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Imagine your future: Sydney students use interactive technology to inspire high school students


23 August 2012

The interactive screens are a fun way for potential students to picture themselves in future careers.
The interactive screens are a fun way for potential students to picture themselves in future careers.

A team of design computing students has created an interactive screen that allows high school students to see themselves depicted in the setting of their potential future career.

The project, which draws on Microsoft's Kinect technology, is the result of an open ended brief given to the interactive design students to create anything they wanted for the University of Sydney's biggest event of the year, Open Day 2012.

"We wanted to do something inspiring but that was different from anything that's been done before - at Open Day or by another university," says Emila Yang, third-year Bachelor of Design Computing student from the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning.

It was the reasons students come to Open Day that gave Emila and fellow design computing student Austin Lin the idea for their project.

"At the beginning of our project, we surveyed and interviewed random students about what they looked at when deciding to come to uni," says Austin.

"Something one girl said really gave us our light bulb moment. She said one of the main reasons people come to uni is to get a job, so it would be good to see what you could get out of it."

With this in mind, the team created an interactive screen that draws on Microsoft's Kinect technology, allowing high school students to see themselves depicted in the setting of their potential future career.

Considering a career as a marine biologist? See yourself in the depths of the ocean. Dreaming of being behind the dentist's chair? Why not take a photo of it and upload it to Facebook on Open Day!

Having to think for the future is something that is second nature to students of this program, with the most important skill being creative thinking, says Martin Tomitsch, design computing lecturer.

"Graduates from our program are very strong conceptual thinkers. Rather than only teaching themskills, we challenge them with applying these skills directly to project briefs that are often based on real-world problems and can even be intended for 10, 20, or 30 years down the line.

"This shifts the focus from working with technologies, to developing and exploring ideas and concepts creatively. The specific technology that we might teach or use at the time just becomes a tool for realising these ideas and concepts.

"Being able to think creatively is crucial as it keeps the field moving forward and redefining itself to adapt itself to the fast pace of the technological environment," Martin says.

Mark C Mitchell, who joined the project later in its development, finds this to be a very exciting part of the field.

"When we started the degree, this technology was not even available and the stuff that the first or second years are working with is something different to what we learned again. It's great that we get to incorporate the latest in technology."

For those considering the Bachelor of Design Computing for their preferences next year, Austin, Emila and Mark all agree you have to be open-minded and interested in both technology and getting creative.

"One of the reasons I chose this degree was because I felt like I could really participate in creating the future. I guess in a way you are, because creativity and innovation drives whatever is going to happen in the future," adds Emila.

Interested students are welcome to come along to the Front Lawns on Open Day to check out their future careers and meet the students from design computing.


Event details

What: University of Sydney Open Day 

When: 9.30am to 4pm, Saturday 25 August

Where: Camperdown and Darlington campuses. See map and directions 


To make a student enquiry, call 1300 362 006 or ask a question online. 


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Media enquiries: Jasmin Iordanidis, 02 9351 7411 jasmin.iordanidis@sydney.edu.au