The Power of Students
Part of my work officially includes speaking to students who are learning technology in one form or
another, be it Computer Science, IT, Software Engineering or anything of the sort. There’s a very specialpresentation I like making, it’s called ‘
The Power of Students
It’s interesting that some of the largest corporat
ions today were started by students or at least youngpeople under the age of 25. In technology we of course have Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Facebookand tens of other start-
ups that have made it big. There’s an interesting co
-relation between academicinstitutions and companies in Silicon Valley. Many of the big corporations we talk about started as a
, students thinking out of the box, innovating actively and consistently.
Let’s take a minute and look at the mindsets of students versus
those of people who are already in the
IT/Software industry. Anyone in industry of course knows that you just can’t do anything; you just can’tmake any product. Similarly, you just can’t make every kind of product, or be in every market. Anyone
who has worked in the software business either as an engineer or software developer, technical lead,program manager, or whatever other capacity knows the restrictions that exist in creating a softwareproduct. There are many decisions to be made, you have to use one technology instead of another
because the client wants this or that; it’s not economical to do this or that; what skills do you have?
What tools are available for the job? For the developer, Ruby on Rails looks cool and they just releasedthe ASP.NET MVC framework
, but then your manager claims it’s not a mature technology. ASP vs.
ASP.NET vs. PHP vs. Ruby; or C# vs. Java; and at the end of the day you have to make a profit.
Let’s now step into the student’s mind set. For the most part, a student can lear
n whatever, whenever.
In fact that’s the job description of a student;
. So a student can decide to build an application
simply out of curiosity, do the same app in three different languages to learn each. They don’t have to
worry about cost or pro
fitability; it’s not necessarily for sale. They don’t have to deal with restrictions
imposed by a client, users or a manager.I believe in Kenya, and Africa by extension, we have students who are just as talented and just as smartas those in
at Stanford or MIT or wherever else. So the question is what’s different? Whydon’t we have a similar environment? Well, as far as I can tell the only difference is, firstly, motivation.
David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails in a presentation called motivation a silverbullet. And motivation comes from the creation of a conducive environment for the student to haveopportunities to innovate, opportunities to learn and think outside the box, giving students the righttools, the right skills.After all, students change the world
. It’s because of students that the computing industry is what it is
today. And we in private and public corporations can do the world a favor by empowering students.