Among the high school students at the OmniLife VR’s NexTECH Ed Expo Nov. 8 were Liberty district Robotics Team members (from left) Jake Rogers, Anna-Maria Goddard, Cole Creek and David Forquer.
Sponsored by North Kansas City-based OmniLife VR, the NEXTECH ED Innovation Expo drew over 300 students from throughout Greater Kansas City for a firsthand look at everything from virtual reality (VR) to dimensional innovation.
OmniLife President Marco Stanich stressed the expo was a serious look at emerging technologies and the careers they are bringing, besides being a lot of fun. He cited several examples.
“We’re working with UMKC on a project to use virtual reality training for concussion prevention,” he said. “We believe we can cut concussions for the sport of football by 75 percent.”
Stanich explained that VR has the unique ability to offer training that is so real it can help prepare someone for an otherwise damaging blow by avoiding the “stiff neck” reaction.
As they learned these and other surprises, students clearly enjoyed the drones and VR experiences. Liberty High School students Brady Blumberg and Aary Patel were among those flying small drones in the school library, something they obviously enjoyed but which symbolized serious potential.
“it’s fun, but I’m also considering aerospace engineering for a career,” Brady said. “I’m going to want to know how these things work and how the technology applies. This is a starting point.”
One group of students was among those presenting information as part of the Liberty School District Robotics Team. Jake Roberts of Liberty High School and Anna Marie Goddard, Cole Creek and David Farquer of Liberty North have already explored the technology and its implications for future employment.
“Jobs will be impacted by this,” Anna Marie noted. “But it won’t be a long-term drop of jobs; just change.”
She cited a good example involving robots used to clean windows on skyscrapers. “That is reducing demand for those who actually clean windows,” she said. “But there are more jobs being created for people to maintain those robots.”
Jake said programs like the robotics team and expo help give students some surprising benefits. “There are a lot of things we’re doing that we’ll use in jobs,” he said. “Even working in a team is a big part of it that we need. Then there’s getting sponsors, working on financing and things like that. It’s all part of learning.”
Although Liberty and Liberty North students were well represented, several groups represented Wyandotte, Belton and other metro area high schools. The effort is part of a long-term focus by OmniLife to raise awareness of emerging technologies and the jobs they are creating. Many of these fields are so new that students and parents are often unaware of the opportunities they represent.
“Things are changing very quickly,” Stanich said. “It’s very exciting, but it can be overwhelming.”
Among the sponsors for the event was the Clay County Economic Development Council. For additional information, contact Marcho Stanich at OmniLife VR, (816) 289-9229. Colleen Jones, Liberty School Director of College/Career Readiness and Community Partnerships, was involved in organizing the event and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.