Category Archives: Uncategorized

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. 

New Year, New Venue, New Faces—WIT 2017

We’re gearing up for 2017—and there are some exciting new changes coming to Softec’s Women in Tech (WIT) group!

First off, we’re going to shake things up with new days, times, and venues for some of our monthly events. Here’s what we’ve got planned:

Breakfasts:

Breakfast will now be the first Wednesday of the month at Steynberg Gallery on Monterey St.

7:30-8:00 Networking/coffee

8:00-8:20 Program

8:20-8:45 Q&A/discussion

8:45-9:15 Networking

For our breakfast program, we’ll be interviewing local women in technology—focusing on relevant issues—so bring your questions. For our first meeting, we’ll be doing some group brainstorming around the topic of “What does it mean to be a woman in tech?”

WIT and Wine Happy Hour:

Our wine nights will be the second Tuesday of each month at Wine Shed.

This is a great opportunity to grab a glass of wine and network with our local women. We keep this program loose and informal—with just a few announcements. The rest goes wherever the conversation may take us.

Lunch:

Lunch will continue to be at noon on the third Thursday of the month at Shalimar.

Take a break from the workday and enjoy a casual lunch with your WIT friends. Informal networking happens over lunch.

Can’t make it?

We’ll miss you—but you can now follow us on our brand new Facebook Page! Stay up to date on our latest events, get audio files of anything you might have missed, and participate in polls so we can continue to bring you the discussion topics you care about most.
See you in 2017!

Softec is Raising Funds to Provide Immediate Relief to SLOHS Computer Lab that Suffered Major Fire Damage

Softec has been supporting local high school robotics for over 11 years and has given over $37,000 – so when the computer lab that contains all the robots used by SLO High VEX Team 920 burns down, we react quickly.

For those of you who have not heard yet, San Luis Obispo High School’s Computer Lab that burned early Thursday morning. The alleged perpetrators have been caught but the damage is total and severe. Softec has long been a supporter of the computer lab in Room 307. We hope to help get the computer lab and its students back on track as quickly as possible.

Our Softec VP, Stewart Morse, is a former SLOHS parent and Robotics sponsor – he explained that “Room 307 has been a safe environment during lunch for kids to go advance their technology skills and create lifelong friendships.”

This must be an agonizing loss for Mrs. Fetcho and the students. Casualites include the robotics equipment that the students have been developing and building for several months for a competition this weekend and a statewide competition in January.

 We have worked with the SLO Community foundation to setup a tax deductible account. Please support SLO High School.

UPDATE: Over $15,000 has been raised so far!

Tax Deductible Donations can be sent to the Community Foundation
Or by Check:
TO:
Softec, a fund with the Community Foundation SLO

ADDRESS:
The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County
550 Dana Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

We also have a GoFundMe Campaign at:
https://www.gofundme.com/friends-of-slo-high-robotics

Donations will go towards helping with the immediate replacement of computers, robotics equipment, desks, chairs, tools, etc. and equipment to support the clubs that met in that room.

Softec Robotics Expo – a unique intersection of learning and fun!

Softec’s 8th Annual Student Robotics Expo is this Monday, Sept. 26th at 5:50pm. This free event has packed the house each year – full of learning opportunities and plenty of fun.

What is unique about this robotics expo is the student exposure to more advanced robotics leagues and applications in the commercial industry to provide a taste of what their future in robotics can look like. Truly a multi-generational experience, with LEGO robots, full-sized and underwater High School robots – and commercial bots from the SLO County Bomb Sqad and drones used in the Wine Industry, there is certain to be something for everyone.

This event has grown in every way; in order to bring in new activities this year, we have moved to the Alex Madonna Expo Center! Last year we offered a Drone Obstacle course for the first time. This year we have a drone arena, bigger than last year’s course and located in the Expo Building to make piloting easier. So bring your drone or quadcopter – and compete for the best time in your assigned class.

The community’s support to put on this event has been amazing! CalFire will be providing a pool for the underwater robotics teams and we already mentioned the Bomb bot from SLO Sheriff’s Dept. Cal Poly’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and staff from Experts Exchange have offered to volunteer to help with setup and running the Drone Course. We also have several food vendors lined up: The Pairing Knife, RibLine, What the Truck, Paradise Shaved Ice, and Coastal Peaks Coffee

Several Robotics Leagues will be Represented:

  • FIRST – High School Robotics
  • MATE – Marine Advanced Technology Education
  • VEX – High school and Middle School Robotics
  • VEXiq – Elementary School Robotics
  • FIRST LEGO League – Elementary School Robotics

Agenda:

  • 5:30PM – Food vendors start serving
  • 6:00pm – The Robotics Expo Begins! Attendance is Free!

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.