Ryan Jerue, a student at Barrington High School, has earned the distinction of national champion in the technology category by the National Consumers League via the LifeSmarts competition. Jerue, along with four teenage teammates from Barrington competed just in late Aprilat the National LifeSmarts Competition in Atlanta.
Jerue talked to Providence Business News about the competition, why he chose the technology concentration and his future in the field.
PBN: What inspired you to enter the LifeSmarts competition?
JERUE: I was originally drawn into it by a friend. Our school had had students that did well in the competition in the past and a friend of mine suggested that we start a team to play in LifeSmart’s sister competition: TeamSmarts. It started in freshman year where we just did the monthly quizzes. I then continued playing in sophomore year and watched our more senior school team take third at the national competition. They were a real inspiration for me and the rest of the team this year. This year we mixed up the team a little bit in order to have the best talent on the team representing our school at states. After winning states we got ready for the national competition. I cannot recommend the competition enough to other teens. You learn and win things doing it.
PBN: As I understand it, each student had to pick an area of expertise. Why did you decide on technology?
JERUE: I decided to do technology because I have a passion for it. I have been playing with computers and other tech since I was a young child. I’ve always liked taking things apart, I remember that I took apart my mother’s pens when I was small just to try to put them back together. Even so, the practical use of technology first hit me in third grade. I had always had messy handwriting and could never seem to get my ideas onto paper. That’s when I typed my first paper. I remember my teacher being pleased that she could read my work for once. After that I really started my flight with computers and technology. My parents bought me my own PC for school soon after. Another big thing that drew me to technology was actually video games. I remember playing games that I always wanted to change. I ended up learning my first programming language modding video games. I ended up later making my first real attempt at management and business in running an online game server. I got my first job as a PC technician and sales associate. Technology has played a very significant part of my life and I have learned a lot from using it.
PBN: What kinds of questions did the competition ask and why do you think you did so well?
JERUE: The questions asked many things having to do with practical aspects of technology. There was a section on all sorts of things from basic PC technology such as the difference between RAM and ROM, PC parts such as the hard drive and processer, as well as some questions pertaining to software. A big part of the test was about online scams, especially phishing. From working in PC repair, I am able to see the enormous number online scams and viruses. People will pose as anything in order to get you’re contact info and money. I have seen fake banks, fake travel agencies, and I’ve even seen viruses where people pose as government agents. The internet was also a large part of the test. With many of my hobbies residing on the internet I was able to do well on it. Consumer electronics and telecommunication services were also a large portion of the test. I think I was able to do so well on the test because I got my hands dirty in these many aspects of technology. I built a PC from scratch, I have started and maintained websites, and I have seen the damage that online scams may cause. People need to realize the dangers and wonders that technology presents in order to see the big picture.
PBN: Can you tell us a bit about the prizes and what you plan to do with the scholarship?
JERUE: My spoils from the national contest include and iPad mini as well as a $1500 scholarship from the national consumers league. I’m more of an Android guy, but I have been working hard to find uses for my iPad, recently it has been an attempt to go paperless. I’ve been trying to take some of the notes in my classes with a stylus and the iPad. I’ve found that it is a very efficient way to store notes, so far I have been able to complete about a notebook’s worth of pages in the iPad. I can also just print the notes if I lose them, which is a plus for me as I have so much schoolwork I need to keep track of. It is very nice to have your calendar, school notes, and email on the same device. The scholarship money will help me pay for college. I am not sure where I want to go yet, but I’m pretty confident that I will major in computer science or business.
PBN: I heard you had your own technology company, could you tell us about that?
JERUE: I used to run an online server for the game “Minecraft” with some friends that I had met online. It started small and got bigger over time. Servers cost money to maintain and we needed to find ways to expand our reach. Players would pay monthly subscriptions for perks in game and advertisements were put onto our website to generate revenue. Soon my partners and I had enough money for our own server to replace the one that we were previously renting. Once we bought that we found we had enough room to rent out space to customers. That’s really how it started. Right now it is more of a side project of mine. I no longer run the game server, but my partners and I are working ways to rent out webhosting, Virtual Private Servers, and other tech services to the general public. We’re trying to incorporate new innovative ways to enable users to jumpstart their dreams. The company is called XenDrive and you can find us on our website at XenDrive.com. Right now we’re still in development, we still have to write the code for our backbone services. I hope it is the start to a long and successful business endeavor.