Category Archives: Meeting Summary

Bridget Benson at February’s WIT Breakfast

We had a great time getting to know Bridget Benson at this month’s WIT breakfast. Bridget is an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Cal Poly. Her research interests span computer engineering and aquatic sciences, focusing on selecting and developing technologies to advance marine science research.  

For those you who missed the breakfast—don’t worry! We recorded the interview.

Check out the link below for Bridget’s insights on electrical engineering, marine science, and women in tech: 

Apologies for the background noise. These interviews are done in an informal, coffee shop setting. We’re working on engineering a better audio setup, so stay tuned!

Want more? Be sure to stop by our Facebook page to hear about upcoming events, drop a comment, or request a future speaker. 

Students make Robotics Great (Again)!

Last month over 700 people chose to invest in students instead of watching the presidential debates. Adults and kids alike enjoyed robotic creations and learned how to solve real world problems with technology – there was no accusations about 33,000 lost emails, missing tax returns, or negative jabs. Just passionate debates over battery technologies and construction materials.

SLO MakerSpace

From school robots to commercial drones, this event is designed to inspire creative technologies and encourage kids who have a talent for engineering. Grants are given to existing robotics teams and key connections and seed money provided to form new high school teams. Softec gave $7,500 in grants this year and $40,000 over the last 11 years.

RMD Robotics and Drones

Softec gave $7,500 in grants this year and $40,000 over the last 11 years.

Instead of going toe-to-toe on higher wages and better education, robotics clubs come face-to-face with real-world experience for our future engineers, business leaders and managers. Many teams have a marketing officer, treasurer, and HR director to account for the thousands of hours, ten of thousands of dollars, and relationships with sponsors. More than STEM – club robotics create opportunity for students of all talents teaching lessons more valuable than a typical child’s ‘first job’.

VEX Arena

Instead of a debate on higher wages and better education, robotics clubs create a real-world experience for our future engineers, business leaders and managers.

Softec and our sponsors take direct action to invest in our local economy. As a local non-profit software and technology trade association, we work to build and promote local events for our sponsors, and we focus this annual event as an investment in our students – where we create a multi-generational experience for all ages. And that is the truth – no fact checkers needed!  😉

20-years of Softec

Throughout the last 20-years, we have worked hard throughout the community to bring technology and businesses together, hosting awesome events and creating what we call ‘Softec Moments’.

Let’s look at some of the highlights of Softec’s history and while we do – let’s not forget the amazing (and sometime hilarious) technology and cultural headlines at the time.

To get our bearings, let’s start out in the mid-80’s – before the birth of Softec.

The first cell phone was available to the public in 1984 weighing in at 2.4 pounds and was the size of a shoebox, New Coke was introduced in 1985 and CD-ROMs were released in 1989.

In 1994 56k modems were considered screaming fast, Netscape was the latest thing, and 4MB of RAM was a huge.  It was also at this time that the original idea of Softec came to be, not as a non-profit but as a local Technology VC fund.

And in 1995 while beanie babies became the current Internet sensation being sold all over the newly launched auction site, eBay – Softec transformed into a technology networking group.

The following year Softec officially launched as a 501(c)(6) and held their first Technology symposium with local celebrity Eric Schwefler giving the Keynote.

In 1997, local startup Xing Technologies sold to Real Networks for $75 million – creating an influx of cash and talent in the local tech community.  And 12x speed CD-ROMs were the norm.

Who remembers what happened in April 1998?  – I’m sure you have seen it on YouTube and if you haven’t don’t you dare google it now – At COMDEX Bill Gates was demonstrating Windows 98 and the computer crashed during his presentation

In 1999 shelves were emptied as IT departments worldwide stocked up on supplies of caffeine and frozen pizza in preparation for Y2K.  But we survived and mankind has learned learned so much leaving me confident that we are prepared for Y3K, even if beanie babies make a comeback.

By the year 2000 – Softec held 5 annual Technology Symposiums and the IT departments all across the country were quickly burning through their caffeine stockpile as they busily worked the clean all those computers infected from the ‘I LOVE YOU’ email virus.

Not to be outdone, the following year Dutch programmer, Jan de Wit, released and email virus purportedly claiming to contain pictures of Anna Kournikova.  Soon after, obviously frustrated by the lack of Anna Kournikova pictures in those fake emails, programmer Bram Cohen releases bitTorrent – one of several distributed file sharing programs available at the time.

Also in 2001 Softec had the first TechBrew meeting and the ‘Softec Moment’ was born when Ed Stevens and Sean Collier met at a Softec open house which blossomed into shopatron.

Concerned for the environment and our landfills filling up too quickly – No More AOL CDs.com launched trying to stop AOL’s CD Marketing campaign flood.  Obviously AOL’s efforts paid off – because by 2002 they reached their peak of 27 million subscribers.  People were so busy checking their aol.com email, they didn’t have time to vacuum and iRobot capitalized on this releasing the Roomba.

Also in 2002 local business CustomFlix was launched and the first local high school robotics team was started at Atascadero high School by John Mirron

We saw wireless get faster in 2003 with 802.11g quadrupling wireless speeds to 54 megabits per second – this extra speed was perfect timing to allow everyone faster access to news of the dotCOM bubble bursting.  Gone were my dreams of early retirement and a personal chef.

In 2004 the Spirit land rover explored Mars with wheels and other key components made by San Luis Obispo’s own NextIntent.

Softec Launched the IMPACT awards program in 2005 recognizing Andrea Seastrand for her contributions to the community and Mark Wright for his work in the technology industry.

Twitter launched in 2006 and by July of that same year it is estimated that AOL shipped 1 billion CDs, but at that time I was too busy anticipating the release of Nintendo’s Wii to notice!  As a matter of fact, I was so distracted, I also missed Softec’s first Women in Tech dinner and the launch of CEO Roundtables – thank you Bob Dumouchel.

In 2007 people were leaving MySpace in droves to this new website called FaceBook, Netflix introduced streaming video, and everyone was talking to their friends and colleagues on their motorola flip phone about this amazing new product – the iPhone.

The sound of the bursting housing bubble made all the noise for the next two years until 2010 when Starbucks announced free wifi in all their stores.

By 2011 Android outsells the iPhone and Apple responds by introducing Siri.

2014 is remembered by the ice bucket challenge – any participants in the room?  Again, if not, please don’t do it now.

By 2015 – the big local news was the IPO of MindBody and the Shopatron merge to create Kibo

By then Softec has given over $30,000 in grants to local High School robotics

launched our fastest growing interest group ever – Women in Tech

So we are celebrating 20-years of Softec with still much to look forward to in the rest of 2016 and the years to come as we continue to live out Softec’s mission to help align local businesses, individuals and educational resources in our community to produce a thriving hub of innovation on the Central Coast.

Let’s keep the momentum – check out our upcoming events

And finally thank you to our sponsors – your financial support empowers us to give back directly to the community and your involvement with our events has created so many unique experiences for our members – from Open Houses at MindBody and Rosetta – to dinners with great networking and a never-ending variety of interesting topics at TechBrew – we thank you.

20-years! A Softec moment to remember

Words cannot express how great I feel about last night’s celebration.  It was an amazing gathering of some amazing people.

Over the past few years being involved with the Softec Board, I have heard the name, Greg Biggers, and last night I got the pleasure of meeting him.  We took some great pictures (to be posted soon) and heard of the growth and positive influence of Cal Poly’s Tech Park.

Of course, let’s not forget the food and prizes!  So many drawings and winners and so much fun.  It is a privilege and my pleasure to serve as president for such a fine group of people.

Thank you all for attending and thank you to several who worked hard to make this event possible:

  • Brittany McCrigler – hard work with handling the Catering
  • Robin Mitchel-Hee – event promotion and marketing
  • Fred Dyste – for the killer slideshow
  • Katie White – for providing the PA system
  • Stewart Morse – who is an amazing VP filling in the gaps and sending me reminders.
  • All the people who showed up early and stayed late!

Let’s keep the momentum!  I hope to see you all at the SLO Airport and ACI Jet Open House!

2nd Annual Technology Expo on July 9, 2015 at the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria, CA

QuintronQuintron Systems, Inc. will be hosting their 2nd Annual Technology Expo on July 9, 2015 at the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria, CA from 5:00pm – 8:00pm.  See attached Flyer.  We will be featuring over twenty-five leading  technology based manufacturers covering Audio, Video, CCTV, Networking, Digital Signage and Control Systems to name a few.  Quintron Systems is inviting Central Coast Businesses, Governmental Agencies (both local and Federal), Education Facilities, and the general public to come experience an afternoon full of cutting edge technology, food and networking.

We will also be hosting several classes throughout the afternoon including:

  • Sound design and troubleshooting for live music venues, hosted by JBL
  • Analog vs IP based surveillance systems, hosted by Vivotek
  • Interactive Collaboration systems for huddle and classrooms, hosted by Kramer Electronics
  • Emerging technology for boardrooms and classrooms, hosted by Extron Electronics

This is your time to discuss what matters to you!

For more information and class times please contact Yolanda Clark at 805-361-8313 or please visit our website: http://quintron-isd.com/media.

Yolanda Clark

QUINTRON SYSTEMS, INC.

Administrative Assistant- Integrated Systems Division

2105 South Blosser Road

Santa Maria, CA 93458-7311

Office: 805-928-4343 x 313

Quintron Tech Expo Flyer

Open House at PRP Companies

prp-logo

On Wednesday March 26, 2015 Softec got a back stage tour of the PRP Companies in SLO. Our tour lead was the CEO Todd Ventura and he clearly knows his industry and has the passion for their tech.

PRP Companies are broadly described as a commercial printer but they are much more than just that. PRP Companies do print, apparel, creative, mail, and web. We got a backstage tour lead by Todd Ventura who walked us through the pre-press, large format, high-speed digital, color printing, bindery, mail.

Pre-Press

The pre-press room consists of a several high-end macs with a printer that outputs metal film (plates) for the press. This replaces what used to be a larger staff setting up the film to finally create the plates.  Now the plates are optimized and rendered directly.

Large Format Printing

The large format department consists of several large printers including a latex printer that avoids lots of the environmental issues of ink printing. This department creates lots of large format items including Vehicle Wraps, Floor Graphics, Trade Show Graphics, and Banners. One interesting us of large format is the ability to create custom wallpaper and I can think of all sort of creative uses for that. The key to this department is that the print is big and so is the impact.

High Speed Digital Printing

This department consists of multiple high-speed digital printers and the range of projects varies greatly. In production during our tour was a book that was printed and spiral bound – a great way to have a lay-flat document. Todd talked to us about many of the improvements in this area being able to handle materials that were impossible a few years ago. As an example they can print a box in these printers and then fold them out to the final box form.

Color Printing Printing

To me this is the heart an soul of a commercial printers and in this department they were running a magazine and the technology is amazing. The print runs through 6 colors to a sealant and dryer resulting in a fully set print with wonderful resolution that can be process ready to bindery in just minutes. To demonstrate this Todd pulled a sheet right off the printer and rubs the page with no blurring of the ink images.

Bindery Department

Bindery Department handles the job after printing and includes trimming, collating, and binding. The first machine Todd showed us was the cutter and it goes through several inches of paper in a single cut and the edge is perfectly straight. This requires a very sharp knife and lots of pressure. Todd demonstrated the safety equipment on this machine that is there to insure he never has an employee nicknamed Stubby. Safety and environmental controls are no joke in this company and you can see they have spent time and resources making sure the business is a professional work environment.

PRP-Open-HouseThe second machine Todd and John demonstrated is the one in picture. This takes the print output from high speed digital or color printing departments and colates, staples, and trims on three sizes to create the final product.

Mail Processing & Inkjet Addressing

This department is the final stage for some projects where they prepare the item for delivery in the mail. This includes equipment for collating, folding, addressing, and sealing. There was no job in process during the tour but Todd did a good job explaining how this can save clients money by getting the best postal rates but doing the right prep before delivering to the USPS.

Overall the event was a great tour although I was disappointed in the turnout. Our mission of creating Softec moments are better served by large groups but the small turnout resulted in a more personalized tour of the business.

Thanks to our Host

Softec would like to thank PRP Companies for the backstage tour and the insight into how this business operates. If your business has an interesting story of interest to the technology community please contact events@softec.org to set up an event like this.

Update July 2014

If you missed last night’s Open House hosted by our friends at IQMS then you missed a great networking opportunity. We got an insider’s peek at their new building on the growing IQMS campus.  This is a beautiful building thatIQMS is working hard to fill with professionals that will support their growing customer base of Manufacturers.

Randy Flamm, CEO of IQMS, gave us an update since our last visit and his long term vision of a six building campus. There is no doubt that IQMS is a world-class organization that competes at a global level, while living on the Central Coast. Softec would like to wish Randy, Nancy, and the entire IQMS team continued success.

Nicole Smith from IQMS gave us a tour of the building and explained the logic in the design and a little bit of insight into the IQMS culture. There is a reason that they are so successful and it starts with their team and their culture. Softec had the privilege of an open house when they opened their first building and now we are looking forward to buildings 3 & 4.

RRM LogoThe building was designed by RRM Design group and is a perfect fit for the mission and culture ofIQMS. I have had the privilege of seeing several projects by RRM and they do truly create environments that people enjoy and the newIQMS building certainly exceeds that standard.

I would like to give Nicole Smith a big shout out on this event because she is the person that did most of the heavy lifting and like most of her work – it was flawless. Nicole has been a Softec Board Member for several years and serves as our VP of Marketing. Nicole brings to us innovation, creativity, and a get-er-done approach to our communications. We appreciate her efforts on this and other events and deeply appreciate IQMS supporting her service on our board.

Softec welcomes a new Partner Level Sponsor
MINDBODY is one of the leading technology businesses in the region and so we are excited to announce that they are now a Partner Level Softec Sponsor – our highest level of sponsorship. Their support, and the support of our other sponsors, makes it possible for Softec to advocate for the technology industry and pursue our mission of creating Softec Moments. The Softec Board takes the responsibility of putting the support we receive to work in our community building and growing the technology industry as our primary mission.

Tech Brew
Josh Erdman. Softec VP of Beer & Snacks, from Tektegrity is working on the next Tech Brew. It will be an update from Tim Williams, CEO of Digital West, on the State of Fiber in SLO. Since high speed communications is critical to our tech businesses we are looking forward to this update. Remember the 2nd Monday at Pappy McGregors for a great networking event. The event is free and the connections you can create are priceless.

Save the Date: September 29, 2014 
Softec has been an advocate and sponsor of the local robotics teams since 2004 when we helped with the formation of the 2nd local robotics team – the AGHS Eagle Robotics. Robotic team competitions are the single largest item on the Softec budget. Last year we donated $5,000 to 9 different teams from Paso to Santa Maria and many of our members added to that. We believe at our core that mind-sports like Robotics are important to getting young minds excited about careers in technology. As a society we get what we celebrate. As an industry we chose to celebrate technology and what better way to do that than Robotic Competitions! Personally, I will be very happy when local robotics team competitions draw a bigger crowd than a Friday night football game – but that is just me – or is it?

Sincerely,

Bob Dumouchel
Bob Dumouchel
President