Here we are, the Explore Stage of TICE Computer Science! The North East tech industry is truly in a league of its own with it being worth almost £1bn and growing at an incredibly fast rate. So, let’s say this was an opportunity for students of Whitburn Church of England Academy, Boldon School, Jarrow School and Whitley Bay High School to join mentors Dani and Phil for a sneak peek of the industry that is currently taking over the UK economy…

Day 1: Newcastle City Library & Company Tours

The morning began at Campus North, one of the strongest tech communities in the UK. It only felt to start the morning here before the day went ahead, to give students a first glance at where they could end up in years to come. Dani and Phil introduced themselves once again, whilst also introducing the guest support – Eleanor and James from BorgWarner.

Then, the students split off into two groups – one with Dani and one with Phil. We simply had too much talent to fit in one room!

Dani guided the team to Hedgehog Lab – a leading global enterprise app developer and post-PC technology consultancy. Immediately, as students entered their offices, jaws were dropped. The rustic look, as well as the quirky branded bunting across the room, was an inevitable interest to the students. Once the students were settled, the team at Hedgehog Lab were wonderful enough to do a mini-presentation on exactly what they do, as well as introduce employees from different aspects of the company including those in design, branding and marketing. They even mentioned what they seek in young employees, which already gave our Computer Science team a head-start in seeking working opportunities…

To finish off the visit, the team had shown their VR headset to the students and gave everyone an opportunity to experience it for themselves.

Meanwhile, Phil’s team headed to Orange Bus – a wonderful company dedicated to helping global organisations deliver engaging user interactions. This is certainly a very niche aspect of the tech industry and inevitably raised plenty of questions throughout the visit.

After the astounding mini-tour of the tech industry, all the students made their way back to the HQ for the afternoon – Newcastle City Library. The afternoon would provide students with some speakers – starting with an employer panel of successors based at Campus North. Names of speakers? Questions were flooding in, as they had a very interactive and honest discussion about where the tech industry is going and how the students can work towards a successful career in the field. The day was followed by a brief presentation on Artificial Intelligence by a member of our TICE Work Experience team, Simeon Sayer. His incredible interpretation on how AI is taking over a lot of what we do/experience was a very unique and refreshing insight for the students.

Day 2:  Newcastle University & Campus North

For Day 2 of Explore Stage, we wanted to tackle the education pathways for this sector. So, it only felt right to stop by the prestigious campus of Newcastle University to showcase exactly what the higher educational side of Computer Science can offer. The courses and subjects included Robotics, Gaming and Cyber Security.

A particular highlight throughout the day was the students working with James Chapman from BorgWarner, who gave a masterclass in JavaScript and games development. Meanwhile, Phil took the other half of the team to Campus North for another masterclass with more guest speakers.

I feel like I have become a better programmer. I enjoyed the second day because it was more practical and I really liked the programming because I feel it helped me improve because I was with more people who work in the computer science industry and could ask more questions. My programming with javascript really improved as in school we only use Python so it was interesting to try other languages. I also feel more aware of jobs in computer science.

– Pheobe Spence Oxman, Whitburn Academy.

And that rounds up the two days of tours, speakers and skills development. Stay tuned for when the remaining students test their skills in the Create Stage. Thank you to all the schools, venues and speakers for your participation in this year’s programme!