- Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

CAMP POINT, Ill. (AP) - Quincy University computer science professor Jiang Li urged Central High School students to look for careers of the future during his presentation Jan. 25 at the high school.

Li was a presenter during the school’s Vocational Career Day, which was designed to give students insights into an ever-changing job market and perspectives on possible careers.

“It’s a little bit scary,” Li said while showing the students a video of a fully functioning humanoid robot, “but there are many good things robots can do.”

On display was a robot similar to the one portrayed in the video, yet on a significantly smaller scale. Li discussed the potentially ethical complications that come with such advanced humanlike machines, capable of recognizing faces and grasping a ball on command.

“In 50 years, what will the relationship between human and robot be?” Li asked. “If you don’t have any interest in this, you shouldn’t do it. But I hope at least some of you will think about it. That’s my only goal for this conversation.”

Accompanying Li were two Quincy University students with their own demonstrations. Nathan Schell and Kurtwood Greene used cellphone and iPad apps to operate a small Lego robot that resembled an oddly shaped remote-controlled car and a drone that looked similar to a “Star Wars” TIE fighter.

“Hopefully we just got a couple kids interested in computer science and let them realize it’s a growing, demanding career,” Schell said.

Through the presentation, the students were able to see the real-world application of robotics and computer science and how the field “can influence things that interest them, like drones,” he said.

“They seemed very intrigued,” Greene added.

Vocational Career Day had a variety of different presentations on skilled jobs in agriculture, business, health care, hospitality and more. Each student also completed a career-interest survey.

“We’re using this as a good guide for our guidance counselor as well as us teachers to help direct kids into areas they might be interested in,” said Central business teacher Vicki Eilers, who coordinated the event. “Hopefully the ones we brought in give the kids an idea of a career field when maybe they didn’t realize what that career field was. We felt like it was a really great opportunity for them to get some exposure to some people they might not normally understand, to be able to talk one-on-one about a career.”

Junior Jacey Nall said the survey solidified an idea she already had in mind. The survey suggested she examine a career in law enforcement, a field in which her father and brother have both worked.

“I’ve actually thought about everything on my top 10 list, except one,” Nall said. “I’ve been considering them, but now that that quiz told me it’s something I should do, it makes me want to do them.”

Nall said attending the hospitality presentation gave her some insight on “how it is to work with people,” which applies to “pretty much any job.”

“I think so many kids in high school just don’t know what to do,” Eilers said. “As they go through their results, they are seeing these different career fields pop up. It gives them more exposure to what they might not see in their sphere of influence. It’s just broadening their horizons.”

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Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://bit.ly/2jXftj8

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Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com

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