The Palisadoes Board Meets with Ambassador Marks

On August 25, 2017 members of the Jamaican Diaspora in Silicon Valley met at Google with the Jamaican Ambassador to the USA, the Honourable Audrey Marks.

Her Excellency Ambassador Audrey Marks addresses IT professionals at Google during a visit to Silicon Valley in August 2017

Ambassador Marks spoke about the Government of Jamaica’s (GOJ) goal to achieve five percent growth in Gross Domestic Product within four years.  There will be a focus on a number of industrial sectors including, tourism, mining, and information and communications technology (ICT) . The group also discussed ICT related business process outsourcing (BPO) activities in call centers. She also outlined plans to strengthen ties with the Diaspora organization, and mentioned various ways in which the GOJ has historically assisted the group.

The Palisadoes Foundation

The board of The Palisadoes Foundation was invited. They took the opportunity to discuss the Foundation’s recent accomplishments and plans for the future.

Topics included:

  • The rationale for the creation of Palisadoes three years ago,
  • The success of the Calico Challenge, our signature program, in providing 14 students with paid summer internships to work on open source projects with a Jamaican flavor under the guidance of a mentor,
  • The excellence of UWI and UTech in providing a well trained talent pool for Jamaica,
  • The need to expand tertiary level student internships, like the Calico Challenge, to include exposure to modern collaborative software development tools and approaches so that they are immediately comfortable in using them when they begin their careers.
  • The requirement for Jamaica to provide students with experience in international software development, a critical pre-requisite for the island to develop beyond traditional call centers and create complex software services,
  • The very noticeable lack of involvement of women in the Calico Challenge program in spite of their numbers,
  • The Foundation’s desire to donate computer server equipment to UWI and UTech through the Jamaica Computer Society to assist in student exposure to international collaboration.
(L-R) Tennyson Williams, Treasurer of the Palisadoes Foundation, Senior Project Manager at Comcast; Peter Harrison, President of the Palisadoes Foundation, Co-Founder Colovore LLC; The Honourable Audrey Marks, Jamaican Ambassador to the USA; KG Charles Harris, Secretary of the Palisadoes Foundation, CEO of Quarrio LLC

Next Steps

The Foundation hopes for continued with the Jamaican Embassy to explore additional ways to strengthen the collaboration between the Jamaican Diaspora and the island.

We will also be working with the Jamaican Google team to explore new ways to collaborate on our major programs such as the Calico Challenge. There was great interest in finding ways to collaborate with a few suggestions on how to improve our operations.

Part of the Jamaican ICT Diaspora in Silicon Valley who met with Ambassador Marks on her recent exploratory visit to the area.

About The Palisadoes Foundation

The Palisadoes Foundation was originally created to promote the use and development of ICT in Jamaica. Our signature Calico Challenge is a work study program where university students work on open source projects over the summer under the guidance of a mentor. Interest has been strong and we are actively investigating expanding the Challenge to the greater English speaking Caribbean.

Announcing The Palisadoes Foundation Advisory Board

The Palisadoes Foundation is actively pursuing the creation of an advisory board. Its aim is to guide us in setting the goals for the upcoming year, fund raising, strategy, marketing, Jamaican industry relations and faculty / student outreach. Each member would assist in one of these areas to expand our team beyond the current volunteer pool which tends to be transient. The initial focus is on Jamaica, but we intend to expand it to other islands by our fifth anniversary at which time we’d have got our operation fine tuned.

There will be a commitment to raise $2,500 dollars per member to cover our basic costs which would include corporate registration and tax filing fees, student stipends and possibly faculty grants for research. This can be done through a personal or company donation, but also by rallying Jamaicans and other interested parties to donate through the many employee donation matching schemes in which we participate. Fundraising would start in November / December so that we will have adequate funds in the bank by the end of March 2018.

We plan to have our first session on or near October 7, 2017 to kickoff the initiative.

Contact us through the website if you are interested in participating and we’ll call to discuss further details. Preference will be given to persons with large LinkedIn networks and visible volunteering experience with non-profit / NGO organizations.

Podcast Interview – Jordan Jones

We interview Jordan Jones one of the very first Palisadoes Foundation volunteers. He helped to create three Open Source projects for our Calico Challenge and mentored students over the summer for the Challenge in 2016 and 2017.

Palisadoes Student Volunteer, Collette Bailey Describes her Trip to Silicon Valley

(L-R) Ben Coughlin, Co-Founder Colovore LLC; Peter Harrison, Co-Founder Colovore LLC; Jordan Jones, Palisadoes Mentor Volunteer; Collette Bailey, Palisadoes Project Coordinator; Sean Holzknecht, Co-Founder Colovore LLC

Day 1 of my trip to California was very interesting we woke up very early to begin our first jam packed day. Peter Harrison our chaperone for the trip drove us first to Colovore his data centre where we were given a tour of the premises and a chance to see the servers the Palisadoes projects are housed on.

The drive around town showed the offices of many tech giants, a mixture of multiple cultures and lots of sun! Our first official meeting was with Mae Chan Director of Technical Project Management at Facebook who we had lunch with on the Facebook premises.

(L-R) Collette Bailey, Palisadoes Project Coordinator; Jordan Jones, Palisadoes Mentor Volunteer

We spoke briefly about Calico and our respective roles within Palisadoes, project management and internship opportunities which exist for students. (So much more that I didn’t know existed). I remember thinking this feels like a university campus! So many fresh faced teenagers and young persons like myself starting their first day of internship. After a quick tour of the office compound and pictures we were off to do some more exploring. A few dozen photos later and we were outside the offices of Comcast Communication to meet with Khem Raj (Embedded Linux Engineer) and Tennyson Williams (Senior Project Manager).

Peter Harrison, President, The Palisadoes Foundation; Khem Raj, Distinguished Engineer (Embedded Linux), Comcast; Jordan Jones, Palisadoes Mentor Volunteer; Collette Bailey, Palisadoes Project Coordinator; Tennyson Williams, Senior Project Manager, Comcast

Here we were introduced to Comcast and their conglomerate of offerings. We were especially impressed with the use of the Raspberry Pi to do streaming from YouTube and the open source tools used to do it. This showed us potential new projects which we could implement for the next year of Calico.

Among the best experiences of my life so far. Day 2 was considerably more hectic but nonetheless satisfying. We left again very early in the morning (you will see this is the recurring theme throughout the trip) and took the train into San Francisco. First impressions of San Francisco were there are so many buildings! So many people living on sharply inclined hills throughout the city. We walked through the city along the coast, saw the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, China Town, City Lights book shop, Mozilla’s head office before making our way to meet Cat Allan (Science Outreach and Open Source Program Manager) and Stefanie Taylor for lunch at Google.

(L-R) Jordan Jones, Palisadoes Mentor; Cat Allman, Science Outreach and Open Source Program Manager at Google; Stephanie Taylor, Progam Manager, Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in; Collette Bailey, Palisadoes Foundation Project Coordinator.

We spoke about how far the Calico Challenge has come in its now two years, successes and issues we’d like to approve. We were given further advice on how to make the challenge better based on experiences from the Google Summer of Code which Calico is modelled from. I got so many cookies to take home with me in my goodie bag 😉. We ended our first day at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Collette having fun at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The next set of meeting we had started Day 3 when we visited Therma where we were given a tour of the facility, saw the robots they use to laser giant sheets of metal and pipes. I remember thinking I had no clue so much when into the creation of pipes and venting.

Received the most epic card holder with my name engraved on it. I remember thinking this place is beautiful.

Collette, and Jordan with Scott Carstairs, Vice President of Manufacturing, Therma

Art hanging on every way, the cafeteria painted like ancient Greece, they even have a giant replica of David! We got a brief tour of Netflix’s head office took pictures with their many Emmy’s and lastly visited visited Cisco for an exclusive presentation from Larkland Morley and his team.

There was a great deal of sightseeing that was done, we saw what feels like everything from Muir Woods, wine tasting, the breath taking Lake Tahoe, the Castro, walked up and down Lombard Street, Monterey and its Aquarium.

Collette and Jordan at Netflix

Overall impressions of the Silicon Valley and San Francisco was how dynamic and fast paced everything was amazing cuisines (hands down favourite was Thai 3 cup chicken and shaved ice). Tech professionals were accommodating inviting and offered lots of meaningful advice not just tech wise but on life on a whole. The drive along the 17 mile drive was especially fun especially spotting whales breach and getting to feel the cold Pacific Ocean. I want to thank Peter and his wonderful family for adopting us for the time there. Only through Peter’s expert planning would we have been able to see and experience so much in our short visit. Shout out to Meraki a Cisco start up where I finally got to get my ice cream from Cisco 😊. Among the best experiences of my life so far.