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On Monday 11/27/17, the Bright Minds Foundation together with HCPSS held a conference to announce the addition of new Oculus VR equipment funded by a generous donation from Brendan Iribe, Oculus co-founder and HCPSS alumnus. Bright Minds Board of Directors co-chairs Clarissa Evans and Lisa Olivieri introduced HCPSS Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano who welcomed an audience of 100 to the event. County Executive Allan Kittleman also made remarks about the importance of keeping pace with technology changes, and described his interesting interaction with the equipment in a demo just before the conference began.


Mr Iribe was on hand to talk about his experiences at HCPSS that led to him to this career, attributing his path choices to former soccer coach, Reginald Hahne, and to discuss his vision of technology in the future. Mr. Iribe likened our current time to the very beginning of the computer era, and made predictions about the future of virtual and augmented reality.


After his keynote address, Mr. Iribe moderated a panel of experts to discuss the responses that education needs to make to prepare current students for this future. The participating panelists named below provided very thoughtful insights and perspectives about the integration of technology into all aspects of education.


•Lynne (Barbara) Clark, Chief of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, NSA/DHS

•Dr. Marie Des Jardins, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Engineering and Information Technology, UMBC

•Ryan Frederic, Applied Defense Solutions, President, Member of Bright Minds Board

•Ron Gula, President, Gula Tech Adventures

•Tina LeBaron, Animation Teacher, ARL, HCPSS

•Drew Zitnay, Retired, LogMeIn


The conference ended with a call to action to the audience to become involved in any way that works for them, from joining HCPSS advisory groups to mentoring students. Bright Minds also noted the opportunities available to support HCPSS by joining the board, volunteering on committees or making financial donations.


Attendees at the event also were able to play games using the VR headsets in the Visual Arts Academies and to preview the VR Architectural Academy programs.


Special thanks go out the program committee members who worked with us:

Natalie Belcher, HCPSS, Instructional Facilitator

Clarissa Evans, HCPSS Retired, Bright Minds Foundation Co-Chair

Ryan Frederic, Applied Defense Solutions, President

Reginald Hahne, HCPSS, Retired

Sharon Kramer, HCPSS, Coordinator CTE

Mary Schiller, HCPSS Partnerships Office

Tracy Turner, HCEDA, Howard Tech Council Executive Director


Thank you to our event sponsors:


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Ellicott CityMaryland—Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) high school students will now benefit from the latest in virtual reality and augmented reality instruction thanks to a $150,000 donation from Oculus VR co-founder and Atholton High School alumnus Brendan Iribe. The funds, facilitated through the Bright Minds Foundation, will provide virtual and augmented reality learning opportunities for the Architectural Design and Visual Arts Academies at the HCPSS Applications and Research Laboratory (ARL).

“I’m excited that our students will be among the first to experiment with virtual reality technology,” said HCPSS Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano. “Thank you to Brendan Iribe for his commitment to Howard County schools and for supporting our mission to provide every student with opportunities to achieve academic success.”

Career Academy students can use the virtual and augmented reality technology to develop architectural simulations, video productions, and 3-D graphics and animation.

“Students will develop an in-depth understanding of emerging markets, making it easier for them to participate in internships and enhancing their transition to the world of work or the next steps in their education journey,” said Sharon Kramer, HCPSS coordinator of Career and Technology Education.

“We’re thrilled we could help facilitate the generous donation from Mr. Iribe, which supports Bright Minds Foundation’s mission to provide access to innovative educational opportunities for all Howard County students,” said Patricia Sasse, executive director of the Bright Minds Foundation.

Bright Minds and HCPSS will host an event in November to celebrate the donation and recognize Iribe.

Career Academies offer in-depth courses, research projects and internship opportunities related to students' career goals, and the opportunity to earn college credit or industry certification while in high school. Students from all 12 HCPSS high schools and the Homewood Center may enroll in Career Academy programs at ARL.

The Bright Minds Foundation supports education, aspirations and the opportunity to succeed for all students in Howard County public schools. Bright Minds provides students with equity, equality and access to educational offerings, educational innovation and lifelong skills.

For more information, contact Bright Minds Foundation Executive Director Patricia Sasse at or 410-740-0707.





Corporate Donors:

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