WEEK #10 – The End or the Beginning?


The last week you would hear everyone around saying: this is our last Monday breakfast at SU, this is our last soccer game, this is our last wine and cheese at hangar one, this is our last party, our last (fill in the blank…) but really… deep down this is just the beginning of an amazing journey of 80 individuals trying to change the world, in the meantime, 80 individuals that became a family. Below are some pictures of some of our “lasts”… which will “last” forever… (wow very “cursi” as they say in my country.


This is kind of the fun fact of this post, but as promised (if you were following) I bring you the sequel of the exponential pictures at Hangar One! here it is!



The night after the Final Pitches the staff organized a Movie Premiere Night with a Hollywood theme to watch all the videos produced for every team. It was such a nice evening full of celebration and relief at the same time! We had a red carpet where we took pictures, then there was popcorn and nachos just like at the theater! I was blown away once again with all the videos that everyone put together! After we watched them all we just celebrated! as we do best 🙂 here are some photos of that night…


Then… we graduated! The day after the final pitches we had a very nice dinner with the CEO and Founders of Singularity where we received our diplomas and signed each other’s books… it was a moving night, happy and sad at the same time…


The closing ceremony is where we showcased our projects to the world. Over 800 people attended the event and each team had an exhibition booth with our projects. One of my favorite projects was created by Marita and Alberto, Aipoly, an intelligent photo app for the visually impaired that uses computer vision and machine learning to describe with sentences what is in front of them… you can learn more about them here: http://aipoly.com/

Here some other places where you can read more about the projects and the class: Singularity HubWoman At South Bay College On Quest To Shake Up Tech IndustryAipoly Puts Machine Vision In The Hands Of The Visually Impaired

The journey of “what I did these past 10 weeks” ends here… but a new one begins, which is “what I learned“, “what I will do next” and “what do I take with me?“… as the title of this posts says it, this feels so much more like a new beginning.

I take with me the motivation to believe that anyone, anywhere has the power to change the world and to positively impact the lives of millions of people.

I take with me 79 new friends with amazing stories and a FAMILY that will continue to grow from this point on.

I take with me the realization that technology when combined with creativity and crazy moonshots, can in fact be a force for good and change the world, by itself its just a piece of the puzzle.

I take with me a new mindset and a new perspective that I will do my best to try to explain after I get some time to reflect on what just happened these 10 weeks…

Stay Tuned and See you soon!

Here… this is my amazing GSP15 family!


WEEK # 9 – Final Pitch

Week # 9 was hectic and sleepless. The teams started to feel the pressure and it was time to produce! It was all about preparing for the final presentation for our projects! here is how we did it…


One of the funnest parts of this hectic process was filming our video. We had an amazing staff of producers and editors that assisted us in the process. We had to come up with a script, visuals, and actually show up to the studio to film!.. I have to say, using a teleprompter is not as easy as it sounds! Here are some photos of us in the studio and in the lab filming some footage of our prototype.


One of the most difficult things was putting together the final pitch presentation, because you have only 5 minutes to communicate 4 weeks worth of work, research, validation, market, mission, vision and tech. It was a very interesting process full of pivots itself. I learned a lot about storytelling and communication, we would pitch to many different people for feedback and we were amazed by discovering how perception works and how everyone received a slightly different message even though we were saying the same words. Below is a photo of me practicing on stage with my banana mic the night before our Final Presentations.

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This was the best day of the whole program.. All the teams got to present their projects to a panel of 18 judges that included Investors, faculty, google executives, among others. I was blown away from what every team came up with, all the projects were incredible, at this point I realized once again how fortunate I am to be surrounded by 79 of the brightest and caring minds I’ve even known and I am proud to call them family.

I got the opportunity to pitch for my team BananaLoop, I realized that I enjoy being on stage, although I am only good if I practice… which I did for many hours! Below are some photos of myself pitching and then with my team during the Q&A.


A common thread you see across this post is our banana phones! Part of our marketing strategy happened organically and all of a sudden everyone was talking to a banana phone calling BananaLoop! Even Peter Diamandis joined the trend! Below is a photo of us with Peter talking to our bananaloop phones 🙂


WEEK # 7 & 8 – Roller Coaster

I have been very behind in my blog posts! but with a good excuse…. These two weeks were a roller coaster! The team projects phase kicked off and we got our office spaces! In parenthesis… We had to pick our own teams and trying to figure out among 80 people who you work well with, similar interests, complementary skills, chemistry, etc etc etc it is NOT simple! (to say the least, I had 3 different teams in one week!)

So finally, this is my amazing team: Banana Loop!

This is BananaLoop doing a tour on waste and recycling in San Francisco

This is BananaLoop doing a tour on waste and recycling in San Francisco (on a goat farm at the moment)

Charlotte from France, Grace from the UK and Andrea from Germany!

During these two weeks we explored, talked to people, researched, built an aquaponic farm, brainstormed 3 times a day and pivoted twice as much! Here are some photos of our team in action!

Welcome to our office space! We got our own office for the remainder of the program, where each team develops their projects.CDN15_07406


This week was also the most awaited party of the summer, the Space Masquerade! Everyone dresses up as anything they want related to space, science fiction, or anything in general! Teresa, Emilia and myself dressed as the Powerpuff Girls! and some of the other costumes were amazing… here are some photos!

And this photo… as you can see.. my dress blends into the background because i had a green dress and the background was a green screen! so my head is floating 🙂



Right after the Space Masquerade I flew to Miami for 2 days for my good friend Valentina’s Wedding! Flash trip to say the least… but all worth it!


WEEK 8 continued with team projects and we also had EUROPE’S Culture night! Here are some photos…


Because we are not busy at all and have nothing else to worry about… (yeah right) we also have some side projects such as: COLOR CHANGING MAKE UP! We found ourselves on a Wednesday night prototyping color changing lipstick in the kitchen, using some “stuff” that I don’t know how to pronunciate (I’m surrounded by biotech people, so I just tried it on when it was ready!) I only know we used coconut based oil and the antioxidant was the substance that changed color when you put it on..

WEEK # 6 – Google [X]


The most exciting part of this week was our visit to Google [x]!, a semi secret facility run by Google dedicated to making major technological advances. We had an introduction to their most current projects, a tour past the sign that read “No visitors beyond this point” and an informal cocktail hour with some Google X’ers.
Some of the interesting projects include, Project Loon, Soli, Self driving cars, smart contact lenses and more!
We also had Astro Teller, the head of Google X, come into the room in roller blades to chat with us…!

He is probably the most “celebrity like” speaker we’ve had so far, (1.45M twitter followers might mean something…) Guy Kawasaki was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984, and he has done some many things after that!



One of the late night workshops this week was a tour to the offices of MADE IN SPACE, a company that emerged from Singularity U in 2010. They were the first ones manufacture in space with a Zero gravity 3D printer. They are currently in contract with NASA and already have a working 3D printer in the international Space station. The idea is that instead of sending objects and supplies to space, they can essentially manufacture on demand what they actually need… the first thing they printed was a ratchet, see photo below!


Copy of the first Ratchet printed in space


At this point of the program, we are forming teams to work on projects for the rest of the summer. We kicked off the team project phase with a Startup Weekend, where we had to rapidly identify a problem and develop a viable solution along with a business plan, market research and prototypes. In 36 hours we had to pitch our projects to a panel of judges that included investors, Google executives, SU faculty and other industry experts.
Here are some photos of me and my team along the way, presenting our idea. It was a very good start to getting to know each other under pressure!

For the previous Startup Weekend a few weeks ago we had a chance to speak to the head of the 3D Systems Culinary lab team and they sent us a gift of 3D printed candy! This is me below trying it out! Very sugary!



As promised…. the curve keeps growing… as part of our Friday night tradition, we have wine and cheese at hangar one! Here is the curve this week, this time it was almost dark! but you can still see it…



WEEK # 5 – …Peak of the Mountain!

Literally and figuratively… we are at the peak of GSP15… the learning curve keeps growing!


This week we had our deadline to form teams for the projects we will be developing until the end of the program. It was our own responsibility to team up and of course there was some tension in the air. Some of our classmates came up with a great idea to create a Tinder for team formation so they developed SUinder! An application to choose who would you work with and if the other person wants to work with you then there is a match! It was a fun tool to use and most of all, it showed how proactive some of my awesome friends are!


It is very common to have workshops within classes and late at night, some of the most interesting hands on workshops this week were the following:
Medicine and Neuroscience: After a great lecture by Daniel Kraft, we had to pick and research a problem within medicine and try to develop a solution scenario… we developed a hypothetical patch to detect Gluten intolerance in small kids. By detecting the intolerance, it would benefit to the overall growth and development of the kid.

App Development: During this workshop we had to develop a mobile app in 2 hours… My group focused on unemployment of young people in Italy, a big problem that my friend Teresa from Napoli was sharing with us about. We prototyped an app that connects young architects, designers and fashion designers to people from all around the world to offers their Italian design services. Below is the setting where our clients are sitting in their mansion drinking champagne searching for an Italian designer for their home.

Synthetic Biology: This workshop was led by Synbiota, an innovative Biotech company. We gave some bacteria the ability to produce color, adding the feature by changing the code of the organisms: changing the DNA. We had to design the construct and then build it… My friend and roommate Emilia Diaz who is a Biotech entrepreneur was super excited to show me what she does! Here is a preview of her company: Kaitek Labs


We had a mix of 5 speakers from the space industry to talk about Space explorations in an exponential world. We learned about Space in the context of government roles, private industries and public participation. Some of the companies that were represented in this panel were:

Made in Space, a company that was born at Singularity in 2010. Space VR which will virtually take us to space by december 2015. DIY Rockets, democratizing rocket building, Signal Laboratories, focusing on global communications, and Escape Dynamics focusing on suborbital flights enabled by electromagnetic propulsion.

New Space Panel

New Space Panel


At the end of week 5 we had a 3-day weekend (reason why my post is late!) I got an awesome visit from my husband and we decided to go to Yosemite National Park! It was amazing and breathtaking… We hiked the Half-Dome trail for 9 hours! and also ran into some of my fellow GSPeers!

Then I made sure he said hi to Wendy, one of our Nao robots and also he got to try some Virtual Reality!


Its trending!… a couple of weeks ago we took an exponential photo in front of our Eiffel Tower (Hangar 1) and now we are exponentially adding people each week! Here is what we got so far!

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WEEK # 4 – 3D printherapy

Here we are at the end of Week #4… Each week is more intense than the last and it feels like time is accelerating. This week was weird and interesting. By next week we need to have formed teams to begin working on projects that can impact a billion people in the next 5-10 years… No pressure! So far, I think this has been one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever been a part of, both intellectually and personally… Here are the highlights of the week:


At the beginning of the week we had the opportunity to send our saliva for an individual Gene scan done by 23andme. We will get the results in a few weeks… It was voluntary for whomever wanted to get the scan, personally I find it fascinating to be able to know where I come from and have access to raw DNA data that can then provide me with more information about my genetic structure. This is not a full DNA sequence, it’s a Gene scan that only looks at 0.4% of our entire DNA.



A normal thing at Singularity is the late night workshops to learn and play with different technologies… This week I attended a Robotics Workshop where we used Lego Mindstorms to build and program the robots. I learned the basics, it was a lot of fun and at the end we did a race of robots..! This is what we do at 10 pm in this crazy place!

PG&E  – Pacific Gas and Electric

This week we visited the Innovation Testing Center for Pacific Gas and Electric. We got a tour of their facilities and learned about some of their innovative initiatives to provide clean energy to the West Coast.


Pacific Gas and Electric Company


The week was intense and we discovered a form of therapy to release stress…3D printing!! We have access to SU Innovation lab with different types of 3D printers, laser cutters, and other tools that will serve us well when we begin our team projects and need to prototype quickly…. but for now we have been having a lot of fun 3D printing different things and gadgets in the Cube 3D printers, ranging from Phone covers, funny items, cup sleeves, bracelets, and earrings! Here are some examples!

Twist Bracelet

CULTURE NIGHT – Africa, Asia and The Pacific

As you may have seen in previous posts we have Culture nights to showcase where we come from! This week was the Cultural Night from Africa, Asia and the Pacific. My good friend Samar from Saudi Arabia did turbans for the girls so in the picture below you can see how she used different turban styles for all of us. We got to taste desserts from China, enjoy dances from all the countries and dance to various musical styles! Below are some photos of the fun!


Sometimes we are too tired to join the party… so instead we beam in! This is us playing with the Beam, basically Skype in Wheels! This is Teresa and I going to a party in the dining room… we were captured by Manny the DJ. It is so cool to think that in the near future we will essentially be able to be in two places at once.. from a computer in the lab we were able to “walk” to a different space, interact with people and “be present” in the space with others. Very cool!!

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WEEK # 3 – Startup Experience


At the beginning of the week we had our CEO Rob Nail talking to us about Robots, where we are with the technology and where we are going. We learned about the advances in Robot Prosthetics, robotic surgery, textile robots, drones, robotic helpers (telepresence). Wesley the NAO Robot welcomed us to the class as you can see in the short video below!


One of the activities we did this week was to build a rocket. We had to aim for the highest launch and also we had to put an egg inside the rocket. The idea was that the egg couldn’t break and each team was competing for the highest altitude as well. Our team was the Foxtrot Team, we had no idea how to build a rocket but we did it!… we achieved 78ft and we put a parachute to our egg so it didn’t break! Below are some photos of the process!


Wednesday evening we had every Global Impact Competition winner from their respectives countries present their winning ideas. I had a chance to present my Sea Level Rise project to all my fellow participants and I got to see a lot of bright ideas from all the other winners. It was very inspiring. Here are some photos of us presenting to the class…

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And of course, because our days are not long enough! we also have late night workshops… in this case we learned about Data Science, data mining and using big data analytics for any type of project. Below you see us, at 11pm in the library still eager to learn!



At the end of the week we had a Start-up Weekend experience. Where we were divided into teams to build a startup company and pitch our ideas by the end of two days. It was an intense 38 hours of brainstorming ideas, business models, market validation, fun prototyping at midnight.

Below are some photos of us prototyping in the kitchen.          Our awesome team from left to right in the photo below: Me, Anita from Norway, Federico from Argentina, Sidney from Brazil and Justin from Taiwan.IMG_66344


Hangar One is our Eiffel Tower here at NASA. Its one of the world’s largest freestanding structures and its a historic landmark in Silicon Valley. One of the ZERO TOLERANCE rules at Singularity University is that we CANNOT climb it…. BUT! …. nobody said anything about picnic with cheese and wine after a long week! 🙂

WEEK # 2 – Ethics, Prototypes & Sabor!


The first two weeks have been intense full of learning and amazing speakers. The photo below shows a few of the speakers that came to share their insights on the Global Grand Challenges we face. Some of the speakers included Ramez Naam, Vince Perez from WWF,  Darin Gunesekera from Ashoka, Women Activist Alaa Murabit, and famous for his TED Talk, Ernesto Sirolli, among many others!!


One of the exercises we did this week was a prototype exercise. We were given a limited amount of materials, 20 minutes, a team of 4 people and an ice cream bar. We had to build something to keep the ice cream cold in the sun for at least 20 minutes. I definitely thought I had this exercise in the bag, as an architect I knew exactly what and how to build it, how to insulate it, how to reflect the sunlight, BUT I learned a big lesson. The rules didn’t mention or prohibit the use of ICE, and we only limited ourselves with the tools we were given, while some other teams went out of their way to find ice. Of course, we didn’t think about it because we were thinking inside the parameters and materials we were given. In the end, our ice cream did pretty good, but it definitely could have done much better… with some ICE! …and yes, we ate all the ice cream afterwards!


Technological advances can positively impact the lives of many all over the world, but any change can also bring a lot of controversy and the potential of negative change. We are aware of this and it is important to discuss all the ethical and moral implications of exponential technologies in the next few decades. To continue this conversation, we did a mock trial where we were given specific cases involving exponential technologies, we divided in teams that represented both the prosecutor and the defense for each case. Below are some of the cases we discussed. The class was in charge of voting for the best argument and it really opened our perspective to the complexity of this issues.


Another Highlight of the week was a “Fireside” Evening with one of Singularity U. founders Ray Kurzweil, inventor, artificial intelligence expert and currently Director of Engineering at Google. It was a time for us to ask him questions about anything. A few phrases that stuck with me during his talk…

“People think the world is getting worse, but it is just access to information that is getting better” – Ray Kurzweil

“Evolution is a spiritual process that takes us closer to God” – Ray Kurzweil

Q: How do you activate your creative process? A: “Dream while awake.. still with some rational thoughts but with the dimension of a dream” – Ray Kurzweil


During one of our sessions this week, we participated in a virtual brainstorming session with Field Innovation Team based in San Francisco, who are partnering with Governor of California to find solutions for the drought that California is currently facing. We were able to actively participate through Skype with the teams from FIT that were currently brainstorming different scenarios. It worked surprisingly well, it was a great example of the use of technology for collaboration. Who knows, maybe the Governor will implement some of our ideas!

CULTURE NIGHT: North America, South America and The Caribbean!

One of the traditions of Singularity University is to celebrate our culture! This week we had the first Culture Night featuring North America, South America and the Caribbean! Of course, it was full of dance, drinks and fun! The night was organized by all of us from those countries. Below are some pictures from the night!


Did you ever watch Minority Report? We are not far away from reality! See me below trying out the META Augmented Reality Glasses! In the future we will look a little crazy walking down the street if we start pointing to objects only we can see…. 🙂

WEEK # 1 – Virtual Reality

I have no idea where to start! It has been a week of intense learning, discussions, getting to know each other, scavenger hunts, fun conversations, virtual reality, robots and wine!


Wellness and team building was part of the main focus of the first week. We did a scavenger hunt around the campus, (I finally found the laundry room!) and We have done many fun stuff for team building and to get to know each other. We also have a wellness program laid out for us so we have many options for excercising and stay healthy. We now created yoga groups, running, biking, tenis, field games, meditation, martial arts and more! I am very impressed with how comprehensive and well rounded this program is! …Staying healthy is a priority!


Scavenger Hunt

marshmelow challenge

Marshmallow Challenge – Click on this photo above to follow the official GSP15 Blog and twitter feeds

I won’t be able to write about EVERYTHING that we have done because I don’t have enough time, BUT I will show you an overview of our curriculum and a schedule for a typical day at Singularity… you know.. nothing too intense!



Normal Day at Singularity


We got an introduction to the Innovation Lab that we will be playing with over the course of the program… Amongst the toys available, we can find: lego robot that solves the rubic cube, bitcoin miner, google glass, Virtual Reality sets, lots of gadgets, 3D Printers, lasercutters, drones… And a dancing  NAO robot! I thought I had taken video but I didn’t.. So stay tuned for the robot video soon!



An example of the diversity of people, here we are at a Brewery in Mountain View, CA and these are some of the places represented in the photo below….USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, Chile, Brasil, UK, Taiwan (and reality TV star), South Africa, Poland, Israel and Italy!


Virtual Reality


We had a very interesting night with speakers from the United Nations Innovation and Amnesty International. We used Google Cardboard to Travel to Za’atari Refugee camp in Jordan, home to 84,000 Syrian refugees. We watched a film called Clouds over Sidra, the routine of a 12-year old girl living in the refugee camp.

Since I didn’t take a photo of myself, here is my friend Alix from the Netherlands

The experience with virtual reality was intended to promote empathy for all of the Syrian Refugees by imagining ourselves in the shoes of [in this case], the 12-year old girl refugee.



This one is more like an interesting/out of the ordinary fact…. Gustav, one of my friends here at GSP15 founded a Church in Sweden called the Missionary Church of Kopimism, a congregation of file sharers who believe that copying information is a sacred virtue. Yes… feel free to read the previous sentence again. Happy copying! Ctrl+C Ctrl+V

WEEK #0 – First Impressions & Opening Ceremony!


Imagine being in a room surrounded by 80 bright innovators from 45 different countries, multiple backgrounds, so many different life stories, but with one goal in common: Make the world a better place for at least a billion people! YES, this is where I am. The only classroom where students fight for the first row!

Upon registration, we were given a goodie backpack! Which included regular items such as a notebook, a book, a water bottle and Austronaut Icecream! Normal stuff… 😉

Later, interesting things happened during orientation, while we were getting to know everyone including faculty, we had a staff member just stroll inside the classroom in the “beam”….who needs facetime anymore?

Then, we toured the NASA Research Park campus where some other interesting things are taking place, such as an abandoned Mc Donald’s retrofitted into a lab that captures old satellites for NASA…. Yes.. You read that correctly!


On Monday June 15th, we had the chance to spend the whole day listening and asking questions to the Founders of Singularity University, Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil. It’s impossible to share all the amazing things they talked about, but follow me on twitter as I try to fit some of these amazing ideas into 140 characters!

Later in the evening, we had the Opening Ceremony for the Graduate Studies Program Class of 2015, an event held at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. Our Keynote Speaker was Nobel Laureate for Peace Muhammad Yunus. During his talk he briefly mentioned Climate Change and the challenges that Bangladesh will face with Sea Level Rise. After his talk I was intrigued and had the chance to ask him what his thoughts were on addressing a problem like Sea Level Rise that is not quite tangible yet, and I couldn’t agree more with his simple two word response: “Fossil Fuels! Get rid of them and you’ll see how this and many other problems will be solved”


Then, of course, no big deal, I casually took a picture with Peter Diamandis…. I dont think I will have enough space in this blog to talk about what he’s done, but if you are in need of a good/light/eye opening/positive book, read his book Abundance. It will really… blow your mind!

And that is all for the first two days of the program! Tomorrow the real action begins, for the looks of it, our schedule is booked Monday through Saturday from 7:30am to 10pm! (some people call it Sleepless University)

But for now, I leave you with the fun fact of the week…


One of the participants is from Taiwan, where they became interested in filming a reality TV show about this experience… So we have a camera crew following us around campus while we “interact” with each other and pay attention in class… I guess we will be famous in Taiwan! (My mission is now to find the link to that reality show….)