Student Recap- Week Two

By: Madison Boyan

Week 2 Woohooo! We had the privilege of starting class with Dr. J this week. I say privilege because several of us have already started calling Dr. J the best professor we have ever had. Monday was Memorial Day and although, to our dismay, we did not have the day off from class we did have a barbeque in the afternoon to celebrate the holiday. We had the chance to meet some of the grad students on the program and a chance to eat some hamburgers and hot dogs.

On Tuesday we returned to the Plug and Play center for class. Plug and Play, the location of our classes this summer, is a super cool space: it is essentially a hub to help get start-ups up on their feet, there are VCs and investors in house and office spaces for groups pursuing their start-ups. In the afternoon we traveled to the Hewlett Foundation and spoke with Lyndsay Louie who is in charge of selecting the foundations beneficiaries each year. This was a really interesting site visit because it was our first private non-profit that we visited.

Wednesday was an early wake-up day as we couldn’t miss our train (again haha) for San Francisco. We visited Coinbase first, a bitcoin company founded by a young Duke alum, Fred Ehrsam. Everyone was wowed by Coinbase’s office space! There were 360 degrees of window looking out onto downtown SF. We traveled to an equally interesting office space later in the afternoon, Common Sense Media, a company that helps to protect children from the harms of today’s media.

The week finished with two quest speakers, Vivek Wadhwa and Michael Tauiliili-Brown. Vivek, a tech entrepreneur, academic, and researcher gave an extremely interesting presentation predicting the future of technology. Although we were all a little scared by the increasing power of technology, it was an eye opening presentation that gave everyone a lot to think about. Michael Tauiliili-Brown, an ex-Duke football player and retired NFL player turned start-up founder, spoke to us about his path: self-learning how to code, raising capital, and launching a business. I think I can speak for everyone in saying that this was a tremendous first week of classes and week of visits!!

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