Building a TENT for tech students
Recorded in 2012, Gbenga Sesan begins his TEDx talk about his time at Obafemi Awolowo University. He arrived at the gate to the university and told the cab driver to let him out. The road that goes into the campus is quite long. Despite the cabbie’s protests, Sesan got out of the cab. It was then that he learned that he still had quite a way to go to walk to get to the dorm. His first lesson as a new student was that old knowledge and a new environment could lead to embarrassment - especially with four bags! He learned more along the way that had little to do with his formal education.
He saw that as a student we follow a pattern of cram, pass, and forget. We cram for exams, pass the class and then forget the materials learned. Then as a senior, all is focused on building a CV. It’s a strategy that leads to unemployment. We stay in our comfort zones, and generally avoid failure.
So, he started an experiment, Techie Entrepreneurial Nigerian Talent (TENT). It sought to expose today’s Nigerian technology students to technology, business and leadership requirements for information communication technology innovation. The main goal is to help jumpstart the culture of innovation and enterprise in the mold of global technology brands many of which began at universities.
During year one, every student in the computer science department chooses a project topic they want to work on. The TENT program pushes computer science students in their first year to begin planning and building businesses. These experiments teach the students not to fear failure. By third year, they are partnering with students in different departments. When they graduate, they are experienced business leaders.
According to Sesan, technology is not using a piece of hardware like a smartphone. It’s not having the most followers on Twitter. Technology is creating something that others will use and will not be worried about paying you for it. The goal of TENT is to help these young people contribute to Nigeria’s economy by building tech businesses. This philosophy is something he continued to practice after university and in his professional life.
Watch his talk: