Tech and Communications Academy: Teaching and Learning about the Technology Industry
When I finished high school, I was immediately drawn to the wonders of tech, with a theory that we’d soon be living in a world where anytime anyone could communicate over a computer or the internet, everyone could work together. It was also something that was a part of who I was, from my upbringing and in college.
After visiting Alaska in 2010, my confidence was that these ideas were very much real and that we would soon see technology go into all industries: social media, smartphones, and online media, among many other technology trends. I was ready.
In 2016, I earned a bachelor’s degree in math and statistics from Boise State University in Idaho and in 2017, I received a master’s degree in mathematics and statistics from University of Texas, Austin.
Taking a Graduate Degree in Math
Even though my professional interest in math and statistics has always been high, I am surprised that as I began working in business, my focus quickly shifted to learning more about the tech industry and the push for innovation. The way in which we learn math today is completely different than it was in high school.
Whether you are teaching math to students in a classroom or working in a tech startup, you must find ways to keep students engaged, stimulated, and interested in learning. In Silicon Valley and Austin, programs like Tech Trek and 3M’s Hackathon do this by teaching team-building skills.
Another great way to engage students in a STEM-related course is to make the STEM field visible. Here in Alaska, a lot of us live outside of the urbanized areas with great access to outdoor sports and opportunities to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. We also don’t have a lot of people who live here that are tech-oriented, so being exposed to STEM careers makes a tremendous difference in our student’s understanding and appreciation for what we have. I’m happy to say that even as far as elementary school, students at local schools are exposed to computer science and math.
In a few years, our students will be more tech-savvy than us, so if we are committed to passing on this tech-savvy knowledge, it’s important to keep it in the schools.
It’s also important to note that even though students can learn about STEM topics from a textbook, it’s important to note that we can learn more if we are exposed to learning about these things firsthand. Tech Trek, for example, gives us all an opportunity to learn at the drop of a hat, as we are in a “How To” mentorship and classroom environment.
Staying Up to Date with the Technology Industry
In some cases, we can take technology jobs in our own backyards. Once I found out that I wanted to own a coffee shop, it took about nine months to get the permits to open the place. In a good year, we would have had to work about 60 hours to get them approved. I am certain it would’ve taken about six months to get them approved the year before and it wouldn’t have been possible to open in the nine months that we did, if I hadn’t had everything already laid out for me.
Back in my hometown, I would learn from my parents that friends of theirs in the valley who were working in Silicon Valley were making big bucks in that industry. This was part of the reason that I decided to go to college and study IT, knowing that I would never be able to live where they were able to make such a high salary. Now, I truly think it’s a blessing that I had this opportunity to learn how to prepare for the tech industry from day one.