Take Our Children to Work Day

Posted on July 23rd, 2010

Today, IBM hosted a “Take Our Children to Work” day.  (All that follows is my own opinion, and does not reflect IBM’s opinions — a necessary disclaimer).  As I have for the past several years, I talked with dozens of students about where robotics is, what’s coming next (just around the corner), and how they might prepare themselves for a future that’s unpredictable.

After all, as I pointed out to the students, technology changes our lives unbelievably quickly.  Twenty years ago, home computers were still rare.  Fifteen years ago, the Internet barely existed.  Ten years ago, cell phones were expensive (not unheard-of, but rare).  Five years ago, YouTube had just been launched.

And yet, today, all of these things are virtually impossible for us to remove from our lives.

It’s beyond amazing.  How fast things change.

The sessions were more than successful — I received dozens of compliments about how much improved the presentation was over previous years.  Funnily enough, I get the same message every year, but the number of comments was much more than previous years.  I also received spontaneous applause, which is actually fairly rare for seminars like these.  As you can likely tell, I was pleased.

I even got my best quote ever from one of the student attendees:  “[Mike’s session] was better than recess — it was as good as a weekend!”

The entire conversation went something like this:

Just before the third session, one of the students came up and was telling me about how others had highly recommended my session.  I said, “Wow, sounds like you’re setting the expectations really high.”

He replied, “Yeah, I’m thinking it’s going to be better than recess!”

I laughed.  “Well, recess is pretty good.  If I can be as good as recess, I’ll have exceeded my goals.”

“Yeah…it would be even better if it was better than summer vacation!”

“Well, I only have an hour.  I have a feeling I’d need more time for that.” I said, smiling.

I gave the presentation, sharing lots of examples and thoughts on how cool robotics is.  Afterward, while many of the students were playing with the robots, I asked the student, “So, what did you think?  Was it better than recess?”

He thought for a moment.  “It was better than recess — it was as good as a weekend!”

Priceless.

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