One thousand high school students attended Future Friday

Published Oct 25, 2018

What kind of career opportunities will technologies offer in the future? KTH’s inspirational Future Friday event for high school students took place last week, offering a glimpse of what awaits young people in the IT industry of the future. Students, researchers, alumni and representatives from companies were there to share their experiences.

Close to a thousand high school students from Stockholm and neighbouring cities came to KTH Kista in northern Stockholm to attend KTH’s inspirational day on IT, Future Friday. They got to “fika with a student”, meet with companies, check out various student projects, and solder and build a so-called Bubble node, which – if they had done it right – would reveal a hidden message. They also listened to presentations from researchers, students, business representatives and alumni.

One presenter, Maria Movin from Spotify, told the story of how she decided to quit her medical studies at Karolinska Institutet (KI) and study at KTH instead. After three and a half years of studies at KI she went to Australia as an exchange student. Not only did she meet other students in Australia, but she also met people who were travelling, which influenced her decision to take a break from KI and go travelling as well. During her travels Movin started to think about what´s important for her when it comes to work and whether she should continue with her medical studies or not. She had always liked mathematics; and her sister, who was studying at KTH at the time, told her she should try programming. So, just as a test, Movin decided to study computer science for a year. That test ended with her completing the entire master’s programme in computer science at KTH.

“It was such fun that I didn´t want to quit. And today I don´t regret that,” Maria said.

Software developer Mona Dadoun’s presentation posed a question for the students: “Do you want AI to control you or do you want to control AI?,” the KTH alumnus asked. Dadoun also shared her best tips with them. Many of the students expressed concern about whether they could cope with the mathematics courses at KTH. Dadoun told them that of course it takes a lot of hard work but she said that KTH is making efforts to support its students in managing their studies. She was surprised to see that all of the high school students in the room raised their hands when she asked how many of them ever had done some coding.

“That´s usually not the case,” Dadoun said after her presentation.

Another KTH alumnus, Erik Övelius, shared the story of his journeyfrom growing up on a farm in Värmland to studying at KTH, and continuing on to a job with Google, where he works now. Övelius said that when he came to KTH, and was introduced to the wide breadth of teachers and courses, it was for him an eye-opener about what the world is like. Maybe an even bigger eye-opener for him was when, in his fourth year at KTH, he was asked whether he wanted to go to Zurich to work at Google. And there was really not much time for him to consider his decision. Accepting the offer meant leaving for Zurich in two weeks.

“It was a bit like in the Matrix. Should I take the red pill or the blue pill?,” Övelius said.

The reference to Matrix served as an illustration of one of the things he wanted the high school students to take with them after the presentation: “Say yes to things. Or at least, say yes to things you feel could lead to something good.”

In one of the workshop rooms, second year high school student Gurpreet Kaur was sitting, soldering and building a so-called Bubble node. She is interested in applying to KTH, she said, but she is also interested in other options.

“I´m considering the bigger schools, like KTH, Gothenburg and Lund. But it´s definitely engineering studies I´m interested in,” Gurpreet said.

Håkan Soold

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