‘I can see our future leaders in this group’

A group of young people from South Auckland are spearheading a mission to get more young people to consider working in information technology.

They have organised the inaugural Y-Tech 2K18, a full day event of speakers and workshops for youth aged 15 to 18.

It will be held on Saturday (17 February) at Datacom’s Auckland office in the Wynyard Innovation Quarter.

The workshops will tackle augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), robotics and computer aided design, as well as cover artificial intelligence (AI), game creation and 3D printing.

Speakers will talk about importance of entrepreneurship in technology, the impact technology will have in the future, the ethics behind it and how technology is used in industries today.

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Transformation and innovation come from having diversity in thinking and background Kerry Topp, Datacom

They include Frances Valintine of The Mind Lab, Alexia Hilbertidou of GirlBoss, as well as Kerry Topp, associate director transformation and innovation, and Husain Al-Badry, general manager, both from Datacom.

There will be workshops hosted by Air New Zealand, ICE Professionals and OMGTech! while on the stands will be technology firms like Microsoft, Media Design School, and Xero.

“Events like Y-Tech 2K18 help to break down barriers and myths that many of our youth have about technology,” says Edwina Mistry, director of CreateOps.

Mistry first met the students in October at the Manurewa Library.

“I was connected to the students through the OMGTech! Youth Leadership Programme - Mana Tangata and part of the programme needed to put their leadership skills to use by creating an event,” says Mistry, who also started Shadow Tech.

Mistry helped the students put together the Y-Tech programme, and connected them with the industry for the venue, speakers and financial support to make it happen.

“I am so proud of what these students have achieved with just a bit of support, mentoring and confidence in them that they can do it.

“Each of them contributed based on their strengths under the strong leadership of John Chen. John is only in year 12 and the project management skills he has demonstrated is far superior than some I have seen by people in the industry,” says Mistry.

“All of them have shown excellent leaderships skills and I can see our future leaders in this group.”

John Chen says it is extremely important to have a large range of individuals speaking at the first Y-Tech.

“Through this event, we wanted to provide students with the knowledge of the possible pathways that one can go on to enter the technology industry.

“Technology is such a broad and ever-changing industry, that is why we have entrepreneurial speakers such as Alexia Hilbertidou, Rudi Bublitz and Rab Heath; speakers from industry such as Ajay Blackshah and Husain Al-Badry.

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Events like Y-Tech help to break down barriers and myths that many of our youth have about technology Edwina Mistry, CreateOps

Sok-haing Yung, one of the student organisers, says the core group for Y-Tech met during the induction for the OMGTech! Youth Leadership Programme.

“We were introduced to all the other participants from across New Zealand and right from the beginning a few of us started talking to each other and sharing ideas about our event.

“We found out that we were all from South Auckland so right then we decided to team up and create an event together.

Yung, in particular, is looking forward to the presentation of Ming Cheuk, who has a PhD in bioengineering at the University of Auckland and co-founder of Spark 64.

Alexia Hilbertidou of GirlBoss

“In this day in age where things like uploading our minds into computers and genetically engineering the perfect children becoming a real possibility, it can be difficult to know when to draw the line.

Frances Valintine of The Mind Lab

“Thus hearing what Ming Cheuk has to say on the ethics of technology is something we hope our audience would find interesting as well as relevant.”

“Talking to some of my friends at school, I realised that not many of us knew about the various fields of the tech industry,” notes Max Dang Vu, one of the student organisers.

“Those that knew, knew through articles on the internet or took computer sciences at senior high school level. Most of us were not educated thoroughly about AI, virtual reality, coding, CAD or robotics at a fundamental level, so we really didn't know just how much career options we had out there.

“It was only through OMGTech! that I realised tech is required in all career pathways, not just the tech industry.

“With the rapid evolution of the digital age, we feel that it is a calling for us to collaborate and share the knowledge that we have, that tech experts have to our peers so that they can make well-informed decisions on what to do after leaving school. That's how the idea of Y-Tech came about.”

It was only through OMGTech! that I realised tech is required in all career pathways, not just the tech industry. Max Dang Vu

Kerry Topp, associate director, transformation and Innovation at Datacom, says the technology firm is delighted to support the event.

“The tech industry is growing dramatically and we need more talented young people joining the industry.”

He says it is important for ICT leaders to get engaged in this goal.

“It is all about diversity. My role is transformation and innovation, and that comes from having diversity in thinking and background,” he says. “You get the best outcome through having more diverse people in the organisation.”

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