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Steve Wozniak launches Woz U

Steve Wozniak launches Woz U

Cuddly Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is the figurehead of a new educational enterprise aimed at training the next generation of tech wizards and fast-tracking the most promising ones.

With the tagline ‘Education. Reprogrammed.’, Woz U aims to get tech people into the workplace quickly and affordably. Based in Arizona, it offers 24/7 access online courses and hopes to open 30 or more physical locations in global cities if things take off. At launch, the curriculum will focus on software development and IT support specialists, with future courses planned in cybersecurity, data science and mobile apps.

What makes Woz U more than just another tech school is its integration with employers. It offers platforms for tech companies to recruit, train and retain their workforce through customised on-site programs and specialised curricula. And at the other end of the learning funnel, Woz U provides K-12 pathways designed to lead to success in Woz U tech and career-based programs. Helping to ensure these are taught by the right people are Woz U Certified Educator programs to develop the teaching knowledge necessary to launch students on the right path.

Starting in 2019, cohorts will be triaged for the Woz U Accelerator program, which as the name suggests will cherry-pick the best and brightest for placement with the world’s top tech companies, and be trained in entrepreneurship and raising capital for start-ups. Those with the same kind of raw enthusiasm Woz and Jobs had back in 1976 when they founded Apple Computer should do well in this environment.

Woz U positions itself as education for the masses … with a chance to become part of the élite. Its main selling points are all the above plus avoiding the high cost of traditional degree programs. Woz himself is not exactly a dropout success – he did finish his degree program at UC Berkeley, but that was after being expelled from the University of Colorado Boulder for hacking into the school’s network and sending out prank messages.

Woz sends out two messages that one the surface might seem to contradict each other: get the best education you can, but the real learning happens outside school.

He has said in the past: "Get yourself very well educated early because it's the real outstanding top people by the time they get out of university that have instant jobs at any company like Apple.”

But at the same time he is on record as saying “"All my great stuff, I learned outside of school. You can find so much outside of school on the Internet now. But even in school, if you love something like mathematics, instead of working the assigned problems, do all the other ones too. Just decide, this is something I really love in life. I'm going to go a little further than school wants me to."

Woz U transfers some of Woz’s own passion for his job to like-minded youngsters. It presents an alternative to university with such powerful focus, and such an influential figurehead, that it should soon be pumping out leaders on a par with Woz and Jobs – if things go well for it.

Woz image: Nick Harrison