it’s a very cool concept).  I also found an org online called Third Space Wellness, but I don’t know much about them other than their website.  One of my obsessions is a place in NC called Gather, where it isn’t a community third space about wellness as much as it is about hand made items–but I dig the concept for wellness.

Coming up in September, I’ll be chatting with a pharmacist and Pharmacy Podcast about pharmacies with third spaces, but wellness I think may be bigger than the local pharmacy too…? Not sure.

I think there’s a tremendous opportunity here, but I wonder if healthcare can step up and own wellness, or if it is bigger than just health.  Just putting this question into the ether, for all of us to ponder today…

Business, Business, Business

September 8th, 2014

1. We have NAWBO National 2014 Women’s Business Conference coming to Indianapolis this week – yay!

2. I’m trying to raise money to continue the #STEMPrincess book series en masse – can you help a girl out and vote for Pharm, LLC here? I’m at 20 votes this morning – but I need at least 250 to legitimize this grant possibility.  THANKS!!!

3.  INsiders this week – yay!!!!

No rest for the wicked…