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High (school) tech
A decade ago, the height of personal computing was “The New iMac” — those long-since-obsolete Apple desktops featuring a modern-looking LCD monitor mounted on top of a white dome.
The entertainment world was still trying to figure out how to deal with pirated file-sharing online, having recently litigated Napster out of business, but facing a crop of new peer-to-peer networks.
Facebook didn’t exist yet.
Neither did YouTube or Twitter — and BlackBerry had just released the first cellphone capable of browsing the Internet.
The tech world was a vastly different place 10 years ago, when the Kamloops-Thompson school district teamed up with the University College of the Cariboo and other local organizations to offer a conference for students thinking about a career in computers.
Originally open only to female high-school students, the conference has since grown into a two-day co-ed event for eighth and ninth graders in Kamloops and area.
The 10th edition, known since 2009 as Discover the World of Info Tech, was held this week at the Henry Grube Education Centre, where 140 students got to learn more about what a high-tech career looks like.
Organizer Brenda Mathews, who also happens to be a computing professor at Thompson Rivers University, said the students are broken into groups and put through three sessions — software, hardware and “blender,” the latter described as an introduction to 3D modelling.
“The students rotate so they all get to see these different areas,” she told KTW.
“And, it’s all run by computer professionals who have donated their time for the day.”
Even the lunch break is spent learning, with students breaking into small groups and sitting down for conversations with mentors.
The event is sponsored by SD73, but Mathews said students from neighbouring districts are also welcome to attend.
This year, she said, there were 170 applications for 140 spots.
“It’s a pretty fantastic event,” she said.
“The whole goal is to match up the education with what the jobs are.”
And, of course, to plan for the future.
TRU gave away two $750 scholarships to students thinking about enrolling in the university’s computing program.
Mathews said grades 8 and 9 are important times for students considering a tech career, because they have to decide what courses to take leading up to graduation.
“If they keep math right through Grade 12, then options are open to them,” she said.
“If they dump math, they’ll have to do some huge upgrading.
“Even though they’re young, I think young people still think about their careers.”