THE IDAHO PTECH NETWORK

Connecting the dots between learning
and employment.

Hackfort 3 – The Student Perspective

by Nat Akin, Idaho Distance Education Academy

There is a common misconception about Computer Geeks. Most people think that we are “off” in some way, terrible at social interaction, or something of that sort. While it is true that most computer related jobs are chosen by introverted types of people, that doesn’t mean we are all robots. However, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that Computer Geek is the proper terminology, because we are geeks. But that isn’t a bad thing, in fact, I personally think it is a fantastic thing.

I can say that because I spent a weekend with PTECH’s other computer geeks, and we are all total geeks. From the minute we got off the plane, we did nothing but talk about the intricacies of VR (Virtual Reality) vs. AR (Augmented Reality). The conversation was over the head of all the people on the bus who weren’t computer geeks. But for the computer geeks, it was incredibly satisfying to get those thoughts out in the air without having to stop and explain the basics of the medium. The conversation lasted all the way from the Airport to the Hotel.

Once we got the hotel, it went about as well as can be expected for a bunch of relatively introverted people. But the awkward “I don’t know you” silence didn’t last long. As soon as we got some caffeine in us, we were talking about Game consoles and our favorite programming mishaps. There was so much laughing at this point, we got strange looks from the other people in the lobby of the hotel. Which normally would have set us on edge had we been alone. But to steal a popularly used phrase, we had finally found our people. For the whole weekend, having found our people—we felt on top of the world.  

For a whole weekend we weren’t afraid to ask dumb questions or to try new things. With our people around, we could ask Boise’s brightest questions with no shame of looking foolish. We taught each other things, we troubleshooted problems none of us had seen, and most importantly, we tried new things. We all spent five or more minutes in a VR headset throwing and making blocks. We all looked strange doing it, but we were all so excited about the opportunity to be doing it that none of us cared. We all went around trying to convince those of us who were unsure about it, to go and do this thing that makes you look strange because it was so much fun. We didn’t care how it made us look, because we had an army of 12 there to back us up and encourage us to try the strange, but amazingly fun, thing.

That is why I think the trip was so important. For the most part, this was the first time a bunch of Computer geeks could feel totally on top of the world with no fear of being foolish, because foolish and strange was the norm. We calculated the mass of a cat with wings as it traveled at the speed of sound, we listened to music way too loud and for way too late, we made movie references, and generally speaking, we were goofballs. We were goofballs because we had finally found other goofballs who share a passion for what we want to do.

I think that’s the best part of the trip, when I think back to it all, what I remember is the laughter. I hadn’t laughed so much in my entire life. I hadn’t been so willing to ask questions or to learn from people my own age. I had never before in my life been so proud to be a computer geek.