HIGH POINT, N.C., March 7, 2016 – He’s the man who invented the personal computer and built Apple with Steve Jobs.
The world has him to thank for the Apple I and Apple II computers that laid the foundation for future developments like the iPod, iPad and iPhones we hold in our hands today.
Now Steve Wozniak, one of the greatest inventors of our time, is taking on a new role as High Point University’s Innovator in Residence. Through an ongoing partnership, Wozniak will connect with HPU students and faculty for experiential learning, beginning with a visit to campus on March 23.
Access to Innovators
The partnership with Wozniak stems from HPU’s focus on providing access to innovators for students.
Wozniak, along with Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone, Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph, former Yahoo Vice President Seth Godin and a list of other global influencers have all been attracted to the HPU campus and spent time with students. Students with business plans pitch their concepts directly to these tech icons, with Stone and Randolph being two examples from the 2015-2016 academic year alone.
“One of the best parts about HPU is having access to these innovators,” said Mandy Engelman, freshman at HPU who pitched her concept to Randolph in the fall. “Just to hear someone who has been in our shoes and wanted to create something when they were our age is great. I want to end up in their position where I create a company that impacts so many people’s lives positively, so getting their advice is huge for me.”
Wozniak served as the university’s Commencement speaker in 2013, when he also spent time with computer science majors and took part in a Discussion with Dr. Nido Qubein that aired on North Carolina public television. The two discussed breakthroughs in the future of education, including the Montlieu Academy of Technology iPad Project. That’s when HPU committed funds and resources to putting iPads into the hands of every Montlieu student.
Ever since, Wozniak has been an advocate for HPU, and it led him to join the university in a unique way.
“I talk about HPU everywhere I go,” Wozniak says. “Their focus on student development is second to none. And their leadership is dedicated to the personal and professional development of their students. How they deliver it is truly innovative.”
When students meet these individuals and receive their guidance and mentorship, no longer are they influential icons of an industry. Suddenly, they are advocates for the success of students – a real person with real words of advice and encouragement.
The simple lesson learned – I can do it.
Where Innovation and Scholarship Intersect
Part of Wozniak’s time at HPU will be spent visiting classes led by faculty in computer science, physics, education, communication, entrepreneurship and more. He joins a stellar team of educators on the HPU campus in developing the next generation of leaders.
“We look forward to learning from Steve Wozniak’s extensive knowledge in technology and engineering, drawing inspiration from his interactions, and finding the courage to be just as bold and transformative in our own work as he is in his,” says Dr. Brad Barlow, assistant professor of astrophysics at HPU. “His tenure here as Innovator in Residence is another example of what makes our university unique. Our students do not merely learn about the great innovators and leaders of the world; they hear from them directly and work alongside them.”
And thanks to curriculum that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit, students always learn in innovative ways on the HPU campus. There’s HPU’s four-credit course structure, which allows students to devote 25 percent of instruction to experiential learning opportunities outside the classroom.
There’s the Business Plan Competition, where students launch companies and compete for start-up funds. And there’s scholarly research, which propels students years ahead of where the world expects them to be. Through unique mentorship programs, students frequently publish and present their scholarly work as undergraduates at professional conferences and in professional journals meant for graduate students.
“Students graduate from HPU with a depth of knowledge that transcends their academic intelligence,” says Dr. Nido Qubein, HPU president. “Life skills, experiences that include trial and error, and the benefit of having learned from leaders like Steve Wozniak most only read about. It’s the art of the possible, and it’s innovation at its core.”
Preparing Students for the World as It is Going to Be
“It’s like the future.”
That’s what Stone, who’s continuing to develop new technology in Silicon Valley, said when he visited HPU’s Cottrell Hall, the newest building on campus that’s home to the Flanagan Center for Student Success, in January.
The glass walled environment inside reflects that of Apple and Google, and it houses all aspects of experiential learning under a single roof – Career and Professional Development, Internship Services, Study Abroad, Undergraduate Research and Creative Works.
There’s an Entrepreneurship Center, Sales Education Center and Think Tank – all designed to help students amass experiences and connect the dots between their education and success in a competitive marketplace. Fast. Global. And ever-changing. That is the world as it is going to be. Cottrell Hall not only lets students experience the future, but it exposes students to the demands of a globally connected world. Thanks to that approach, 95 percent of HPU’s Class of 2015 began careers or graduate school within six months of graduation.
“These students are systematically more advanced for 18 to 22-year-olds, and they certainly are braver,” said Eric Hill, the CEO and co-founder of BioRX who served as a judge for the university’s Elevator Pitch Competition. “When I was 20, I had no idea of how to start a business. But here at High Point University, they say with no problem, ‘I’m going to start a company.’”
Innovation is in High Point University’s DNA, as recognized in two rankings it holds – #1 Most Innovative Regional College in the South by U.S. News & World Report and Most Innovative Small Colleges in America by Best Degree Programs.
Those rankings reflect the transformative environment at HPU. The Innovator in Residence program is, in a way, new to campus, but in another way, it’s part of what’s been unfolding at HPU for many years through curriculum, programs and facilities infused with and centered on innovation.