Contributed by Erica Fortune, Enterprise Marketing Manager for Northern Europe and Sustainability & Social Impact
A great deal is written about the UK ‘skills gap’ and whether we are adequately equipping the next generation with the right tools to help themselves, and indeed our economy, thrive in the future.
I’m pleased to report that all our concerns were allayed – temporarily at least – when Burnham Grammar school visited our Maidenhead offices as part of their first ever Computer Scientist of the Year competition. Bringing bucketloads of energy and innovative ideas, the Year Nine and Sixth Form students showcased exactly the sort of skills that are so integral to success in the digital age.
We kicked off the morning by hearing from John Watton, our Senior Marketing Director, who promised ‘not to be too cringe’ in giving the pupils an overview of Adobe’s history and what we do for our customers around the world, before opening the competition.
First up were the Year Nine finalists who, just as a reminder, are only fourteen years old. The brief was to create something which ‘solves one of life’s challenges’, and the students offered some fantastic ideas including an app that reminds you to drink water and an online tool to help cope with exam stress. There was even a machine learning application to help organise Star Wars characters into good and evil! Throughout the presentations, the students showed off their coding abilities but also some slick presentation skills and an uncanny ability to remain calm under pressure – even through technical hitches!
With the standard set so high, the baton was passed to the Senior finalists, who didn’t disappoint – their ideas left the judges open mouthed! From a lighting program for the school’s auditorium to a password ‘unhashing’ system, their presentations showcased some impressive developer and problem-solving skills with tremendous passion for the ideas clearly on display.
As the final presentation drew to a close, my fellow judges and I retired to deliberate on the winners from each age group – far from an easy task! Harleen, aged 14, won the Junior category with her ‘Ecstatic’ app which aims to boost the morale of teenage girls; and Bilal, aged 16, won the Senior category with his ‘Bounce’ computer game, which combines his knowledge of physics and computer science in a game which moves a ball around obstacles using a keyboard and audio controls.
I speak for all those involved from Adobe in saying that it was a truly inspirational morning, with so many technical skills being demonstrated with such enthusiasm. It’s a testament to the pupils and teachers from Burnham Grammar that we can say with confidence that with all this talent, the future of our industry is in good hands!
Find out how else we’re building more pathways to tech by visiting our diversity and inclusion site.