Monday, June 20, 2011

Creeks, a Cessna Cardinal, a Time Capsule and Cake: Almaden Celebrates 100

On the last day of IBM's 99th year, hundreds of thousands IBMers around the world volunteered their time and talent in support of smarter planet initiatives. Recognizing the importance of water as a resource in the city of San Jose, researchers at Almaden have been working over the past year on a number of different water-related projects: improved membrane filtration techniques for safer drinking water, solar powered water desalination and most recently, an iPhone app called Creek Watch that allows every day passers-by to report crucial information about local creeks and streams to water authorities. Fueled by the notion of crowdsourcing, anyone with a smart phone can now be a "citizen scientist" and help improve local waterways without having a background in biology.

With water in mind, almost 50 IBMers from the research lab at Almaden set out to their designated zones on June 15th, equipped with their Creek Watch smart phone applications in hand as well as water monitoring kits provided by the city. The kits allowed volunteers to monitor temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity, while Creek Watch allows users to report the flow rate, water level and trash presence into a central database. Collecting data at over 31 streams in San Jose, IBMers were able to provide the city's staff with valuable information to protect natural resources, and become stewards of their watersheds.

A news clip from CBS explains why it's important that IBM dedicates its volunteer efforts to this important resource in San Jose:

Having such a dedicated focus on water, the Almaden lab extended its services by offering the city social media analysis for community outreach messages, business models to understand the effect that our natural waterways have on other systems in the city, and data warehousing solutions to efficiently store and aggregate the data collected. Volunteer Renu Tewari said, "We really wanted to make an impact. Instead of going out individually to complete our service hours, we focused all of our efforts on water, and we hope that we make a difference." (Morgan Hill Times)

Photos collected from volunteers can be viewed in an online album here.

The following day - June 16th - in recognition of IBM's official 100th birthday, IBM Research - Almaden gathered for a commemorative lab photo, taken from a small Cessna plane thousands of feet above - looking down to see "IBM 100th" spelled out by over 500 IBMers donning their IBM globe logo t-shirts and celebratory "Silver Centennial" medallions. Here's another one of the crew waving.

Over 60 IBMers continued the fun by being present for the official groundbreaking ceremony for Almaden's 25 year time capsule, set to be buried near the lobby's flagpole, and not opened until 2036. Several employees contributed artifacts and items to the time capsule including: Blue Gene/L compute card, Gaussian 92 tape and manual, IBM 3420 magnetic tape drive, STM gold writing, Li-Air battery test cell, Tivoli Storage Manager timeline, cognitive computing chips, Almaden Views brochures and magazines, press clippings, lab photos and more. IBM Research - Almaden vice president and lab director Josephine Cheng took the first 'dig' and passed the shovel along to a few other researchers.

The lab was treated to a musical performance by Alex De Luca and Kevin Roche, performing an original piece to the tune of "In the year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)" by Zager and Evans - in their rendition cleverly named "In the year Almaden 25," the duo took us through 25 years of innovation at Almaden, complete with lasers, glow in the dark costumes, fog machines, live guitar and vocals.

Four volunteer contestants were then invited down to the stage to participate in an IBM Centennial Trivia Game Show. After 4 rounds of questions and a final question, in which they waged their decided number of points to capture the big win, George Rhoten came out on top. The fun continued outside of the auditorium, where all IBMers, still clad in their black IBM logo shirts, gathered for cake and spirits for the rest of the afternoon.

Now begins IBM Century 2.0! Thanks to all who participated and contributed to these events.

Check out Alex and Kevin performing "In the year Almaden 25" on YouTube:

Here's a fun video dedicated to IBM's 100 years and Almaden's 25:

Photo captions (top to bottom):
  • IBM Research - Almaden manager Sandeep Gopisetty uses his Creek Watch iPhone app to snap a picture of Los Alamitos Creek
  • Over 500 IBMers from Almaden spelled out "IBM 100th" for an aerial photo
  • IBM Research - Almaden vice president and lab director Josephine Cheng kicks off the time capsule burial ceremony
  • IBMers taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the "Almaden 25 year time capsule" to be opened in 2036
  • Alex de Luca and Kevin Roche providing live musical entertainment to commemorate Almaden's 25th anniversary
  • Four IBMers playing the IBM Centennial Trivia Game Show
Additional photos featuring the June 16th activities at IBM Research - Almaden can be found online here.


  1. I am a Research Software Engineer at Almaden. My wife, Diane, and I visited 6 sites as part of the Creek Watch Snap Shot day for San Jose. We enjoyed our morning out in the fresh air visiting places we've never been in all the years we've lived in San Jose. I am looking forward to receiving the results of the measurements and the City has promised to provide these. Two of the three steams we sampled were alkaline with a pH of 9 and it will be interesting to see if there is an explanation.

    Diane and I have volunteered to continue monitoring streams for the city and look forward to that activity beginning in a few weeks once some paperwork is done.

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