A primary outcome of our Autism Advantage program is in having taught our students to effectively use their autistic traits as an advantage in the workplace. Doing so allows them utilize their unique perspectives, experiences, and talents to help their employers and teammates solve for complex problems. Innovative environments require many perspectives. Teaching our students how to use their skills to collaborate and compliment the skills of others helps grow innovative environments along with their own career success.
Two weeks ago, data analytic students from our most recent Autism Advantage class visited the BNY Mellon Silicon Valley Innovation Center in Palo Alto. This allowed our students to understand and anticipate new trends in data application. More importantly, it modeled for them how innovative environments thrive by fostering collaboration between different skill sets.
Joy Peacock, BNY Mellon Innovation Center Engagement Director, provided our Autism Advantage students with an overview of the work of BNY Mellon since its first component was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1784. Peacock also detailed how the company intersects with the technology sector and how BNY Mellon utilizes its Silicon Valley Innovation Center to conduct applied research and leverage open source and techniques to deliver strategic components for the BNY Mellon digital cloud. Like all innovative environments, collaboration between skill sets and diverse perspectives is key to its success.
Emphasizing the center’s collaborative process was Prakash Arunchalam, Lead Data Scientist for BNY Mellon. Arunchalam demonstrated the growth of data application into new areas, and how successful employees are ones who are skilled in translating the work of one area (such as data) into solutions for a variety of projects and departments. Arunchalam did this by providing our Autism Advantage students with an overview of machine learning along with a thumbnail perspective of how his team combines advanced machine learning and optimization techniques with “big data” to develop innovative financial services products for their clients.
The session with BNY Mellon was held immediately ahead of a MeetUp event in the center convened by the Silicon Valley Financial Services Cloud Meetup Group. Founded in 2014, the group connects professionals across a broad spectrum of technology to share ideas, learn from subject matter experts, and track technology pertinent to modern financial services clouds. That evening, the group hosted a panel discussion on deep learning with Umair Akeel (Partner at CTO at Bessemer Venture Partners), Vivek Kumar (Director of the Advanced Technology Group at Dolby), and Dr. Adrian Kaehler (Founder of the Silicon Valley Deep Learning Group). There, our Autism Advantage students listened to how each panelist used their experiences to train and grow talent in deep learning.
Our Autism Advantage students also leveraged their time at BNY Mellon to gain additional knowledge through informally networking with members of the Silicon Valley Financial Services Cloud Meetup Group along with BNY Mellon employees. Meeting future industry colleagues allowed them to model best practices and grow connections which will allow them to mature as employees throughout their career. Thank you to BNY Mellon and to the Silicon Valley Financial Services Cloud group for hosting us. The small investment of time you gave to our Autism Advantage students ensures that their future employers will one day be able to thank you as well.
Hey! Our friend Kenneth is riding his bike this July for 100 miles from Washington, DC to the Atlantic Ocean. He decided to do this on his own to raise awareness and funds to train autistic adults through Autism Advantage. We think that’s awesome and hope you do to. You can support his effort by clicking here. Check it out!