Zocalo Event - Goodbye Mr. Chips

My friend Stacey found an organization called Zocalo Public Square. Here's their mission statement:

Zócalo Public Square is a not-for-profit daily Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism. We foster healthier, more cohesive communities by tackling important contemporary questions in an accessible, non-partisan, and broad-minded spirit.

Zócalo, a project of the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and the New America Foundation, is based in Los Angeles and Phoenix, and roams across the country. We explore connection, place, big ideas, and what it means to be a citizen, be it locally, regionally, nationally, or globally. We are committed to welcoming a new, young, and diverse generation to the public square.

She found an event to be held in Phoenix at the Phoenix Art Museum featuring Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel and Valley of the Sun business icon, and Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University. The topic was Move Over Moore's Law - What Comes After The Silicon Computer Chip?

It seemed like an event right up our alley. Being in IT, the topic interested me and we love learning and we love learning for free. As an added bonus, there was also free wine and beer served afterwards.

You can see the presentation in full and read a recap of it here.

The topic strayed from the title. For those that don't know, Moore's Law is named for Gordon Moore, another previous CEO of Intel who said that the number of transistors on integrated circuit chips doubles every two years. It was later refined to 18 months because of the increased number of transistors and their increased speed.

It was somewhat of a casual conversation.
Certainly nothing fancy.
We expected a pretty in-depth tech talk on what the vision was for the new "chip". What we got was more of a history lesson and philosophical discussion on the United States future as a world technology and business leader.

I didn't care because I decided I could sit and listen to Craig Barrett for hours.

Some of the things we thought were notable:

  • Barrett's stellar career came down to applying to the Metallurgic Engineering program at Standford because his buddy was doing the same and that Sputnik caused the US to put a ton of money into engineering and science while he was in school making Stanford into a highly productive research school. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
  • Barrett believes that the US needs a quality primary and secondary education system (among other things like venture capital) and that we're failing to provide that. Without that base to get kids interested in science and college, we're not going to progress as we have in the past.
  • An education in Engineering teaches you to problem solve and Barrett believes that ability is the key to many corporations success. I don't know if it's true but he said the majority of CEOs come from Engineering.
  • Both Crow and Barrett believe that Crow's approach to making ASU a significant research University is critical to ASU and Arizona's success.
After the event, we chatted with another attendee then ended up in a conversation with Zocalo's founder. He thought we were delightful and we peppered him with questions about the organization.

I'm looking forward to their next events. They don't have one in Phoenix soon but I can see me watching the video of a few of the SoCal ones. By the way, I was quite impressed that they had the video and recap up by the next morning after the event.


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