P-TECH is giving Jason Hsu a chance to give back.
Hsu joined IBM in 1982. Eighteen years later, in 2000, he became the leader of IBM Taiwan. When he was named outstanding alumnus by National Taipei University of Technology (Taipei Tech) in 2001, he said, “I want to pass my experience on to the next generation. I plan on becoming a teacher at 60. Even if the school does not pay me, I am willing to devote myself to education.”
As the years ticked by, the urge to pass on his experience and help others became greater, and Hsu kept this promise. “It was like I had set an alarm clock for my life — suddenly, I was awakened,” he said.
In 2013, at the age of 55, Hsu decided to answer the call of his heart — to become an educator. He retired and soon afterward was teaching a leadership development course at National Taiwan University. Nearby National Tsing Hua University also invited him to teach.
In 2018, Hsu had the opportunity to help P-TECH students.
That year, Taiwan became the first Asian country to implement the P-TECH model, which coincided with the government’s Re-Activate Junior College 5-year Program Plan to help students succeed in the modern workforce.
The Taiwan Ministry of Education had been looking for ways to revive college-level vocational education to overcome the perennial disconnect between school and the workplace. So Taiwan brought in the IBM P-TECH model for its five-year junior college program. (This differs from the U.S. model of a high school diploma and a two-year degree.)
Taiwan’s three P-TECH schools opened in September 2018, welcoming 165 students in the first year:
- Taipei Tech — Intelligent Automation Engineering
- National Formosa University — Precise Mechanical Engineering
- National Kaohsiung University of Science and Technology — Mold and Die Engineering & Civil Engineering
IBM Taiwan has recruited Jenteh Junior College of Medicine, Nursing and Management, a private medical college, as the nation’s fourth P-TECH school and the first in the field of medicine and occupational safety in Taiwan.
The P-TECH schools in Taiwan are akin to those everywhere else, equipping students to be well-prepared for careers or further education through mentorships, workplace experiences and job-relevant coursework.
Hsu was invited by his alma mater, Taipei Tech, to be an IBM P-TECH mentor and the lead lecturer of the workplace learning curriculum, a key course within P-TECH. One of his major goals is to help students learn how to solve problems. “In the traditional education system, you always have standard answers to any questions,” he said. “However, in the future, it’s crucial to be capable of solving unknown problems!”
He emphasizes hands-on education, and encourages students to bring up topics that help them figure out real-life problems. He also wants to help students gain skills in collaboration, communication and presentation, and develop proficiency in English so they can be ready for the global world of business.
Hsu urges his students not to limit themselves to engineering because there are so many other possibilities. As a teacher and mentor, he also encourages his students to develop their talents, create personal values, and find their purpose in life. It’s not only about helping society, but also about being exposed to a variety of people and environments, daring to take risks so they can create their own life stories.
Mostly he wants them to find fulfillment. “Even if others only care about what you’ve achieved,” he says, “I care about whether you are happy and enjoying every moment at this school.”