A major new partnership between the Royal Institution and Causeway Technologies Limited is set to inspire the next generation of computer scientists.
The Royal Institution (Ri) has launched a five year computer science expansion of its national programme of Ri Masterclassesfor young people thanks to a £500,000 endowment and industry support from new partner Causeway Technologies Limited.
By 2019 more than 10,000 of the country’s brightest young people aged nine to 18 and their teachers will benefit from new extra-curricular Ri Computer Science Masterclasses running in more than 70 locations UK-wide starting in September 2014.
To deliver this programme, the Ri will appoint an expert Computer Scientist with a strong track record in public engagement and a passion for education as the full-time Causeway Computer Science Associate.
Phil Brown, CEO of global software provider Causeway Technologies Ltd, said: “The UK should be a leader rather than a follower in the digital technology age. Nurturing an air of excitement in computer science from an early age is therefore essential if we are to create a generation of innovative young people capable of benefiting from the enormous possibilities and opportunities that it presents.
“Together with the Ri, our ambition is to create a UK-wide ‘movement’ that connects young people with the subject, and enables small and medium technology companies in every town and city to play a role.”
Chris Rofe, CEO of the Royal Institution, said: “We are delighted that the generous support of the Causeway Technologies Limited will help us open the eyes of so many more young people to the excitement, beauty and value of computer science.
“All Ri Masterclasses are led by dedicated volunteers who are experts from industry or academia. With the help of these positive role models, our aim is to highlight the huge range of fascinating and worthwhile careers computer science can lead to, and to inspire the students to explore the subject and its applications further at school, in further education and, later on, in the workplace.”
The development of the Computer Science Masterclasses coincides with the introduction of the subject to the national secondary school curriculum from September 2014.
Dr Diane Crann, Ri Masterclass Programme Manager and winner of the 2014 Rooke Award, explained why these Computer Science Masterclasses are an essential extra-curricular addition: “We fully support the government’s decision to introduce computer science into the curriculum but it is important to remember that it will be another decade until computer science has filtered down through every school year allowing young people to leave school with a solid grounding in the subject.
She added: “Despite its growing importance to our society, there are still many misconceptions about what computer science is. Computer science is not simply a case of learning how to code or being more aware of how the hardware of a computer is put together; it involves learning highly transferable logic and mathematically based skills, understanding complex algorithms and their applications, and data manipulation and representation.
“We view computer science as having the potential, if it is delivered in an inspiring and engaging way, to encourage young people to be more creative, practical, innovative and hands-on in their approach to problem-solving. These are essential talents that can be applied across all areas of learning and so we are delighted to make computer science a core element of the Ri Masterclass Programme.”
The positive impact of Ri Masterclasses is not only restricted to young people; volunteer speakers and teachers report that the exposure to new ideas and different ways of approaching their core subject has made them more motivated and creative in their own careers.
Victoria Martin, a senior structural engineer at Expedition and a volunteer Ri Masterclass speaker for over five years said: “Working with the students as part of the Ri Masterclass programme has forced me to look at my career in engineering in a new light; reflecting on why I do what I do and constantly renewing my passion for my job.
“There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing the look on a student’s face as the penny drops and a concept all of a sudden makes sense. I’m delighted that professional computer scientists now have the same fulfilling volunteering opportunity available to them.”
A national recruitment drive to build a network of local volunteerswith expertise and experience in computer science will launch in early autumn 2014, with training and pilot workshops to follow.
For more information, please visitwww.rigb.org/education/masterclasses.
The aim of the new partnership is to provide unique opportunities for curious young people to interact with a variety of inspirational experts through hands-on participation to help place the UK at the forefront of digital innovation.
Its vision is to create a world-class national network of Computer Science Masterclasses which utilise the passion and expertise of the Royal Institution and are inherently linked to business.
The £500,000 funding from Causeway Technologies Ltd is in the form of an expendable five year endowment, and acts as the foundation for a national programme aimed at connecting young people with expert volunteers, teachers and local technology companies.
Ri Masterclasses are exciting hands-on and interactive extracurricular sessions in mathematics, engineering and computer science led by top experts from academia and industry for keen and talented young people.
The Ri Masterclass Programme was originally started by Prof Sir Christopher Zeeman in 1981 after the popularity of his 1978 CHRISTMAS LECTURES on mathematics. Today we run sessions for more than 5,500 primary and secondary school students in more than 150 locations stretching from Aberdeen to Jersey.
The unique sessions go beyond the school curriculum and bring mathematics, computer science and engineering to life in surprising topics such as art and sculpture, computer science, design, medicine and cryptography.
Causeway is a global software provider that powers the design, build, operation and maintenance of the built environment. Headquartered in the UK, the company operates from locations in the UAE and India, supporting 2,000 customers in 36 countries. The company’s on-premise and cloud based software and services are at the heart of activities as diverse as the design and construction of major building and infrastructure projects, driving efficiencies in supply chain management and transaction services, supporting day-to-day facilities and estates management and tracking and managing service & maintenance resources.