Apple Co-Founder Coaches HPU Engineering Students

Dec 01st, 2021

Apple Co-Founder Coaches HPU Engineering Students

Steve Wozniak, HPU’s Innovator in Residence, regularly connects with students during in-person visits and virtual workshops.


HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 1, 2021 – The co-founder of Apple Computer continued coaching students in High Point University’s Webb School of Engineering during a virtual session on Nov. 30.

Steve Wozniak, who pioneered the first personal computer, is HPU’s Innovator in Residence. He regularly visits campus to connect with students in all majors, while also guiding students in the engineering school through a specific project.

For the last several months, students have worked on a complex project that includes reading brainwaves through a headset, then converting those thoughts into commands to control a device. A small robot is the group’s target device, and Wozniak has regularly checked in on their progress.

HPU Students with Steve Wozniak 2
Dr. Michael Oudshoorn, dean of the Webb School of Engineering, welcomed students and Wozniak as the session kicked off.

Sometimes the group hits a technical issue, with which Wozniak provides possible avenues to a solution. Other times, the group has questions about teamwork, productivity and the overall goals of their project.

“When it comes to what should really come out of this project, the main thing I want you to focus on is your own learning,” said Wozniak. “This project is giving you experience that will take you further in your own life. I would love to see you grow from learning in this experience and even influence other students. Let them see what you did and say, ‘Wow, they stuck to this project. Look what they did.’ You could inspire others.”

Wozniak also shared stories about his own life and experiences. While he’s worked on too many projects to count, he told students that the culmination of constantly working on different projects leads to confidence, skills and motivation.

“I hope some of you engage in startups in the future because you had a neat experience through this project,” said Wozniak. “This is what’s like. It’s hard. It doesn’t come about easily and trivially. Not giving up and keeping at it is so important. You’ll move forward with greater minds and reach greater goals.”

Students appreciated the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest engineers in the world.

“The call with Steve Wozniak was an incredibly valuable opportunity that I was honored to be a part of,” said Ash Corcoran, a computer science major. “He is an inspiring presence who loves to share his unbridled excitement for technology with anyone. He spoke to us not only about technical questions we had regarding our current project, which involves using a very complex brain scanner, but also about the problem-solving process, productivity ‘hacks and goal setting. One of the most memorable moments was his encouragement to follow our hearts and enjoy the learning process of this project.”

“Mr. Wozniak shared with us his work of making technological advancements in society and what he has learned from overcoming work obstacles,” said sophomore Hanna Zelis. “These stories allowed us to learn new ways to approach challenges as we embark on our research. His words were very inspirational, reminding us of our personal motivation to achieve success in our project and life goals.”

Many HPU students in the group have worked with Wozniak several times and affectionally know him as “Woz.” For freshman Landon Hardister, it was his first time interacting with the tech industry titan.

HPU Students with Steve Wozniak 3
Students had the opportunity to ask questions to Wozniak throughout the session. Pictured is Rafik Tarbari, a student from West Africa, seeking Wozniak’s advice on building a start-up company in the tech industry.

“The experience was empowering as most 18-year-olds like myself do not get to speak to someone as knowledgeable as Woz,” says Hardister. “He was wonderful to chat with and was very good at answering our questions. It’s amazing that he also bought a headset that he can use to guide us on our project. It was very useful hearing him talk about problems we have and how to solve them.”

“Meeting with Steve Wozniak was a dream come true for me as I’ve always wanted to meet with him since I was back in Togo,” said Rafik Tarbari, a student from West Africa. “It was such a pleasure to have him share his successful and very motivating experience with us, and on a personal level, have him give me such great pieces of advice on how I should be flexible in reshaping my start-up ideas to follow the market.”

“One of the most important pieces I got from this exchange with him is that working on a start-up is much more difficult than working in a company,” added Tarbari. “As a start-up owner, I know I will have to work harder and consider alternative architectures of the product I want to build and sell. More than ever, talking to him made me see things from a different angle and has given me a much stronger motivation in achieving my goals.”