by Divina Paredes

Kiwi students invited to ‘walk on Mars’

Jul 24, 2018
APIsArtificial IntelligenceAugmented Reality

New Zealand students will have the chance to experience what it’s like to join a space mission and take a virtual tour of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

They can immerse in a virtual reality experience, riding the cycler designed by Buzz Aldrin,the second person to walk on the moon, to transport humans to Mars.

Kiwi startup 8i demonstrates how it built a hologram of Buzz Aldrin

This is through the Ytech-Walking on Mars, a day-long programme to be held at the Manukau Institute of Technology on August 11.

It is open to high school students, says Edwina Mistry, founder of CreateOps and organiser of Ytech events.

CreateOps and YTech are organising the free event, which aims to encourage young Kiwis to consider a career in technology.

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Students see what’s possibleGus Gilmore, Manukau Institute of Technology

Glen Willoughby, chief information officer at Downer and an advisor digital IT at NASA JPL, will talk about the Curiosity and InSight Missions to Mars.

Tom Soderstrom, chief technology and innovation officer at NASA JPL will join the group through videoconferencing. He will take the students on a virtual tour of the JPL campus in Pasadena.

Glen Willoughby and Tom Soderstrom

NanoGirl Dr Michelle Dickinson will talk about STEM opportunities for today’s students.

Dr Michelle Dickinson, senior lecturer at the University of Auckland

“Manukau Institute of Technology is passionate about student success and tertiary education,” says Gus Gilmore, MIT chief executive, as he talks about the school’s support for the project.

“Events like Walking on Mars are important for students to get a taste of what they can expect when they study at MIT and what tertiary study in general is all about,” he says.

“It’s not scary or unattainable but rather the start of a journey into their new career. Students see what’s possible and can transition from high school into tertiary study more easily.”

Mistry says other organisations supporting the programme are Microsoft, TechWomen NZ, Datacom, ATEED and NanoGirl Labs.

The attendees will have the opportunity to test out the latest technologies demonstrated by Microsoft and Datacom and hear about educational pathways from Manukau Institute of Technology.

YTech is a committee made up of seven South Auckland high school students, who were mentored by Mistry.

Edwina Mistry

In February this year, YTEch ran the YTech 2k18, which aims to encourage high school kids to consider choosing STEM subjects by exposing them to careers in technology through workshops, keynote speakers and career panels run by industry. More than 200 students and industry representatives attended.

Mistry says the Ytech founding committee will be recruiting seven new members. They will be mentored by the seven founding members and will join the committee for the 2019 YTech event in February next year.

The students will be involved in all the planning of the events, says Mistry.

The goal is to grow Ytech and spread it to other cities in NZ by sharing the successful Ytech model with other youth that may want to run it.

This way, we are creating an opportunity for students to become leaders, use their leadership skills, mentor and give back to the community,says Mistry. “This is setting them up for success in the real world.”

Edwina Mistry with the founding members of YTech and NZTech CEO Graeme Muller.

Dr Buzz Aldrin

  • Advice from the original moonwalker: Buzz Aldrin on visiting the moon and conquering Mars

  • Chris Hadfield: Lessons on leadership from a space aviator

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  • The CIO’s guide to driving digital transformation

  • Preparing the next generation for a future in tech

  • Dealing with the digital divide

  • Digital Principles: The Kiwi manifesto to demystify digital transformation

  • How to provide the spark for continuous learning

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