Hundreds filed into the Fine Arts Auditorium Oct. 20 as The University of Texas-Pan American kicked off its sixth annual Distinguished Speakers Series with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, Inc. and chief scientist for Fusion-IO.
Wozniak is the first of four distinguished speakers invited to present at UTPA. He was greeted with a warm applause from the audience and an official welcome from Dr. Van Reidhead, dean of the college of social behavioral sciences and Dr. Timothy Mottet, chair and professor of the Department of Communications, who was also moderator for the evening.
"The goal of this series is to bring to campus speakers who not only are renowned for their accomplishments, but whose work is relevant to one or more of the academic programs offered here at UTPA," said Reidhead.
Wozniak talked about his experience in entrepreneurship, computer science and other areas in which he has excelled. He stressed the importance of education to students in the audience and what they can accomplish by working hard and pursuing their dreams. Four students had the opportunity to serve on a panel that asked Wozniak questions and he based his presentation around those questions.
"I could have never imagined the technology we have today, but I am glad to have seen the before and after," said Wozniak. "It is great being a part of companies and areas that are booming and growing technologically."
As the evening unfolded he introduced his inspirations, goals and endeavors and shared valuable advice with his audience, with students being his primary target.
"Believe in yourself and think out of the box," Wozniak said. "Communication is the key so be honest and try to get along with others, it will make work fun."
Wozniak has received numerous accomplishments and awards including the National Medal of Technology by the President of the United States in 1985, the induction into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000, and the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment. He has also dedicated himself to the service of education.
As part of his committment to education, Wozniak has donated state-of-the-art technology equipment to schools, providing teachers and students with hands-on technology that they otherwise would not have been able to obtain. He believes that students should have the opportunity to express their creativity.
"Students and teachers should always have access to technology, especially a good laptop," Wozniak said. "Kids need to be encouraged to be creative."
Beyond the world of Apple Inc., Wozniak volunteered as a fifth grade teacher for eight years. He told the audience that he had always wanted to be an engineer first and a fifth grade teacher second, so he is glad he had the opportunity to do both.
"I love teaching. Donating computers is great, but donating yourself is even better," Wozniak said.
As the night came to an end Wozniak encouraged everyone in attendance to continue growing and reaching high for big things.
For more information on the Distinguished Speakers Series, contact 956/316-7989. The events are open and free to UTPA students, faculty, staff and the general public.