Professor Rick Voithofer works with youths at Star House every week, and his students in the minor program will have this same opportunity in his spring semester class. Credit: Courtesy of Lamar Peoples

The College of Education and Human Ecology launched the technology and youth minor this semester, which will partner students with local nonprofit Star House.

“This minor is for students who believe that technology can improve the lives of youths and want to make a difference in the Columbus community,” said Rick Voithofer, an associate professor of learning technologies who is pioneering the minor.

Voithofer said students will develop solutions to complex, real-world problems through a variety of media and technology. Students will collaborate with local youths and diverse community partners.

The minor requires students to take five 3-credit-hour courses: Impact of Technology in Learning and Education; Technology, Equity and Informal Learning; Technology, Education and Community-based Programming; Technology Interventions in Urban Schools and Communities; and one elective.

Star House is a 24-hour drop-in center for homeless youths in Columbus ages 14-24, according to its website. While it is not a homeless shelter, Star House does provide legal, medical, transportation and work resources, as well as showers, laundry, art and counseling.

“Our youths are very creative and artistic,” said Lamar Peoples, director of outreach and partnerships at Star House. “There’s an opportunity to help them learn digital art, 3-D printing and other technologies to foster and grow their creativity.”

Peoples said building relationships between Ohio State students and the youths at Star House will be the most impactful, as many of these young adults have been ostracized from the community. This will teach them how to form relationships beyond Star House.

“Our organization is a steward to bridge the gap between where technology is and where our guests may be,” Peoples said.

Fourth-year strategic communication student Andie Phoon said the minor is appealing because it implements real-life experiences that will apply after graduation.

“I would like the community-serving aspect. I think it’s good that they take your experience beyond the classroom,” Phoon said.

According to Dell Technologies, 85 percent of jobs in 2030 don’t yet exist. Voithofer said the technology and youth minor will help prepare students for any path they take after graduation.

“This minor will offer students an environment to start to invent the jobs of the future while helping a growing population of at-risk youths,” he said.

Voithofer also mentioned that local youths look up to Ohio State students as role models and that he is excited to see his students make a positive impact in the lives of young adults at Star House.

“My hope is that students in the minor will come from a variety of majors from across campus to show youths the many diverse pathways to success,” Voithofer said.

Students interested in the technology and youth minor can find information on The College of Education and Human Ecology’s website or by contacting Rick at To learn more about Star House, visit