Thursday, September 20 , 2018, 8:08 pm | Fog/Mist 65º

 
 
 
 

MOXI Turns to Local Technology Industry for Cutting-Edge Insight and Expertise

The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation celebrates homegrown perspective as an educational advantage for learners of all ages

Vicki Chen is wireless performance research engineer at Santa Barbara-based SONOS, which has provided engineers to develop an interactive design challenge for MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation. “It’s nice for SONOS to be more involved with the community, because we’re a local company,” she says. “Being involved with the community helps people feel more like this is home, like they belong.” Click to view larger
Vicki Chen is wireless performance research engineer at Santa Barbara-based SONOS, which has provided engineers to develop an interactive design challenge for MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation. “It’s nice for SONOS to be more involved with the community, because we’re a local company,” she says. “Being involved with the community helps people feel more like this is home, like they belong.” (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: Third in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation. Click here for the first article, and click here for the second.]

There are children’s museums, there are science museums, and then there’s MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation in Santa Barbara.

The brand-new, 17,000-square-foot facility, slated to open on Lower State Street late this year, will focus on linking children, the community, arts and technology in one neat package.

“There's an incredibly dense, rich history of technology in Santa Barbara,” Steve Hinkley, MOXI president and CEO, told Noozhawk.

“We want to take the story not only of the innovation and invention they’re creating, but the story of all those people on those teams so MOXI visitors can relate with something they may be able to do, to connect visitors to their dreams.”

MOXI will be a 21st-century museum dedicated to igniting learning through innovative, interactive experiences that spark a lasting passion for science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. It expects to rely on more than 20 full- and part-time employees, along with a team of community volunteers serving children of all ages as well as lifelong learners.

“IF you talk to people about science and math traditionally, they don’t think it’s for them, but when you open the door to creativity and art, then you widen the audience to expose people to science, technology, engineering and math,” Hinkley explained. “There’s a lot to art, the explanation of which can be based in science of the materials, the process.

“There’s a scientific explanation behind tuning a guitar; it’s an inextricable part of that process.”

The museum’s interactive exhibits, designed by award-winning museum planning firm Gyroscope Inc., align with the national agenda to boost student achievement in math and science.

First envisioned as a child-focused interactive museum, MOXI founders quickly refocused on a plan that would bring learners of all ages together. Santa Barbara County’s first LEED-certified museum was designed to accommodate everything STEM, from child-focused, hands-on physics projects to adult-focused lectures and special events.

“We don’t want to talk about technology and innovation in a vacuum, but bring people from those companies to bring the work they do, or something else they’re passionate about, to present in the museum,” Hinkley said.

“When young people have a great experience in MOXI, they’ll think about those people and those companies which could be their employers of tomorrow.”

First to jump into the fray with the museum’s inaugural corporate gift was Curvature, a Goleta-based international provider of information technology network hardware.

“Their substantial gift of $300,000 is tremendous, particularly in this day and age when companies are really evaluating how they give,” Hinkley said.

MOXI president and CEO Steve Hinkley is excited that The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation can take advantage of local high-tech resources. “We want to take the story not only of the innovation and invention they’re creating, but the story of all those people on those teams so MOXI visitors can relate with something they may be able to do, to connect visitors to their dreams,” he says. Click to view larger
MOXI president and CEO Steve Hinkley is excited that The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation can take advantage of local high-tech resources. “We want to take the story not only of the innovation and invention they’re creating, but the story of all those people on those teams so MOXI visitors can relate with something they may be able to do, to connect visitors to their dreams,” he says. (Noozhawk file photo)

Goleta-based InTouch Health is in talks for possible collaborations and the use of one of its virtual-care robots at MOXI.

Santa Barbara-based SONOS has provided its engineers to develop an interactive design challenge that MOXI will roll out at school science fairs and community events, MOXI marketing and communication manager Martha Swanson said.

The project could grow to include a floor demonstration or design workshops led by SONOS engineers in the museum’s Innovation Design Laboratory.

“I personally like what MOXI is doing, bringing the whole STEM to younger generations because they are interesting and foundations for a lot of things,” said Vicki Chen, SONOS’ wireless performance research engineer.

“It’s nice for SONOS to be more involved with the community, because we’re a local company. Being involved with the community helps people feel more like this is home, like they belong.”

The pool of volunteers who have worked toward the development, construction and operation of MOXI is imbued with industry leaders like Chen.

Jill Chase, vice president of Santa Barbara-based HHV-6 Foundation and a renowned scientist in her own right, serves on the MOXI Exhibits Committee; founding board member Elizabeth Gabler is better known as the president of Fox 2000 Pictures, a division of 20th Century Fox.

“We hope to provide incredible moments for our visitors that will change their lives forever,” Hinkley said.

“Especially in those pre-teen and teenage years, it’s a huge opportunity for them to see role models who share their backgrounds and interests, to provide those opportunities to grow in the direction they want to go, to make sure they’re connected to something that resonates with them personally.”

The museum’s board is filled out with professionals who bring their expertise into the fold. Laura Ragan Walker, MOXI second vice president, brings previous museum and community television development experience.

Sergio Villa, founder and president of Alliance Wealth Strategies Inc., serves as board secretary while board treasurer Scott Hadley is better known professionally as managing partner at Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP’s Consulting Services Group.

Board member David Cash, newly retired superintendent of the Santa Barbara Unified School District, provides leadership insight to the public school system, its needs and demands, while board member Gina Carbajal brings her background with the United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara County, Special Olympics Santa Barbara and Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County.

“We’ve had tremendous support from the community, professionals who have stepped forward to offer their expertise just where we need it,” Hinkley said.

MOXI backers are counting on local industry to continue the trend when the museum opens at 125 State St.

“A lot of museums seek funding from corporate partners,” Hinkley said. “So are we, obviously, but we’d like them also to display what they’re innovating.”

Fox 2000 Pictures has jumped on board with development of a foley studio where visitors can play with sound and film, incorporating the two in a practice of post-production skills. 20th Century Fox will also provide licenses for film clips used in the studio.

“MOXI is marketing a future, a career, something they can do to change the world,” Hinkley said. “The real impact to the companies is workforce development. Their involvement with MOXI helps reach out to these young people and inspire them.

“We’re there to show them the world of possibilities.”

MOXI is currently wrapping up a $25 million capital campaign, with $4 million left to raise, to fund the building, exhibits and an endowment for the future.

Click here for more information about MOXI, or contact the organization at [email protected] or 805.708.2282. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jennifer Best can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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