The key to a happy life is having an occupation you enjoy and a hobby you love. So says Steven Zhou, a member of our company’s sales team in Shanghai who has made it his mission to spark a passion for science and technology among as many Chinese young people as he can.
Steven still remembers the day more than 20 years ago when his own interest in technology was piqued at his Shanghai school. He was 12.
"At that time, I thought high technology was a radio," he said. "They showed us a laptop computer. That laptop could do so much – it could calculate things and play video games. There was also a satellite phone. They told us, 'You can use this phone to talk to people who live in the United States.' The U.S. was a very far-away concept to me. I was impressed."
A die-hard DIYer
Steven credits the encounter with setting him on the path to both his career and his hobby.
In middle school, he began building remote-controlled model cars and won races by modifying their control circuits to run on lithium power instead of AA batteries. In high school, he learned physics concepts to build and balance model airplanes and tweaked electronic technologies to better control them. And he gained entry to one of China's top electrical engineering degree programs by winning first place in a national competition to design and build a functional device using a few basic components.
Even today, Steven maintains a laboratory in his apartment – equipped with a 3D printer and an oscilloscope – where he tinkers with model yachts, rockets, robots and drones. His wife has embraced his hobby, and he's exposing his young son to scientific principles in his workshop.
Bringing the magic to many more
To help schoolchildren across China discover their passion for science and technology the way he did, Steven created the TI Magic Electronic Course. It's a fun, interactive one-day program that teaches primary and secondary students the basics of integrated circuits and exposes them to science, engineering and technology.
A team of volunteer instructors has already brought the Magic Course to 10,000 students in 30 Chinese schools. Since 2014, Steven has personally delivered it to more than 1,000 students and has overseen the program's expansion beyond China's rural network of Project Hope Schools into urban school districts. Many volunteers from our company also teach the course.
Now, he has developed a multiday course and is working with colleagues to train teachers and university volunteers to lead it.
"That way we can influence more people," he says. "I want the TI Magic Electronic Course to be a famous brand in China, and I hope to reach at least 10 times the number of students who have already been taught this course. That means 100,000."
But why a "magic" course?
"Science is useful and powerful, it's strong and can be used for special effects," Steven said. "Often, the knowledge we teach is very new to the students. They have never heard before how a cell phone works or why an airplane can fly in the air or why a television can show a picture of something far away. It seems like magic to them."
Steven says he's thrilled when he can inspire passion for technology in the next generation of innovators. He's touched by students like the one who thanked him by mailing him a paper model airplane illustrated with an integrated circuit.
"I love technology," he says. "And it makes me happy to bring that to young children, to help them understand and know more about how the modern world works."
Living role model.
Great work Steven!
You are truly making an impact, Steven! THANK YOU!
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