Creativity and technology meet in Salinas


Robotics from the Naval Postgraduate School, rocketry with NASA’s Science, Engineering, Math and Aerospace Academy, hacking at Coder Dojo Salinas. Plus video production, acting, web design, a planetarium show and more. Those were the afternoon attractions today at the Creative Tech Expo at Hartnell College in Salinas.

A few hundred kids, mostly digital technology and business students from Monterey County high schools, spent their Saturday working their way through a couple dozen exhibits set up by local companies, clubs, schools and non-profits. They also heard talks by local technologists and artists, and judged videos produced by other students.

A computer recycling organization – Loaves, Fishes and Computers – was showing kids how to take a computer apart and put it back together. They also donated a computer for a raffle, which was won by students from a vocational program at North Salinas High School.

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium took part. We had a presentation going at our booth about local infrastructure – not a real attention grabber in retrospect – and asked the students to fill out a survey about how they access the Internet. We gave spot prizes for creative answers. Best one was from a kid who had all the geek details of how he gets free WiFi from his neighbors.

Most common question from kids looking at the survey choices: what’s “dial-up”? I had to explain that’s how grandpa used to get on the Internet, back when we watched TV by candlelight. If nothing else, it shows we’re making progress.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.