Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 22 Feb 2019 12am







    Wednesday, February 20, 2019-8:55:00A.M.






Font Size


Solving problems in the digital age

THE first week-long session of Open Reef Innovations ended Friday with students, some community members and a high school teacher in attendance.

Participants had the opportunity to experiment with block programming, virtual reality, augmented reality, circuitry, 3-D printing and video game design. During the week, instructor Sean Wybrant encouraged the students to be creative with the concepts they were learning and to brainstorm how they could use the technology to make an impact in the community.

Click to enlarge
Open Reef Innovations camp participants pose at the end of their session Friday. Open Reef Innovations is an initiative of Marianas Young Professionals.  Photo by Naomi Vazquez

Wybrant said anyone can learn technological skills, and students on Saipan have the power to change the world using these skills and concepts learned. Many students expressed concern with poverty levels and pollution in the community throughout the week, so Wybrant reminded students of the opportunities technology has the potential to create in their communities throughout the week.

Wybrant spoke about software, pieces of technology, virtual reality experiences and augmented reality applications that Saipan students could possibly produce in the future.

“You don’t have to only produce things for people on island, and that’s one of the most amazing things about the time that you live in,” Wybrant said.  “You can live on an island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean and you can publish something in direct competition with what people are making in Seattle or Southern California.”

Camp participants Eugene Villagomez and Jefferey Consignado agreed the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was their favorite piece of technology during the week. They both said VR has high potential in the future on Saipan and agreed Open Reef Innovations is something they’d like to see continue and expand on Saipan.

“I just want to see [Saipan] keep up with rest of the world in technology,” Villagomez said.

Both are planning to attend Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, this fall but would like to see more people in attendance if Open Reef continues next summer.

Wybrant said one of the main reasons he came to Saipan this summer was to help get students exposure to technology education that wasn’t previously available on the island and to encourage them to think creatively about solving problems in the digital age.

“All that it takes is you coming up with an idea of something that you want to make or a problem that you want to solve,” he said.

Spots are still open for participants in week three of Open Reef Innovations beginning July 23. Contact Jessa Camacho for scheduling at 783-8288.