SkuVault CEO, Andy Eastes, joined President Obama and other “creators, innovators, and organizers” at “South by South Lawn.” The event is a spin-off of the celebrated South by SouthWest festival in Austin, where the President and First Lady were keynote speakers. Monday’s festival included musical performances, panel discussions, interactive booths, and the White House Student Film Festival. Nationwide, more than 20,000 individuals were nominated to attend the invitation-only event on the White House Lawn. Andy was nominated by Code Louisville Founder, Rider Rodriquez, and was Louisville’s representative for SXSL.
The discussion panel “Fixing Real Problems” included the CEOs of prominent tech companies such as Slack and EpiBones, who discussed how to use technology to solve our biggest problems. The topics ranged from biotech to pathways out of poverty through technology. One of the most interesting discussion was about tech education in our prison systems.
“When they don’t see a clear path to be a contributing member in society they end up going down the wrong path”, explained Andy, in summary of Chris Redlitz, Co-Founder of “The Last Mile” a technology training program that teaches coding to prisoners.
Yosemite in 3D was a virtual reality booth that walked Andy through some of the most breathtaking parts of the park while hearing the reflections of President Obama. Justice for Us placed Andy in a virtual reality prison cell as a prisoner and then through criminal justice system as a judge.
Andy’s other interactions included cool technology such as sun-powered ovens, full-size human Lego statues that sat on South Lawn benches, musical performances by the Dap-Kings and The Lumineers, and a visit by the cast of the Netflix-original “Stranger Things”.
Later that evening, the White House student film festival themed “The World I Want To Live In” showcased the top 3 films from students around the nation. The stop-motion animated Lego film Education for Her” talked about the importance of education for girls and the Michelle Obama initiative to send US aid to build schools for girls with limited access.
“The film showed how education can empower women, I can’t wait to show it to my three girls” reflected Andy. Check out the charming short film here.
The night ended with a discussion on global warming and how we must protect our environment for future generations with President Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Dr. Katharine Hayhoe which lead to the premier of DiCaprio’s film “Before the Flood”. The film is highly recommended and will be premiering on the National Geographic channel on Oct 30th.
The biggest highlight of Andy’s trip was the TechHire discussion held at the Eisenhower building with 25 entrepreneurs, city council members, and government officials including the CTO of the United States Megan Smith, Nicole Isaac from LinkedIn, and Joe Carey from GE Digital. Andy described it as a brainstorming and mastermind meeting to further the expansion of TechHire across the United States and encourage partnerships between companies and local governments in educating and bolstering interest about tech jobs.
“This discussion pressed me to stay in touch with local employers and government officials to promote the importance of TechHIre, as well as share the success and failures of TechHire with the national community”
Louisville is one of 21 cities designated as TechHire communities. TechHire is the Obama administration’s initiative to connect middle-class Americans to technology jobs. The Code Louisville initiative, which trains individuals in computer software coding, was one of the programs used by the White House to develop TechHire. Two employees of SkuVault are graduates of Code Louisville. Nearly 500 people have completed Code Louisville training since the program began in 2013.
Andy thoroughly enjoyed South by South Lawn and the TechHire discussion and deemed the first-year event a success.
“SkuVault is committed to working with TechHire and strengthening the relationship we have with Louisville's technology, entrepreneurial, and startup communities. Bridging the skills gap is one of the major social missions we want to increase our involvement in. One thing pointed out in the TechHire discussion was there is no such thing as “tech” people. SkuVault fully believes that anyone who has the passion and desire can learn technical skills that can be applied to any career path they choose.”