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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is High Point University’s ‘Innovator in Residence’

High Point University

HIGH POINT — He’s known around the world as the co-founder and inventor behind Apple Computer. But on High Point University’s campus, Steve Wozniak is known as an advisor and mentor.

Wozniak returned to campus Monday in his role as the university’s Innovator in Residence. He worked with students, visited classrooms and spoke to a crowd of nearly 800 people during an interactive, student question-and-answer session moderated by university President Dr. Nido Qubein.

“You have to be innovative,” Qubein said at the event’s kickoff. “If you’re leading an organization and you’re not being innovative, you risk becoming irrelevant. We’re competing on a global platform. These young men and women in this audience will compete in that very competitive, very demanding marketplace. And so you have to be relevant.

“Innovation leads to success, and success leads to significance,” Qubein also said. “We love having Steve Wozniak as a member of our family at High Point University and are honored to have him here today. He speaks about HPU everywhere he goes and truly loves this university.”

Wozniak discussed how he builds innovative technology, but also how he finds motivation and builds a happy life.

“Motivation – wanting to do something – is much more important than knowledge,” Wozniak said. “I didn’t know when I started out that what I was doing was valuable. I didn’t know that I’d be an engineer. I just knew that I had a passion for doing it.

“I taught middle and elementary school seven days a week for eight years. I was teaching students and teachers how to use technology in the classroom. And that’s when I decided that the most important thing was making the class enjoyable and finding students who were motivated and wanted to learn. Somebody who wants to learn – you can’t stop them.”

High Point University freshman Hogan Millheim asked Wozniak about facing fears as an entrepreneur.

“Fear often holds back many potential entrepreneurs and professionals while they try to take the next step in their careers,” Millheim said. “What advice would you provide to young entrepreneurs or people seeking to take that next step and overcome this fear of failure and rejection?”

“You shouldn’t fear failure,” Wozniak said. “When you fail, just try to ask yourself, ‘How can I proceed in the most constructive way?’ It’s the better way to approach life. Worry about being happy; don’t worry about success. Don’t worry about failing as much as the decision that you’re going to live life in a way that makes you happy.”

When Wozniak joined Hight Point University as Innovator in Residence in 2016, he began working with a team of HPU students to build a self-driving vehicle. Today, inside university’s Cottrell Hall, Wozniak met with those students to continue their work on what is now known as the “Woz Project.”

“It’s such an honor working with Mr. Wozniak,” said Michael Welter, a junior physics major who is leading the team of students building the self-driving vehicle. “As well as being brilliant, he is extremely down-to-earth and focused on mentoring HPU students. He has opened our eyes to how much we can accomplish when we work together.”

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