HIGH POINT – High Point University welcomed Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, HPU’s Innovator in Residence, back to campus this week to mentor students. He has been working with HPU students on a variety of projects since 2016.

Wozniak, an advocate of HPU who frequently shares his passion for the university with others, participated in a variety of events, including a Q&A at HPU’s Innovation Summit, a meet-and-greet with students, and an interactive Q&A session with engineering and robotics students. In addition to sharing his experiences as an innovative engineer, he also discussed the importance of life skills and values, as well as a variety of topics in the national spotlight such as concerns about artificial intelligence. Wozniak said he doesn’t believe it will ultimately replace humans, noting that automated cars can fail to react to unexpected objects in the road that any driver would avoid.

“We’re building all this technology and supporting it only to the extent that it helps humans,” said Wozniak.

He and fellow Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs were in their early 20s and had no business experience or money when they started Apple, Wozniak said. He urged students to be inquisitive and to be willing to put in extra work beyond any assignment or job.

“You don’t have to say, ‘My job is only to do what I’ve been taught,’” he added. “If you get the chance on your own, go a little beyond it. Even in your classes, if you can solve a problem, go back and say, ‘How can I make it a little better than other people in the class are doing and be the best in the world?’ Then you are going to be in high demand.”

Recognizing HPU’s position as The Premier Life Skills University, Wozniak said communication and socialization are important skills to have while solving problems. He also advised students to follow their own hearts when deciding what they want to accomplish in their lives.

“If you get super wealthy, don’t let your values change,” he said. “Happiness should be your goal.”

Faculty from HPU’s Webb School of Engineering moderated the discussion. The school’s founding dean Dr. Michael Oudshoorn described Wozniak’s visit as motivational for students.

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“When you get someone like Wozniak in a classroom or interacting with the student clubs, that’s motivating because the students know he’s been very successful in what he has done and he’s giving them advice they can leverage to also become successful themselves,” said Oudshoorn. “He also motivates why they are studying what they are studying. Once they are motivated, they will learn the material, study and become better students. Those are the biggest contributions he brings – his history, experience and insight, but most importantly his ability to motivate.”

Matt Costantino, a junior electrical engineering major from Naples, Florida, said Wozniak has influenced him since high school.

“He was the only person who really knew this stuff who helped me understand if you have these passions and you really want to learn, you have to step up to the plate and read these textbooks yourself,” said Costantino. “He reinforced the idea that if you have certain specific things you want to know, you shouldn’t wait around to be taught.”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak shares insights on leadership with High Point University students

Costantino serves as president of HPU’s robotics team, which is in its first year and has been accepted into a NASA competition. Team members showed Wozniak their design for a robot with the ability to work on the moon, move across rough terrain, and collect and retrieve certain materials. Wozniak listened to the team’s ideas, asked questions and encouraged their efforts for not only building a robot but teaching younger students in the community about robotics.

“So many things in the future are going to be solved with personal robotics,” said Wozniak. “Will it displace people? No, we’ll still need humans to oversee it and decide whether it’s right.”

Wozniak is one of the many global leaders that comprise the Access to Innovators Program at HPU.