Software Squad Event – August 2015

Earlier in the week we opened the doors at Headforwards to young IT enthusiasts from all over Cornwall to give them a day of encouragement and education.

After a quick cup of tea the day started off with all the students standing up to introduce themselves, whilst also saying which school or college they go to, and why IT excites them.  It was really interesting to see the mix of students who attended, and this was a great way for them to break the ice with each other.

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Students at Headforwards Software Squad

Then Toby Parkins, director at Headforwards, started our coding workshop by splitting the group into two teams.

One of the teams had a go at pair programming on the Raspberry Pi’s.

Headforwards Software Squad
Pair Programming with Raspberry Pi’s

The other half of the group did a JavaScript workshop on Codecademy.
It is believed, at the moment, that JavaScript is probably one of the most important and useful language for developers to learn.  Why not have a go yourself?

Headforwards Software Squad
Codecademy JavaScript workshop

We were very lucky to have a Skype video call with Eben Upton who is founder of Raspberry Pi.

Eben Upton Headforwards Software Squad Skype
Skype video call with Eben Upton

Raspberry Pis are a small, low cost computer that can be plugged into a computer monitor or TV. They were designed to allow everyone access to a computer that will enable them to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python.

A box of Raspberry Pi's
A box of Raspberry Pi’s

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a registered educational charity who aim to educate adults and children, particularly with computers and computer science.
Eben talked to us about the history of the Raspberry Pi and what inspired the product along with what exciting things users have created with it.
If you have a Raspberry Pi and are looking for some inspiration, take a look at IT Pro’s top 15 projects to try yourself. 

During the lunch break, members of the Headforwards team joined us for some food to discuss their experience with getting into software development. The delegates really enjoyed having the chance to talk to working professionals, getting answers to their many questions.

Next Cornwall College joined us to talk about education options. They discussed the A-Levels and degree courses available, including the new BSc (Hons) Computing Technologies which is a top up course for their FdSc Computing, Networking and Software Development.

Headforwards Software Squad
Caroline Cripps from Cornwall College

Caroline Cripps from Cornwall College also discussed the requirements for getting onto these courses, GCSE’s and A-Levels needed, along with the benefits of attending a local college.

The next speaker was Jimmy Headdon  who is Senior Software Engineer at McLaren Racing. Jimmy talked to us about his journey from being a student at Richard Lander School in Truro to working at one of the top Formula one teams in the world.

Headforwards Software Squad
Jimmy Headdon – Senior Software Engineer at McLaren Racing

It was really interesting to hear about the astonishing amount of software being used in Formula one, including the pit stops. McLaren hold the record for the fastest pit stop and software plays a large part in them being able to perform the necessary tasks simultaneously, at such speed without causing injury.

Headforwards Software Squad
Jimmy Headdon- McLaren Racing

We also had a short lesson about Grace Hopper and the speed of data transfer. Hopper is a legend within the computer science industry , she was joined the Navy in 1941 after the attack on Perl Harbour and later went to Harvard University’s Computational Laboratory where she worked with the new Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator. She was also the person to coin the phrase debugging! She was a fascinating person who paved the way for women in IT, particularly in an era where women were still seen as the weaker sex.

Next we were joined by the enigmatic Daphne Skinnard from BBC Radio Cornwall.

Headforwards Software Squad
Daphne Skinnard from BBC Radio Cornwall

She discussed the technology that is used in the media, in particular at BBC Radio Cornwall and with portable news gathering. It was interesting to hear about the software that has been designed specifically for BBC radio and how it works.

Then we took the delegates on a tour of our office at Pool Innovation Centre 

Headforwards Software Squad
Tour of the Headforwards offices

This tour led to an interesting Q and A session about the inner workings of a software company, how outsourcing works and the future of IT – mainly the cloud.
When we returned to the conference room, the delegates split into teams and we had a pop quiz!

Headforwards Software Squad
Headforwards Software Squad Quiz
Headforwards Software Squad
Headforwards Software Squad

Well done to “The Team At The Back” who have won two Raspberry Pi’s!

Our final speaker of the day was Sam Lanyon from Concept Shed, he filled us in on his adventures with design, software and Arduino.  His AutoWed machine was definitely a big hit!

Headforwards Software Squad
Sam Lanyon talks about his AutoWed machine

He also brought along a 3D printer which he demonstrated to the group, making a range of fascinating items and giving them away. This was really interesting to see in action, and is something that will probably be appearing on a few Christmas lists now.

Headforwards Software Squad
3D printer

We had such a fantastic day, thank you to all the speakers who spared time in their very busy schedules to come along and inspire the next generation of IT lovers- along with a few of the old hats!

Headforwards Software Squad
Delegates working hard learning JavaScript

We also want to say thank you to all the students and their relatives for coming along and making the day such a success.

Headforwards Software Squad
Pair Programming on the Raspberry Pi’s

Thank you for all your feedback about the event, on the back of this we are already starting to plan our next Software Squad event!

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Software Squad in full swing

If you are interested in attending in the future please email and ask to be added to the mailing list.

Thanks again to everyone involved for making the day such a success.