Steve Jobs was just one of the two Steves who launched Apple Computer in the mid-’70s.
The other, Steve Wozniak, did the real computing work. Lately, the famed programmer and computer designer has been working as High Point University’s “Innovator in Residence” for a campus project that has students developing a high-tech device that reads brainwaves and turns those thoughts into physical actions that can be carried out by machines.
Wozniak has been visiting the campus recently to observe and to offer his assistance on the project. In one test of the device, computer science major Ashlinn Corcoran put on the headset and the device followed the instruction of Corcoran’s thoughts and turned on a light bulb.
According to a press release from the university regarding the events, Innovator in Residence Wozniak “cheered on the group for their progress and discussed troubleshooting such a high-tech device.”
High Point University (HPU) students, needless to say, are thrilled to get a hands-on learning experience with the man responsible for pioneering the personal computer technology that completely changed life as we know it.
On Sunday, Feb. 13 and Monday, Feb. 14, Wozniak took part in a number of large campus-wide presentations as well as in smaller learning sessions.
As part of the event, Dr. Brad Barlow, an associate professor of astrophysics at HPU, led a session titled “Leading with Life Skills: A Q&A with Wozniak.”
While Steve Jobs was reclusive and difficult to approach, the gregarious Wozniak is famous for offering his time to help others. At HPU recently, he mentored students and participated in a Q&A with game design students, a micro session with a software engineering class, and a brainstorming session with a student group called HPU Minds – the group that’s been building the brainwave-reading headset.
Wozniak designed and built the first Apple I kits in 1976, as well as, soon after, the legendary Apple II computer.
At HPU, “Woz,” as he is called, has been guiding students through troubleshooting while performing tests on the high-tech device. According to a press release from the school, he also suggested other projects that the student team should work on.
“I look for little signs of obstacles if I’m running into one issue after another issue,” Wozniak was quoted as saying. “Those signs may make you take a different direction. What if after getting the light to turn on you try to get a hue or a color, like thinking about the color you want? It may take time, but you’ll be proud of it when you get it done. That’s the biggest motivator in my life.”
HPU students also get access to other global leaders throughout the year.
First-year computer science major student Caitlin Black said it’s an amazing opportunity as a freshman to interact with people like Wozniak.
“HPU opens the door to a lot of people who could really help connect you with your career,” Black said. “For a computer science major, meeting Steve Wozniak was really helpful and beneficial,” because students get to hear “his insight into how computer science and technology are helping society.”
Currently, a global business leader is at the university as part of the same innovators’ program. Former Chick-fil-A Vice President for Talent Dee Ann Turner – HPU’s “Talent Acquisition Expert in Residence,” – is making a campus visit.
THESE are the kind of stories that can propel the Triad toward the goal of becoming an academic and R&D hub that should be promoted as widely as possible. Local student working with cutting edge technology taught by one of the key tech investors and visionaries. Hopefully HPU can leverage Woz’s visiting professorship into a public-private research partnership that will achieve a marketable breakthrough in the singularity of brain/computer interface. These are the kinds of jobs the Triad should be busting to develop and attract – high touch, high tech work that cannot be outsourced to China or replaced by an algorithm. Local colleges should be much more aggressive in courting business and technology leaders to come into the classroom and groom students for the jobs of the 21st Century. Maybe some day a revolutionary patent will be filed by a Triad researcher that will change the way the world works for many. Much more interesting to read and potentially more beneficial to the community than what was said at a council meeting or who got arrested for what.