Legend makes a great impression at technology conference
DENVER – The Colorado Technology Association conference is a showcase of the latest advances by some of the biggest names in technology, including Google, IBM and this year—Legend High School. Students in the school’s technology program were invited by the association to showcase some of their work in an Education Zone. While they couldn’t compete with cutting-edge gadgets like Google Glass; Legend’s booth did get a lot of traffic.
On September 11, the students spent a few hours demonstrating their robots, apps and other projects they’ve been working on.
“It’s cool to have people come up and ask you questions about our high school and what you’re learning,” said Legend sophomore Chloe Huntzinger.
“We’ve already had a couple people come by, ask us what we’re doing here. What classes we’re taking. Why we made these specific robots,” added Legend junior Steven Ripple.
Several of the conference participants, including Jordan Olivero from IBM, tried their hand at robotic freeze tag and left impressed by the students.
“I originally thought, 'these were just remote control cars.' I was like, ‘what is so special here?’ Then I asked, ‘How did you guys develop it,’” Olivero explained. “From scratch they built the remote control car. They have a program to tell the components what to do, how to do them and how well to do them and what attributes they should have. It’s a lot more complex than I thought.”
He says he is glad today’s high school students have the opportunity to explore technology.
“When I ran into the Legend High School kids, I saw myself, only 15 years ago,” Olivero added. “I was intrigued by the kind of curiosity that these robots and this type of activity drives for kids of that age. That will set these kids on a trajectory that will take them to success.”
“It’s cool to think that someone from IBM, which is such a big company, would come up and talk to a high school student about what they’re doing in school and what technology they’re learning,” Huntzinger said.
Beverly Gibson with the Colorado Technology Association says the organization has a dual purpose for inviting students to the conference: introducing students to the technology industry and visa versa.
“It’s really important to this organization to show the leaders of the future,” explained Gibson. “These kids are where we are going and they’re such an important part of our technology here in Colorado. What they’re doing is cutting edge.”
Their interest in electronics, programming and engineering is key, Gibson explains. She also works for Insperity, a technology human resources company, and knows the huge demand for qualified workers in this industry.
“Right now there are just not enough people going into the technology field,” Gibson said. “These kids, if they keep on this path will be the most hirable group of people coming out of college that there is.”
Beyond the skills they’re learning in Legend’s technology lab, Douglas County’s focus on 4Cs appears to be paying off. Olivero says the problem solving and teamwork demonstrated is positioning them well for the demands of industry.
“IBM and a lot of technology companies are looking for folks that are thinking, thinking critically, asking the questions ‘what if’ and ‘what could be’ not ‘what is’ and let’s make this happen now. Let’s design the future. Let’s develop what is not currently available today,” Olivero said. “That takes people that are willing to take challenges, willing to fail, willing to try new things.”
That is incredibly important because the world, and especially technology, is rapidly changing.
“What they’re seeing today won’t even be the technology that they’ll be using, it will be so far beyond this,” Gibson said.
This is the second year of Legend’s engineering program. The students feel the focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, will definitely prepare them to compete for the college and career of their choice.
“All of our classes are giving us practical skills that will get us into the work force and into business,” explained Legend senior Roni Lubofsky. “The skills I’m learning in school right now are going to help me for the rest of my life.”
While many people have to wait for college or later to build apps, use 3D printers or to program robots, Legend’s technology students get a head start.
Legend technology teacher Deb Tawzer says a big part of the program is connecting each of the exercises to real world applications and to people that work in the field.
“When we have student do their final projects at the end of the semester, we bring industry people in to help evaluate those projects for us; to tell us what’s going on in industry and how the students work compares to what is going on in industry” Tawzer explained.
There is no doubt that some of these experiences will look great on a college application or resume.
“These are the skills that employers are going to want to see,” Lubofsky said.
While visiting the Google booth, Lubofsky dreams of a day, in the not too distant future, when she will get to work for the company.
“Hopefully in 10 years we will be the ones that are creating innovative technology,” Lubofsky said.