Teen to government: Change your typeface, save millions

— An e. You can write it with one fluid swoop of a pen or one tap of the keyboard. The most commonly used letter in the English dictionary. Simple, right?

Now imagine it printed out millions of times on thousands of forms and documents. Then think of how much ink would be needed.

OK, so that may have been a first for you, but it came naturally to 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani when he was trying to think of ways to cut waste and save money at his Pittsburgh-area middle school.

It all started as a science fair project. As a neophyte sixth-grader at Dorseyville Middle School, Suvir noticed he was getting a lot more handouts than he did in elementary school.

Interested in applying computer science to promote environmental sustainability, Suvir decided he was going to figure out if there was a better way to minimize the constant flurry of paper and ink.

Reducing paper use through recycling and dual-sided printing had been talked about before as a way to save money and conserve resources, but there was less attention paid to the ink for which the paper served as a canvas for history and algebra handouts.

“Ink is two times more expensive than French perfume by volume,” Suvir says with a chuckle.

He’s right: Chanel No. 5 perfume costs $38 per ounce, while the equivalent amount of Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75.

So Suvir decided to focus his project on finding ways to cut down on the costly liquid.

Collecting random samples of teachers’ handouts, Suvir concentrated on the most commonly used characters (e, t, a, o and r).

First, he charted how often each character was used in four different typefaces: Garamond, Times New Roman, Century Gothic and Comic Sans. Then he measured how much ink was used for each letter, using a commercial tool called APFill® Ink Coverage Software.

Next he enlarged the letters, printed them and cut them out on cardstock paper to weigh them to verify his findings. He did three trials for each letter, graphing the ink usage for each font.

From this analysis, Suvir figured out that by using Garamond with its thinner strokes, his school district could reduce its ink consumption by 24%, and in turn save as much as $21,000 annually.

Encouraged by his teacher, Suvir looked to publish his findings and stumbled on the Journal for Emerging Investigators (JEI), a publication founded by a group of Harvard grad students in 2011 that provides a forum for the work of middle school and high school students. It has the same standards as academic journals, and each submission is reviewed by grad students and academics.

Sarah Fankhauser, one of JEI’s founders, says that of the nearly 200 submissions they have received since 2011, Suvir’s project was a real standout:

“We were so impressed. We really could really see the real-world application in Suvir’s paper.”

Fankhauser said Suvir’s findings were so clear, simple and well thought-out, it had the peer reviewers at JEI asking, “How much potential savings is really out there?”

For the answer, JEI challenged Suvir to apply his project to a larger scale: the federal government.

With an annual printing expenditure of $1.8 billion, the government was a much more challenging task than his school science project.

Suvir repeated his tests on five sample pages from documents on the Government Printing Office website and got similar results — change the font, save money.

Will government printers embrace a change?

Using the General Services Administration’s estimated annual cost of ink — $467 million — Suvir concluded that if the federal government used Garamond exclusively it could save nearly 30% — or $136 million per year. An additional $234 million could be saved annually if state governments also jumped on board, he reported.

Gary Somerset, media and public relations manager at the Government Printing Office, describes Suvir’s work as “remarkable.” But he was noncommittal on whether the GPO would introduce changes to typeface, saying the GPO’s efforts to become more environmentally sustainable were focused on shifting content to the Web.

“In 1994, we were producing 20,000 copies a day of both the Federal Register and Congressional Record. Twenty years later, we produce roughly 2,500 print copies a day,” he said.

On top of this, the Congressional Register is printed on recycled paper, which GPO has been doing for five or six years, Somerset says.

One federal initiative that focuses on minimizing ink-usage is called “Printwise.” Organized by the General Services Administration, it teaches government offices how to default their computer settings to Times New Roman, Garamond and Century Gothic to minimize printing waste. According to GSA’s press secretary Dan Cruz, they hope this type of initiative could save the federal government up to $30 million annually.

Suvir appreciates the government’s efforts, but he sees his project as a means of making an even bigger impact nationwide.

“Consumers are still printing at home, they can make this change too,” he says.

Holding out hope

At 14, Suvir understands how difficult such a project might be to implement — “I recognize it’s difficult to change someone’s behavior. That’s the most difficult part.”

But he holds out hope: “I definitely would love to see some actual changes and I’d be happy to go as far as possible to make that change possible.”

With decades ahead to lend a hand, Suvir and other young men and women like him may even be able to untangle some of the knotty political and technical issues that beset Washington, corporate suites and the world at large.

MLK praise scrubbed from Bill Clinton speech

— A pair of lines praising Martin Luther King, Jr. were scrubbed from an early version of President Bill Clinton’s 1998 State of the Union address, apparently after someone in the White House raised questions about how the rhetorical flourishes would play with white people.

A rough draft of the 1998 speech was included in a new batch of previously withheld documents released by the National Archives and the Clinton Presidential Library on Friday. It included a passage about racial healing, tentatively titled “One America In The 21st Century.”

“It is now two centuries since we proclaimed our ideals to be self evident … 134 years since we wiped the stain of slavery from our soil … 30 years, this April, since a rifle crack ended the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of America’s greatest patriots,” the draft read.

The brief portion of the text pledged enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and called for “a true dialogue among people of different races and backgrounds and religions.”

A quote from King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech about his faith in America was also included in the initial version of the speech.

But someone in the White House — from reading the handwriting, it’s not clear who — scrawled a note in the margin expressing anxiety about the passage.

“Is there some way to be a bit more positive and speak to white people?,” the note reads.

By the time Clinton delivered his annual address in the House chamber that January, the speech included a handful of nods to racial harmony, and various proposals aimed at expanding educational opportunity, reducing crime and creating jobs. But the references to King were gone.

The early version of the address was among the papers of former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, one of thousands of pages of documents included in Friday’s document dump.


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Baltimore Farmers Market & Bazaar reopens Sunday, April 6

— Baltimore Farmers Market & Bazaar reopens for 2014 on Sunday, April 6

Maryland’s largest producers-only market is back! The 37th annual Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar reopens on Sunday, April 6, 2014 from 7 a.m. to sellout— approximately noon. Opening day at the market offers shoppers a selection of fresh foods and plants from regional farmers, cooking demonstrations, advice from expert gardeners, live music, handmade craft and unique collectibles.

Located on Saratoga Street between Holliday and Gay streets, underneath the Jones Falls Expressway (JFX), the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar is presented by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and managed by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. The season continues through Sunday, December 21, 2014.

New for 2014, qualified farmers and food vendors, with support from the Maryland Farmers’ Market Association, will be able to accept Supplemental

Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), credit and debit payments directly. The Welcome Center, located near the Saratoga Street entrance, will continue to assist with questions on programs, the market and services. New additions to the market selection include rabbit from the Hen’s Nest and duck from KCC Natural Farms.

On opening day, official chef of the market Charlotte Galley presents cooking demonstrations with locally grown, fresh ingredients starting at 9 a.m. Demos will be held near the Saratoga Street entrance and market-goers are

invited to pick up helpful cooking tips, recipes and delicious samples. Shoppers can also enjoy the sounds of the Baltimore Islanders Steel Band throughout the morning. Just in time for gardening season, experts with the Baltimore City Master Gardeners of the University of Maryland Extension share advice on starting and improving gardens. In addition, TreeBaltimore of the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks offers residents free trees for their homes and businesses through the Free Tree Giveaway program.

Sundays at the market create a unique one-stop shop. Visitors can browse and purchase a wide variety of produce, meats, dairy, eggs, nuts, preserves, spices, fresh baked breads, plants and flowers. A diverse mix of food vendors offer flavorsome meals including burritos, smoothies, crepes, doughnuts, dumplings, falafel wraps, smoked fish and fowl, fritters, granola, fresh made kettle corn, pastries, pit beef sandwiches, pizza, quiches, salads, sausages, soups, tortillas, turkey and lamb burgers and vegan desserts. The bazaar features original artwork, handmade furniture and house wares, unique yard and garden furnishings, vintage clothing and one-of-a-kind accessories, bath and body care products, and books of various genres.

Former football star pushes STEM education

— Science and professional sports may not always seem to be much of a match, but one former college gridiron star sure makes it appear that the two go together like a quarterback and a wide receiver.

Baratunde “Bara” Cola still loves football, but he works as an assistant professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

He also tours the country, speaking to young people about the importance of an education in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math— STEM— discipline.

“What I tell kids is that, regardless of what you’re doing and how well you may be doing it now, you just don’t know where you may end up so you need a fall back plan,” said Cola, who starred as a fullback for Vanderbilt University’s football team before tearing the anterior cruciate ligaments in his legs multiple times.

What’s more, the injuries didn’t prevent Cola from returning to the football field and, even after receiving a football scholarship; Cola decided that science would be more exciting and interesting than a pro sports career.

“You get to interact with smart people all of the time and the opportunity to talk to kids is important,” said Cola, who spoke to students at Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore on March 21.

Honored by President Barack Obama as one of the nation’s promising young innovators, Cola spoke about nanoengineering energy technology ahead of the USA Science & Engineering Festival and Book Fair that is scheduled for next month in Washington, D.C.

The festival allows children and adults to participate in more than 3,000 activities and view live performances by science celebrities and experts. This year’s event will open on April 24, 2014 with, “X-STEM: Extreme STEM Symposium,” featuring interactive presentations and workshop by STEM visionaries, according to a news release.

Cola also is a speaker in the festival’s “Nifty Fifty (times 3) Program” that features a group of 150 noted science and engineering professionals who speak to young people at middle and high schools about their work and careers.

The participants include a variety of scientists visiting Baltimore area schools as guest lecturers ahead of the festival.

Officials said the program features some of the most inspiring role models in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program presents students with the latest in green technology, engineering, human health and medicine, astronomy and space exploration, nanotechnology, computer science and other expertise.

Cola, who received a Ph.D. in 2008 from Purdue University, says his research is both fundamental and applied.

“I am currently focused on understanding and designing thermal transport and energy conservation in nanostructures and devices,” he said. “My group develops tools to characterize thermal transport across several orders of scale for this purpose and my research interests also include scalable fabrication of organic and organic-inorganic hybrid nanostructures for novel technological use, which include thermal interface materials, thermo-electrochemical cells, solar rectenna and materials that can be tuned to regulate the flow of heat.”

Cola says there is “lots of cool stuff” happening in STEM and it’s important that young people are included as early as possible.

“We need to change the conservation about science in this country,” Cola said. “We have a shortage of scientists and we must change that. We want kids to see that science can be exciting. It has been for me and there’s still a lot to do.”

Cola, who was born in Detroit and grew up in Florida, says that since he has developed a better understanding of science, football has simply been an afterthought.

“Young people might find that this could be as exciting as scoring a touchdown,” he said.

AACC Launches Cyber Analyst Program

— How your business or organization handles a cyber threat may depend on how well your decision makers understand your cybersecurity team. Key to that connection is a cyber analyst, and Anne Arundel Community College and OPS Consulting have partnered to develop the “Growing the Analyst” training that will bridge that communications/knowledge gap.

This new curriculum, which begins this spring at AACC’s CyberCenter in Hanover, Md., helps participants build the knowledge, skills and abilities that are required to perform the duties of a cyber analyst. The Carnegie Mellon University and the Software Engineering Institute studied business and industry cybersecurity practices as part of a Cyber Intelligence Tradecraft Project and found that “the addition of strategic analysis to the analytic framework is the most effective means of bridging the communications gap between cybersecurity and non-technical decision makers.”

The curriculum developed by OPS Consulting and the CyberCenter focuses on both technical skills and non-technical core competencies to develop practitioners, not theorists. Designed to meet the needs of government and industry, the Growing the Analyst training is broken down into three levels of increasing difficulty to bring real-world experiences of a cyber analyst to help participants develop technical skills in the context of the job role. The hands-on lab work reinforces the instruction and allows participants to apply their technical skills while also building critical thinking, data collection/analysis and communication core competencies. Industry certification exam preparation for the CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+ and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker also is included in the training.

The Growing the Analyst program is the newest of many business-oriented training programs offered at AACC’s CyberCenter, 7556 Teague Road, Suite 300, in Hanover. For information on this and other programs, visit www.aacc.edu/cybercenter, email cybercenter@aacc.edu or call 410-777-1333.

Annapolis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta holds annual health fair

— The Annapolis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held the fifth annual health fair at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis on Saturday, March 22, 2014.

The Annapolis Alumnae Chapter sponsored this year’s event along with The Unique Ladies and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Woman’s group. The health fair offered presentations on men’s and women’s health, teens, and mental health.

Zumba fitness class

Zumba fitness class

Doctors from Baltimore Washington Hospital center were on hand to provide free health screenings and health information. They included urologist Dr. Robert Hanley,; gastroenterologist Dr. Kenolisa, OBGYN Dr. Deborah Hardy and Dr. Cornelious Musara who offered free breast screenings.

 L-r: Dr. Nnemdi Baird; Dr. Valeriani Bead; Carolyn Campbell-Flowe; and Dr. James Ballard held a Q and A segment to start the heath fair.

L-r: Dr. Nnemdi Baird; Dr. Valeriani Bead; Carolyn Campbell-Flowe; and Dr. James Ballard held a Q and A segment to start the heath fair.

The free screenings included blood pressure check, cholesterol check, breast exams, and massages. The Anne Arundel County Health department was on hand and offered free health pamphlets to all. The basement of the church was transformed into a gym for the day and Zumba, belly dancing and kids fitness activities were offered to participants.

Chapter President Hattie Penn said the health fair is an educational and interactive event designed for outreach to provide basic preventive measures and medical screening to people in the community.

Annapolis Film Festival seeks volunteers

— A large number of volunteers are needed in a variety of positions to help with The Annapolis Film Festival which is returning to Annapolis Thursday evening, March 27 to Sunday, March 30, 2014.

All of the excitement of Hollywood on the Chesapeake comes back for a second year with more than 65 narrative and documentary films, Q&A sessions with the filmmakers and other visiting industry guests, special panels and showcases, and great parties! Films will be shown at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, St. John’s College, St. Anne’s Parish Hall, and Compass Rose Theater with Loews Annapolis Hotel as Festival Central and some educational and industry panels happening at O’Callaghan’s Hotel and others.

Volunteer information is provided and registration is accomplished on the website at www.annapolisfilmfestival.net. Volunteers are required to complete two six-hour shifts (12 hour minimum) over the 4 day festival, with one six-hour shift to be completed during a Saturday OR Sunday of Festival weekend. Volunteers are also required to attend a mandatory training sessions. Also, contact volunteer@annapolisfilmfestival.net for further information.

Author reflects on his journey in ‘Lessons of Redemption’

— No matter what circumstances one endures in life, there is always an opportunity make the best out of any situation. Author Kevin Shird is a testament to how through determination and growth we can all strive for a better life.

In his book, “Lessons of Redemption” Shird shares issues that plagued him throughout his life including a twelve year jail sentence as well as growing up with a father who battled chronic alcoholic addiction.

Shird started to write the book five years ago, but held out on publishing the book until he was recently encouraged to do so. He believes through his own story his new book will offer inspiration to men and boys that you can turn your life around.

“We have a generation of men whom we’ve lost to incarceration, violence and crime. I am a survivor of the drug war and I am a person who has not always made the best decisions. However, despite it all I am aware that my story can help someone else because who I was, is not who am I am today.”

The Baltimore native is also president and co-founder of the Mario Do Right Foundation, a 501 (C) 3 organization whose mission is to mentor and support children of substance abusing parents.

Debra Rubino, director of strategic communications at Open Society Institute-Baltimore met Shird through his work with the Do Right Foundation. “It’s an incredible story and I feel he makes a very creditable role model for young people. He had the misfortune of being in a pretty violent world growing up, but you would never know by meeting him today what he endured and the tribulations that he went through.”

“Lessons of Redemption” is available for purchase at Amazon.com.

Award-winning Bowie State professor named Visiting Fellow at Harvard

— A Bowie State University professor will develop a massive open online course (MOOC) to teach people how to effectively report the news using mobile devices, as one of five 2014 Visiting Fellows from Harvard University’s prestigious Nieman Foundation for Journalism.

Starting this week, Allissa Richardson, lecturer of journalism, will spend two weeks as a scholar-in-residence, building the online class as a free tool to teach veteran journalists, citizens, and journalism students how to effectively report news using only tablets, mp3 players or smart phones.

She started working on the course in fall 2013 and will continue her work at Harvard, as well as giving talks on moAward-winning Bowie State professor named Visiting Fellow at Harvardbile journalism and exchanges ideas with other Visiting Fellows.

“Mobile journalism is an increasingly vital skill for the public to have. In times of crisis, the ordinary citizen journalist who is armed with a smart phone is often the only eyewitness we have,” said Richardson said. “When more people know about how to gather and interpret news that happens around them, the media ecosystem becomes a richer, more diverse place.”

Professor Richardson has been widely recognized for her innovations in mobile journalism. She was named a 2013 Apple Distinguished Educator for her creative teaching style, enabling Bowie State to receive Apple equipment and software for the mobile journalism lab she established in the Department of Communications. She was also named the 2012 National Association of Black Journalism Educator of the Year.

Beauty queen eyes law school, the world

It’s hard to believe that Dejanee Fennell was once considered a tomboy.

The Morgan State University senior, who has already been accepted to some of the more prestigious law schools in the country, is a stunning model who can sashay down a catwalk and wear the prettiest of dresses with some of the most beautiful women in the country.

And, despite capturing the crown last year of Miss Black Maryland USA, Fennell, 23, insists that she once preferred climbing trees to playing dress up.

The Prince George’s County native said she also shunned “girly” things like makeup.

“It wasn’t until the 8th grade that I experimented with makeup,” said Fennell, an aspiring lawyer and Capitol Hill lobbyist who will compete in Atlanta in August for the title of Miss Black USA 2014. “When I first came to Morgan State, I wanted to take up journalism, but politics took a hold of me and I know that I want to work as a lobbyist someday as well.

Fennell’s minor is pre-law and, after winning the Miss Black Maryland USA crown in November, she says she wanted to use that platform as a means to help other young women.

“I want to be able to help them with self-esteem issues and to show them that they can accomplish anything,” she said.

That hard-working young women can boost their self-esteem and accomplish their goals is something Fennell said she had to learn over time.

She says she previously lacked the confidence to wear the makeup, evening gowns and swimsuits that are beauty pageant staples. She says that when she was finally able to overcome those issues and gather enough heart to try out for Morgan State’s annual beauty pageant, she was too late.

“I was always afraid to try out and when I finally conquered that fear, I was told it was too late, tryouts had already ended,” Fennell said.

Undaunted, Fennell decided to take a shot at the Miss Black Maryland USA pageant, and she prevailed.

Fennell said she wants to spread her message of love, positivity and public service, across the country.

“Love is pure and real. Only true healing can happen through love,” she said.

Since winning the pageant, she has remained busy, participating in charitable drives with the Washington Redskins and other organizations.

She also plans to be a part of “Project Prom, a local event to be held later in spring which helps young women to find affordable prom dresses.

Originally from Colmar Manor, Maryland, where her mother, Diana Fennell, once served as mayor , the beauty queen says her parents and her older brother, Jeffrey, count as her biggest supporters.

“Jeffrey and I are really close, he’s helped me so much,” she said of her 26-year-old brother, a biology-major at the University of Maryland.

Fennell says that she has been accepted to Columbia Law School, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

She expects other letters of acceptance to soon follow. “I’m not sure if I want to go to New York, go somewhere else or stay close to home,” she said.

Fennell said she’s still relishing her current title as Miss Black Maryland USA. She called the contest not just a pageant, but a movement.

“This organization isn’t about beautiful girls. It’s for African American women to be able to showcase themselves, and to show that they are intelligent, successful and powerful and we shouldn’t be ignored,” Fennell said. “My intention is to win Miss Maryland USA 2014, which will give me the ability to spread my message. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to reach the world and continue my duties as an individual, which is to always give service.”

For more information about Fennell, visit her website at www.officialDeJaneeFennell.com.