Category Archives: Uncategorized

Silicon Valley Trip 2018 – Apple, Google, and David Yeh NA’16

The 2019 EDI Fellows traveled to Silicon Valley to speak with experts about engineering, design, and innovation.  Here is Kevin Smedley to describe our fifth day. 

Today the fellows gathered at 8 AM to debrief the activities of the previous day over breakfast. We discussed our summer reading book, The Ten Faces of Innovation, by Tom Kelley. During a period of both personal and group reflection, we connected what we read with what we have seen in California so far.


We then traveled to Apple’s old campus, the Infinite Loop, and met with Griff Derryberry who gave us a tour. Following a short visit through the campus featuring modern-architecture, we sat down to eat at Apple’s cafe and were joined by Tom, Griff’s coworker. Together we had a meaningful talk about life, careers, and what the EDI fellows have been working on this past year.

At Tom’s recommendation, our group traveled with Griff over to Apple Park, their newest campus. The visitor center provided shopping, an augmented reality display of the park next door, and a sight of the enormous ring-shaped facility.


With little time left until our tour at Google, Griff brought us to one last Apple building, the surfboard, a short distance from the Park. Inside we got to see the evolution of Mac computers and watch engineers take some apart to show us how the hardware has changed over time. With just enough time to make it to Google through the bay area’s traffic, we left the facility and dropped Griff back off at Infinite Loop where he works.


After Patrick successfully navigated us to our building at Google, the team was greeted by Arille Jeriza Virrey who gave us another great tour. We did not get to see GooglePlex, their main building, but we were shown multiple buildings on site and got the “Googlely” feel of the campus. In one of the buildings, the group was split up into two conference rooms and video chatted to get a similar feel to a lot of Google’s meetings.


In the conference rooms we were joined by Kendall, a user experience researcher, and Rosy, an interactive designer, to discuss their experiences at Google. After our discussion, we visited the merchandise shop and took pictures in the “graveyard” of old platform themed androids.

For our last stop, the team talked with David Yeh, Norfolk Academy 2016 alum, about his internship at Natron Energy over an italian dinner. It was an interesting experience chatting with an NA alum and to learn of his experiences in the Silicon Valley. Afterwards, the group concluded the night’s activities at Cold Stone with ice cream. At David’s departure, we traveled back to the hotel and prepared for the next day’s return home.

Silicon Valley Trip 2018 – Lawrence Berkeley National Labs

The 2019 EDI Fellows traveled to Silicon Valley to speak with experts about engineering, design, and innovation.  Here is Patrick McElroy to describe our fourth day. 

We started our day with a drive to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The bumpy, mountainside roads and the fog that enveloped everything beneath us made the ride pretty exciting. When we got to the lab, Dr. Call parked in our reserved spot (it even had his name on it!) and we started toward the Molecular Foundry.


For some background, the Berkeley National Lab is funded by the Department of Energy and is open to outside companies or organisations who want to use their resources to research their own personal projects. They have multiple buildings built to house different research tools, and the Molecular Foundry is used to study, build, and customize molecules at the nano-scale.


To introduce the concept to us, our guide showed us two vials – one of a reddish liquid and one of tiny golden blocks. According to her, the reddish liquid was actually also gold, just taken down to an extremely small scale. At this size, many materials like this gold begin to showcase extremely different properties. We heard about an example of this in the next building we went to.


Our guide explained to us that graphene, an one atom thick layer of carbon that falls under this classification of nano-materials, was studied at Berkeley for its amazing properties in many diverse fields of study. We even got to see a camera used to study these materials that could shoot at 1600 (1600!) frames per second.


After we were finished with our first tour, we went to the Advanced Light Source, or ALS, and got an up close look of the machine they use to accelerate electrons to almost the speed of light. After getting lunch at the lab, we went to our last spot – the Berkeley National Laboratory’s supercomputer. Named after famous scientists, these powerful computers can do the work most of our computers can do in 6 hours in less than 30 seconds. Our group got a personal tour of Cori, the latest of these supercomputers, as well as the older model named Edison.


A cancellation in our schedule left an empty block of time after Berkeley, so we decided to go to a park and throw around a frisbee. We were still free for the rest of the evening, so after getting in some quality frisbeeing, we drove to downtown San Francisco to “shop,” though only ice cream and milkshakes ended up being purchased (much to Dr. Call’s chagrin). On the way back, we finally ate at In and Out, which Kevin had been waiting for the entire trip. After a long day, we settled down for bed when we got back and saved our debrief for the next morning when, thankfully, we could wake up a little later.

Silicon Valley EDI Trip 2018 – Big Basin Redwoods State Park

The 2019 EDI Fellows traveled to Silicon Valley to speak with experts about engineering, design, and innovation.  Here is Sebastian Singh to describe our third day. 

Today we went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Although this was probably the least engineering-related activity that we have done thus far, it was both an amazing and sensational experience. Big Basin is California’s oldest state park and is located in Santa Cruz County. The park contains a large watershed, formed by the seismic uplift of its rim, and the erosion. Although we did not hike all the way to the watershed, we did catch a glimpse of a waterfall on our second hike.

When we arrived at the park entrance, we were overwhelmed by the colossal size of the famous Redwoods. As we decided which trails we wanted to hike, some of us tossed around a LinkedIn frisbee, classified as “swag” by our LinkedIn connection from the previous day. Eventually, we chose to hike the Redwood Loop. After hiking a short distance, we came upon “the mother of the forest,” which is the largest tree in the park. It measures 329 feet high and has a circumference of 70 feet at the ground.

When we finished our quick hike through the Redwood loop, we ate the lunch which we had purchased at Target earlier that morning. It consisted of nutritious Cliff bars, baked cheese squares, bananas, and some other food items. After lunch we began our second hike on Sequoia Trail. We hiked through the Redwoods enjoying the pristine nature surrounding us. Then, we stopped in an area between the trees and took time to reflect on our trip and look toward our future in the EDI program and our roles. We all agreed that the trip had exceeded our expectations. As for looking toward the future, some of us predicted ourselves mainly involved in mentorship, while others were more inclined to finishing or starting projects. After our reflection we continued hiking until we finally reached the Sempervirens falls, meaning “always flourishing” (describing the trees).

Finally we finished off the day by eating dinner and planning a hackathon for next year. After coming up with multiple ideas and prototyping, we decided we would make the design challenge creating a field day game. After we concluded this activity, we all went to bed and rested to get ready for the day ahead at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

Silicon Valley EDI Trip 2018 – Stanford, LinkedIn, & Design Thinking

The 2019 EDI Fellows traveled to Silicon Valley to speak with experts about engineering, design, and innovation.  Here is Patrick McElroy to describe our second day. 

Today was filled to the brim with stuff to be doing. We had to leave the hotel at 7:00AM, and we woke up around 6:00 to eat a quick breakfast (the belgian waffles were pretty amazing). The first stop for our groggy group was the Stanford Design School – the We met with an awesome director named Humera Fasihuddin who took us around the building a little bit and describes its semi-unorthodox design. The room we were sitting in even doubled as a makerspace, with cardboard, glue, saws, and much more to help people prototype their projects. She also told us about her own project – the Innovation Fellows, who are helping bring design thinking to other schools around the world.

Our next stop was LinkedIn, which involved some interesting driving inside the parking garage. Dr. Call, not without a bit of sweat, managed to navigate through, despite the low roof, and we made our way into LinkedIn with a fully intact car. Our contact there was an extremely cool Software Engineer named Baron Roberts, who started us off with the most important part of the building – the cafeteria. After a great lunch, we went up to the “Thin Mints” meeting room, where Baron gave us a presentation about LinkedIn and, more specifically, their philosophy of “Software Craftsmanship.” We also got loaded up with LinkedIn “swag”, including a frisbee and a pop socket, and listened to a panel consisting of other LinkedIn workers. Overall, LinkedIn kept the streak going of visiting places that I would love to either work or learn at.

We were meeting our next contact in San Francisco, so we drove to the BART public metro after leaving the LinkedIn offices. The contrast between San Jose, where our hotel is, and San Francisco was pretty stark; it looked in places like a smaller, tamer version of New York. After getting only a little lost, we eventually made our way to the San Francisco State University classrooms, where we had a meeting with a professor there named Bruce Heiman. He took us through some design thinking exercises, which included making a mind map to solve problems like what we wanted to change with our own lives and how to fix the parking problem in San Francisco. He concluded with some of his personal book recommendations and encouraged us to go to the food court nearby. After getting some quality pizza and pasta there, we walked backed to the BART and took the metro to the van to return to our hotel.

While it was a busy day, it was really fun and we got to see a lot of aspects of engineering that we hadn’t before. The and the San Francisco State University showed us how design thinking can be taught, while LinkedIn gave us an example of how engineering can be used more entrepreneurially.

Silicon Valley Trip 2018 – Tesla

 The 2019 EDI Fellows traveled to Silicon Valley to speak with experts about engineering, design, and innovation.  Here is Frances Harrington to describe our first day. 

This morning, the Engineering, Design, and Innovation fellows congregated at the airport in Norfolk to fly to Houston, then on to San Jose, CA for our senior fellows trip. When we finally arrived after a morning full of travel, we had our lunch at Chick-Fil-A, then we drove to Tesla for a factory tour. We were able to go through the factory where they make all the Tesla cars, and learn about the process from start to finish. We all particularly enjoyed being able to be so close to the production, the intricacies of the machines doing the work, and the layout of the factory itself with its natural light and silver and red color scheme. After we finished our tour, we checked in at our hotel, and Skyped with Mrs. Livingston about the Fellows portion of the college application, then went to the Panera across the street for dinner. After dinner, we walked to the CVS Pharmacy to get snacks for the van, then hung out by the pool, thereby ending Day One of our California trip!

Kiptopeke 2018 – Day Four

The 2021 EDI Fellows went to Kiptopeke for their first summer adventure.  Here is Olivia Danielson to describe our fourth day.  

Waking up around 6:00am, I got ready for our last day at Kiptopeke. After packing up clothes and other stray items around my room, I walked out into the living room. I grabbed some strawberries, raspberries, and cherries and sat down at the table with the rest of the Fellows for breakfast. Not a sound was made while we all ate our breakfast. As 8:00 drew closer, we washed the dishes and got ready for the day ahead.

First on our list was to finish spray painting the planter that Caitlin and I are building for Kiptopeke Elementary. We piled into the bus and drove over to the garage where our boxes laid. Caitlin and I spray painted the planter and then had to wait for the paint to dry.  We worked on finalizing the dimensions and design of the wood base for the hydroponic garden. The healthy debate was facilitated by sunscreen bottles and peanut butter, which served as markers for us to visualize our design. When the paint dried enough, we loaded both of the planters into the bus and drove to meet Ranger Bill, who had purchased the plants and soil.

Arriving at Kiptopeke Elementary, Caitlin and I carried our planter to the front of the Kiptopeke Elementary for all of the kids to see when they walk in everyday. We filled the planter with dirt and passion plants. After a few pictures with school administrators and Ranger Bill, we drove to Ebenezer AME Church so that the guys, Keon, AJ, Charlie, and Christopher, could set up their planter with dirt and passion plants as well.

When everyone was finished, we went to the Brown Dog to get ice cream. (We were told we could get ice cream one day, so why not make it our last.) I got 3 medium scoops in a cup, coffee, butterscotch, and vanilla. It was so good! We talked for a little bit in the shop then left for the bus to go back to the lodge. (Most of us were so tired and full of ice cream that we fell right asleep on the bus)

At the lodge, everyone had to clean up the whole cabin. The floors were swept, the kitchen was cleaned, and bags were put on the bus.Then we boarded the bus and headed back to NA. (Most of us slept on the way back as well.) When we got back to NA, we unloaded the food and brought tools and wood into the art room.

We began the second phase of our trip by brainstorming how to improve our design of the hydroponic garden that we started back at Kiptopeke. We had come up with a hexagon that had a triangular opening in the middle. The hardest part though was coming up with the amount of 2X4 boards that we needed to purchase. After we had come up with a list of supplies for  frame of the hydroponic garden, we went to Home Depot and gathered our supplies, the pieces of wood and a lot of screws. Bringing all of our supplies back to NA, we unloaded the wood and waited for our parents. While first part of our trip was coming to a close, the next part started tomorrow.

Kiptopeke 2018 – Day 2

The 2021 EDI Fellows went to Kiptopeke for their first summer adventure.  Here is Caitlin Johnson, describing our second day.  

At 7:30am on Monday, we ate breakfast, which consisted of cereal with almond milk, along with several other options: a granola bar or banana, and orange juice or water.  We finalized our designs for our planters and focused primarily on the shopping list for the project. We left for the hardware store at 8’oclock and purchased materials: wood, screws, plumbing components, waterproof seals for the wood, etc.  Park Ranger Bill met us at the OBS hardware store at 10am and then showed us around town for thirty minutes to help us gain a feel for the community. We stopped by Kiptopeke Elementary School and later stopped by the Ebenezer AME Church, both of which will be recipients of our planters.

We returned to Kiptopeke State Park and met Rangers Stan and August, who helped us with using joinery tools to construct the plant boxes. Park Ranger Stan helped us handle tools and measuring, and he also assisted in improving our structural support in the designs. AJ, Keon, Christopher, and Charlie settled on a hexagon design: two trapezoids which together form a single hexagon. The boys wanted to be able to transport it easily and hold as many plants as possible. Olivia and I decided to make a stair-like design, with plumbing to bring rain water to the plants and several layers to provide a better view of the plants as well. We ate lunch there around noon, and by 5:50pm, we headed back to the cabin to prepare dinner and reflect on Sunday and Monday.

Kiptopeke Poetry Corner – Keon

Keon Tavakoli ’21


Sincere Success

By Keon Tavakoli

In order to achieve you must first believe

You must have grit, you must have passion

You have to have a plan of action

Or else you will never truly succeed

However, failure is not fatal, success doesn’t last forever

Learn from every mistake

Be true to yourself in every decision you make

And you’ll be successful in every endeavor

Kiptopeke 2018 – Day 1

The 2021 EDI Fellows went to Kiptopeke for their first summer adventure.  Here is Keon Tavakoli, describing our first day.  

We, the 2021 EDI fellows, met at Norfolk Academy, where the parents said their final goodbyes and, as all mothers must do, they took a few pictures.

The EDI Fellows, along with Dr. Vallery and Dr. Call, then adjourned to Mr. Barton’s art studio, where we discussed the meal plan for the week. Before driving across the bridge-tunnel, we stopped at Kroger to pick up the necessary food and supplies. We finally arrived at our lodge, a large cabin, in the state park at around 3:30pm. We proceeded to unpack and organize the food in kitchen until five o’clock, when Park Ranger Bill arrived at our lodge.

Bill Dyas a.k.a. Ranger Bill, Park Interpreter at Kiptopeke State Park,  discussed the history of the park, including the many times of tension between African American and white citizens on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Ranger Bill finally revealed our project: a 2-ft planter for indigenous plants, to highlight native plants to the local population and symbolize the coming together of the community. After the discussion, we reflected for 30 minutes to an hour on planter designs and ideas. On the 30-minute bus ride to dinner, we continued to discuss our designs and formed two teams- Caitlin and Olivia and

Christopher, Charlie, AJ, and Keon – the classic boys vs. girls. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we placed our name on the waiting list and proceeded to wait an hour and a half before being seated.  While we waited, we played cornhole and glimpsed three hog nose rays at the Shanty dock.  The EDI Fellows, along with Drs. Vallery and Call, immediately placed our orders and had some sparkling conversations about our trip, leading to conversations about vacations, and the Leadership Lab, a prior school camping trip.

When we ultimately arrived at our cabin, we played a fun game brought by Dr. Call. Finally, after a long and tiring day, we fell asleep.

Hydroponic Garden – Maguire McMahon ’20

In preparation for the Year In Review and the BCGLP Symposium on May 23rd, the EDI Fellows put together blurbs about their projects to accompany their posters and presentations.  We are featuring one every day until May 23rd.  We hope you can join us. Here is Maguire McMahon ’20 describing the combined work by all the EDI Fellows. 

Maguire McMahon

Jarod Haley ‘20 of the Chesapeake Bay Fellows approached us to design and build a hydroponic garden, a soilless form of growing plants. The 2020 and 2019 EDI Fellows tackled the design challenge in three groups to develop three separate designs. My group’s plan was a hexagonal structure with an effective drainage system and constructed from cedar wood and acrylic plastic. The EDI Fellows then took this winning design and built two different prototypes to test our ideas. We intend to build the full-scale structure over the summer.