News 2021

ASEI AI Summit 2021 Outline & Speaker Lineup

Chapter: ASEI National

Learn, Network and win Prizes!
ASEI will convene an AI Summit with a number of researchers, authors, speakers and experts covering AI from multiple perspectives: Augmented Intelligence with Data, AI/ML Solutions and Artificial Intelligence Applications for the enterprise  & AI Ethics 
Be amongst the first 20 to join the live audience on 24th April  for a chance to win 5 early bird giveaways. Also, submit your questions in advance via twitter @ASEIUSA and engage with us with hashtag #ASEI #AISUMMIT. There are prizes for most interesting questions raised and also most engaged participants will win one of 10 giveaway books .
 Prizes Sponsored By : O’reilly Media  & Packt
Register here to get a Zoom link
Here is the speaker lineup:
Dr Raj Reddy (First Asian Turing Award Winner ) AI Pioneer & Professor @Carnegie Mellon University & Stanford
Dabbala Rajagopal "Raj" Reddy is an Indian-American computer scientist and a winner of the Turing Award. He is one of the early pioneers of Artificial Intelligence and has served on the faculty of Stanford and Carnegie Mellon for over 50 years.
Dr Venkataraman (Sundar) Sundareswaran AI Fellow @ World Economic Forum
Sundar is an Artificial Intelligence Fellow at the World Economic Forum, where he is co-creating a governance framework with a multi-stakeholder community for the use of Chatbots in healthcare.  He represents Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation in this role at the Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Sundar is a seasoned technologist with research, development, P&L and executive leadership experience. With a Master’s degree in Natural Language Understanding and a PhD in Computer Vision, Sundar made numerous research contributions in robotics, neural networks, human computer interaction, virtual/augmented reality and autonomous vehicles, prior to taking leadership roles in advanced technology production facilities.  He is passionate about responsible deployment of novel technologies in societally important areas such as healthcare.
Topic: AI/ML Applications for the Enterprise
Piyush Malik Senior Vice President @ SpringML
Piyush is a startup executive, entrepreneur, board advisor and business transformation practitioner in emerging technologies. Currently as Senior VP at SpringML, a Google partner startup, Piyush is in charge of customer success solutions helping enterprise clients accelerate in their journey of AI-First and Cloud-First digital transformation. The technologies include AI/ML, IoT & Data Science. Formerly, he co-founded and led diversified, large, and high-caliber global teams of thousands at IBM and before that at PricewaterhouseCoopers to grow and scale his Fortune 500 client companies’ businesses spanning numerous industries and 4 continents. An alum of IIT Delhi, with a masters in Management of Technology and undergraduate in Telecom and Electronics Engineering, he has lived in the Silicon Valley for 25 years and has been serving on the boards of a number of professional and non-profit organizations including American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin.
Session 1 Topic: AI for Social Good
Dr Valiappa Lakshmanan 4X Author, Sr Director & Head AI Solutions @Google
Lak is the Director for Data Analytics and AI Solutions on Google Cloud. His team builds software solutions for business problems using Google Cloud's data analytics and machine learning products. Previously as a Director at the Climate Corporation, he led a team of data scientists (statisticians, engineers, meteorologists) who build probabilistic estimates of past, current and future weather. Before that, he was a Senior Research Scientist at CIMMS/U. Oklahoma/National Severe Storms Laboratory. His Google Scholar page captures the ways in which that work is used by other scientists.
Books: His O'Reilly books on Machine Learning Design Patterns, BigQuery: The Definitive Guide and Data Science on Google Cloud Platform are available from Amazon. My earlier book on Automating the Analysis of Spatial Grids can be read online and ordered from Springer's website.
Session 2 Topic: AI & You – How to think, transform, and thrive in an AI future
Dr Raj Ramesh TEDx Speaker & Author

Dr. Raj Ramesh, who has a doctorate in AI, has broad experience with digital transformation. He helps organizations bring together complementary strengths of machines and humans to effect grand change.  In his recent book, “AI & You: How to Think, Thrive, and Transform in an Artificial Intelligence Future,” he explores how individuals and companies can best prepare for the new changes AI will bring. Raj is passionate about simplifying the complexity of AI/ML so many more can understand the topic and adapt their professional career.  One way he does this is through easy to comprehend whiteboard videos. He has produced over 150 of them that are freely available on YouTube . He’s an engineer, designer, programmer, business owner, mentor,  data scientist, evangelist, storyteller, dreamer, teacher, speaker, writer, doodler, video creator, father, husband, dog owner, and probably a few more. 
Session 3 Topic: Rubber Meets the road: Natural Language Processing -- Big Models aren't enough
Ashish Bansal Author and Director @Twitch

Author of Advanced Natural Language Processing with TensorFlow 2 ( Ashish builds content recommendation engines at Twitch and was previously at Twitter. He was a Senior Director of Data Science at Capital One. Prior to Capital One, he co-founded GALE Partners and headed the Machine Learning group. He has over 19 years of experience in the technology industry, along with an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and B Tech from IIT BHU. His life's ambition is to be a Kung Fu master.
Session 4 : Women Panel : AI Ethics and Innovation in the enterprise
Dr.Sindhu Joseph CEO and Founder @ CogniCor Technologies, Inc.
Dr.Sindhu Joseph is the Founder and CEO of CogniCor, the leading AI Digital Assistant platform that delivers revolutionary operational efficiency and productivity for leading financial firms of the world. She holds a Ph.D. in AI, is the inventor of 6 patents, author, and speaker on topics around Enterprise AI, AI in Financial Services and diversity in AI. She is also a mentor to Nex3 AI Startup accelerator and is an advisory council member of Build Common Wealth Inc. She is based in Palo Alto, California, and drives CogniCor’s vision to provide thinking, talking face to every business. CogniCor, created out of her Ph.D., combines traditional inductive AI with advanced deductive AI and reasoning to offer a unique digital assistant platform built for business teams in the Financial services industry.
Bala Sahejpal Senior Vice President @DataRobot
Accomplished leader with the proven ability in leading cross functional global teams for building Data and Analytics solutions delivering enterprise success while securing multimillion-dollar savings for diverse business functions - Sales, Marketing, Product Management, Finance, Customer Service, and Engineering. Excellent understanding of business solutions, technologies and challenges associated with implementation of Data Science models, Big Data, Business Intelligence, Analytics and Master Data solutions in medium to large-scale organizations.
Piyanka Jain President & Founder @Aryng
In more than 15 years as an analytics leader, Aryng Founder Piyanka Jain is a leading expert in Data Literacy, building Data Culture, Machine Learning, Data Science and Analytics. She is an Amazon #1 bestselling author in Data Mining, paid keynoter in conferences, and a regular contributor to Forbes, HBR, InsideHR, TDWI, Experian, Modern Workplace, Predictive Analytics World, etc. She has developed the BADIR framework which enables 10X+ faster insights, 20X+ impact, and has driven $1b+ in business impact for her clients. She has two Master’s degrees, with her thesis involving applied mathematics and statistics. Before founding Aryng, she was the Head of Business Analytics at PayPal-North America.

Getting from the Classroom to the C-Suite

Chapter: ASEI National

 Pathways that work - By Dr Preetha Ram

Career success is as much about content knowledge as about soft skills.  A  2014 survey from CareerBuilder found that 77% of employers surveyed believed soft skills were of equal importance as hard skills/technical competencies.  During my time as Dean for Science at Emory University, I was fortunate to encounter many young people starting out on their STEM careers. As  I kept up with their careers, I have, over time, developed strong notions on what contributes to success in STEM careers.   My hypothesis is that it takes both personality characteristics/attributes and knowledge/competencies to really succeed in one’s chosen career.  One without the other is like,  yin without the yang, the chole without the bhatura, the iddli without the chutney.
What are these personality attributes? And what are these competencies?  
At the ASEI EdTech event on April 10, Anita Kishore, Alok Jain, Srini Vemula and I explored these questions around the framework of helping children and youth get from the “Classroom to the C-Suite”.  
Curiosity, creativity, resilience, grit, and empathy are some well recognized traits that contribute to success.  These attributes allow one to keep learning, keep growing and respond to crises calmly and thoughtfully.  Parents can inculcate these attributes by helping their children reflect on their activities and encourage and discuss their children’s reading.  As important as asking thought provoking questions is listening to the responses, offering insights and modelling the behaviors parents would like their children to emulate.
For young professionals engaged in career progression, we agreed with Anita’s three tips:
1) Stay curious - engage in continuous learning by reading, talking to others in your area (and outside), sign up for industry-leading newsletters, etc
2) Experiment - Apply your experimental mindset to all parts of your life.  It's ok to make mistakes.  You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.   
3) Ask for feedback from peers, mentors, critics, and supporters - and remain true to your own values.  Feedback is a gift - you can accept it or disregard it, but it can be used to improve yourself.  
We all understand the importance of gaining skills and competencies, and undoubtedly the most important of them all, would be quantitative skills.  Everyone needs math in their lives. Ideally we want our kids to be comfortable playing with math like they do with playdough, moving things, making shapes, enjoying, building, and taking it apart again.  Math opens the doors to understanding concepts, which can later lead up to mastery in data science and AI., founded by Srini Vemula, has successfully built curricula around this goal: mastery of math and to keep elementary school children joyously , joyously engaged with math, and learning coding and basic ai concepts. 
While quantitative proficiencies are key to unlocking technical competencies in this technology driven world, an entrepreneurial mindset can open up new paradigms of thinking and new opportunities.  Learning how to be entrepreneurial can be tremendously advantageous as the Future of Work will demand innovation, creativity, and out-of-the box thinking from its employees. Creativity and entrepreneurial thinking is sure to be rewarded not only in startups but also by established corporations.  Moonshot jr,  the brainchild of Alok Jain, has a curriculum that trains children of all ages to think entrepreneurially!  If the notion of elementary school age children creating and selling their products on Amazon, makes you marvel, you need to take a look at Moonshot Jr.
As in anything, it is a question of balance.  As a parent, we balance a child’s experiences and explorations, so that there is guidance but also empowerment, and room to discover and grow.  We also balance the acquisition of soft skills and as well as of technical competencies.  Finally, as professionals, young and old, we balance the various demands of growing our careers, being a good team player, being a patient and collaborative colleague, growing our professional networks with staying current in the field, always learning, always innovating, growing our knowledge base.  Help is available at each stage of the journey: executive coaching offered by Anita Kishore, quantitative training at Srini Vemula’s, and entrepreneurship training by Alok Jain’s MoonshotJr.
In a nutshell, quantitative skills and entrepreneurial thinking, enhanced by the soft skills noted above, are uniformly helpful and should be in the toolbox for everyone, the artist or the analyst, the poet or physicist, the social worker or the scientist!
This article was contributed by ASEI SiliconValley Boardmember Dr Preetha Ram who serves as  General Partner at Pier 70 Ventures and was  formerly Dean for Science at Emory University as well as a successful EdTech entrepreneur having founded and exited OpenStudy prior to jumping into the venture capital world. For anyone signing up to avail products or services from MoonShot Jr or for their family (kids, grandkids, nephews or nieces etc.) or coaching from Dr Anita, there are ASEI Member / sponsorship discounts available. Click here for more info.

Space Launch System: Go/NoGo from an Aerospace Expert Perspective by Dr Ajay Kothari

Chapter: ASEI National

The Space Launch System has been the subject of heated debates, but what’s the alternative for going to the Moon, Mars, and beyond? (PIX credit: NASA)
Several days after the editorial board of Bloomberg recommended that the Biden Administration cancel the Space Launch System (SLS), Loren Thompson published a rebuttal in Forbes. But I respectfully, if strongly, disagree with Thompson. The future of the SLS is of immense importance to NASA and the country, and thus to the taxpayers, and hence we need to attempt as soon as possible to set the record straight.
Thompson says, “The editorial board at Bloomberg News launched a nonsensical attack on NASA’s human spaceflight program last week. It was full of dubious assertions about alternatives to the Space Launch System.” And yet it is his attack that seems motivated for self-centered reasons, and is full of questionable assertions.
Yes, as the Bloomberg editorial said, SLS needs to be scrapped. But not only that, we need to change the paradigm of how we do space travel. Building a bigger and bigger rocket every time to fit a bigger mission, the crux of Thompson’s argument, is asinine and unnecessary. With the advent of many reusable rockets by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and hopefully soon Rocket Lab, we are in a different territory. Let us, as a country, take advantage of it or someone else will do it first.
The problem, simply put, is that larger payloads and farther destinations require more propellant, which in turn requires bigger rockets to boost them. So, our plans also get limited in what we have available that day in terms of rockets.
What if we do not have to be limited this way? This is possible by docking multiple upper stages in low Earth orbit (LEO), one carrying the payload and all others carrying that much extra fuel by the same reusable booster(s). No refueling required for now, as the Forbes article posited as alarm—perhaps that can come later. In nerd-speak, what this does is to increase the propellant fraction until it is equal to what is needed to do the job. This gives us an ability to have theoretically infinite solutions for space travel, basically tailored to fit the need. Want to go to Moon? Two flights of Falcon Heavy. Want to go to Mars instead? Four flights of Falcon Heavy. A little extra boost needed? Rocket Lab’s new Neutron can fill the gap. A bigger gap? New Glenn of Blue Origin can help out.
It builds a railroad to space with thousands of solutions at our finger tips. Let us build this railroad instead of the one-off solutions like SLS. This is not rocket science!
This was not possible earlier. But now the reusable rockets have proven considerably less expensive to fly, and the upper stages have less weight. It is almost a sure bet that many other countries, especially China, will follow this method and leave us in dust if we do not adopt this. China is already developing reusable rockets. If we stay with the current status quo, we will lose this race to China, who will have thousands of possible paths to NASA’s one or two using SLS. Do we really want to be in that pickle?
This solution exists today! Docking in LEO has been done since 1966, and is being done today frequently, and often automatically, at the International Space Station. The answer is simple: save the $2 billion per year spent on SLS and put some of that into developing in-space refueling technology, lunar surface infrastructure, and water-ice extraction technologies; some can even be reallocated for climate change. It is a huge saving, and we need to take a step now with the new administration.
To supplant the above arguments with numbers, SLS cost is pegged at about $2 billion per launch and its payload capability for LEO with Block 1 is 95 tons and Block 2 cargo 130 tons. Falcon Heavy, pegged at $125 million per launch with its semi-reusable option (the two side boosters recovered and core expended) has around 54 tons capacity to LEO. Four flights of it can deposit more than 200 tons in LEO, which is twice as much as one SLS Block 1. Thus, the approximate numbers now are $2 billion vs $500 million for twice the payload—a factor of eight advantage. Why would we not do this? Mind you, this does not require refueling, just docking. And as icing on this cake, we can also use some upper stage tanks as habitats. Is this rocket science? No. Just common sense, perhaps with some innovative, out-of-the-box, bold thinking that NASA used to be known for.
Schedule. That we should “commit ourselves to achieving a goal before this decade is out of landing man on the Moon” was announced in 1961, and was fulfilled despite those clunky computers and the first-time feats for almost all of the successes. NASA taking longer for the Space Shuttle was already the beginning of different NASA from the one in ’60s, which has just proven it is in a huge bureaucratic decline now thanks mainly to the unfair political pressure being exerted by some Senators and the likes of companies that Mr. Thompson represents. There has to be a limit to stretching this string unreasonably harder. It needs to break now. Yes, SpaceX was five years behind schedule for Falcon Heavy. But SLS is already at year ten after the development was announced and has not flown yet. No, those excuses just don’t wash any more.
Cost. Let us just look at the actual savings to taxpayers here in the example Mr. Thompson mentions in his essay, where he compares Starship’s projected $2 million launch cost versus the $331.8 million NASA just paid for a Falcon Heavy launch. Starship’s quoted cost by SpaceX indeed is absurdly low and may not pan out. But even taking that number into account, NASA is being taken to cleaners for $329.8 million more than should have ($331.8 million – $2 million), for the sake of argument. But in case of SLS, where each launch costs approximately $2 billion each, it is a higher number by about $1.67 billion, which the taxpayers will bear the brunt of. Which is a higher burden? It is not just the ratio that matters. For taxpayers, it is the actual dollar amount.
Technology. The most impactful technology, possibly by far, that was developed by SpaceX is the sequence of the boostback maneuver, engine restarts, and landing on a droneship or returning to the launch site. This is what will save considerable sums that make unthinkable doable. It changes the paradigm that helps not just this country but humanity. To make light of this by comparing it to the “world’s largest welding tool,” as Forbes does in its assessment of new technology on SLS, is to intentionally keep blinders on.
Justification. The method outlined above, which is possible only with reusable booster rockets and not with SLS, not only creates the path to the Moon and Mars but also many other destinations in solar system. Again, the common denominator is to not use SLS or any expendable rocket solutions, which are huge money pits. If we do not think China will embrace this development, while the US again falls victim to political and big business arm-twisting, then we have another set of blinders on. It may not be just that this time around. It may also be a security threat in terms of China moving much farther ahead of us in the space arena, particularly cislunar space, if we do not take action soon.
Thompson expounds that “several companies on the SLS team including core stage contractor contribute to my think tank.” Here on the other hand, no companies—SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, or any other team—have contributed to this opinion piece.

This article is adapted from an OpEd by the author recently published on Dr. Ajay Kothari is an ASEI Life Member and former President of the ASEI Washington DC chapter. He received his MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering  from the University of Maryland and has been  the   founder/president of Astrox Corporation for more than 3 decades.
PS: The video recording appearing alongside here is from a prior event - a conversation between Dr Kothari and Piyush Malik on the topic of "Moon and Space:The New Gold Rush" as part of Launching ASEI 's Getting Real with Engineering Webinar Series

April 2021 Newsletter: Check out what's in store this month

Chapter: ASEI National

The April 2021 Newsletter was sent to all those who are on our mailing list till March 31st,2021. Here is the web version. In case you are  not receiving our emails, please check your spam/ junk or promotions folder and change the settings in your mailbox to deliver ASEI emails in your in-box. If you still did not find our newsletter please send an email to for us to investigate. 


Women Leading Social Entrepreneurship

Chapter: Michigan

As a part of the celebration for Women's History Month as well as the Getting Real with Engineering series, ASEI Michigan Chapter organized a webinar on March 27th, 2021 about "Woman Leading Social Entrepreneurship". Reena Kapoor, who is a Silicon Valley based Techinal executive and an active mentor in Santa Clara's Miller Center, provided an insight into the social entrepreneurship. She presented how we, as engineers, technocrats or executives, could use our skills to advice in the field of business, technology and innovation and help with talent development and mentorship. Some of the tips and tricks that she had picked up from real-life experiences, were discussed in detail, along with the resources to venture into the field of mentoring social entrepreneurs.
After the enlightening presentation, accomplished leaders like Lovina Srivastava, who is an Indo-Canadian entrepreneur and activist, along with Michigan State Representative, Padma Kuppa, joined Reena for a panel discussion about Social Leadership and Entrepreneurship. It was interesting as Lovina and Padma talked about their journey and how they ventured into this field. The session was moderated by ASEI Michigan Vice President, Lalita Kambhampati and she put forth questions about a broad range of topics like the challenges they had faced as they ventured into social entrepreneurship, the relevance of social enterprises and mentoring and garnered advice for aspiring social entrepreneurs.
It was a well-attended event and there was active participation from the attendees, who interacted with the panelists to gather more details about social entrepreneurship.
For those who wanted to learn more about how to become an executive mentor, Reena mentioned that Miller Center is always looking for mentors and those interested can submit the application using the following link:
In case you missed the event, the recording is available at the following YouTube link:

Catch Them Young: From Classroom to C-Suite

Chapter: ASEI National

Career success is as much about content knowledge as about soft skills.  In fact A 2014 survey from Career Builder found that 77% of employers it surveyed believed soft skills were of equal importance as hard skills. How to transform STEM students into CEOs?  ASEI experts believe it is through a combination of paying attention to both soft skills and content skills.
ASEI Youth programmes are central to our strategy as regular readers may already know. We will host an Education Technology and STEM focussed discussion with a few experts on April 10, 2021 . Join us as we delve into tools that you can use to equip yourself and your kids (or grandkids) to become more successful in STEM careers.
Moderated by ASEI Board Member, Dr. Preetha Ram, who has herself successfully navigated the path from a STEM education (IIT, PhD Chemistry, Yale) to Dean of Science Emory, CEO and now General Partner of a venture firm, you will hear actionable insights from experts and entrepreneurs:
Early Steps: Succeeding in STEM paths in from school days
Speaker: Dr. Anita Kishore
Early Days: Building creativity and competencies for the future
Speaker: Srini Vemula, CEO of igebra
Early Launch: Taking science projects to start-ups
Speaker: Alok Jain, CEO of MoonshotJr
Early Steps:
What attributes and skills create success in this group that is most often called “nerdy”?  An interest in science and engineering does not necessarily equate to the “nerd”.  What habits can be created early so the young engineer learns to navigate his professional relationships with confidence and ease?
Anita Kishore will give us guidance and actionable steps to take as early as high school to ensure success in all stages.
Early Days:
The world of tomorrow will be about technology, data, and machine intelligence.  How do we prepare our children to succeed in this data driven world?  What are the new building blocks for this reality?  How do we transform young minds into digital data natives?
Srini Vemula has built a unique learning site where your children can learn quantitative skills, data skills, and AI concepts.
Early Launch:
An entrepreneurial mindset can be tremendously helpful no matter what the age or stage.  It is valued not only in start-ups but in companies and in academia.  How do you build this mindset at an early age?  
Alok Jain has created a wonderful and fun filled curriculum that is sure to set young entrepreneurs on the right track.


Chapter: ASEI National