Opinion: Waybright Academy pioneers the future of STEM education

As a young person pursuing computer science at Arizona State University and running a family-based technology development center for youth in North Scottsdale, I am extremely invested in the future of technology.

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to attend DesTechAZ, a two-day conference that welcomed some of the world’s greatest technology innovators and advocates to celebrate Arizona’s accomplishments in the technology sector. I was enthused to be immersed in discussions surrounding the topics and projects at the forefront of the industry. It was invigorating to hear from the undeniable leaders who are actively shaping the future of tech.

The event was jam-packed with topics; each could have spanned a conference of their own, featuring workshops in emerging technology areas such as autonomous vehicles, drones, and robotics.

Additionally, we heard from promising Arizona-based startups and electrifying panels surrounding innovation in the tech space. Conversation throughout the night included space travel, immersive and creative uses of technology, replicating humanity in artificial intelligence, and more.

The technology industry is growing at an astronomical rate, demanding a technically skilled youth. As an ambassador for Waybright Technology Academy, I hope to see this young passion in future DesTech events.

Irayda Flores, Steve Wozniak, Madison Kuhler and Meredith Kuhler at DesTechAZ 2019. (Photo by Madison Kuhler)

The initiative to empower young people to pursue STEM fields was championed throughout the conference by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

‘Woz’ is doing incredible work in this initiative — through his philanthropy, education advocacy and efforts with WozU, Wozniak is providing access to technology education on a large scale. As leaders in technology, it is our responsibility to create learners equipped with the technical and problem-solving skills they need to thrive in the modern-age.

Ten years ago, Waybright Academy was founded with the same vision of revolutionizing the technology education space. It all began with a family driven to provide a STEM club for their daughter, Meredith, who could not find any programs available to her.

“We knew that there was a potential for something bigger, a way to give children access to higher levels of tech. It’s essential,” said Waybright Academy co-founder Kent Kuhler, who received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to working as an electrical engineer at Ball Aerospace, Kent Kuhler leads the management team with his wife, Diane Kuhler, and their three gifted children.

Together, Diane and Kent Kuhler have created specialized programs in which children across the Valley can experiment with cutting-edge concepts at a higher level and get inspired among a community of like-minded students.

The Waybright Academy team focuses on a personal approach, with one-on-one private lessons or one-to-four ratios in small-group courses. By providing each learner with an individualized space to experiment with their excitement for technology, Waybright Academy hopes to ignite the spark that will lead them towards a bright future in STEM fields.

To do this, Waybright Academy provides a pathway to any student’s future career with three comprehensive tracks: programming and gaming; engineering and robotics; and animation and digital media.

In the spirit of Steve Wozniak’s passion for building computers, Waybright Academy offers courses for students to build their own custom computers — BYOPC — and learn the inner workings of the world’s most common devices. At Waybright Academy, no subject is out of reach.

DesTech was an incredible opportunity, not only to hear about the new strides made by those at the forefront of the industry, but to participate in the excitement for the future of technology shared by all.

More than anything else, the future lies in the hands of our youth. Therefore, it is critical that we continue to empower students with STEM education and inspire them to reach new heights.

Click here to learn more about Waybright Academy.

Madison Kuhler is a software developer for the Waybright Academy.

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