Students: Become Creators Not Just Consumers of Tech


ot a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the conveniences that technology brings to everyday life. No sooner does an idea surface than I find, as the Apple slogan goes, “there’s an app for that.” I can “google” virtually anything using powerful search engines, online references and news media, and get answers in seconds. Big data is literally at my fingertips. It wasn’t that long ago that research meant hours in the library, walking up and down the aisles between stacks. Speaking of walking, I know if I’ve fulfilled my daily commitment to walk 10,000 steps with a glance at my smartphone, which also takes pictures, helps me avoid traffic jams, alerts me of upcoming meetings, and helps me stay connected with friends and family. Digital technology has become so “smart” and easy to use, it seems like magic, but of course it’s not. An incredible amount of technology and programming goes into making our devices so indispensable. And it’s changing our future.


As a student in the Digital Age, you are preparing for a career in a new economy in which traditional jobs are being phased out or reimagined. Automation, globalization, and changes in our needs and expectations demand new skillsets.

To thrive in the 21st century virtually everyone needs to know programming, the language of digital workplace.

Whether the dream is to be an engineer, a psychologist or a business executive, no matter what your post-college plans may be, you will need more than a vague familiarity with the myriad techniques available to gather, analyze and articulate the insights hidden in the ocean of data available to us today.

You are fortunate to have unprecedented access to educational programs being developed by an interdisciplinary community of universities, tech companies, and entrepreneurs who are looking for college graduates ready to tackle tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. This is what the Technology Pathways Initiative is all about: building new pathways for students who may have assumed technical education and careers were beyond their reach or outside their sphere of interest.

If you’re reading this blog-post, you are already on a productive track. The next step is to learn more about your options, to go beyond using apps and devices to designing and creating them because, again, it’s not magic. There’s an innovator in all of us.

 Dr. Belle Wei is Carolyn Guidry Chair in Engineering Education and Innovative Learning at San José State University, and President of the Center for Advancing Women in Technology (CAWIT).

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