Secundaria Técnica #12 Hermosillo, Sonora, is a junior high school that offers a rigorous program with a focus on collaborative projects, academic standards review, and integration of special needs students into regular classes. Here are the questions they asked me.
Kimberly Pamela Robles Pablos: When you quit school, were you sure about your success in the future?
Bill Gates: I wasn’t sure at all. There were no guarantees that Microsoft would be a success. For example, we had a lot of customers go bankrupt and not pay us what they owed us. And we had one situation with our earliest customer where they got bought by a company that interpreted the contract in a different way than we did and stopped paying us, so we didn’t have any income for a year. Fortunately, we were able to settle that. From the beginning, though, we were very careful to take things one step at a time. Being conservative worked out very well for us because as the industry grew, we were in a position to hire lots more great people.
Beatriz Adriana Carrillo Muñoz: Which were the problems or difficulties that you faced to achieve your goals?
I was very young when we started the company, just 19, and sometimes people had a lot of doubts about whether or not they could count on us to do something that was quite complex. So we faced some early challenges there. We also had to be careful about agreeing to do too much. When you’re getting started, it’s really hard to say no when people want pay you for your work and there were times when I really over-scheduled things. In fact, when I brought in Steve Ballmer to help out, it was to help us decide when we should turn things away and how we should think about growing.
Claudia Guadalupe Aviles Heguertty: When you created your business were you always sure about what you wanted, or did you change your mind as the years passed by?
From the beginning, I thought that software was interesting and complicated and exciting, and I knew there were so many more things that could be done. So it became a total obsession and I worked very long hours to push to the next frontier to see how we could do things quicker. Throughout my 20s and my 30s, I was just completely focused on Microsoft. It was a wonderful opportunity and I really loved what I was doing.
Celina Escalante Payan: What would you do to help deaf people around the world?
I think more can be done to prevent childhood diseases that cause deafness in children who are born with ability to hear. I also think there is a lot more that technology will be able to do to help people with hearing impairments and all kinds of disabilities. For example, the ability of computers to understand gestures and speech is improving very rapidly, so software that converts spoken words to text will become better and better. This will help more kids who have hearing limitations go to college because they won’t need a sign-language interpreter to attend lectures. I can imagine that there will probably also be software that can watch someone communicate using sign language and then instantly translate that into spoken language for someone who doesn’t know how to sign.
Dania María Hoyos Leyva: When you decided to study, why did you choose computer science?
Actually, I started out as an economics major and then switched to mathematics. I loved math, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend my life being a mathematician. I thought for a while about studying psychology and I even considered the possibility of studying law. I’m not sure what I would have gotten a degree in if I hadn’t left Harvard to start Microsoft before I graduated.
Education in this Region
Recent reforms of Mexico's once highly-centralized education system have given states and municipalities a much larger role in public education. These reforms have also mandated schools to provide a quality education to all students, including those with special needs. Secondaria Tecnica #12 is leading the way with an immersion program that is enabling about 30 students with hearing impairments or other special needs to attend classes in the regular school program. These students have an advisor and are guided by a team of teachers who lead the special education program.