Since starting in the MIPI Consortium of the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) a year ago, I have had many opportunities to get involved in youth outreach, from kids in middle school to incoming college freshmen. Most of my work has been with high school age students, which can be strange for me at times, because I myself only just completed my freshmen year at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Even though I’m now officially a “college kid,” I still think of myself as being very young. It has been an interesting challenge for me to get young students interested in my work.
A year ago I was in the same boat as many of these students. I was unsure of what I wanted to do or what I wanted to study; I did not really have any direction. I spent my time worrying about much more trivial things, so choosing a career path didn’t particularly concern me. I believe this is the biggest challenge of youth outreach; giving young adults a reason to care. When I was younger, it was very easy for me to let information pass over my head; unless someone made a concerted effort to gain my attention, I would miss out completely. The first time I did a demo at the UNH-IOL, I realized that I needed to consider what would have made me interested if I were in these students’ shoes. Another realization that came after doing my first demo was that I was much more interested in my work than any of the students were. I had to ask myself, why? Why is it that something I didn’t care about a year ago, I now found utterly fascinating? I realized that I was interested in it for two reasons; I understood how it worked, and I understood what it was used for. So I put myself in their shoes and said to myself, “That’s cool, but why should I care?” and I modified my presentation in order to answer these unspoken questions for my audience. I explained how MIPI standards will soon encompass all of the components within modern smartphones, leading to more technological advances and lower costs. I also explained how a standards body, which probably seems pretty boring, allows technology companies to focus on innovation instead of compatibility.
While I’ve found it to be very challenging to get high school students interested in my work, I truly enjoy the opportunity to pass on some of the knowledge and enthusiasm that I have gained in my first year at the UNH-IOL. It is worth every bit of effort to find ways to relate to students and get them interested in technology.
Jeremy Hochschwender, MIPI Technician