HIGH POINT– High Point University students learned Tuesday that Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, HPU’s Innovator in Residence, isn’t only one of the world’s greatest engineers – he’s also an impressive practical jokester.

That’s because Wozniak has a zest for life that stems from channeling his work into improving the lives of others.

In college, Wozniak bought parts from RadioShack to create a TV jammer. When his classmates went to the only location on campus with a color television, Wozniak used the jammer to make students think the TV was broken.

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Steve Wozniak, right, at HPU’s Innovation Summit talks with Dr. Michael Oudshoorn, HPU’s founding dean of the Webb School of Engineering.

“When I turned the jammer on and made the picture fuzzy, one student went up to the TV and hit it,” Wozniak told a crowd of students inside HPU’s Callicutt Auditorium during today’s Innovation Summit. “So, I turned the jammer off, and the TV went back to normal. He thought that hitting the TV fixed it. A student sat in a chair next to the TV for the rest of the year, and every time I jammed it, they’d hit it and I’d make the TV go back to normal.”

He shared this story and many others with students during an interactive question-and-answer session, which was moderated by Dr. Michael Oudshoorn, founding dean of the Webb School of Engineering.

His point was this: When he first started out, he didn’t become an engineer to make money. He did the work because he was passionate about it.

“Yes, I worked as an engineer at Hewlett Packard, the top engineering company in the world that only made things other engineers use,” said Wozniak. “But I designed Apple I and Apple II computers all on my own time. Every day, my work motivated me, and so did the social change that was possible because of these computers. I showed the design off and passed it around to others for free.”

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Steve Wozniak on stage at HPU

Practicing and hands-on learning are two important lessons he emphasized to students as well.

“The only way you’re going to be skillful at something is if you do it over and over again and put in a lot of hours,” Wozniak told them. “The harder and longer you work at it, the more skilled you get. You teach yourself on the fly. It’s the way that inventors do their work.”

A group of students known as HPUMinds were proof of that during the event. The group has worked with Wozniak for the last three years to transform a golf cart into an autonomous vehicle. They provided an update on the cart that now includes an electrical system used to replace all mechanical parts. And they took Wozniak for a ride around the Congdon Hall lobby to demonstrate their progress.

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Steve Wozniak mixes with HPU students

“Steve Wozniak has been a mentor and an advisor,” said Welter. “What this experience brought us was an education. It was the experiential learning that you hear a lot about at HPU, and it was a definitive example of us using the knowledge we learned in the classroom and applying it to a project in real life. I’m really proud to share it with you today.”

Wozniak has served as HPU’s Innovator in Residence for three years. His relationship with campus continues to grow, and he frequently shares his passion for HPU with others.

“Everywhere I go in the world, I meet people that know about High Point University, and I’m always talking about High Point,” Wozniak said. “This is such a great school with such high quality and first-class programs. Look at your facilities here, and look at the cleanliness, the professionalism and the way that everyone here is concerned for you and your future. The values you will attain from being in HPU’s environment will carry over into your life.”

(C) High Point University