UWTSD's School of Applied Computing and EESW host IT taster event for girls


UWTSD’s School of Applied Computing in partnership with EESW (Engineering Education Scheme Wales) have organised a number of taster days for Girls in Computing and Information Technology. Schools taking part at the University’s Mount Pleasant Campus have included Dylan Thomas and Bishop Gore Comprehensives in Swansea, Llandovery College and Islwyn High School in Blackwood, Gwent.

The Sessions included – workshops on Robot Wars where pupils used Lego Mind Storm for programming robots to move in a circle, square and using colour sensors to perform an action when detecting a colour; PC Building – Removing every component from a PC and then putting it back together; Maze Runner – Unlocking the mystery of the maze, creating the MAZE game using Scratch and then playing the game and Virtual Reality Experience – an opportunity to see Oculus Rift, a roller coaster virtual reality experience using the OR.

Women have played a key role in the development of computing, as far back as the early 19th Century. Yet, the latest figures show that only 9% take computing at A-Level, 15% of girls are studying a computing subject at degree level and 23% go onto employment in the field of computing.

Professor Ian Wells, UWTSD’s Head of School of Applied Computing said: “The Computing and IT sectors are one of the most exciting fields to be involved in today. There are highly creative roles, roles that involve caring for people, deeply technical roles and roles that are critical to our society. There is a shortage of IT and Computing graduates internationally with  a need for 1.2 million new workers by 2022  in the UK alone, and girls and women can make the big difference. UWTSD is committed to showing girls and women how exciting IT and Computing can be as a career so come and visit us and discover your future”

UWTSD Student Ambassador Brendan Lewis said: “There is no reason why girls shouldn’t study computing. We are not living in the 1930s. Everyone has the same technology around them and use social media. My sister uses it more than me taking a gazillion selfies a day.”

Fellow Student Ambassador Cerys Nickels added : “It has been great to introduce girls into not just the IT, Office applications and programming but the wider range of computing opportunities available.”

Jessica McBeth, a pupil at  Islwyn High School said: “I enjoyed the virtual reality, it felt like I was actually on a ride. I think they film it from different angles and then put them together – I would like to find out more.  We have also taken a computer apart and rebuilt it – and it worked! I would never have done that otherwise. It has built my confidence on how a computer works and I would pick IT as one of my choices.”

Lucinda McDermott, also of Islwyn High School said: “I would like to compose music using computer software – it is quicker to write music and play it back. Software enable faultless music to be created. I would like to do something with music, robotics and computing – maybe creating better software for music.”  

Ruby Jones, also of Islwyn High School said: “I use IT for Facebook, Instagram and homework. I didn’t pick IT for my choices but today has shown me the wide range of stuff I could do. I will consider IT after today. Software is the future and if young people can understand it then there will be lots of careers in the future. I want to do Product Design – computing is really important for future products because it will basically be in all new products. I would need to understand computing to make future designs work.”

Their Teacher Ms Knight said the event had proved a success. “Some were unsure about their choices and what to do – this experience has made them consider IT. It has been a hands-on and engaging experience that they wouldn’t get in a classroom environment,” she added.

Mr Clarke – Head of Year 9 at Islwyn High School said: “It has been very practical and given them ideas about career pathways, The Oculus Rift was good and the reaction of the pupils was brilliant – it is very believable and from my point of view I wanted to know how it worked. They also did a lot of communication and problem solving. Our Schools are merging and we have groups from both schools who have not met each other yet so #GirsintoIT has enabled them to get to know each other.”

Bishop Gore pupil Rayhana Begum said: “Taking the computer apart was the best part of the day – we got to see what is inside and how they work - we would normally just use the technology.”

Llandovery College pupil Mina Cook saud: “Rebuilding the computer was good because you got to see how it works. Building robots is a normal activity in schools today but rebuilding the PC was out of the ordinary and really interesting. Everyone expects it to be a lot more complicated than it is. I would definitely show more kids this.”