This month, Kevin Leach celebrates 18 years of teaching information technology courses at The Gordon TAFE. In a field that is developing at a rapid pace, Kevin shares his insights on the latest developments and how he keeps up with the industry.
Your fast five favourites.
Favourite colour: ‘Ferrari’ RED.
Favourite meal: A good steak.
Favourite season: Christmas!
Favourite movie: Star Wars franchise.
Favourite travel destination: Jasper (Alberta, Canada).
How did your career in the IT industry first begin?
I worked in research and development for Telstra for almost 20 years, which involved programming testing routines for optical fibre and environmental evaluation equipment. So my involvement in IT started before IT was popular, it was just boring old electronics back then.
What do you love most about the IT industry?
The constant change! There’s always something new to investigate and learn about. I constantly inform my students that once graduating, they are just beginning their IT life. With the current uptake of augmented and virtual reality, there are plenty of amazing new things to learn.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” Socrates
Why did you become a teacher and what do you enjoy most about it?
Going back to my Telstra days, part of my duties were to guide trainees to be familiar with the highly specialised test equipment we used. Why teach? Well, it’s just so enjoyable to be able to facilitate students to progress through our classes and launch out on their careers, knowing you have done your very best to equip them with the skills and enthusiasm needed to succeed.
How do you keep your industry skills and knowledge current?
A good question! Far too much time spent ‘playing’ (investigating) how the latest software or microcontroller devices function. Currently, I think I am participating in 30 different forums including Microsoft, Aldebaran (NAO), Hackster.io (IoT development) and Linux to mention but a few.
Much to my family’s horror, I have six server computers in my study that I use for training myself the latest operating system structures. I’ll also often bring home one of The Gordon’s NAO robots over the weekend to develop a teaching routine. I also take Microsoft Virtual Academy courses and attend as many technology expos as possible.
This year, I’m introducing higher level technology skills through the Internet of Things (IoT) to Year 9 and 10 secondary students which has been fantastic. It’s exciting to be able to light the technology spark in these young minds and watch their enthusiasm ignite.
In addition, during the second year of the Advanced Diploma of Computer Systems Engineering, I take students through the higher level computer networking structures such as virtualisation and cloud computing. This is definitely the most challenging part of the course (and not just for the students). However, seeing the 'penny drop' as students' master the skills required to fulfill various tasks, is absolutely brilliant.
What is the biggest misconception about the IT industry?
That it is easy and anyone can do it. It’s true that computing has become second nature but very few actually ‘look under the hood’ to truly understand how the technology works. Without this deeper understanding of IT systems, you really struggle to envision the full extent of the possibilities of the latest developments.
What is the most exciting development in the IT industry?
Currently, the release to the consumer market of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) systems is amazing. These can give you the ability to interact with other operators from around the world on common projects, or even reposition your furniture to see how it looks, without lifting a thing.
AR/VR in combination with interconnected micro devices (IoT) has the ability to provide unheard-of features for aged support. Where home sensory systems can keep tabs on elderly folk living alone, or even virtual medics that can provide interactive lifesaving information at the scene of accidents.
What key advice do you give those who are considering studying an IT course?
This is always a tough one to answer. The IT field is so broad with an exponentially expanding range of specialisations. However, I think that’s also its advantage, you never get bored.
If you are considering a career in IT expect to be challenged by the broad range of topics that the field encompasses. Secondly, expect to find something new to explore on a weekly basis. Join forums on topics that interest you, and never miss an opportunity to attend expos and training sessions provided by product vendors.
Posted: 10/03/2017 4:07:38 PM