Osman Kent's Distinguished Lecture – A review by Jennifer Zhang.
Osman Kent’s talk was an interesting one. As well as his hints on success and failure, it set me into thinking about the relationship between technology, arts, and people. I am a Liberal Arts and Sciences student and study humanities and science modules together so can relate to this.
Osman is an alumnus of the University and a successful entrepreneur. A funny and modest guy from first impression; his talk consisted of small and fascinating stories. A memorable one was Osman planned to stay in University for further career development after his degree, but his professor rejected that and said he needed to let Osman go otherwise he would be “doing the world a disservice”.
As well as an interested in technology and a computer science and electrical engineering degree, Osman loves music. He explained that was why he chose to programme a music sight-reading project in the final year of his degree. He also admitted that he had a business failure with a record company, but is now doing more in music and technology.
The lecture’s Q&A was a definite highlight. One question asked how Osman thinks school education should be teaching pupils to be more entrepreneurial, like him. Osman explained that while he was studying, he and his friends grew the belief they could change the world, despite the bad economy at the time! He advised that school pupils be enthused to grow in confidence and be allowed to go out and do things; I thought this notion was rather interesting.
The final and possibly most interesting question was from a student who asked: “Osman you didn’t have a master degree but your business 3Dlabs changed the whole industry.” Controversial as a masters degree is often expected. “Indeed, I only had my undergraduate degree.” Osman offered an example “It is like my argument with my dentist. He has a difficult job removing biofilm from teeth. So I told him that technology could remove biofilm easily and efficiently. This innovation was discovered by accident and hasn’t been developed yet but is progress”. The message here was that it would have made things better if someone had the knowledge of both dentistry and product design. This connection stuck with me; after all, my course is a strong advocate of inter-disciplinary knowledge.
My biggest take-away of the evening is that it is impractical for anyone to think that a science degree would cut a person off from society, and a humanities degree would degrade a mathematical brain. It is all up to the people; our passions; our motivations and our drive.
More information on the EPS Distinguished Lecture Series, including recordings of Osman Kent's and other previous talks, can be found at www.birmingham.ac.uk/eps/distinguished.