Techmix Magazine Issue #3

Page 1


issue 3





DIGITAL SUMMER TRIP 2014 Techmix invades Tech City


What will you be learning?

PIMP YOUR MINECRAFT Become a game designer







[our team] Techmix is published by: Digital Skills Agency Ltd Studio W106, Hackney Community College, Hoxton, N1 6HQ 0207 613 9194 Publisher Edward Baker Editor Carinya Sharples Creative Director Charlotte Mckay Production Editor Alasdair Lees Contributing Writer Demian Gregory Graphic Designers Simon Ward Rupi Sian Awais Bhatti Harry Thory Event Producer Thom Brooks Event Managers Andy Dean Rob Mattingly Chris Waddington Education Manager Ji Hu Community Manager Grace Boyega Tech Camp Manager Brittany Lehr Printers Wyndeham Press Group Special Thanks Dave Wiseman Dan Chaput Gavin Lucas Harrison Sturgeon Paul Alison Harry Baker The Nobles James Prosser Tony Parkin Johanna Cocks Victoria-Anne Bulley Cover image Karen Robinson


Can you code? Here at Techmix HQ, we’ve long known the importance of programming. Like nearly all companies, our business has a technology backbone. We’re a “digital business” reliant on technology to operate successfully. The software used to design this page, our website and our social-communications channels were all conceived, built and supported by software engineers. This edition of Techmix is themed around the red-hot interest in learning to code. It includes a showcase of the most exciting companies leading the way with the coding revolution and some practical “Learn To” sessions from our friends at Kano and beyond. We hope that this edition inspires you to roll up your sleeves and give it a go (be sure to remember to let us know what you’ve built, so we can feature you!). We’re also proud to be hosting the second Digital Summer Trip back at Hackney Community College in East London. We’re working round the clock to get more than 80 digital companies showing off their technologies, with many offering digital, media and creative career opportunities. Get the low-down for yourself in our preview on pages 28-29. We hope to see you at the event. To those readers returning to Techmix, we thank you for your continued support. For those of you who are just now joining the mix, welcome aboard.


eek @la

Lady G

Jan 24

great Mag - a e th Techmix #FF @ magazine for r u new tech generation - O ve it r e l g il n s w lo k you e e sG Mis #Little

#RIPMAYAANG ELOU ‫‏‬ @NupeMedia Jun 16 @DigiSummerT rip is sure to be a huge even t for digital enthusiasts/th ose want a car eer in digital #DST _14 pic.twitter. com/InpclqoA 3s

Edward Baker, Publisher Thanks to Mind Candy!

SAY HELLO TO… Edward Baker Publisher Dream tech power... Onboard navigation: I always get lost! Favourite app... Mind Candy’s PopJam! (See page 36 for more.) My first job was... Working on a fruitand-veg stall. Favourite TED talk... Dave Eggers – Once upon a school. Coding is... Going to be a big part of everyone’s lives in the near future.

Alasdair Lees Production Editor Dream tech power... Finding the best songs on Spotify. Favourite app... Songkick tells me where my favourite bands are playing. My first job was... Delivering free newspapers. Favourite TED talk... Neuroscientist David Eagleman on “possibilianism”. Coding is... A future world language, like English or Mandarin.

Charlotte Mckay Creative Director Dream tech power To freeze time, so I can do more! Favourite app... Logo Quiz. I like to test my knowledge. My first job was... In a horse stables. Favourite TED talk... Chip Kidd – designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is. Coding is... Useful in design. I’d like to learn more about it.

Carinya Sharples Editor Dream tech power... To speed-transcribe lengthy interviews. Favourite app... MapMyRun helped me train for a half marathon. My first job was... Delivering the local newspaper. Favourite TED talk... Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – The danger of a single story. Coding is... A mystery to me, to be honest, beyond <p/>.

Techmix is published by Digital Skills Agency Ltd Studio W106, Hackney Community College, Hoxton, N1 6HQ. All rights reserved. Copyright © Digital Skills Agency Ltd 2014. Printed by Wyndeham Press Group. Techmix is distributed by The Education Company. Whilst every care is taken, prices and details are subject to change and the publisher does not take responsibility for omissions or errors. Techmix does not take responsibility for unsolicited material. Permission to use any of the material contained in this magazine and associated websites should be obtained from Digital Skills Agency Ltd. The views expressed by contributors and advertisers in this publication and on our website do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial team or the publisher.




BSc (Hons)

BA/BSc (Hons)

BA/BSc (Hons)

Digital Film Making Interactive Animation

Book Open Day Register to attend:

03330 112 315

Games Programming Web Development

5th July | 22nd November Come and see for yourself how studying with SAE Institute will give you the power to create.




The hotlist


Upwardly mobile


Talking in code



4 Big Picture

Animated film Robots of Brixton

Space to think

crushes the competition. 6 Megabites

27 CODING SPECIAL: Talking in code

Latest tech and gadget news.

Why girls make great programmers too.

8 Keeping it reel

28 Preview: Digital Summer Trip

In our exclusive interview, SB.TV creator

The low-down on Techmix’s unmissable

44 Upwardly mobile

Jamal Edwards tells us how he became

digital skills festival.

Two experts from EE’s social media

56 Techmix Tech Career Camp

a big media player on his own terms.

30 Reaching for the top

team on life behind the avatar.

Find your future digital job here.

14 CODING SPECIAL: Coding generation

Get debating at the Digital Skills Summit.

46 How to... Create a social media

59 The Hotlist

What the big tech companies are doing

33 Space to think


Our pick of the best gadgets around.

to bring coding into the classroom.

Why a visit to O2’s shiny new Think

A BBC social-media pro shows us how to

80 Digital directory

21 CODING SPECIAL: Ten of the best...

Big Hub is a no-brainer.

win friends and influence people.

Find out what the top tech universities

young coders

36 The Making of PopJam

48 Archway to success

and colleges can do for you.

Meet 10 pioneering young programmers.

Meet the team behind this year’s

Meet Arch’s top digital apprentices.

78 Digital Skills Show comes

22 CODING SPECIAL: In pursuit

coolest social media app.

52 Distance learning

to Manchester

of appy-ness

40 How To... Create an online test

How Skype sessions from the Arctic

Techmix is heading for Manchester,

Creative thinking with Apps For Good.

How to become a quiz grandmaster.

are making science lessons cool.

hub of the digital north.

24 CODING SPECIAL: Learn to…

42 Reaching for the stars

54 How to be... a data scientist

80 Looking ahead

Build Minecraft with Kano

Connecting Tech City with students.

Suzy Moat on how to predict a riot.

Make Things Do Stuff picks the upcoming

How to pimp the virtual game.

tech events you need to know about.


THE REVOLUTION WILL BE DIGITISED The Robots of Brixton (pictured) imagines a dystopian future in which the south London neighbourhood is inhabited by robot workers. Its stunning artistry won the film’s creator, Kibwe Tavares, the Special Jury Award for Animation Direction at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival’s Best Short Films Awards in 2012 and a silver medal from Riba (the Royal Institute of British Architects). Since then, the south London architect-turned-director/animator has been busy working on other projects and animations, including last year’s acclaimed short film Jonah as part of Factory Fifteen, a film and animation studio he co-founded with Jonathan Gales and Paul Nicholls. He’s now working with French film company Pathé on a couple of feature films and is showcasing some of his work at the Barbican’s Digital Revolution exhibition this 2 summer (July 3-September 14).,



From a device that lets you pay with your palm to feminist nailwraps – our pic of the news from the tech world (and beyond) that you’ll want to share with your mates!


SNAP HAPPY n If you’ve got wrist strain after one too many selfies, this is for you. The latest experiment from iStrategyLabs uses a two-way mirror and a Mac mini to create S.E.L.F.I.E., aka the The Self Enhancing Live Feed Image Engine. You simply stand on the positioning circle in front of the mirror, smile and the facial-recognition software will start up. LED lights will count down and simulate a flash as your photo is taken. It is then automatically posted to Twitter with your own logo or watermark. Simples.

DREAM WORKS n Future Steven Spielbergs and Sofia Coppolas, listen up. The organisers of the Dream to Screen competition are looking for 16- to 25-year-olds with an idea for a short film, which will be judged by a panel including Ashley Walters (pictured), Dame Helen Mirren and executives from 20th Century Fox. The five finalists will win equipment, a £2,000 budget and support from a mentor. The finished film voted the best by the public will be shown at every Cineworld cinema in the UK.

Palm Reader n Students at Lund University in Sweden are looking at how we can pay for items with our palms. Their biometric Quixter device detects vein patterns that are unique to everybody. Some 1,600 students are already enjoying going wallet-free by registering to use the readers in stores on campus. Now that is pretty handy.


n The Commonwealth Games kicks off this July in Glasgow and a crack team of 300 aspiring journalists have been trained to provide a youth angle to the events through Future News, a special online platform. In April, the participants – aged between 16 and 19 and from 14 different countries – came together in Glasgow for the Aye Write! Future News International Young Journalists’ Conference to learn about press freedom, ethical reporting, using social media and digital technology, and to hear from top media experts. During the Games, 40 young people from Glasgow will work from a Live Games Newsroom at the city’s Mitchell Library, with other participants submitting reports from around the globe. “Now we are back home, we continue to publish content from our side of the world, so it can be viewed on an international level,” says 18-year-old Kayla Webb from Jamaica. “I am excited about being able to share with the world how Jamaica prepares for and celebrates the Commonwealth Games.”

GETTING THE BALL ROLLING n The first ceremonial kick of this year’s World Cup was made by a paralysed teenager using a mind-controlled exoskeleton. Eight paraplegic patients from the Association for Assistance to Disabled Children (AACD) in São Paulo, Brazil, were trained in virtual reality so they could use the device. So how does it work? Well, non-invasive sensors in the headpiece read the brain’s electrical signals to produce movement. The sensors then send signals to the patient so they can “feel” what is happening.



DOCTOR n The NHS is increasing the provision of Skype, email and phone consultations as part of a £50m fund to improve access to GPs. More than 7.5 million people in England are expected to take part in the pilot schemes, which will also trial extended opening hours. So you can see your doc before school or college not during. Bet you’re thrilled!



n Artist Phoebe Davies’ Nailwraps: Influences project – in which she helps groups create acrylic nails featuring inspiring women and historic icons – started when she ran a class at a pupil referral unit for girls. Now her pop-up Nailwraps nail bars are, er, popping up everywhere from the Tate Modern to Birmingham. Next stop, a dedicated line in Topshop.



IMAGES Danilo Borges/World Cup Portal, Belinda Lawley, Rowena Gordon, Tourism Australia, Creative Commons/Vanessa Lua, Creative Commons/Colin Park

THE CLASS n Four schools are on the ed tech shortlist for this year’s prestigious TES Schools Awards: Halcyon London International School, Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy, Langstone Junior School and New Pasture Lane Primary School. Good luck to all!


n New app Jelly combines photos, interactive maps, locations and people to answer your burning questions. The brainchild of Ben Finkel and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, it aims to connect and coordinate networks of people. You submit your question and Jelly shares it with Facebook friends, friends of friends, Twitter followers and people you follow on Twitter to find the best possible answer. With the likes of Al Gore on board as investors, Jelly is sure to reach its goal of expanding its tentacles far and white. And not a painful sting in sight.

Did y ou of Tw know? 44 it % have ter accoun yet to t send s a twee t!

n Scientists at Northumbria University have found that men demonstrate physical prowess while dancing by showing off their upper body strength.

COP A LOOK AT THAT! n Facebook received nearly 2,000 data requests from UK police in the second half of last year. More than 70 per cent made in connection with criminal cases led to the social media giant releasing content. Facebook “f ” Logo

CMYK / .eps

Facebook “f ” Logo

s UP: Australia Down Under has been named the best place to be a teenager by the Global Youth Wellbeing Index, which bigged up its education, safety, healthy lifestyle and great weather. The UK came fourth (above the US and Germany). s UP: Chap hop Education Minister Michael Gove has raised the profile of chap hop (posh parody hip hop) by saying he listens to rappers such as Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer. s UP: Coding Writing code has been made part of the curriculum, so we’ve dedicated this baromv eo ti ed rMeasu whole issue to r e m e n it. Check out BsSaeernedeedr.t,B6aCGroTommpelteetre(GTM. omet M.See our special s{ ensorDeart.aS)e5n9s3o3reDda.ta se tr ring9 weath = ‘Coding if0041“”; special’ section from page 13. t DOWN: E-flirting Actor James Franco said he used “bad judgement” after flirting with a 17-yearold Scottish fan on Instagram after she posted photos of him leaving a Broadway show. She refused his advances. t DOWN: The long summer holiday In a recent poll, 55 per cent of headteachers backed plans to space school breaks out over the year. CMYK / .eps





At 15, he launched his own YouTube music channel, SB.TV. Now, aged 23, Jamal Edwards is a respected media mogul. Carinya Sharples meets the man behind the camera



n 2007, 15-year-old Jamal Edwards got a Christmas present he’ll never forget: a handheld video camcorder. After a bit of practising – filming his mum, one-time X Factor contender


Brenda Edwards, and the crafty foxes in his West London garden – Jamal took his new toy up to Birmingham. Against the backdrop of Cadbury World, he recorded grime MCs Soul and

Slidez, then uploaded the video to his new channel, Smokey Barz TV (named after his MC name) or SB.TV. The video picked up some viewers. “KEEP REPIN


FAM ND PUTTIN DA WORK IN” encouraged Kingerzzz. And so Jamal did. Seven years on, Jamal is enjoying the rewards of all those years filming on random London estates late at night, standing outside clubs to catch his favourite artists (because he was too young to get in) and painstakingly teaching himself how to film and edit. Since that first video, SB.TV’s YouTube channel has clocked up an incredible 225 million views. And Jamal has become a man in demand. He’s hooked up with Drake, Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber. He’s put Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and countless other artists on the map. He’s flown the skies with Rihanna on her 777 Tour. He’s fronted Wired magazine and The Economist’s Intelligent Minds. He’s told it like it is at TEDxHousesOfParliament and the Bafta TV Forum. He’s written his own book, Self Belief: The Vision , with Richard Branson, Emeli Sandé, Jack and Finn Harries, Ed Sheeran, Jessie J and Idris Elba providing introductions to each of the book’s inspiring chapters. He’s made it on to The Sunday Times Rich List and is estimated to be worth more than £8 million. Now he’s expanding

“I would lock myself away in my bedroom and edit all night long. I still do today!”

his SB.TV empire into the worlds of comedy, sport, fashion, games and gadgets, with new channels set to launch by early 2015, he revealed to Techmix . And it’s all been achieved on his own terms. While others may have chased mainstream artists and money, Jamal captured the grime scene and made

IMAGE Dan Reid

it his own. Not because he had dollars in his eyes, but because it was what he

You started SB.TV when you were still at school. What did your friends and family think of what you were doing? My friends loved it! Seeing their expressions inspired me even more to go out and find new artists, to keep building the channel. They all thought it was an incredible idea and that this is what television had been missing because it did not showcase enough up-and-coming talent from our demographic. They were my first marketers too! I remember my parents being slightly worried because even though my job is quite social, I became a bit of a recluse: I would lock myself away in my bedroom and edit all night long. I still do today, in fact! My mum and dad were very supportive but at the same time weary because filming would take me to some of the roughest estates in London. You began with a camcorder you received as Christmas present. Did you have any training or just learned as you went? I learned on the go really and I’m still learning today. I started filming foxes in my back garden to get to grips with the camcorder, and I studied media at college, which gave me a basic understanding of some of the different aspects of the media industry. I learnt to edit from trial and error and hours of studying tutorial videos. It’s funny, actually, because I was just telling a friend of mine that for my vlog I want to go on a pilgrimage to study and seek advice from some of the greatest DOPs [directors of photography] and directors of our time.

wanted to see. This passion brought credibility and kudos, which the likes of massive operations such as MTV UK (with just 26,573,268 YouTube views) and Island Records UK (just above SB.TV at 272,473,421 views) could only dream of. So how does a boy from Acton go from shooting foxes to beating the big boys at their own game? We asked Jamal to tell us where it all began.

What kept you going in those early years? It was all about getting that exclusive for me, helping an artist showcase their talent. I was, and still am, an avid fan of urban culture in Britain – whether that be grime, garage or even house – and just wanted to champion the culture. Everybody seemed



What was it like getting your first cheque from YouTube back when SB.TV was just getting off the ground? That first cheque, man, that first cheque! It was an incredible thing for me for two reasons: first and foremost it was at that point I realised the potential of SB.TV and that it had the capability to become my full-time job, which was an incredible feeling. But most importantly it signified that there was an audience for UK urban music and that it was more than just a fad. YouTube gave me a feeling of empowerment that I had never felt anywhere else. Every other job I had previously felt like you were only rewarded when you compromised yourself.

to enjoy it but wanted to do nothing about it, so I saw gap in the market with the death of the DVD and the birth of YouTube. I loved working with the artists and just wanted as many people to see them as possible.


How did you go about finding your SB.TV team? The majority of them got in contact with me. I didn’t initially set out to build a team, it just organically happened. Over the years I have tried to employ just young people – preferably 30 and under, but mainly 25 and under. This is because I wanted SB.TV to be a company that is by young people, for young people. I wanted to give other young people the opportunity I never had in the workplace: to express yourself freely. For me the most important attribute is creativity and the ability to think on your feet. We’re not a team of cameramen, producers and editors, we’re problem-solvers, so I guess I look for young people with the right ethos. Do you still get behind the camera? Yes, in fact just last week I shot and edited the remix video for an incredible track by grime artist Skepta. It’s funny because literally the next day I was at Buckingham Palace talking to the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, about what SB.TV is – and met the Queen! Can young people do work experience with SB.TV? And has any intern ever joined the team? Yes, I’m all about the young people. We had a young lady named Dana do work experience with us, she was sent to us by Channel 4, which also has a great work-experience scheme. We loved her so much she is now full-time and is working in our social media department, which is fantastic. You’ve said one of the great things about your job is being a soundboard. What are some of the best ideas you’ve heard? Yes, it’s crazy, I hear so many ideas on a day-to-day basis. So one that has recently come up is something called Clippet, set up by a James MacLeod. It’s a mobile-based platform designed to engage young people in the news. Another that I think is going to do really well is called Musations: it enables you to micro-message using clips from your favourite songs – I call it the WhatsApp of music. I am looking at how I can work with the guys over at both Clippet and Musations.




You’ve challenged someone to do for politics what you’ve done for music. Is anyone doing this yet? I don’t think it’s been done, but I am sure that there are a few young people gravitating in this direction. When I started SB.TV it wasn’t about big artists, it was about local, up-andcoming artists and now we feature some of the top names in music, but we always have local artists at heart. It would be great if the same ethos could be applied to politics. At the moment I’m working with Bite The Ballot on a news channel that will give young people information on topics that affect them today or things they don’t know about. What’s the craziest moment you’ve had with SB.TV, when you thought ‘I can’t believe I’m here’? Going on a tour of Asia with Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg. It was an incredible trip and I got some of the best advice I’ve ever received in my life from the man himself, Dr Dre. [“He told me to look after the three Bs: Your base, that’s your friends and family, your business and your body,” Jamal told the audience at Wired Next Generation].

“That first cheque, man, that first cheque! It was an incredible thing for me”

What’s been your lowest point? Having friends die so young. I just wish they could have lived longer to live out their dreams.

Do you ever feel intimidated? What gets you through? I still get nervous doing interviews and going for meetings, because I feel I still have so much to learn – but I get through by believing I am only here because I am meant to be, so there must be value in what I have to offer. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time? In 10 years’ time I see SB.TV being a global youth brand solving the problems of the youth of tomorrow. I hope we will have offices all over the globe providing young people with employment, expanding our offerings to multiple languages. I see us producing feature films, TV shows, radio shows and live events.













“Bloggers are cool, but code writers? Those are the coolest in the world.” So says And if the Black Eyed Peas frontman, judge of The Voice and tech entrepreneur says so, we’re not going to argue. But’s not the only one learning how to code: soon you will be too. The latest National Curriculum for England wants to get kids coding, saying that at Key Stage 1 pupils should be able to “create and debug simple programs” and by Key Stage 3 be able to “use two or more programming languages, at least one of which is textual, to solve a variety of computational problems”. It’s an ambitious aim, but one that’s been widely praised by tech companies in desperate need of talented young techies. To help make it happen, in February the government unveiled a new £500,000 fund to train teachers in software coding, which forms part of the wider Year of Code campaign, to “get young people excited about the power and potential of computer science”. The new computing curriculum was drawn up with teachers and experts, including the British Computer Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, with input from Microsoft, Google and leaders in the computer games industry. But Techmix wanted to find out what the biggest tech companies working with young people think of the changes, and what they’re doing to help bring coding to the classroom. Here’s what they had to say.

WHAT IS APPSHED DOING TO BRING CODING INTO THE CLASSROOM? “Kids need to see a compelling reason for coding, and it must add value to their lives. At AppShed we empower them with the tools to create a massive variety of apps. They customise and program apps to fit their ideas. Best of all their apps run on all smartphones and tablets, with no installation or configuration issues whatsoever. For teachers we have AppShed Academy: tutorials, lesson plans, video walkthroughs – all the resources they could want to make app building a constructive exercise in the classroom. We also have an EDU Dashboard allowing teachers to track, monitor and assess apps, as well as keep kids safe online.” WHAT DOES APPSHED THINK OF CODING BEING ADDED TO THE CURRICULUM? Coding is just another way of solving problems. It provides a thinking person with a structure for defining a solution, and a mechanism for putting this into action. Our digital world constantly requires us to give instructions to machines, yet few are equipped to leverage the opportunities. Withholding coding skills from young people is tantamount to negligence in preparing them for their future.”



WHAT IS APPS FOR GOOD DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Apps for Good provides educators with the course content, training and connections to experts and then lets teachers do what they are best at: inspiring and guiding young people. Apps for Good has been mapped to the national curriculum for computing, but also delivers wider employability skills for students. We partner with schools, colleges and informal learning centres who deliver the course to students aged between 10 and 18.” WHAT DOES DECODED THINK OF CODING BEING IN THE CURRICULUM? “We are pleased to see that more schools and colleges will be teaching their students how to code. However, teaching coding is only one piece of the puzzle to arm students with the skills they need for the 21st century. For students, the curriculum must be delivered within a context of creativity, real-world context and collaboration. Teachers will need significant and ongoing support to develop the skills, knowledge and pedagogy to bring the new curriculum to life for their students.”

WHAT IS CHAOS CREATED CODE DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Chaos Created runs code workshops for primary and secondary school pupils and for teachers too! Chaos teaches the principles of coding, technical know-how and the practical side of apps and getting ideas to market. The workshops and lessons feature “offline” games and activities that teach the foundations of programming (geared towards ages five and above), alongside games and apps that get coded over the course of a day, or several workshop sessions. Chaos Created is made up of individuals with vast knowledge of web and app development, along with workshop and teaching experience. They have a bunch of apps on the market including Timedancer and Zombies Ate My City, both of which were featured on BBC’s flagship technology show Click. They also have experience leading workshops, regularly present at the incredible TeenTech event days, have appeared on several podcasts (including Media Pulp and Off The Wall), and have spoken at Bafta about transmedia and app development.

coding special



WHAT IS CODEACADEMY DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Codecademy makes it easy for students to get the skills they need to succeed in today’s digital world, all in a way that’s fun, free and accessible anywhere. It provides a new approach to learning that allows students to interact with their peers across the globe through the online community and build amazing projects, and teaches a different way of thinking that filters into and positively impacts all aspects of life. Codecademy already works closely with teachers in more than 1,000 schools across the UK to ensure they are prepared to teach the new curriculum, offering support and resources that can be used in the classroom with students. WHAT DOES CODECADEMY THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “The fact that the UK has introduced coding to the National Curriculum solidifies how important it is going forward. This is a significant step toward our ultimate mission of ensuring anyone, anywhere in the world has access to the digital skills needed to prosper in today’s workforce. We are working closely with the UK Department for Education and Computing at School to provide teacher training and free classroom resources for both primary and secondary schools, to help teachers prepare for and feel confident in teaching the new curriculum.”

WHAT IS CODE AVENGERS DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “ is a gamelike environment with interactive online courses that teach you how to build websites, apps and games using the HTML, CSS and JavaScript computer languages. The courses are carefully designed to be as fun and effective as possible for total beginners. For example, over the past three years, New Zealand high schools have faced the challenge of introducing a new advanced computing curriculum. Code Avengers has helped students and teachers in over half of New Zealand secondary schools take the pain out of teaching and learn the basics of computer programming and web development. The Code Avengers mission is not limited to local schools. Our platform has been enthusiastically adopted by thousands of school worldwide.” WHAT DOES CODE AVENGERS THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “With the introduction of coding into the UK curriculum this year, Code Avengers is excited to help more UK students develop their coding skills so they can create the stunning new technology of the future.”



WHAT IS CODE CLUB DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Code Club help volunteer programmers get into schools to run clubs that teach children to code. The clubs are free for children to attend and for schools to host. There are over 2,200 clubs across the UK and over 700 schools on the waiting list. How it works: Code Club produces projects that teach Scratch, HTML, CSS and Python. A teacher is always there to help run the club and the children learn to program by making fun games, animations, websites and applications with expert guidance from a volunteer. The outcome: children gain skills that will be useful in their future hobbies, schooling and career and are inspired to pursue programming and other creative digital activities.” WHAT DOES CODE CLUB THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “We think the introduction of the computing curriculum into schools is a fantastic step forward. Children in the 21st century need to know how to build their ideas and share them with other people. We have created Code Club Pro to help get teachers ready for the changes.”

WHAT IS CODERDOJO DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “We support and encourage coding in schools, but unfortunately many schools are not well equipped to support coding and even fewer can aid young people in taking coding to the next level as they are generally overworked and underfunded. We’ve worked with numerous schools helping them to set up private dojos for their students and in some cases these open to the public also. CoderDojo is a fun after-school activity where young people can work on personal projects that interest them. WHAT DOES CODERDOJO THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “You might learn a bit of football or music or creative writing in school. To get really good, you need other environments. Whether it’s kicking a ball in the street or joining a club or jamming with a band or joining a writing circle, there needs to be somewhere to perfect your skills with like-minded peers. CoderDojo is that welcoming place for young people who love to code.”



All designs are property of Noah Cremisino & Noah Cremisino Design & Illustration // For usage please contact


COMPUTING AT SCHOOL “Our mission is to provide leadership and strategic guidance to all those involved in computing education in schools, with a significant but not exclusive focus on the Computer Science theme within the wider computing curriculum.”


DECODED WHAT IS DECODED DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “We were part of the original movement that persuaded the government to change the curriculum, which was very cool when it happened. We were able to take what we learned teaching some of the top professionals in the world and power a separate social enterprise with it called CodeEd, a [free] one-day course and online platform designed to give teachers the skills and confidence to teach coding in the classroom. The course has so far impacted 55,000 students. We are now looking at releasing a web-based editor that makes coding much easier, with tools that teachers can use in their classrooms.” WHAT DOES DECODED THINK OF CODING BEING IN THE CURRICULUM? “Code underpins the entire digital economy. We don’t all need to become coders, but we really do need to know what’s possible. Every child must have the opportunity to learn to program at school. It’s too important to leave to chance – that people will just teach themselves online. For the young students who decide “this isn’t for me”, it’s still vital that they understand how computers work and how teams of people can harness them to solve problems.”



WHAT IS INTEL DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Intel has invested more than $1bn in K-12 and higher education in over 60 countries in the past 10 years, to provide the tools necessary to bring 21st-century learning into each and every classroom. It sponsors the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest high school science research competition. And last year, Intel unveiled the Intel Galileo board, the first product in a new family of Arduino-compatible development boards featuring Intel architecture to bring the possibilities of Intel technology to a classroom, lab or workshop in someone’s garage or home.” WHAT DOES INTEL THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “Introducing technology into schools can help students transform the world around them. Project DISTANCE, led by industry and academic experts, leverages the emerging power of the ‘internet of things’ to transform the way we discover and interact with the world – in this case, in education. The access to environmental data, combined with a creative curriculum, offers educators and students an enriched classroom experience fuelled by the values of data transparency and inclusion in the innovation of technology and their future cities.”,

WHAT IS KANO DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “We’re insanely focused on making the Kano Kit amazing, the coolest, simplest, most powerful computer kit in the world – for £99. We want it to give parents, kids, teachers and beginners a way to create with technology, to learn code and make amazing things.” WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO LEARN HOW TO CODE? “Code is a language like any other and you can learn the basics in minutes, not months. There’s a practical side: if you learn some basic programming, you can build your own website, make a cool game, play pranks on your friends, make a digital song, code a massive volcano in Minecraft or start a business that changes the world by connecting people on the internet. It’s a way of taking existing elements, bending the rules and inventing something new. We’re all surrounded by code: even the cheapest smartphone is thousands of times more powerful than the computer that took man to the moon on the Apollo. You can take that power and bend it to your will.”

coding special

RASPBERRY PI WHAT IS RASPBERRY PI DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “The Raspberry Pi allows the freedom to experiment and hack and play, without the software and hardware restrictions typically found in the classroom. The input/output pins on the Raspberry Pi open up the world of physical computing, where pupils can create anything from robots to parent detectors to musical instruments, while many schools are using the camera board for sharing projects over the web. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is committed to helping teachers and learners access the new programme of study. We are providing free teacher training, producing free teaching and learning resources and running workshops and events.” WHAT DOES RASPBERRY PI THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “Computing is powerful, challenging, creative and fun, and the reintroduction of the subject is one of the most important changes to the English National Curriculum in decades. From a young age, pupils will learn how to use computers to make their ideas come to life. Instead of being passive consumers, they will become digital creators and along the way they will learn essential life skills such as problem-solving and computational thinking.”




WHAT IS MOZILLA DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Mozilla believes that making the web, rather than simply consuming it, is crucial to keeping the internet alive and filled with innovation and opportunity for all. Our Webmaker project is a global community dedicated to teaching digital skills and web literacy. Our free tools and teaching resources help classroom learners explore, tinker and create together to build a web that’s open and made by everyone. WHAT DOES MOZILLA THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “Mozilla believes that learning to code is but one part of the larger landscape of web literacy, which we define as the skills and competencies required to read, write and participate effectively online. Understanding how the web works, and how we can safely create and connect online, are invaluable concepts to be taught in schools. With help from our global community, Mozilla has created activities, lesson plans and tutorials to teach and learn these critical digital skills.”

“NET Gadgeteer is a great way to excite students about programming, electronics and design. Just pick your components, plug them into a mainboard and program the way they work together. It uses the NET Micro Framework to make writing code for your device as easy as writing a desktop, web or Windows Phone application.”

TECH CAREER CAMPS WHAT IS TECH CAREER CAMPS DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Techmix’s Tech Career Camps is unique to other skills initiatives in teaching real-world digital hard skills through hands-on tuition, as well as important soft skills, such as communication and presentation skills. Led by the Digital Skills Agency, Tech Career Camps explores how digital products are made, identifying five real-world digital roles that input and influence how digital products are created: The Entrepreneur, The Designer, The Coder, The Digital Marketing Expert and Presentation Expert. Each week-long camp is delivered in partnership with East London District Jobcentre Plus, and will support local young people from disadvantaged wards in the East London district who are currently not in education, employment and training, who have no direct experience or relevant qualifications and would not normally have the opportunity, confidence, understanding or motivation to connect with Tech City tech companies and employers.”


TEEN TECH WHAT IS TEENTECH DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “TeenTech runs large-scale interactive events to help young people understand the real opportunities in science, technology and engineering. We run 15 events across the UK, with a supporting award scheme, which culminates in presentations with our patron, HRH the Duke of York. The London event takes place in The Copper Box at the Olympic Park on 5 December and we invite 50 schools from across London to send a group of 10 students to join over 170 scientists, technologists and engineers in a series of challenges and experiments. TeenTech CEO Maggie Philbin is also leading the UK Digital Skills Taskforce, which is providing practical suggestions on how to ensure more home talent takes advantage of the fast-growing number of opportunities in the digital industries.” WHAT DOES TEENTECH THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “TeenTech encourages students to develop their digital skills and understand their relevance to contemporary industry. We support the new developments in the curriculum, which we see as an important step in the right direction. Teachers need more support and time to develop their skills, and we both run and signpost good CPD opportunities. Many activities at TeenTech incorporate programming and the TeenTech Awards reward programming across all categories.”

coding special

TECHNOLOGY WILL SAVE US WHAT IS TECHNOLOGY WILL SAVE US DOING TO BRING CODING TO THE CLASSROOM? “Technology Will Save Us designs devices that you make yourself. Our DIY kits and resources are the best way to learn skills, make cool gadgets and begin your journey as a tech maker. They are designed around everyday life themes such as gardening, music, gaming, play and energy. Our complete offer of kits and resources provide project-based learning, individual and group work, problem-solving and, most importantly, design thinking using technology at the heart. Whether you are a teacher, school, makerspace, club, summer camp or home school, our kits are a great way to teach the skills necessary for the 21st century. WHAT DOES TECHNOLOGY WILL SAVE US THINK OF CODING BEING INTRODUCED TO THE CURRICULUM? “Technology Will Save Us aims to empower young people to become creators, not just consumers of technology. Through teaching the skills of soldering, electronics, programming and design, we’re teaching “skills for the 21st century”. As a leading education pioneer, we’re creating kits that are “ready for the classroom”, incorporating the recent changes to the curriculum, making it easy and enjoyable for pupils and teachers alike. Our Education Boxes are packed with resources, handouts, cheat sheets and everything a teacher needs to deliver fun, informative and really worthwhile lessons!”


Want an exciting career in the Creative Technology Industries? Creative Skillset is your gateway to career opportunities in UK’s Creative and Digital Media scene. Technology is constantly changing and so is the digital media space. Creative Skillset can help you keep up to speed and: CONNECT you with the best digital agencies, computer game companies, start-ups and other media businesses around the UK; CONNECT you with the best Ticked university courses; CONNECT you with job opportunities and Ticked apprenticeships in this sector; CONNECT you with the RIGHT people who can help you.

Check out what else Creative Skillset can do for you! Visit us at Follow us on Twitter @skillsetSSC Like us on Facebook

coding special



YOUNG CODERS Coding is being added to the curriculum – but you don’t have to wait until you leave school to capitalise on your new skills. Victoria-Anne Bulley picks out 10 top young coders who have made a name for themselves (and a bit of dough too) through their bright ideas and computer wizardry


At an age when many teenagers are still busy drafting their UCAS personal statements, 17-year-old Jordan Hatch quit his A-levels and skipped university life completely. Since then, he’s been working for the UK’s Government Digital Service. For Jordan, coding is about bringing things to life. He told Techmix: “Whenever I have an idea for something – at work or elsewhere – coding gives me the ability and the tools to make that idea exist.”

IMAGES Creative Commons/Duncan Hull, Creative Commons/Adam Tinworth


Fourteen-year-old Amy Mather is set to put Manchester on the UK’s digital expertise map. She was named the European Digital Girl of the Year in 2013, designs games and teaches and gives speeches internationally about the endless possibilities of code. And if that’s not enough, Amy’s achievements are a reminder that digital technology isn’t just for boys.


In 2011, PizzaBot, built by 12-year-old Harry Moran in less than a month, went straight to the top of the Apple app charts, ahead of Angry Birds and Call of Duty. It also made Harry the world’s youngest app developer at the time. Harry’s second app, Robot Run, is also now available on the App Store.



Max and Matt are a formidable teen twosome who believe that learning to code should be “like learning to read”, as Max puts it. When they were both 11, they started the Menlo App Academy, a place – well, Matt’s house – where other young programming enthusiasts between the ages of nine and 18 could learn the art of making mobile apps. And guess what? They’re the teachers.


Seattle-based Daniil Kulchenko may be 18 now, but was programming HTML from age six and working as a freelance Linux administrator from age 11. Next, at 15 he created Phenona, a cloud-computing service that was swiftly bought by software company ActiveState for an undisclosed sum. He describes himself as a “software developer and entrepreneur”, but we think that’s an understatement.


It seems it’s already too late to call 18-year -old Nick D’Aloisio the next big thing. Last year, Nick sold Summly, his innovative program that combines multiple news reports into a single streamlined and punchy article, to internet giant Yahoo! for an estimated £18 million. His next career move is to study at Oxford University.


Ethan Eirinberg was well aware of a growing young coding community around the world and CreateHS was his way of connecting it. CreateHS is a worldwide online high-school coding competition in which teenagers can compete on a new challenge each month, judged by experts from Microsoft, Reddit and PayPal.


Sure, Jermaine Hagan is no teenager, but he’s definitely a gamechanger in the world of revision – something most teens know a lot about. Whether he’s helping students with their 11-plus, GCSEs or university grades, his Revision App has been downloaded more than one million times since its creation in 2011. And last November, Jermaine was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Shell LiveWIRE awards.


Like many others here, Thomas Suarez was just another kid with a hobby. Except that, unlike football , coding hasn’t always been something you’ll find on the average school timetable. “But what if you want to make an app?”, asked Thomas during his now famous TED talk. Now he runs a coding club at his school and has been selling his creations on App Store since age 12.


Michael Sayman started earning his pocket money by making apps when he was 13, but little did he know that he’d soon be helping his parents to pay their mortgage. Since then, at least seven of his apps have been sold through Apple, the most successful of which is The Impossible Test, which promises to tax your brain cells to the max.




f you could create an app about anything,

It’s this ingenuity that makes Apps for Good

what would it be? It’s harder than you think.

stick to their open brief. “Everyone thinks the build

In fact, coming up with a good idea is the

is the hardest bit, but it’s actually that blank sheet

most challenging part of App For Good’s

of paper,” says Debbie, “and that’s one of the things

app-building course. “Trying to find a real

kids find the hardest, and schools find the hardest.

problem that wasn’t already solved really

We’re so used to setting our kids things to do and it

by an existing app was quite difficult,” says Fathima

is a challenge to let them really have that free reign,

Anwari, a teacher at Mount Grace School in Potters

but it is something we really insist on. It’s really

Bar in Hertfordshire and one of Apps for Good’s key

important to get the students used to finding and

educators, “especially bearing in mind how many

working on something that they care about.”

apps are actually on the market.” But every year, Apps for Good grows – and so


does the imagination of the students following

The results of all this hard work are impressive.

its course, as demonstrated by the sheer variety

Last year’s app offerings covered everything

of apps submitted by students to the Apps for

from supporting people with special needs to

Good Awards (taking place this year on23 June).

walking your dog. “They come up with things you

“It is amazing!” marvels Apps for Good managing

would just never really imagine,” says Debbie. One

director Debbie Forster, “just when you think you

of last year’s winning entries – in the public-voted

know what the full range is going to be, you realise

People’s Choice Awards category – was Social

you don’t. There is one , an app for girl guides, with

Bank, which aims to help and incentivise its young

a video of a teenage boy dressed as a girl guide!’”

users save their pocket money. It’s the brainchild of four classmates at Mount Grace School: Jack, Arlo,


Andrew and Adam, who go under the name Cubed.

some of the things we couldn’t put in our idea

“We found it hard to save in the first place, so we

to start with, due to time and money. Phase two

thought why not use the course to try and design

is going to make the app a lot more appealing

an app that will benefit us as well as benefiting

to young people and have a lot more of the key

other people?” explains Adam.

features that we wanted in phase one.”

One of the ways the Social Bank app helps people save, he adds, is by giving them targets to


meet, competitive leaderboards on social media

Apps for Good courses are free for all (apart from

and prizes for meeting saving milestones – “it

fee-paying, private and independent schools),

motivates to you to see how far you’ve got left

and schools get access to all App for Good’s online

to save and gives you a visual goal”.

content, including course plans, teacher and

Traditionally, the People’s Choice Award is

student resources and training. A senior teacher

voted for by the audience at the Apps for Good

must be attached to the project, and at least one

Awards ceremony, but Social Bank caused such

educator has to be trained to deliver the course

a buzz people were voting from far and wide. “We

and guarantee that in the academic year they will

quickly realised – because we were watching the

deliver the course to at least 20 students.

tally behind the scenes – that it had gone viral in its own little way,” says Debbie. Social Bank prompted another first too, as Arlo

Schools can also make use of Apps for Good’s tech community – a database of more than 600 volunteers from the UK, Europe and the US who

explains: “Normally the People’s Choice Award

work across the tech industries. “Across the

doesn’t actually get funding but they actually

course, teachers and students need access to

raised funding for us – I think they raised £10,000

people who really know what’s happening in the

in three minutes. It was so amazing having all

field – and our experts provide that,” says Debbie.

these people having a huge amount of faith in our idea, it was really inspiring.” That money was used to have Social Bank

The experts offer their expertise in various ways, usually ithrough Google Hangouts, via Skype, sometimes with a visit to a school. “They

professionally developed, and allowed the boys

report that there’s a benefit not just for the

to see their idea become reality. “It is incredible

kids’ knowledge but also their enthusiasm and

to see it on Google Play,” adds Arlo. “We breathed

engagement, and the teachers are reporting that

a huge sigh of relief when it was over because it

they’re learning from that.”

was quite a lot of work, but at the same time it was

The new curriculum requirement to teach

like all of your work comes together instantly and

coding in the classroom has encouraged more

it’s amazing to have that bit of ourselves – of our

and more schools to sign up. “It ticks the box of

school – up on the Google Play store.”

the coding, but also there are wider soft skills:

The quartet is now working with the same

entrepreneurialism, creativity and design,”

development group on phase two of their app,

explains Debbie. Social Bank’s Andrew adds:

testing ideas and coming up with new ways for the

“I personally learned a lot more about public

app for make money. “We want to get Social Bank

speaking, because I’d never spoken out before.

looking really good and we want to get it perfect,”

It’s definitely improved my confidence.”

says Jack, “so phase two is going to incorporate

To download Social Bank, visit the Google Play store at and search for ‘Social Bank’. For more info on Apps for Good, visit

Step up: How to get to the finals of the Apps for Good Awards Applications for the 2014 Apps for Good Awards are now closed, but it pays to be prepared for next year. Here’s what to expect on your journey to the top: The entry bit: To nominate yourself for an award, upload your project on the Apps for Good website. A quick sketch ain’t going to cut it: think app ideas, business plan, market research, technical feasibility, prototype, Dragons’ Den pitch and elevator pitch (you know: the snappy pitch you’d give if you had to explain it quickly to someone in a lift). Bootcamp: Once Apps for Good has chosen its finalists for each of the six categories (and the People’s Choice Award), they’ll bring the lucky chosen few to London. There you’ll be introduced to a Tech City company who will help you prepare you for the crucial question & answer session – and work on your pitch with you. The judges: Next step is the scary bit: presenting your pitch to the Dragons’ Den-style panel, including senior executives from the corporate sponsors and tech industry experts – plus the odd celeb: this year Big Brother host Davina McCall is one of the judges. The sales pitch: The final stop is “the marketplace”. Here you’ll have a stand and pitch your idea to the visiting 250-plus guests who’ll be wandering around – and try to convince them to vote for you in the People’s Choice Award. In development: If you’ve been lucky enough to win your category – or the People’s Choice Award – you’ll then be paired with a professional development company, which over the summer and into autumn will help you turn your prototype into the real deal –and get it on the market.

APPS F O R G O O D … I N F I G U R E S 75: P e r c e n t a g e o f s c h o o l s w h i c h r u n t h e A p p s f o r G oo d cours e i n c l a s s r o o m t i m e . 17,00 0 : N u m b e r o f s t u d e n t s c u r r e n t l y d o i n g t h e c o u rs e 14: A v e r a g e a g e o f A p p s f o r G o o d s t u d e n t s 10: A g e o f y o u n g e s t s t u d e n t 18: A g e o f o l d e s t s t u d e n t 30: R o u g h n u m b e r o f h o u r s i t t a k e s t o c o m p l e t e a n Ap p s for G o o d c o u r s e .



It’s the computer you can build in 107 seconds. We meet Kano’s Chief Product Officer, Alex Klein, to find out how you can use the kit to build Minecraft



ano was created

its own hardware too. “There are 21

in response to a

unique components, books with 150

challenge set by

pages, software with hundreds of

a seven year old.

games, levels and projects, a DIY

“Micah, my little

speaker, a customisable case, a

cousin and the son of

seamless WiFi dongle, and more,” says

my co-founder Saul [Klein], told us he

Alex. “In July, we will ship 18,000 Kano

wanted to build a computer, but he

Kits to 87 countries, with all our focus

wanted to do it himself, with no adult

on delighting our Kickstarter backers

looking over his shoulder,” explains

and pre-orderers, who made this

Alex Klein, co-founder and Chief

dream possible.” One of those who will

Product Officer. “It had to be as simple

be receiving their kit is Steve Wozniak,

and fun as Lego. Saul introduced me

the co-founder of Apple (“a bit scary

to Yonatan, an Israeli entrepreneur

but incredibly gratifying,” says Alex).

with a passion for building inclusive products, and we got to work.” Now the computer kit is available

with students given access to Kano

team Kano intended. “We want to

kits to try out in the classroom through

inspire 200 million young people

about 40 testing workshops across

around the world to build, invent and

five countries. “I got a box and I built a

express themselves with computing

computer. It felt so exciting and fun.

rather than just consume it,” says Alex.

I didn’t know it was possible!” says

“We want to bring the arts back to code

Izzie, aged nine. “We could make our

and to open up the power of the

own games,” adds Harry, nine. “It was so

processor to places beyond the

fun when we used the code. Usually on

traditional Silicon Valley hubs:

Minecraft, you can’t do that!”

The response has been remarkable,

It’s welcome validation for Kano. “When we began, a lot of people told us

as demonstrated by the success of

that nobody – especially the

Kano’s Kickstarter campaign. “We

supposedly distracted, Angry

originally hoped to raise $100,000 in

Birds-addicted kids of today – would

30 days, so when we raised that in 16

want to build their own computers,”

hours we were wowed and humbled,”

says Alex. “We’re starting to give the lie

marvels Alex. “A month later, we’d

to that idea.”

raised $1.5 million – 15 times our goal.”

“The highlight has been seeing what

As well as providing initial capital, this

kids have made and how their faces

helped the company gain momentum

light up when they realise how simple,

and understand its market. “It allows

fun and fulfilling technological

you to make the product you want

creativity can be. For too long, code

for the people that matter: your

and computing has been pitched as

customers. They give real feedback

technical and vocational. It’s deeper

throughout the production process,

than that. When you give a young

which is incorporated into the product.”

person the ability to see coding in a fun

Currently, Kano is used through


Schools have had a head start though,

for anyone to use, anywhere, just as

Shenzhen, Harlem, Freetown.”



way, you unlock a curiosity that leads

software online and downloads to

to crazy awesome moments”.

a Raspberry Pi. But Kano is launching

coding special












Men may b e from Mars and women from Venus, but in the wo rld o f computing eve ryo ne sp eaks the same l anguage. The 23-year-old founde r o f Women Who Co de UK, She ree Atcheso n, expl ains why mo re girls should ge t f luent in co de WHEN DID YOU SET UP ‘WOMEN WHO CODE UK’ AND WHY? I founded WWC UK in September 2013 for a number of reasons. I am a software engineer with a computer science degree, so the gender divide is something that has always been prevalent to me. But more recently, when working at Kainos CodeCamp, which is an amazing, free two-week course that aims to teach teenagers about Android app development and what it’s like to work in IT, I noticed that there was a substantial lack of girls. It was only then I realised how many generations of young girls we have missed out on. The girls who have never considered a career in IT because they have thought there was no place for them, and that it was a “man’s game”. I wanted to do something about it. Through a colleague, I ended up being put in contact with Alaina Percival, the CEO of Women Who Code [a worldwide non-profit organisation], and from there WWC UK began. DO YOU DO ANY WORK RELATED TO GETTING YOUNGER GIRLS INTO CODING? My events are primarily focused for adults, but there is a plan of action to bring this to young girls. I intend to bring WWC to schools and open days to help show young girls that there is a place for them in IT. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUNG WOMEN TO ENCOURAGE THEM TO LEARN HOW TO CODE? Don’t be put off by being different. Your friends might not be interested and think it’s stupid. But what’s not stupid is having a lucrative career that gives you the possibility of earning a lot of money. Starting coding early on means you have the basic understanding of thinking logically, and that means when you tackle bigger coding problems – in GCSEs, A-levels and at university – the hurdle is substantially minimised. HOW SHOULD SOMEONE GET STARTED? Start by finding people to work with. Check if there is a local CoderDojo or Young Rewired State centre. If there isn’t, ask a parent to help. Look up online tutorials. There are lots of great resources out there for all levels of expertise. Check out Scratch,


codemonkey, Codecademy and pluralsight. YOU’VE SAID BEFORE: “I’VE SEEN SOME VERY UNSETTLING OPINIONS FROM WOMEN IN TECH.” WHAT ARE THESE? Things you’ve most likely seen yourself online. Through WWC UK, I have come across a lot of different women, from all walks of life. This means different things have happened to different people. I have never experienced any negative comments on my work because of my gender, but not everyone has been so lucky. You can see proof of this on the site EverydaySexism. One lady told me about how she went to a tech conference six months’ pregnant and realised she was the only woman there. Someone come up to her and asked why she was there. It’s this kind of hostility that needs to stop. We’re all in this industry and interested in the same topics. Why does it matter whether you’re a man or a woman? YOU HAD YOUR FIRST ‘WOMEN WHO CODE LONDON’ EVENT THIS YEAR. HOW DID IT GO? It went really well. We have had amazing feedback. The key points that came out of the event were that the women were really glad it exists. One lady told me that

she wasn’t sure if she was going to come then did and was so glad that she did because “WWC London is a safe, non-judgemental learning environment”. So our mission was accomplished. CAN YOU EXPLAIN MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AS A KAINOS SOFTWARE ENGINEER? I write code and fix – and create – bugs. I look after lots of different projects using an array of technologies. Most notably, I help support some GDS [Government Digital Service] projects. My work varies from day to day, which means it’s never boring, sometimes challenging and frustrating but always interesting. I chose this job because I love the work that Kainos do. They make a difference in this industry and to people’s everyday lives. HOW DID YOU GET THE JOB? I studied computer ccience at Queen’s University, Belfast. I was required to do a year-long placement as part of my course and I chose Kainos. After my year’s placement was up, they extended my contract and then gave me an offer for a graduate job.

"We’re all in this industry and interested in the same topics. Why does it matter whether you’re a man or a woman?"

AT WHAT AGE DID YOU FIRST GET INTO CODING? Since an early age I was bashing together html and making websites about my dogs. I’ve always had

an interest in making things, so making things about my dogs – which was my other love – was a win-win situation. From there I chose GCSE ICT and realised I wasn’t happy just using software, I wanted to make it. So I chose A-level computing, which I excelled at. I loved computing and creating something from scratch.

WHO WERE YOUR ROLE MODELS GROWING UP? I didn’t really have role models when I was growing up. I was always happy focusing on my own goals and being excited by trying to reach them. One of my role models when I was a little older was my A-level computing teacher. His passion for computing and programming had a huge impact on me – had it not have been for him I wouldn’t have been as interested in this industry as I am today.


W E I V PRE Trip Digital Summer Trip is back, and this year we’re bringing together tech-savvy schoolchildren with innovative tech firms


here are just a few daysto go until Techmix’s Digital Summer Trip, one of the country’s biggest and most exciting festivals, kicks off. Some 6,000 visitors are expected to descend on London’s Tech City for the three-day event, to take part in hands-on workshops run by world-leading technology firms and top educators, and to hear expert talks by experts such as Brent Hoberman, cofounder and one of Digital Summer Trip 2014’s keynote speakers. There’ll also be catwalk fashion shows, a street market full of must-buy gadgets, a 250-capacity amphitheatre for screening digital films and animation, and much more... Last year, Techmix’s one-day Digital Summer Camp attracted some 3,500 attendees and sold out in just three weeks. Visiting celebrities included Prince Andrew, who joined business leaders from the likes of BlackBerry and O2 to judge digital skills initiatives such as music news aggregator app Music Central.


digital summer trip

Digital Summer Trip 2014 is set to be even bigger and better, with hundreds of exhibitors leading workshops and interactive displays on everything from building websites, creating apps and games and HTML coding, to peer-to-peer programming and producing music videos and magazines. Pupils will be able to meet with cutting-edge game and app producers to get a sense of the incredible career possibilities digital technologies offer. While schools and teachers will be able to increase their ICT expertise, build important links with the digital industry and improve their own professional development. TOP OF THE TECH As well as advising young people about pathways to tech entrepreneurship and helping them create state-of-the-art apps and games, tech companies will be road-testing new products, from robots to 3D printers, and finding out about schools’ ICT needs. Businesses involved this year include It Is 3D, which focuses on 3D computer assisted design (CAD) learning for students; music education technology company Knowledge Rocks; and DIY-kit makers Technology Will Save Us. While speakers include the likes of design and technology studio Athlon, careers charity Spark+Mettle and coding school Steer – not to mention Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith and Apps for Good MD Debbie Forster (see page 30 for more details).

The Apprenticeship Pavilion returns for a second year too to offer advice and info on cool apprenticeships out there, while in the Future Study Zone students can find out about the UK’s top universities and further education colleges. National Careers Service representatives will also be on hand, with advice on digital careers – and how to get one. Phew! Now, that’s a line up. We hope you enjoy it – and remember to tweet (TechmixMag) or Facebook us to let us know what you thought of it. We’d love to know...

Tech companies will be roadtesting new products, from robots to 3D printers 29




ny good festival has to have a fringe, and a buzz of excitement is growing over the Digital Skills Summit. This three-day event will run alongside the main action of Digital Summer Trip and bring together leading tech experts in discussion at a special presentation theatre. These speakers will each give their own take on the future of the digital world, and plot where they think schools, education and young people should be heading on the digital roadmap of 2015. We introduce you to just two of the keynote speakers... set to take centre stage this July.


BRENT HOBERMAN, CO-FOUNDER OF LASTMINUTE.COM, MADE.COM, FOUNDERS FORUM In 1998, Brent Hoberman co-founded, which was sold in 2005 for an incredible $1.1 billion. Since then, he has been very busy. In 2009, he co-founded PROfounders Capital, an early-stage fund for digital entrepreneurs, backed by entrepreneurs. He is also chairman/co-founder of homewares retailer, on the board of car-sharing site and the UK Government Digital Advisory Board, and co-founded Founders Forum in 2005, among many other titles and accomplishments. Brent will kick off the Digital Skills Summit with a talk sharing his insights as one of the foremost digital entrepreneurs in the UK today, followed by a Q&A session where you can find out anything from how to be successful online to what the next big thing is in the world of digital. In partnership with Speakers for Schools

MICHAEL ACTON SMITH OBE, CEO AND FOUNDER OF MIND CANDY Described by The Daily Telegraph as “a rock-star version of Willy Wonka”, Michael Acton Smith is the CEO, Creative Director and founder of Mind Candy – the company behind Moshi Monsters, which has more than 80 million registered users online. Having expanded into books, toys, music, trading cards, video games and a theatrical movie, Mind Candy recently launched PopJam (formerly JellyChat), which is the subject of our special feature on page 36. Michael also co-founded, Berwickstock, and weekly London Tech social He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours for services to the creative industries.


digital skills summit


10am Keynote speaker: Brent Hoberman, 11am Hannah Vincent, Youth Media Agency TJ Morgan, NupĂŠ Media 12pm Fuzzy Fox, Mozilla Foundation Sophie Pendrell, Technology Will Save Us Matt Hodson, BIMM 1pm Arfah Farooq, Spark & Mettle, Ben Rowland, Agilisys Arch 2pm Cpl Lee Lightfoot, Royal Air Force Sgt Tom Watkinson, Army 3pm Three Suzanne Noble, Frugl 4pm Oliver Low, Breed & Craft Becky Power, Lowe Open Pete Petrella, Black Book London


10am Ben Plain and Hannah Catmur, O2 Think Big 11am Debbie Forster, Apps For Good, Danny Bluestone, Cyber-Duck 12pm Akram Alomainy, Queen Mary University

Martin Stevens, It Is 3D 1pm Rachel Swidenback, Codecademy 2pm Founders for Schools Yonatan Raz-Fridman, Kano, Jonas Almgren, Artfinder, Dominique Guinard, Evrythng 3pm Simon Allen, The Swarm 4pm Andy Brammall, Unity Mark Howard, Brunel University


11am Med Bukey, VexPop Fernando Rippoles, HiyaLife 12pm Keynote speaker: Michael Acton Smith, Mind Candy 1pm Alastair Blackwell, Decoded Sam Mason, Steer 2pm Martin Stevens, It is 3D


Say hello to Tech City’s newest arrival The Think Big Hub in Hoxton Square is now open. A flexible work space for young people aged 13-25. A place where you can develop your entrepreneurial and digital skills and bring your ideas to life. Come and say hello or visit and find out what ø Think Big can do for you. Get in touch today – Join the conversation #ThinkBigHub @O2UKThinkBig

SPACE TO THINK There’s a shiny new tech hub in London’s Tech City, but this isn’t for the men in suits: it’s for young people, like you. We find out what it’s all about…


ou may remember that in

taking place this July. Pay a visit to the hub and

the last issue of Techmix

you’ll be able to develop ideas that can help solve

we met the young people

problems in your community. Meanwhile, back

who created the music

at Hackney Community College, there’ll be an O2

video for Rizzle Kicks’ Lost

marquee, where Think Big’s partner AppShed will

Generation, as part of O2’s

get you started on your own app – to help your idea

initiative GoThinkBig. Now the people behind Think

begin to grow and to beef up your digital skills. If

Big have set up shop in Central London, opening

you want to continue, you can then apply to join the

their very own space in Tech City to welcome 13- to

Think Big Youth programme – if you’re accepted,

25-year-olds with big ideas. As well as hands-

you’ll get £300, plus support to make your idea a

on digital skills workshops, apprenticeships,

reality. Start brainstorming now!

internships, mentoring, coaching, careers advice

Got a big idea? Pop into the O2 Think Big Hub,

and more, the hub will produce

located at 16 Hoxton Square, Hoxton, London N1

webinars, live streaming, virtual

6NT, or visit

classrooms and online mentoring to support those of you living outside the capital. After all, why should just Londoners benefit? Brought to life by a £500,000 investment over five years, the hub is sprawled over 3,000+ sq ft and opened its doors on 20 March this year. So far it has already seen 500 visitors, from GoThinkBig projects, Tech City organisations and its own partners (the National Youth Agency and UKYouth). It couldn’t have come at a better time: the Local Government Association recently estimated that as many as half of the young people in England and Wales may be out of work or underemployed. Speaking at the launch, O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said: “This is an enormous waste of potential. As the first generation to have grown up with the internet, today’s young people possess valuable digital skills and capabilities that businesses of all sizes need to thrive in today’s digital age.” The Think Big Hub is also one of the venues involved in our very own Digital Skills Trip,


O2 think big



EVENTFUL BREAD Leader: Lisa Wilson What’s it about? Projects, events and workshops for local communities, using bread as a focus. Eventful Bread is creating positive social change through the medium of bread. Quote: “With an O2 Think Big grant, I have now been running my project and have been able to turn it into a business in which I can support myself and earn a living. This is great, as I am able to do what I love and care about while turning it into a job and helping others in the process.” Project status: Think Big alumni


“I’m now working at the Hub. My face is starting to hurt from this massive grin that’s stuck on it!”

Leader: Kurt Allyster Lee What’s it about? Teaching computer coding to secondary school students aged 11-12 at Collective Spirit School, Oldham. This includes spending an afternoon a week coding with HTML/CSS and learning about cloud computing. Quote: “I am extremely proud of the Year 7 students at Collective Spirit Free School, Oldham, for how much they've achieved in learning basic HTML programming! I am so thankful once again to O2 Think Big for the opportunity to carry out this project.” Project status: Think Bigger project

POCKET EXPLORERS Leader: Hannah Catmur What’s it about? Pocket Explorers (formerly Get Out! Explorers Club) is an interactive platform that encourages children to be more active and creative outdoors. Quote: “Loving all the training, resources and support! Great to meet other young people and hear about their fantastic [Think Big] projects.” Project status: At global start-up accelerator Wayra (part of Telefónica, like O2)


I’d graduated from university to find I didn’t have the selfconfidence for the world of work. I gained some experience in administration at UEL and TerraQuest, then I found out about the O2 Think Big apprentice scheme through my friend Matt, who was a project leader. He noticed the job come up and recommended that I apply for it. I baked him the biggest chocolate brownie when I was accepted! I knew about the programme already and what it enabled young people to do through Matt’s project in Birmingham, and saw the difference O2 Think Big makes firsthand. I was excited by the prospect of being a part of that team that empowers young people. In my role as business admin apprentice, I managed five regions, processed applications, interviewed young people and presented their ideas to the decision-making panels, managed office supplies and carried out general admin tasks. I’ve had training in making presentations, training, fire marshalling, first aid, tone of voice and assessing, which has given me a great bank of knowledge that I have implemented in my new job role. My favourite part of the apprenticeship was definitely supporting our project leaders and seeing the journey they go on from having an idea to becoming a project manager. Watching them progress really is inspiring – seeing what some of them are doing now is incredible. Knowing that I even managed to help them a little is easily the best part of the job. The apprenticeship was a year long and I’ve only just finished recently. I’ve been based in the brand new Think Big Hub, which is a really exciting new event space for our Think Big project leaders to use. I work in a pretty spiffing team affectionately named the Hubbles. I’m now working at the O2 Think Big Hub as the Think Big Hub & Events Assistant. To be honest, it still feels a little surreal. I just keep making myself a brew and then it will hit me again – my face is starting to hurt from this massive grin that’s stuck on it! It’s inspirational talking to the young people about their project ideas and events and I liaise with partner organisations who would like to hold events at the Hub. Some of my other duties include setting up the Think Big Hub for the event taking place that day, line-managing a young person who is acquiring experience and knowledge to better their chances of starting their own career, managing the Hub booking email account, researching new event and Hub supplies, presenting and hosting bean-bag meetings with my team. If you want to follow in Yasmin’s footsteps and apply for the next ThinkBig apprentice opportunities coming up over this summer, visit or follow @ThinkBigHub on Twitter.

Start small, Think Big Think Big School Using the language of the web and the latest digital technology to bring great ideas to life. #ThinkBigSchool

GoThinkBig Helping 16-25s get a foot on the career ladder with great advice and thousands of work experience opportunities.

Think Big Youth Programme

Cash grants, training and mentoring support to help young people aged 13- 25 to turn great ideas into action.

Follow us @O2UKThinkBig @GoThinkBig





behind the scenes


udding artists, photographers and lovers of internet cat virals (isn’t that everyone?) have been getting their creative juices pumping ever since PopJam popped into the iTunes app store just before Christmas. This free app from Mind Candy (the Bafta-winning company behind Moshi Monsters), previously called JellyChat, is a social networking app with a difference. Like on other sites, you can chat to friends one-to-one or in a group and post to your “feed”, but PopJam goes one better with cute jellybean avatars instead of profile pics (check out the Techmix team’s character creations on page 1), quirky stickers instead of boring smiley faces and the ability to create doodles, photo collages and audio files that you can share with your friends. You can also sign up to PopJam channels such as Cats, LOL, Cute, Fail, Games and Celebrity. Techmix wanted to find out what (and who) is involved in making an app such as PopJam, so we popped into Mind Candy HQ in Tech City to ask what they do, what they think of their handiwork and what cool add-ons and updates we can expect.

Q&A David Stribling UX Designer

Matt Latchford Lead Artist

WHAT DOES A UX DESIGNER DO? As a UX Designer, my job is to make sure the app is easy to use for everybody. There are lots of elements of this, from interaction design (how the app works) and information architecture (how things are organised) to user research.

WHAT DOES A LEAD ARTIST DO? Usually, people look to you to define the look and style of a project, whether it’s the characters or the world they live in. These artistic “rules” are then passed on to other artists, should you be working with any, so they preserve the look of your original designs.

WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN THE MAKING OF THE POPJAM APP? I work closely with both programmers and designers to make sure that the app works as intended. I create really rough ideas of how the app will work, which are called wireframes, then I work with an amazing UI Designer called Ed to make them look nice, and then our awesome team of developers to bring it to life. I also make lots of tea!

WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN THE MAKING OF THE POPJAM APP? I created some of the sticker packs in the app and if you see a bean in the app or adverts, that was mine!

WHAT WAS THE TRICKIEST PART OF THE PROCESS FOR YOU? Making sure you’re always making what the users want, not what you want.

WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF WORKING ON THE PROJECT? Working with such a cool bunch of people and going to America last year was amazing! I’ve also had almost total creative freedom on this project, so had a lot of fun artistically.

WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF WORKING AT MIND CANDY? Working with such fun and talented people. It makes every day at work so much fun. WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE OUTCOME? Absolutely. It’s so exciting when you launch a new app and see users engaging with what you’ve been working on for so long. ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED IN THE APP? IF SO, DO YOU HAVE FUTURE VERSIONS/AMENDS PLANNED? Yes, I run the movies channel and I’m currently planning lots of cool new features for the app. Lots of look forward to!

WHAT WAS THE TRICKIEST PART OF THE PROCESS FOR YOU? Creating characters is the easy part. Letting go of ideas you love is harder but it’s almost always for the good of the product.

WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE OUTCOME? I’m really proud of all the work we’ve done as a team so far and more importantly I’m really happy to see kids using the app. ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT? IF SO, DO YOU HAVE FUTURE VERSIONS/AMENDS PLANNED? I am, indeed. I’m running the art channel, creating sticker packs and still painting beans! I’m also working on a new sticker set based on a ninja cat.


Q&A Rosanna Ball Content Manager WHAT DOES A CONTENT MANAGER DO? My role is to manage all our different channels and make sure that they fit within PopJam. I also create a lot of the content that you see in the channels and help anyone running a channel make their posts awesome! WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN THE MAKING OF POPJAM? To start off with, I ran our first eight PopJam channels and created all the content for them. Now I work with people across the company and beyond to set up and run all the channels you see in PopJam today. WHAT WAS THE TRICKIEST PART OF THE PROCESS FOR YOU? A big part of PopJam is cool content from around the internet, but it’s definitely a challenge to track down the best of the best. There’s a LOT out there! WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT FOR YOU WORKING ON THE MAKING OF POPJAM? Launching my very first channel and seeing how our users responded and interacted was awesome. I still love checking out how my posts are doing and what people are saying. WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE OUTCOME? Absolutely. I’m always looking for better content and ways to improve but I think the app is pretty amazing just the way it is. ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED IN THE POPJAM PROJECT? IF SO, DO YOU HAVE FUTURE VERSIONS/AMENDS PLANNED? We’ve got plans for lots more awesome channels that are coming out very soon…



MOSHI MONSTERS: Online world in which you can adopt and care for one of six pet monsters.

MOSHI KARTS: Kart-racing app in which you’re pitted against the devilish Dr Strangeglove and his “diabolical Glumps”. Available on the Apple app store.

TALKING POPPET: App dedicated to the very pink Poppet, who can repeat what you say, pose in your photos and be fed, tickled and bathed. Available on the Apple app store and online at

WORLD OF WARRIORS: Eagerly anticipated new game due to be launched towards the end of this year. It’s described as an “epic game for mobile and tablet … teeming with an ever-increasing cast of history’s greatest warriors”. Coming soon. PopJam is available on iTunes for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It’s also set to come to Google Play in the next month or so.






How to…

CREATE AN ONLINE TEST - Nick Crossland Senior Digital Producer

Digital agency Rckt knows all about creating online quizzes: its Embarrassing Bodies test was taken by nearly two million people. We found out what it takes to create a hit

MY WORKING LIFE Everyone loves a quiz. Where in the world should you live? Who’s your soulmate? Which Game of Thrones character are you? But how do you go about creating a hit online test? And one with real bite? Rckt, a creative agency based in Sheffield, may be small but its output is anything but. Just a few of the online tests and games its team has built include Earth vs Astronauts and Would Space Suit You? for Channel 4’s Live from Space series, The Psychopath Test (again for Channel 4) and Embarrassing Bodies: My MindChecker, which allows visitors to test themselves for signs of eight different mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression and OCD. They even created a game for a documentary called The Plane Crash, in which a passenger jet filled with dummies and cameras was deliberately crashed into the desert. In the game, players could “check in” online before the programme began and see afterwards if they would have survived – or not. We spoke to Rckt’s Senior Digital Producer, Nick Crossland, to find out how it’s done.


EDUCATION: “I studied graphic design at university in 1998, where I specialised in multimedia, as it was known at the time. The web barely featured and nearly all the tools, programming languages and platforms (CD-ROM!) are now obsolete.” FIRST JOB: “My first paid job was in 1998 when I approached a local music venue and came out with a cheque for £100 to build them a website. At that first meeting I told the owner that one day people would buy gig tickets online and all music would be downloaded – at that point a dial-up modem would take a couple of hours to download a file the size of an MP3. I ran their website for at least the next 10 years. The industry was very Wild West in those days. While at uni I did freelance web design work. From my student bedroom I was literally running the website for an international airport at one point! CURRENT JOB: “My job is a digital producer, which is about having a creative vision for a project and working between the client and our team of developers and designers to make it happen. Having worked as a web designer/developer means I have the broad technical understanding – if not the details any more – to do the latter. To do the former involves a lot of people skills: being able to communicate ideas and concepts clearly, negotiate and being persuasive where necessary.

how to...

Above all, it’s about having empathy for users: being able to put yourself into their position and understand what their wants and needs are.” CAREER HIGHLIGHT: “Live from Space for Channel 4 is one of the projects I am most proud of. The opportunity to work with Nasa and astronauts in space was amazing. We came up with the idea of a microgravity-based game for people at home to play – and then the astronauts on the International Space Station recreated it for real in space. Seeing a bunch of astronauts doing something in space, which you developed the idea for, was fantastic.” MOST SUCCESSFUL TEST: “To date, we have had 1.9 million people take our Psychopath Test – more people than watched the original TV programme. It spread virally through social media. As people shared their results, others clicked through to do the test. This was successful because it promised to let users find out something about themselves that was very easy to understand and share.”

H OW T O C R E A T E A N ONLINE TEST 1. THE TEAM “Our basic project teams generally consist of a digital producer – whose job it is to own the creative vision of the project, work with the client and project-manage its delivery – plus a designer and a developer. Depending on the size of the project, or the mix of skills required, there may be more than one person of each discipline involved. If a specialist skill is required, such as copywriting, animation or 3D modelling, we sometimes work with other companies or freelancers.” 2. THE COMMISSION “Some clients have very specific requirements in mind, but very often the client will come to us with a more open brief: for example, a product they want to promote in some way or a wider campaign it will be a part of. We start off by thinking about what the user journey would be, how they would find out about it, why they would want to do the activity, what would make it shareable and what is going to be feasible within the client’s schedule and budget.” 3. THE DESIGN “We usually start out by individually thinking about the project and then getting together and brainstorming on paper and Post-its. This helps us organise our thoughts and ideas. We will sketch out what the user sees at each point in their journey. These then form the basis of wireframes, which we can use to test the concept, work out what needs to be on the screen at each point, show to the client and find flaws at an early stage.”

4. THE CREATION “The exact process depends on the project, but we generally create static designs in Adobe Fireworks, which are then hand-coded into the interactive application. We nearly always use HTML5, so whatever we create will work on mobiles, tablets and desktop devices. Typically, 50 per cent of visitors are on mobile devices, so having a version that works for them is really important. This does make the design and development process more complicated: you have to consider not only the design requirements of three basic sizes of screens (in both portrait and landscape orientations), but also different means of interaction (touch vs mouse) and potential for extra hardware facilities, such as multi-touch, GPS and movement sensing. People also use different devices at different times: for second-screen applications for TV shows, people are far more likely to be viewing it on a mobile device than using a desktop PC, so you have to take that into account and incorporate it into the user journey.“ 5. THE TESTING PROCESS “The testing process depends on the client and on the timescales available. We always intensively test things internally, but having a fresh set of eyes on things is very helpful to turn up bugs or even parts of the user journey that aren’t clear or well signposted. Testing is much more difficult on mobile devices than on desktop browsers, too. There are many more inconsistencies between browsers and devices and without having every physical device it can be hard to track down issues.”


Reaching for the stars

Tech City needs fresh talent. Young people need jobs. They just need to be brought together. We find out how Tech City Stars is doing just that through its apprenticeship scheme


hen Alicia Keys sang about “a concrete jungle where dreams are made”, she could have been talking about London’s Tech City. This buzzing hub of tech companies, clustered around Old Street and Shoreditch, is making waves worldwide, attracting big names such as Google, Intel and Facebook, as well as cutting-edge startups. But there’s a problem. All these tech innovations are happening, but some 2,000 tech businesses are struggling to find enough young, talented people to join their staff. “A lack of skills is inhibiting growth in the capital and threatening London’s position as a global technology hub,” said Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, recently. The solution? Give those skills to young people in the UK today and train a new tech-savvy generation to fill all those emerging jobs. STAR POTENTIAL Tech City Stars hopes to help make exactly that happen through its apprenticeship programme, developed in partnership with tech companies Optimity and euNetworks, Citizens UK, the Mayor’s Fund for London and the training provider Future Unlimited. Recruitment on the ground is carried out by Citizens UK, which has helped promote Tech City Stars to more than 350 organisations across London, reaching thousands of young people looking for an opportunity in the tech industry. “We work closely with teachers and youth workers, who we encourage to refer young people to us, and word of mouth has also helped us recruit some amazing young people,” says Dan Firth, lead organiser of the Tech City Stars programme. “We deliver workshops in schools and colleges, so do get in touch if you’re interested.”


The aim of Tech City Stars is, says Dan, to be a career launchpad for the tech leaders of the future: “The programme is pretty unique as young people spend the majority of the time learning their profession in the company – and therefore learning from some amazing entrepreneurs… young people also get supported throughout the programme by a mentor from both the community (eg a teacher or youth worker) and the tech industry. We hope if candidates do well during the apprenticeship training they will be offered a job.” GOING PLACES That’s exactly what happened to 17-yearold apprentice Rhys Thomas, who was offered a full-time post just one month after joining euNetworks as a Field Technician. He was then given the chance to fly abroad with his team to carry out tasks in the company’s global offices across Europe. While Tech City Stars can’t guarantee you’ll be jetting off round the world that quickly, it is increasingly attracting new recruits to its programme. “We currently have 32 young people working as apprentices across 15 different companies,” says Dan. “Due to the large interest and demand by young people, the local community and companies, we have started to recruit again. We have 80 spaces available for young people to join our two-week training camp in late July, with the ambition that 40 will secure an apprenticeship by September.”

TECH CITY STARS APPRENTICESHIPS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW... Learning is split between the workplace and the classroom: “Apprentices work five days a week and attend evening classes twice a week for four hours. Apprentices also have a training assessor visit them at the workplace once a month to tailor the qualification to the apprentice’s job.” It pays to be enthusiastic: “The requirements differ depending on the job roles. However, our employers often look for candidates who are hungry for an opportunity within the tech industry, confident, with a passion to learn.” You get training before you start: “As a part of the application process, young people are asked to join a two-week training programme called Reboot Camp. This is where candidates have can develop their business skills such as communication, presentation and confidence.” There’s an age limit: “The programme is eligible for 16- to 23-year-olds who are non-graduates.” The apprenticeship lasts for a year: “If the young person has demonstrated a strong ability, the company will more than likely offer a full-time position. Some of our top apprentices have already been promoted and are already in conversations about future prospects. Take for example, Waffah [see interview, right]. She joined Decoded as an Operations Assistant and Decoded have been so impressed with her performance that after six months they have offered her a full-time post with the company.” You get paid: “£150 is the minimum, plus travel costs, e.g. travelcard for the first year.” Time is ticking, submit your application now! “The next application deadlines are 4 July and 18 July, to ensure your place on the Reboot Camp for apprenticeships to begin in September. If you’re keen, get your application in now. Applications for the programme are ongoing, so even if you can’t make the summer Reboot Camp please submit your application and we’ll be in be in touch with you in time for the next recruitment round in September.” If you want fit the bill and want to join a Tech City Stars programme, apply online at and enter ‘CUK/ Tech Mix’ as your referral institution. Alternatively contact lead organiser Dan Firth by email on

Q&A Waffah Shah (below) Accounts Assistant, Decoded

Georgi Grotsev (below) Apprentice Project Manager, Optimity

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT TECH CITY STARS? I heard about Tech City Stars through my teacher at George Monoux College, Jose Vincent. He recommended that I apply for it.

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT TECH CITY STARS? I was in college when I saw the Tech City Stars posters on the walls. I was thinking about alternative things to do after college rather than university, but I never really found anything that appealed to me. It’s very difficult to find something you like when you haven’t tried anything for a serious career – my sister is in that same position right now, and I don’t like to see her struggle to find a path in life. Apprenticeship programmes prevent that from happening. I’m now motivated by a desire to help others. At college, I’d try to help but I’d never get anything in return – a thank you or at least a bit of gratitude; at work, things are quite different. People appreciate the effort you put in and all the work isn’t discarded as soon as it’s marked – it actually makes a difference to someone’s happiness or quality of life.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO DO AN APPRENTICESHIP? I choose the apprenticeship route because personally I didn’t think university was for me – I just hate exams! Before starting the apprenticeship I was a student at George Monoux College, where I studied business and finance. I managed to leave college with triple distinctions. This is my first apprenticeship and I have to say I don’t regret it at all. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GO INTO THE FIELD YOU’RE WORKING IN? I chose to work in the tech sector as it is a growing industry – everything now is to do with tech, so it seemed like a good option. WHAT’S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR APPRENTICESHIP SO FAR? The highlight of my apprenticeship has been working for a cool tech company like Decoded and actually seeing myself grow through the apprenticeship. When Decoded took me on my job title was Operations Assistant. Five months down the line my job title changed to Office Manager and now it’s Accounts Assistant. This has been a great achievement. AND THE LEAST FUN PART? The least fun part of the apprenticeship for me is attending university in the evenings while working long hours. This could also be because I am more of a morning person and I concentrate less during evenings. WHEN DO YOU FINISH YOUR APPRENTICESHIP? DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE OFFERED A JOB AT THE END? I have already been offered a job at Decoded, so hopefully I can get training done while working for Decoded to become an accountant. WHAT WOULD YOUR DREAM FUTURE JOB BE? My dream job is and will always be to become an accountant – I’ve always been into finance.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO DO AN APPRENTICESHIP? Because I believe university wasn’t the right choice for me. The things that they teach are great and the foundation of the professional world, but the lifestyle wouldn’t suit me very much as I don’t have that many things in common with people my age. I might go university in the future, but I believe this is the best choice for my personal development, at least for now. WHAT APPRENTICESHIP ARE YOU DOING NOW? I’m an apprentice project manager for Optimity. We’re an internet service provider in the Old Street/Shoreditch area of London, selling and managing wireless fibre (or wibre) for companies. It wasn’t the first apprenticeship I applied for, but it was my first choice as soon as I finished my interview. I knew that this is the company I wanted to work for, regardless of what the role was. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GO INTO THIS FIELD? Project management can be challenging, and I love problem-solving – be it technical or in the real world. I was actually meant to be an engineer originally, which I thought would be a good choice as I have a personal interest in computers and technology. Then I became project manager for three months so I could go back to engineering with some knowledge of the business and how it all works. But the team I’m in didn’t make it easy to quit being a project manager! I loved working with them, and still do. When you enjoy your job, it’s hard not to try your best at it. WHAT’S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR APPRENTICESHIP SO FAR? I’ve learned how to deal with people and enjoy myself much more. People my age made me really introverted before, and I didn’t understand why. I had no interest in going out with people the majority of the time as I’d much rather spend time at home with my closer friends, doing what I do best: playing World of Warcraft, League of Legends or a thousand other games, and just messing about and having a laugh. I still love doing that of course, but I’m able to enjoy socialising and life to a much bigger degree. …AND THE LEAST FUN PART? Documentation. It’s not the most fun, but it’s a necessary evil. As an apprentice, you have the responsibility to make other people’s lives easier – there’s no “I” in team, which is exactly why I love this job, despite the fact that I don’t always love doing paperwork. That doesn’t mean that I get all the bad jobs, but expecting to be given all the good and easy ones leads to disappointment. Plus, if you were given the easy jobs, there would be hardly any development and so likelihood of success. WHEN DO YOU FINISH YOUR APPRENTICESHIP? DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE OFFERED A JOB AT THE END? I finish my apprenticeship in the end of October and I hope very much I’m offered a job at the end. Finding a similar job would be no issue, though, as project management is a highly needed job role in the modern business world. WHAT WOULD YOUR DREAM FUTURE JOB BE? I want to say astronaut – I’ve always found space fascinating. I’m not taking the right steps necessary to reach that goal, though, because I have no reason to at the moment – I’m happy the way I am. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone on a daily basis and feel fulfilled by my job role as well as my relationship with colleagues.



In Focus

How do you manage the social media for the UK’s biggest mobile network? Two experts from EE tell us what it takes, the skills you need and how they deal with those dreaded customer complaints


nce upon a time when

I needed experience

you wanted to complain

in communications planning and strategy, research

about a company or give

skills, an understanding of analytics/measurement

feedback, you had to write

and an ability to see and explain how things work

a letter. Thankfully the

together holistically.

days of stamps, spidery


handwriting and “To whom it may concern” are

I didn’t do work experience as part of my university

behind us. Today, if you want to reach out to

programme, but I was lucky enough to get

a company you send a Tweet or an email. But

a job right after graduating from my Master’s

who’s at the other end of the line?

in Communication in 2009. I started out as an

We meet two social media experts from EE to

intern at one of the world’s largest PR agencies,

find out how they ensure its customer response is

FleishmanHillard, working from their office in

as fast as its broadband. They tell us how they got

Ottawa, Canada. I focused on social and digital

to where they are today, what skills they need and

comms/PR early on, and combined it with my

the best (and worst!) parts of their job.

existing interest in research, giving me a pretty distinctive skill set.

Teresa Ellis, 30


Social Intelligence

Last year, we got clear feedback from our


customers. They told us that the way we were handling customer-support enquiries in social



media needed to improve. At the time, customers


tweeting @EE would often wait a day or more to


get any kind of response – we knew we needed to


change that. So, over the last several months we’ve


developed a pilot programme that completely

I coordinate EE’s social-media listening and

reimagines how we deal with and respond to

measurement activity so that we can make the

customer questions and issues within social

most of the feedback people send us through

channels. It’s been a big effort, coordinating teams

social media. I use those insights to shape our

of stakeholders from all around EE. We’ve been

strategies, plans and targets for social-media

running the pilot for a few weeks now, and while

activity, and to develop recommendations that

we still have some work to do it’s looking very

will help the company overall. My goal is to use real

promising so far. Our average response time for

feedback and opinions help make the EE customer

most tweets is now under two hours.

experience the best it can possibly be.




I started in September 2013, after working for the

As we were gathering insight for the social-support

company through an agency. To get the job,

pilot programme, we did some really interesting

in focus

research into people’s expectations when it comes to social-media customer service. First, it should be really responsive, providing a quick initial answer and speedy resolution. Given the nature of social media, especially Twitter, this wasn’t a surprise. Second, it needs to be reliable and efficient. Customers want social-support teams to demonstrate expertise on every part of the customer experience. Finally, they want each interaction to be personal. There’s no room for cut-and-paste responses, or automatic answers. What’s more, customers value these three elements in

Tinie Tempah and Lily Allen (opposite page) meeting EE’s FanBots at the Baftas

equal parts. It’s a fantastic challenge! WHAT’S BEEN YOUR CAREER HIGH? The chance to relocate to London – one


of the greatest cities in the world! – to do something


I love has been the biggest highlight by far. Runner-

I’ve been in this role since

up would definitely be leading social comms and

September 2013. In order

engagement for M&M’s Canada

to get the job, I had to go

while at FleishmanHillard.

through three interviews.


The first was to meet the


head of digital marketing,

It’s much more common for people to vent their

really just for a chat about

anger and frustration on social media than to send

the role. The second was

a compliment – and that’s the case for lots of

to present what I thought

brands, in my experience. Of course, anger and

about EE’s social-media

frustration are totally understandable in customer

presence, what was good and where I thought

highlight, but I will admit that walking down the red

support, but dealing with the really hateful

improvements could be made. Having worked

carpet at the Baftas and seeing our EE “fanbots”

messages is the least fun. I try to remember that

for telco [telecommunications] clients certainly

being brought to life, and having celebrities

there’s value to be found in every post: feedback

helped, as I had an understanding of the industry;

getting excited to see them, was quite a thrill.

is feedback, and we can use it constructively. But,

however, having an understanding of the wider


sometimes, I think social media makes it just a little

implications of social media as a marketing tool and

I love my job, but I suppose there are two things

too easy to be mean, and we all need to remember

not just for engagement really helped.

that I have come across in my career that I have

that there are actual people on the other end.


found quite frustrating. Firstly, when working at

My first full-time job after leaving was as web

agencies it is very easy to see your creative ideas


publishing assistant in the press office at Harvey

get diluted because so many people have a stake

Rutherford, 30

Nichols. I had been there on work experience for

in your project. My advice would be to stick to your

Social Media

about six weeks when I got offered the job and

guns as much as possible but know that you will


stayed there for a couple of years. I did work while I

have to compromise at some point along the route.

was at university but it was promoting club nights

Secondly, it is an incredibly fast-paced industry


– this would have been far easier if social was as

and so there is little time to reflect. You might have


advanced as it is now!

just completed a projected that has lasted for



months and has been fantastically executed, but


I’ve got plenty on at the moment, ranging from new

then you are on to the next project before you have

Broadly speaking, my role involves strategy

handset launches to working on our partnership

time to sit and think about what a good job it was.

and planning. As we have so many different

with Wembley Stadium and Glastonbury festival.

propositions that need to be communicated, with

I suppose those are the sexy projects but there

different briefs coming in daily, I have to work with

are some really exciting developments coming in

different teams to identify what are key for the

our social advertising. It’s hard to single out any

business, how they would sit in social and if or how

particular projects because even things that can

they would be supported with media spend, in

seem mundane can be really rewarding to work on.

collaboration with the media team. It also involves


crisis management and working closely with

I’ve worked on so many exciting projects over the

customer services.

years so it is really difficult to pinpoint a career

“Dealing with the really hateful messages is the least fun part. I think social media makes it just a little too easy to be mean”


How to…


Ben Rawson-Jones works for BBC One as Social Media Community Executive. He tells us what it takes to create a Twitter and Facebook buzz


ome people (mostly technophobic parents, it seems) scorn social media as a waste of time, but they’re way off the mark. The impact of social media today is massive. Think of some of the campaigns these networks have ignited: the recent #bringbackourgirls hashtag, raising awareness of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram; the No-Makeup Selfie blitz, which raised £8m for Cancer Research UK; or Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, the most viewed online ad. “Social media have revolutionised the way businesses interact with customers,” declared Virgin boss Richard Branson in a recent blog on the subject. “By now it’s clear that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ should be an essential part of customer service.” More and more companies and brands are now catching up to that fact, dedicating whole teams of staff to managing their social media arms. And in the world of television, it’s no different, with social media used as a way of connecting viewers in living rooms across the country. Helping build that s to conversation is the job of ne need o y r e v E “ e Ben Rawson-Jones, who .They’r @BBCOne follow i o n since April has been Social s i v o r u about E Media Community Executive tweets I’m at BBC One. Prior to this arious. h are il r e t h g appointment, he freelanced ith lau w g n i y cr for the BBC and spent (via ” w o n right three years apiece on The ) 2 s @Fusion Apprentice and The Great British Bake Off, setting up their Facebook and Twitter


feeds. He also launched The Voice’s feeds and has had stints on The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Sewing Bee. The most exciting campaign Ben’s worked on, he says, is Live From Space, a Channel 4/Arrow Media show that aired in March this year and was presented by Dermot O’Leary. “I spent 12 days in Houston, Texas, at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre and was given incredible access to astronauts and their facilities,” says Ben. “I tried to convey the excitement to @SpaceLive followers by taking pics, sharing info, creating Vine videos and quizzing astronauts. The great thing about Twitter is that it’s such an immediate platform. I was posting content immediately and able to ask questions from curious followers to people who had been in space.” While the show aired, Ben also did a live tweetalong with astronauts Ron Garan and Doug Wheelock. “The job was a once-ina-lifetime opportunity that I had to turn down some more lucrative work for, but I’m glad I did.”

HOW TO PLAN A T V SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN YOU’RE ASKED TO CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN FOR A PROGRAMME. WHAT KIND OF BRIEF DO YOU GET? This varies hugely. Sometimes I’ll be given a brief using lots of business/marketing terms that make me want to cry. Other times I’ll create the brief and make myself cry. Often there is no brief and I’ll be trusted to use whatever skills and experience I have

how to...

in a Jedi-style ‘use the force’ intuitive way. I think it’s good to have general plans and objectives in place, but you need room for creative freedom and spontaneity and don’t want to be held down by a document. HOW DO YOU WORK OUT WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS AND WHAT THEY WILL RESPOND TO? A lot of it is trial and error. It’s so important to see what people are responding to and make immediate changes if you feel it’s not working. I started running the @BBCAtlantis account midway through the last series and did a lot of research on Twitter and various forums as to what the fans were discussing. Not many were discussing ancient mythology, but there was a lot of chat about the main character’s tendency to take his shirt off! You can have a lot of fun with that, playing with fan expectations. You have to become a fan yourself to be effective. It’s important to uphold the values of the show or channel you’re working for, though, so varying the content to reinforce the dramatic scenarios needs to work in tandem with the jokes. A lot depends on the show’s tone.

“I’v e no w in t he s as D ame avid room Beck Mich ham, ael P a @ale lin xand and erfl (via etch @Raw ” sonJ ones ) been

HOW FIXED IS YOUR SCHEDULE? For @BBCOne, there will be some shows for which we’ll run a Twitter commentary throughout their broadcast, and this needs a lot of preparation and a posting plan. You watch the episode in advance, jotting down notes, jokes and quotes and then concoct a plan that involves designing a few images and tweets that complement each other. This plan would include very specific timings of each post, often down to the exact second, as you need to capitalise on the key dramatic moments. More generally, it’s important to keep an eye on what is coming up in the schedules to allow you time to plan and grab hold of the assets you need: a copy of the episode, corresponding imagery etc. In the past, when I’ve worked on a specific show as opposed to a channel, I’ve appreciated being able to crack on with the work at hand without having to satisfy bosses by drawing up time-consuming plans of everything I intend to do. Trust is key. DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT SCHEDULE/PLAN FOR EACH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM YOU’RE USING? Yes. Posts on Facebook should be limited and only feature those with striking visuals. You don’t want a big batch of them dominating the timeline of those who follow you and they do tend to linger around for a day or so, meaning that it’s important the post will work if someone sees it hours after the show has been on air. With Twitter, it’s such an immediate platform that you have to capture the moment. You can afford to throw a lot more darts in the hope of hitting the bullseye, but make sure you don’t overdo it. WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS DO YOU USE MOST AND WHY? On a personal basis, it fluctuates between Facebook for more personal cathartic rants and Twitter for more generalised rants. In terms of work, it really varies. BBC One has a strong presence on Instagram and Tumblr as well as Facebook and Twitter. New and exciting platforms are emerging all the

time, which are important to look into as they might be able to offer followers something different and innovative, especially as a “second-screen” viewing companion while shows are on. WHICH CAMPAIGN YOU’VE WORKED ON HAS HAD THE BIGGEST RESPONSE IN TERMS OF USER INTERACTION/FOLLOWS? Well, I don’t want to be one of those sad stattos who shuffles around barking out random statistics. Having said that... 68,000 ‘likes’ for an individual post on The Great British Bake Off’s account is something I have mentioned to my friends and colleagues about 68,000 times. The success of the Bake Off campaign felt so special because the odds were stacked against it. This was a little baking show that many felt would only appeal to bored housewives and grannies , i.e. not the sort of people who embrace Facebook. Yet we connected with people of all ages. Having humility and personality was key, trying to capture and share the enjoyment of the viewers and attract new eyes and ears too. I still can’t bake, though!



Archway to success


orking for Google, Facebook, The Guardian or Barclays is something many young people dream about. But it’s actually within reach. These top brands are just four of the 75 employers that offer apprenticeships to more than 250 young people through Arch Apprentices. Backed by the government’s apprenticeship programme, Arch Apprentices is part of the Agilisys Group [specialists in IT and business process outsourcing], so it knows a thing or two about what employers are looking for. And because the apprenticeships it offers are entry-

We find out how Arch Apprentices is opening new doors for young people looking for IT and digital jobs

level, Arch does its best to get candidates ready for the world of work through training sessions, run in partnership with companies such as HP and Microsoft. It’s a model that seems to be paying off. According to Arch, 90 per cent of its apprentices go into fulltime employment after finishing their apprenticeship. As well as the likes of Google, Arch works with companies include digital marketing agencies, publishers, e-tailers (online retailers), IT firms, tech companies, charities and public bodies to arrange apprenticeships. These apprenticeships in turn fall under one of several “frameworks” or roles: digital marketing, IT and business analyst, IT

technician, web design, business admin and customer service. But what’s it actually like to be part of an Arch apprenticeship? Techmix spoke to three young people at different stages of their apprenticeship: one who has just started, one who’s coming to the end and another who’s finished and been offered a full-time job. Well done, Andy!

Andrew Lobel, 20 Position: Junior Web Developer Company: Contentive, a digital publisher and multimedia marketing agency with a clear focus on content marketing. Apprentice framework: Level 3 IT apprenticeship, web development pathway. Started apprenticeship: January 2013. Once he finished, Andy was kept on as a full-time member of staff. What does your role involve? “My day-to-day responsibilities include front-end and back-end web development on websites for clients, database administration, search engine optimisation and general troubleshooting.” What has the apprenticeship programme done for you? “The apprenticeship has really helped me craft my skills and transform them into something that can be taken into any junior web developer role. I would never have imagined myself carrying out important projects if it wasn’t for this apprenticeship. Everyone at Contentive is really friendly and they have helped me greatly in getting to where I am today.”



Ayer Mehmet, 19 Position: Junior Graphic Designer Company: Bluepost Digital, which delivers digital marketing campaigns for clients, provides contentbased search engine optimisation and helps businesses connect with their target audiences via social media. Apprentice framework: Level 3 Digital Marketing Started apprenticeship: April 2013 What does your role involve? “My main role at Bluepost is to support the social team with images and videos for the clients who they manage. I design images for clients’ social campaigns and websites, I create mock-ups of potential website layouts for clients, I carry out video editing for clients and I design images for business presentations. I also create GIFs based on timely events for clients, and infographics, which are easily shared on social media.” What has the apprenticeship programme done for you? “Arch has allowed me to get in touch with a fantastic company, which has provided me with all the support I need and has surrounded me with inspirational individuals who I can learn so much from. Arch has allowed me to further my goals and has given me the break I needed to excel.”


Sakina Kashmiri, 17 Position: Junior Field Engineer Company: Agilisys, an IT outsourcing business that works with Hammersmith and Fulham council to deliver IT services Apprentice framework: Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Diploma in Professional Competence for IT and Telecoms Professionals Started apprenticeship: March 2014 What does your role involve? “I build Hammersmith and Fulham council devices and deploy them for customers. I liaise with third parties to repair equipment and install software. I also manage calls in [mobile software] Magic, update asset details and diagnose hardware faults.” What has the Arch apprenticeship programme done for you? “It has helped me realise what career I want to get into in the future. In a short space of time, I have learned many new skills – on the job and during study week.”


Video calling means school field trips just got a whole lot more interesting. We meet the man behind one cool online expedition

DISTANCE LEARNING J Digital Explorer director Jamie BuchananDunlop speaks to a class via Skype directly from the Arctic, during a Frozen Oceans Live session


amie Buchanan-Dunlop gets to go to some pretty amazing places around the world: Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Arctic, Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef… But instead of just posting some jealousy-inducing snaps on Instagram, the former teacher shares his experiences with students around the world through the power of the internet, specifically through Skype. “It’s not so much a show-and-tell session but really the opportunity for any student to ask any question they have,” he explains. “[During the Frozen Earth session from the Arctic] the questions ranged wildly from ‘How do you structure your experiments as a scientist?’ all the way down to ‘How do you

go to the loo?’” With some 20-30 questions per call, or around 1,500-2,000 over the space of 10 days, Jamie is not fazed by the questions – no matter how obscure. “‘Do I miss my family?’ I got asked quite a lot this time,” he recalls, before admitting “I actually quite like being away!” And seeing some of the amazing footage from his most recent Arctic expedition with the company he founded, Digital Explorer, we can see why. But Jamie’s not the only one using Skype to open up the world to inquisitive students stuck in classrooms across the UK. In fact, more than 80,000 teachers worldwide use Skype as a teaching tool, and there’s even a dedicated programme to help them, Skype in the Classroom, which connects

educators with schools worldwide. Teachers can post online requests for people (or other schools) to connect with and Skype also partners up with guest speakers and organisations to offer limitededition expert sessions. There are some incredible opportunities Iceberg in the Kongsfjorden, the fjord that runs alongside the available. science bases at Ny Ålesund in Svalbard (via Digital Explorer) Recent guest speakers have geography, science or extreme included a Yawanawá Indian talking environments: “I think that’s one of the about life and survival in the Amazon and real strengths of Skype in the Classroom palaeontologists from New York’s Stony Live: bringing in a speaker can bring what Brook University explaining “How to Find you’re studying in class to life.” a Dinosaur”. There’s also a format called But it’s not all about ice and snow: Mystery Skype, a kind of educational game Jamie’s working on a number of new in which pupils in two classrooms have to sessions that cover topics as varied as guess the location of the other class by foreign affairs – and fish. “I’ve just got back asking each other questions. from Jordan, where I’ve been speaking to It’s a great way to make lessons more fun the UN about connecting schools around and students have responded with a big the refugee issue in Syria and Lebanon, thumbs up, especially for Jamie’s sessions. so that’s potentially happening soon,” he “We learned about the krill and how far reveals. “And then in November we’ll be down in the ocean you put the nets to catch aiming to leave here and we’ll be doing them,” enthuses Logan. “We also learned Coral Oceans Live – a very similar format how many layers of clothes you have to wear [to Frozen Oceans] – so it will be working sometimes. I thought the Skype [lesson] with the Coral Reef Survey out there. was awesome!” Fellow participant Emily Probably we won’t be able to do a Skype was equally positive, saying: “The Skype from under water, though!” with Jamie was so interesting. It’s always He’s hoping to swing another trip good to know what scientists are doing to the Arctic next year too, making the throughout the world to help conserve the expedition an annual occurrence and environment. Jamie and his team are taking building up his community of experts steps to help preserve sea life. This was an and scientists. And with every class he experience I will never forget.” does, he’s potentially inspiring the next Christopher Muller, science co-ordinator generation of scientists, explorers and at Eastwood Academy in Southend-onoceanographers. You. Sea, Essex, said pupils actually gasped Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop’s trip to when they saw Jamie up on screen out the Arctic and the wider Frozen in the Arctic: “They were hanging on [his] Oceans education programme every word!” As well as making lesson plans are sponsored by Catlin Group available and providing links to online Limited. For more information, resources for teachers and students, Jamie visit suggests that classes join Digital Explorer’s sessions as a way of complementing their own classwork – be that studying

The scientists use a niskin bottle to collect water samples at a range of different depths (via Digital Explorer)



Suzy Moat uses data from Google, Wikipedia and social networks to measure and even anticipate human behaviour. Carinya Sharples finds out that she can even predict a riot


hen the riots hit England in the summer of 2011, what had been confined to Tottenham spread like wildfire across London and then cities around England at random – or so it initially seemed to data scientist Suzy Moat, Assistant Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School. “We can do a pretty good job of modelling how the riots spread within London by assuming that if a riot had just occurred, it would become more likely that another riot would soon occur nearby,” she explains. “However, this model is not very good at explaining how rioting began outside of London in cities such as Manchester and Birmingham.” Suzy and her team turned to Twitter for help. “In our Twitterbased model, we assume that if a riot occurs in one location, and we can see lots of communication between that location and a second location, then the risk of rioting might spread to this second location. We find that this model is much better at

predicting the spread of the riots through England as a whole, suggesting that patterns of how information spreads might help us better understand patterns of how behaviour spreads.” And if the police had been able to see in real-time which areas were communicating, they might have been better able to anticipate which city the riots would spread to next and target their resources more effectively. If that all sounds a bit like something out of the film Minority Report to you, you’re not far off. But instead of strange bald women who lie in tanks and see into the future, it’s data whizzes who are providing the insight into past, present and future human behaviour, with the help of Google search data, Wikipedia entries, Tweets and other online chatter. The riots map is just one example that Suzy Moat broke down in a fascinating talk at TEDxZurich, entitled Decoding Our Digital Traces, but there are countless other areas worth exploring. In fact, Suzy says the most frustrating part is that she and her team have far more ideas than they have time to try out. So what does it take to be a data scientist? We asked Suzy to share her journey – and some top tips on how to get to where she is now. YOU’RE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCE AT WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL. WHAT DOES THAT INVOLVE? I’m a university academic, which is a job with many different sides. Most importantly, I’m a data scientist and researcher. I write computer programs, which analyse data from sites such as Google, Wikipedia, Twitter and Flickr to find out whether we can use data from the internet to measure and even predict what humans do in the real world. I write reports on this work, many of which are free to download online. I also spend a lot of time travelling around the world to present these findings to other


how to...

scientists, as well as people from government, business and the general public. HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW? I’m lucky as I’ve studied and worked in a number of countries, including Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, and I have a visiting position in the US too. I started off by studying computer science as an undergraduate, which I loved – I’d been programming ever since my Dad taught me to code on a ZX Spectrum when I was a kid. I’m a bit obsessed with languages too and was fascinated by how people communicate, so I took a Masters and PhD in psychology and linguistics. When I finished my PhD, the amount of data on human behaviour and communication was really exploding, due to our increasing use of technology and the internet. I got a sequence of post-doctoral researcher jobs looking at to what extent we can use this data to make predictions of how humans behave, including one collaboration with the Metropolitan Police. YOUR BACKGROUND IS IN COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY. WHY DO THESE AREAS COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER? Previously, our only way of measuring how humans behave was to put them in an experiment, or ask them to write down answers for a survey. Now, we increasingly rely on networked computer systems and smart cards to support our everyday activities, and everything we do generates data: buying bread at the supermarket, taking a ride on the Tube or calling a friend for a chat. This offers lots of intriguing new opportunities for us to find repeating patterns in what people do, which we can use to make better predictions of how humans will behave in the future. Such predictions could help us better anticipate where crimes might occur, or how illness might spread. WHAT KIND OF DATA PREDICTIONS HAVE YOU MADE? My collaborator Tobias Preis and I are fascinated by the idea that data on how we communicate online might help us better measure and even predict what humans do in the real world. In one study, with our collaborators Steven Bishop

SUZY’S FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO BE A DATA SCIENTIST 1. ABILITY TO PROGRAM “You need to be able to get hold of the data you are interested in analysing, whether this is data on who’s friends with who on Twitter, where Boris bikes are being used in London right now, or how many complaints of loud music were made in New York last week. To do this, you need to be able to program. While a lot of this data is free online, it would generally be impossible – never mind extremely boring! – to click on everything you need, so you need to write code to do this for you.” 2. KNOWLEDGE OF STATISTICS “You need to be able to work out what patterns are in your data. People often repeat patterns of behaviour – for example, it’s fairly easy to predict at what times the Tube will be packed. However, some repeating patterns of behaviour are rather more hidden than this. For example, there’s a famous case of a supermarket in the US finding patterns in people’s shopping that they used to predict when people were going to have a baby. To find these patterns – and work out whether they’re reliable or not – you need to learn statistics.”

Courtesy TEDxZurich

and Gene Stanley, we measured how often internet users searched for the next year – for example, 2015 – and how often they searched for the previous year – for example, 2013. We found that internet users from countries where people are richer tend to Google for more information about the future than internet users in countries where people are poorer. WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON? Recently, we started looking at photos that people upload to Flickr. We looked at what photos were taken around Hurricane Sandy, a huge hurricane that crashed into New York and New Jersey in late 2012. We gathered data on all the photos tagged with “Hurricane”, “Sandy” and “Hurricane Sandy” and found that the worse the hurricane was in a given hour, the more photos were taken. However, this work has involved processing the text that people post and search for online. We’re excited about what might be possible if we process the actual pictures instead. Our excellent students Merve Alanyali and Chanuki Seresinhe are cooking up some fantastic work on this at the moment.

3. PEOPLE SKILLS “You need to be able to find questions that people want an answer to, and communicate the answer to them once you’ve got it. So it’s not enough to be highly technically skilled – you need to be able to relate to other people as well. If you can tell a good story in written or spoken form, this is a very useful skill. Knowing a lot about a particular problem area – like crime or financial trading – is also extremely helpful.” 4. A DEGREE “To become a data scientist in business or at university, you ideally need to get an undergraduate degree, which will help you learn and demonstrate your skills in programming, statistics and communication. There are a few new courses emerging specifically in data science. Otherwise, it’s a good move to pick a technical subject such as computer science, statistics, physics or maths, and do as many optional modules as you can in social science subjects such as psychology and economics along the way. If you want to stay at university and become an academic, the first step in an academic career is to get a PhD.” 5. CREATIVITY AND DETERMINATION “A slight obsessive streak is definitely useful for getting things done; however, research is also a very creative job. You pick what you work on, so you need to be able to come up with good ideas and then follow them through, just like an artist does. There’s some performing and storytelling involved too if you want to do a good job of teaching or giving presentations of your work – otherwise your audience and students will fall asleep! Finally, you need to be very determined to get what you want and definitely not be too fazed by rejection. Applications for research money and attempts to publish your work get rejected all the time in academia – you just have to keep trying.”


JOIN TECH CAREER CAMP Do you want to work in the digital, creative or media industries? Then read on


o you’ve finished your A/AS-levels or GCSEs. You’ve ditched the revision cards, packed away the textbooks and silenced that constant nagging voice: “Shouldn’t you be revising?” Now a long, hot summer is stretched ahead of you. But what’s at the end? Finishing exams can sometimes be an anticlimax as much as a relief, especially if you’re not sure what your next step in life should be. At Techmix, we know this is a tough period. So this summer we’re running a Tech Entrepreneur Camp especially for young residents of Tower Hamlets and Hackney who are not in education, employment or training – or “Neets”, to use government speak. The aim of the camp is to open up the world of digital technology to 120 Neets and build a new “digital talent pipeline” to connect newly skilled young people from East London to employers and apprenticeship providers in nearby Tech City. As the event is being delivered in partnership with Jobcentre Plus East London District, employment is top of the agenda. We want to not just tell you what kind of jobs you could do, but put you in touch with the digital and media companies who could employ you, and even invite them along to the camp to talent-scout and meet you in person. We’ll also tell you about traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities, exciting careers in the armed forces and how you can study further at college or uni. This is so you can find out what route is best for you and how to follow it, by talking to the experts themselves. So what will you be doing on a day-to-day level? The five-day course – led by social enterprise Digital Skills Advantage Ltd (DSAd) – is centred on five practical skills: Business Skills, Digital Marketing, Programming,


Presentation and Pitching. You don’t need any prior experience, skills or qualifications to join. On the course, you’ll pick up a whole range of digital skills, and cement the confidence and “soft skills” needed to use them, such as communication and presentation. Each camp (there are six in total, running consecutively over the summer) will have just 20 young people, so you really get focused help and support too. Each day you’ll start a new mini-project, which directly relates to actual entry-level roles being offered by technology and media companies, and gives you a crash course in the digital skills specified in the job ad. You’ll collaborate on the project with your Tech Buddy (the other student you’re paired with), just as you would in the real world. And the sessions will be led by camp tutors – a mix of educators and digital experts in their own right – with each of the two groups of 10 students allocated a personal mentor to help them individually. And it doesn’t end there. After the camp, DSAd will give you up to three months of ongoing support, including introductions to digital, creative and media businesses, help with job interviews and direct links to apprenticeship providers. Who knows where it will lead you…

TECH CAREERS CAMP: THE HIGHLIGHTS Inspiring morning talks On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings during the camp, a leading Tech City employer will visit to deliver an inspiring talk about digital skills and careers, with details on the kind of individuals they normally hire and the skills they look for. Meeting the workers Every lunch hour (except on Friday), employees from a top Tech City company will pop down to informally chat to participants over lunch about what it’s like to work where they do. Tech Open Day On the Friday afternoon of each course, we host a Tech Open Day, an end-of-week appraisal session to recognise your achievements. Both established and up-and-coming companies, as well as apprenticeship providers, will also be invited to attend for a mammoth lunchtime meet-and-greet.

tech entrepreneur camp

WHAT’S YOUR TECH CAREER CAMP IDENTITY? During Tech Career Camp you’ll learn about five distinct roles in the world of digital tech, with the help of world-class companies and top apprenticeship providers. Who will you become?


Channel your inner Martha Lane Fox and learn how to develop a digital idea and your business development skills.


Will your brand capture the world’s imagination like Steve Jobs’ Apple designs? Discover what it takes to develop a digital identity through learning design and creative skills.


Mark Zuckerberg’s amazing coding skills brought Facebook to life. Get ahead of the game and learn all about programming and platforms.

THE DIGITAL MARKETING EXPERT: IMAGE Creative Commons/Steve Jurvetson

Do you want to market your product and get in people’s minds (and browsers) like all-knowing Amazon, founded by Jeff Bezos? You need to know social marketing.

THE PRESENTATION EXPERT: To present and pitch your idea like Dragons’ Den winner Levi Roots, communication skills are essential.



Flight Lieutenant Nosheen Chaudry A High-flying Woman

Flight Lieutenant Nosheen Chaudry is the Officer Commanding Engineering Support Flight on the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT) , The Red Arrows, and is responsible for the delivery of training and monitoring the engineering standards and practices for over 100 engineering technicians and logisticians. Her role is integral to ensuring that the highest standards are maintained across RAFAT both at home and when travelling around the World during the display season; this she does in pursuit of ‘excellence’ in line with the RAFAT motto – ‘Eclat’. Her wider responsibilities include that of being a Flight Commander which includes welfare and personnel related issues, mentoring the junior members of the team and providing strategic leadership to them. From early childhood Nosheen had a fascination with aircraft and the idea of flight. That interest stayed with her into her teens when she joined an Air Cadet Squadron. Participating in the usual Air Cadet activities of glider flying, sport, rifle shooting and flying lessons, Nosheen gradually realised that this was a career in the making. She must have made an impact by the enthusiastic way in which she embraced her subject as she was offered a RAF scholarship to be sponsored through Birmingham University to study engineering. After her successful graduation Nosheen reported to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in August 2002 to begin training as an Officer Cadet. Following her 26-week Officer Training Course, Nosheen graduated as a junior officer and began her trade training; this was an extended period during which she learned the broad range of subjects she would need to work around the cutting-edge aircraft used by the RAF. “Now,” says Nosheen, “I am an Aero Systems Engineering Officer and fulfil a variety of roles with responsibility for the teams maintaining aircraft within our fleet. It’s challenging work but I like the fact I get posted from one station to another every two years to work on other related and sometimes different projects.” Indeed, on a previous tour of duty, Nosheen worked on recruiting the potential engineering officers of the future as part of the RAF’s specialist recruitment teams – a job she really enjoyed. But it’s not all hard work in the RAF, as Nosheen explained: “One of the big attractions for me about the Royal Air Force is the sports and adventurous training on offer. I am really keen on athletics and have competed for the RAF Athletics Team for the last eight years.” The RAF requires its personnel to keep physically fit and actively encourages adventurous training. Many airmen and airwomen get involved in the Service’s skiing, climbing or sailing expeditions and there are clubs and teams for most popular sports. Clearly Nosheen’s life is extremely busy, but joining the RAF to be an aero systems engineer may not be the first thought in the minds of most women. Nosheen said: “I knew from an early age that this is the kind of thing I wanted to do and my family were very supportive in my career choice. In fact, they encouraged me to apply for the University Bursary which certainly helps with the cost of getting a degree.” Nosheen also finds the military life style still gives her time to visit family and friends. “Sometimes it means a bit of long distance travel, but I’ve always found that I’ve been able to keep up with family life”. Flight Lieutenant Nosheen Chaudry saves her last piece of advice for young women currently considering their future careers: “I would encourage them to find out as much information as possible and include their family when making decisions. There are many opportunities to visit stations in the RAF and I would encourage this also. The RAF website is a good place to start!”

recruiting now

0845 605 5555

0333 202 7770

in review


STICK ’EM UP Always losing your keys or burying your iPhone under your revision notes? Slap them on a Grip Strip. This silicone marvel somehow holds almost anything in place, with no magnet, Velcro or sticky substance required. So you can safely attach it to your wall, desk or dashboard and always see exactly where your prized possessions are. £6.99,

Making life easier – and a whole lot more interesting – these nifty gadgets strike the perfect balance between practicality and quirkiness GET WITH THE PROGRAM 6 If you want to get a headstart on coding before it comes on the curriculum in September (see page 14), Computer Coding for Kids from DK Publishing aims to get you coding through simple step-by-step instructions, illustrations and no computer jargon, and claims to be “the only programming book that teaches both Scratch and Python programming languages”. Makes a good present for confused parents, too. £12.99,

FORWARD CHARGE 4 Portable batteries are not exactly new, but this Juice Cell Backup Battery promises to go where others fail to tread and fully charge your iPhone from empty. You can use it on any USB-powered gadget and it comes with the necessary connectors (Apple 30-pin, Micro USB, Mini USB). Just don’t get confused and try to use it as a real, old-school battery. £14.95,

FOOTIE FRIEND 4 When World Cup fever is over and you need a new distraction, Kick Bee Footballer Robot steps in. With the help of the BotPad app (compatible with iOS, Android and WP8 devices) and Bluetooth, this mini-marvel can score, wrestle, race, whatever you tell it to do (within a range of 10 metres). Well, World Cup 2018 isn’t far away. £25,

WITNESS PROTECTION 6 That moment of horror when your iPad slips out of your hands and you gingerly turn it over to see a whacking great crack across it – we all know prevention is better than cure. It’s worth investing in a cover, such as this Rhino Shield for iPad, which claims to absorb “5x the impact energy of the muchlauded Gorilla Glass”, with a width of just 0.029cm. We’re still not sure we’d recreate the “hammer” test, though. Just in case… £29.99,


HERE BE DRAGONS 6 Creating a shadow puppet of a dragon isn’t easy. So if you want to create a Game of Thrones feel (but the pet shop’s short on firebreathing beasts), switch to this Dragon Projector Keychain. Who knows when you’ll need to call on one of Daenerys’ dragons. $9.99 (£5.88),

ANYONE FOR TENNIS? 6 OK, so this isn’t actually out yet, but Techmix’s tennis-loving Creative Director isn’t the only one excited about the arrival of the Shot Stats Challenger. This nobby gadget attaches to your racket and instantly displays your stats after every swing: from head speed to ball spin. The Challenger is currently wrapping up its Kickstarter campaign – after more than achieving its goal target – and expects to deliver in January 2015. Price TBC,


Search online for RAF Careers: ICT Technician Catering and Hospitality Specialist Logistics (Supplier) Vehicle and Mechanical Equipment Technician Musician Aerosystems Engineer Officer Communications Electronics Engineer Officer HR Specialist Aerospace Battle Manager

DIGITAL DIRECTORY Computing Science & App Design Seventeen-year-old Nick D’Aloisio sold his App Summly to Yahoo! for $30 million. Have you ever considered learning to build and make your own app? Salaries for developers in the UK have jumped by a quarter during the last year, with devs now earning an average salary of £43,400 – higher than the going rate for web designers! Learn the inroads and gain practical and technical skills for a successful career.

Digital Filmmaking, Production & Editing

The UK creative industries are a real success story. Worth more than £36 billion a year, they generate £70,000 every minute for the UK economy and employ 1.5 million people! Interested in a career in production? Imagine getting to explore voiceover, physical animation, basic stunt work, green screen and motion capture with industry professionals as part of your coursework! Step aside Spielberg.

Web Content Creation The web is hungry for your words. The term “blog” was coined in 1997 when John Barger called his site a “weblog”. In 2013 there were over 6.7 million people publishing content on blog sites. Online content now rivals traditional news media, and brands and businesses are clamouring for content in order to connect with and satisfy their audiences. Everyone has story to tell, so why not share it online?


Techmix’s goal is to continually harness the power of technology across all platforms to inspire you to delve deeper into digital life. Our motto – “Your Digital Future” – is at the forefront of everything we do. We want to encourage you to extend your skills, champion the power of tech and do great things!

Digital Careers & Entrepreneurship Fancy yourself as the next Jamal Edwards? These days, you are your own brand, so you need to think big – and build your own brands at every step. Toby Rowland decided he wanted to be his own boss at 16, and went on to start one of the world’s best online gaming platforms. Want to be your own boss and build a company from the ground up? A career as a digital entrepreneur could be your calling.


Excitingly, there are loads of educational institutions who share the same goals: universities and colleges offering courses where you can learn the skills to advance your digital career. The Techmix Digital Directory gives you a rundown on some of them here to help you. So read, explore and investigate.


Digital Design & Animation Learn how to turn your rough sketches into real products and designs. Animated TV, advertising graphics, computer games design and architectural modelling are just some of the rapidly expanding areas of creativity and technical development. The explosive growth of digital media and the computer arts industries has created global demand for designers and animators. Could it be you they’re looking for?

Computer Games & Design I bet you didn’t know that 50 per cent of all visits to Facebook are to play games? The interactive entertainment and gaming industries are another huge growth industry of the future, and a huge part of the UK’s creative industries. Gaming is more popular than ever before, played by people of all ages at home and on mobile phones. Combine that with the rapid development of tech like Google Glasses and gaming’s future is blinding bright.

Digital Music Dylan Kwabena Mills grew up in Bow in London’s East End, raised by his Ghanaian mother Priscilla. Sound familiar? It’s the story of Dizzie Rascal: rapper, songwriter and record producer, best known for his number 1 hits Dance Wiv Me, Bonkers and Holiday. Dizzie soared to megastar status largely due to his ability to create music that explored new soundscapes and digital technologies. Why not give Mr Rascal a run for his money?


Punk Science, Hardware & Robotics Are you into building your own inventions? Fascinated by 3D printing and what this means for science and engineering? Why not explore mechanical design and construction: you could build and program robots with intelligence, explore cutting-edge equipment and play a first-hand role in the development of digital technologies. Go on, help shape your future – and ours.



62 Name: Josh Flitcroft Course: Computer Games Programming WHY DID YOU WANT TO LEARN DIGITAL SKILLS? The main reason I wanted to study games programming was because I played a lot of videogames and thought it would be really cool to be able to make my own. After playing around with GameMaker, I found that I really enjoyed making games, specifically the programming parts (I’m a terrible artist), and so I decided to have a look at which universities offered this as a course. I also wanted to learn digital skills as I really enjoyed working with computers and found that it came very naturally to me; because of this, I took ICT at high school and college. It was then only at college that I started looking at computer games programming. As I didn’t take computing at college, I wasn’t able to learn much programming and establish a “logical mindset” with computers. Fortunately, I took maths, which helped with this. WHAT’S IT LIKE STUDYING COMPUTER GAMES PROGRAMMING AT HUDDERSFIELD? Fun at times, but for the majority, it’s hard and rewarding. The fun parts come from the Team Project module we have on each year of the course. In this module, a couple of programmers and several designers come together to work in a team and make their own game. This is by far the best module, as we spend all year working on our own game idea. The harder parts come when we’re learning languages and concepts that we may not have come across before. However, if this gets too challenging at any point, the lecturers are always on hand to give any help and advice. The rewards come when you’ve spent days (or even weeks) working on a game mechanic, or trying to fix a bug, and you manage to get everything working as it should. This makes you want to yell from the rooftops: “I’ve done it, it finally works!” WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WANTING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THIS FIELD? First tip is experience, specifically in the games industry. That’s why when applying for courses you

should look at the four-year sandwich courses, which offer a placement year. It will also be helpful to try and get a job either before going to, or while at, university. This is good because when you’re at a job interview it shows them that you have all the necessary soft skills required by a job i.e. punctuality, ability to work under pressure, etc. Another tip is to have a “dabble” at all the different types of programming, to see which you like the best and are naturally good at. Once you’ve decided on this, you can then focus on it during modules while at uni. By this, I mean playing with physics and engine code to see if you like that side of programming, or looking at AI and gameplay. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM STUDYING COMPUTER GAMES PROGRAMMING AT HUDDERSFIELD? The most important things that I’ve learned are team communication skills. These are important because in the industry today, most games require a team (designers, programmers, etc) to build the game. Because of this, it’s very important to be able to communicate with the other people on the team, so that everyone understands what they need to do and by when. The Team Project module that we have each year has really helped with this. I’ve also learned a variety of languages, mainly C++, C# and Java. These are taught from the ground up in the first year and were then worked on throughout the remaining years. Within these languages, I’ve then learned loads of extra skills and programming concepts. For example, in C++ I learned how to do some multi-threading, while in C# I learned how to make a game using XNA. WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED IN THIS INDUSTRY? The most requested language by the industry is C++ and so this should be where you try to focus your learning outside of university. The main reason for this is that C++ gives you a lot more freedom with memory management, and so will increase what you’re able to do in a game. Another skill needed by programmers is problem-solving – firstly for when you’re making the game and you get given a task by a designer. You will then need to work out how to take this from what the designer has in their head to something you can put on a screen. Secondly for bug-fixing. Bugs can be like little puzzles, as they may only occur when certain buttons are pressed in a certain order. You need to work out what is making them happen and how to fix them. HOW DO YOU SEE THE INDUSTRY DEVELOPING IN FIVE OR 10 YEARS’ TIME? In about five to 10 years, the latest consoles should have been released, because despite what

people thought, consoles are still selling really strongly. Just look at the PS4, which sold more than seven million in roughly six months. Also, with computer hardware getting better and better each year, games are going to look amazing, to the point where we may achieve complete visual realism in games. This extra memory and power will also do wonders for the AI we’ll be able to achieve in games. I also think VR will have really taken off. With Oculus releasing their headset soon and Sony announcing theirs (although we’re still waiting for Microsoft to say anything), given five years, I think they’ll have gone through enough iterations to where they’re almost perfect. This window will also give developers enough time to get used to the hardware and understand what people want from it in games. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR CAREER IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME? At Huddersfield, I’ve learned that what I enjoy most is programming AI in games. This will therefore be my focus in my final-year dissertation,and hopefully after that I will be able to do at Master’s degree at University of Huddersfield, focusing again in AI. In five years, I’ll have hopefully finished my Master’s and be working for a games company in the UK, either doing AI programming or general gameplay programming. After working in the UK for a couple of years, I hope to move to America and work for a games company there. My aim is to work for Disney Interactive as even though I’d be doing more general programming, the advantages of working for that company massively outweigh those of doing AI programming. WHAT’S YOUR FINAL WORD OF ADVICE? I would advise people enrolling on to a programming course to have a look at some languages and engines (ie, C# in Unity or XNA) to get a grasp of what it’ll be like on the course. A lot of people come on to this course expecting to only be playing games – that’s not true. Programming is a lot of hard work and can be very time-consuming. That’s why you not only need a passion for playing games, but more importantly a passion for making them. Also, if you want to do a placement year, it’s worth noting that when you apply for placements the only grades you will have will be your first-year grades and so this is all the company will see. That’s why it’s important to make sure you put the same amount of time and effort into your first year as you would in your final year.


Name: Ryan Deanhill Course: BTEC Level 3 Animation and Games Design WHY DID YOU WANT TO LEARN DIGITAL SKILLS? I have grown up with a love of comics and graphic novels. My dream is to publish my own line of graphic novels based on a futuristic world where each child’s behaviour is pre-determined before birth in an effort to control society. I would like to extend this to an animated series as well, which is what led me to learning digital skills. WHAT’S IT LIKE STUDYING ANIMATION & GAMES DESIGN AT WESTMINSTER KINGSWAY? I find it really interesting. We have a wide range of students from different backgrounds and they bring different ideas and inspirations to class. Our teachers are very energetic and focused on how they teach us new skills and programs. Our department was recently partnered with a Korean college and we have had them visit us, work on projects together and display our work in Korea. WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WANTING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THIS FIELD? My main tip would be to read a lot of books and articles outside class. Our industry is constantly evolving

and it helps to keep in touch with innovations and ideas. Also, I believe that students shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with their style of work. They should feel free to be creative. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR TIME STUDYING ANIMATION & GAME DESIGN? One of the best things about studying my course at Westminster Kingsway College is that they use current software and tools to keep up to date with industry standards. Apart from learning graphic design basics, using Photoshop and Illustrator, we have also learnt how to do 3D modelling using 3Ds Max and we can animate using Maya. Another highlight was learning how to make a playable game level using UDK (unreal development kit). WHAT SKILLS DO YOU NEED TO WORK IN THIS INDUSTRY? I think juggling your workload and dealing with deadlines is a very important skill to have. Also a lot of patience, as it might take a few attempts to get the vision you or a client wants.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE INDUSTRY DEVELOPING IN FIVE OR 10 YEARS’ TIME? It’s such a rapidly changing environment that I can’t say for sure but I think with gaming will we soon see virtual reality gaming being commonplace in people’s homes. Games will come with readily available body suits and sensors that will allow people to immerse themselves in the games, for a totally new level of gaming experience. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR CAREER IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME? After studying at Westminster Kingsway College, I would like to progress to the University of Portsmouth to study BA Animation. After university, working in a creative and dynamic animation studio would be a dream come true. WHAT’S YOUR FINAL MESSAGE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO ENROL ON THIS COURSE? A final message would be that it really helps to be passionate about your work. When you are excited and genuinely interested in this course I think it shows in the quality of your work. It also helps to be very creative and open-minded.

STUDY FOR YOUR FUTURE AT CENTRAL LONDON’S COLLEGE The digital industry has received significant investments over recent years and continues to be at the heart of London’s economy. Industries such as design and graphics have broadened to provide those who are business and technologically savvy with the very best opportunities. If you are interested in this exciting pathway, Westminster Kingsway College can equip you with the techniques and skills needed to succeed from our King’s Cross Centre in the heart of London. We have a wide range of courses available in art and design, digital media and computing at Westminster Kingsway College, with many courses working in partnership with the BFI and Adobe. Courses range from Level 1 to Level 3 and afterwards students

can progress on to higher education or employment. At Westminster Kingsway College we specialise in exploring new media techniques through the development of games and animation, using state of the art technologies. You will also learn to develop the drawing and design skills needed to create 2D and 3D computer designs, as well as traditional animation techniques. You can create your own sets, develop characters, environments and storyboards, and even investigate how to program your game concepts. As you progress, you will also learn traditional and exciting new technologies in 2D and 3D digital animation for computer game design, television- and web-based communications and entertainment. You will study and develop skills in drawing,

character and environment development, storytelling and storyboarding, using design software, animation and games engine technology. Westminster Kingsway College is one of the largest further education colleges in central London with centres in Camden and Westminster. Westminster Kingsway College offers a wide range of courses aimed at all ages and skills. For further information contact the College on 0870 060 9800, email courseinfo@ or visit www. Follow Westminster Kingsway College on Twitter @ Westking and www.facebook. com/WestminsterKingsway.




Name: Angus Rigby Course: Computer Science WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN COMPUTER SCIENCE? I’ve been interested in computing since I can remember. I spend a lot of my spare time either programming or doing other computer-related activities. I’ve used them most of my life and started programming at 11, from there onwards computing and computer science seemed to be the logical direction to take for further education and subsequently a career. There’s so much diversity surrounding it that there are always going to be different areas to work. WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING PART OF BUILDING AND DEVELOPING NEW PROGRAMS OR APPS? The initial stage of development – coming up with ideas – can be very exciting: coming up with an idea, researching online, finding a gap and filling it. However the most exciting part of development is the problem solving after the conception of the idea: either learning or figuring out solutions when working on new concepts, ideas or features, especially when the end result works as expected!

There’s a great sense of achievement when you manage to connect a persistent database layer written in Python to your game servers written in C++ and subsequently communicating correctly with your client. HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU DO IS SOLO WORK; DO YOU GET TO WORK MUCH IN CREATIVE TEAMS? It can vary, the majority of my projects tend to be solo work due to them being small, however a couple are worked on by a groups of people. I don’t think it’s possible to give a definitive answer as to which I prefer (group vs solo) because it varies on a per-project basis. Developing a program in a group has the potential to be more interesting, having others to bounce ideas from and to share enthusiasm is always good and it can be fun coming across random witty comments. I haven’t had much experience where I’ve been able to work in a creative team directly, normally it’s a case of keeping up to date and communicating with them.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU WHEN YOU ARE DEVELOPING? HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS? The idea of having a finished project or at least something that works (a few of mine are in a state of limbo – working but unfinished) keeps inspiration pumping. New ideas can be difficult to come up with, especially trying to find things that haven’t been done before. Many of my smaller projects have come around because of a need for them or alternately just convenience, for example last year I wrote an app to sync the university timetable to Google Calendar. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB? At this point in time I’m not really sure what I would call my dream job. Computer security interests me considerably, so I suppose something surrounding that. I would be happy anywhere with a positive working environment and a nice team of people.




Name: Adam Clayden Course: Computer Gaming Technology WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN GAMES DESIGN LOOK LIKE? Interesting to say the least. There is never a moment where you feel as if you’ve done enough work because being part of a team means that you focus on your specialised role and also take on others’ roles. WHAT PROGRAMS DO YOU USE WHEN BUILDING A GAME? Microsoft Visual Studio and MonoDevelop are the two main software packages that I use, along with the desired game engine: Unity or the Unreal Development Kit to name a couple. Over a broad spectrum, software such as Autodesk’s 3DS MAX, Pixologic’s ZBrush and Adobe Photoshop are all excellent programs to use when developing games. WERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN GAMING GROWING UP? I always had an interest in computer games ever since my friend in primary school mentioned them to me. Over the years, I took a particular interest in the development process of games and wanted to study it further. This

sparked new interests and before I knew it, I became immersed in the innovative discipline of computer science. I quickly grew an interest for maths and computer programming so that I could finally learn how to develop games myself. WHAT SKILLS DOES A GAMES DESIGNER NEED? Being able to meet deadlines and taking the initiative to present concrete ideas and sound pieces of work is what I find to be extremely important. If someone misses a deadline for an assigned piece of work then not only does that look bad on the individual, but that also halts all forms of progress to the development of the game. Also, I should stress the importance of the fact that a games designer should understand the roles of others in their team. They should be aware of what a programmer does and what an artist does, with an awareness of the technical terminology used as simply knowing what another member of the team is talking about can help quicken the development process.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF STUDYING/WORKING IN GAMES DESIGN? Aside from always improving the skills I already possess as well as acquiring new ones, I would say the opportunity to work with intelligent and innovative people. Collaborating with a team who want to turn a game from its initial concept to fruition not only motivates me, but it makes me want to challenge myself further to develop even greater projects. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE ANYONE WANTING TO BE A GAMES DESIGNER? Make yourself known. There are various societies and forums that specialise in various roles within the games industry and to be an active member of those can really make you stand out. If a particular person has a concept for a game, rather than letting that idea dissipate, write it down. Draft more ideas and expand on them. Or, better yet, pitch the idea to one of the societies as an open-source project for everyone to work on. Collaborating in this way will develop skills for you to use on other projects.


Name: Joe Garbutt Course: Games Design WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN GAMES DESIGN LOOK LIKE? Designers can specialise in particular roles: for example, mission scripting, level design and gameplay balancing. Each of those jobs has a different set of tasks in a typical day. However, on a daily basis every designer’s job should be to facilitate the games development and really understand what the team is building. A designer should communicate across disciplines and bridge gaps in ideas to define the games direction, when it’s done well it really helps the team.

and you need the right software for that job. There really isn’t an all in one solution and that’s kind of what makes games interesting.

WHAT PROGRAMS DO YOU USE WHEN BUILDING A GAME? The variety of software for building games is pretty vast, as a designer I spend most of my time within a game engine. That could be in the Unreal Development Kit, Unity, or something completely different; it all depends on the project. For artists, it’s usually Photoshop and a 3D modelling package like Maya or 3DS Max. However, I wouldn’t say there is a particular set of software for building a successful game. Every game has different requirements

WHAT SKILLS DOES A GAMES DESIGNER NEED? A designer should always bring some technical ability to the team, especially on smaller projects. Everybody has ideas but the ability to successfully realise an idea is rare. Most importantly though a good designer should be able to communicate clearly and lead people towards a common goal. You’re not expected to be the source of all the project’s ideas, nor should you be, you’re there to make the best use of the teams’ ability.

WERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN GAMING WHEN GROWING UP? Strangely, I wasn’t hugely interested in games as a child, certainly when compared to most people I know. It was only as I got older that I began to realise why games were so great and the huge potential they have to entertain, move and inform their players.

WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF GAMES DESIGN? For me it’s the people and their talent. You meet so many passionate, creative and skilled people, all working for their fans and the love of the game. I am amazed every day by the work I see other students producing and that’s what really drives me to be better. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TEST THEIR SKILLS AS A GAMES DESIGNER? Create your own small mods and start using games engines. Learn about what it takes to make games and what you like about making them. The best way to do that, when you’re playing start to analyse games mechanics, what is it that makes your favourite games fun? Finally, learn about the industry and the business of games, it’s really important to understand it if you want to make a living developing them.



Name: Joseph Murray Course: Creative Music Technology WHAT’S IN YOUR TOOLBOX? For composing my music I use Logic Pro as it’s so portable and great for when I get compositional ideas on the go. For my larger scale recording projects I use Pro Tools. I’ve found it useful to have extensive knowledge of music software when talking with other artists, producers and engineers; being confident with them has allowed me to get more heavily involved with projects, and do so with complete conviction. HOW HAVE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES CHANGED MUSIC PRODUCTION? Digital technologies evolve so quickly so there is always something new to learn or experiment with. Music recording and production are expanding and the possibilities of what can be musically achieved are never-ending. The cost of things like home studio setups that anyone can record, compose, mix and master tracks to a professional standard. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COURSE FOR YOU? I’ve gained the creative tools I’ve needed to get myself out into the

world of digital music and do so with confidence. I was able to secure a placement at Karma Sound Studios in Thailand, which is part of a module I’m currently working on called Practice in Context. In my time here I have been involved with all manor of tasks such as composing, recording and producing. Alongside this I have met a multitude of great bands, engineers and producers, such as Grammy award-winning producer Steve Lillywhite, who has been so incredibly insightful for my work, not only with his production methods, but also with his general approach to the music industry as a whole. DOES COLLABORATING OVER THE INTERNET HELP YOUR WORK? Collaborating is the best way of sharing music and often leads to some great music. Sometimes I’ve found those I’m working with have been lazy with their input and on the other hand others have been incredibly dedicated and talented musicians. Finding people who are hard-working and committed is invaluable. As long as your voice is being heard and that you aren’t on

the sidelines then collaborations can make your music thrive. WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE WANTING TO GET INTO DIGITAL MUSIC DO? Find a software or instrument you’re comfortable using and just play with it nonstop. I personally prefer a much more reserved approach with my music, as I don’t see myself as a performer, so an important thing to remember is that because music is so vast in its opportunities if you prefer being behind the scenes then don’t force yourself to be in the limelight. In forcing yourself your approach to music can be artificial as opposed to instinctual. People appreciate effort and if you can match your effort with ability then you should do well. WHERE DO YOU SEE DIGITAL MUSIC HEADING? The music scene is so much easier for people to get involved with now and that’s completely down to the digital world we live in today. With complete online access to music, fans can really connect with their favourite artists in a completely new way. And that can only be a good thing.


Name: Kyle Davidson Course: BSc (Hons) Computing WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN COMPUTING? I originally planned to be an IT teacher but when I started learning about programming I was totally blown away by it and would spend hours writing various Java applications for fun. My lecturer, Michaela Black, encouraged me to take up any opportunity to get experience in software development, so in my first year I represented the University of Ulster’s Microsoft Imagine Cup entry in Dublin as team leader. I became a Microsoft Student Representative for the University and then for the UK. I also applied to the first Kainos AppCamp, an app development course, in Belfast. I was short listed to attend the two week training course in Objective-C and iOS application development and I pitched an Autism assistance application called MakeSense. I was then invited to spend the summer developing the app which received a number of awards and was my stepping stone to becoming a software developer.

WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING PART OF BUILDING AND DEVELOPING NEW PROGRAMS OR APPS? I think the highlight of app development is building something yourself and watching it come to life on a device. Thinking of a cool idea for an app and then creating it is awesome. WHAT INSPIRES YOU WHEN YOU ARE DEVELOPING? HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS? The biggest inspiration for me is knowing that there is value in the end result. If it’s a personal project it’s much easier because it’s almost always my own idea. MakeSense was inspired by my younger brother Bailey who is autistic. I wanted to create a series of simple guides, such as using public transport, to make his life a little easier and in turn help other children with autism. The app is really useful for any family affected by autism.

HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU DO IS SOLO WORK; DO YOU GET TO WORK MUCH IN CREATIVE TEAMS? Unless you’re making a living from freelance development or get to be the solo developer on an industry project, you’re going to be working with a team. I’ve been lucky – all my industry projects have involved working with great development models, such as Agile, which give the team members flexibility on what is built. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB? Working as a game designer in California.




Name: Annie Wilson Course: Digital Media AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE YOU WANTED TO PURSUE A CAREER IN DIGITAL MEDIA? I’ve always been content when working on a computer but also knew that I was a creative person, with a career in digital media you can work within so many different career options – from motion picture to web design – and it never limits you to what you can create, design and develop.

HOW MUCH OF YOUR JOB IS STORYTELLING? WHAT OTHER SKILLS ARE REQUIRED? Narrative can be an important factor in a digital media application, but key elements across all developments are the aesthetics and usability of the final artifact. If people are not attracted to it, or find they cannot engage with it in the ways they want to, they will quickly switch away and try another solution.

WHAT JOBS ARE OUT THERE NOWADAYS FOR DIGITAL MEDIA EXPERTS? With the continued growth in the web, and mobile computing developing massively, the need to be able to manipulate and embed digital media elements to create new applications is even more in demand. Its not just about developing websites or apps. For example developing motion graphics for marketing or creating online interactive TV applications using web technologies.

WHAT TIPS AND TRICKS CAN YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WANTING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THIS FIELD? Make sure you keep up to date with all of the latest developments in technology and how they are being used, not only to keep yourself current, but also see what sparks your interest and may lead to new ideas for innovation. WHAT PROGRAMS AND TOOLS ARE USED IN YOUR STUDIES? We use software from across the digital domain, such as AVID Media Composer, Pro Tools, Adobe

Photoshop and Dreamweaver, as well as development kits like Phonegap. HOW DO YOUR SEE THIS CAREER DEVELOPING AND CHANGING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS? Its a really exciting time with advances in displaying data like Google Glass, 3D and VR, as well as interconnectivity of devices and systems allowing applications to be more pro-active and helpful to users, as well as enriching the way information can be presented. My particular interest is in project management and how to work with teams of digital media experts to harness current and new technologies. I think the hardest part for me will be keeping sufficiently current in my understanding to enable me to work effectively with interdisciplinary teams and ‘speak their language’.


72 Hackney Community College With its Shoreditch campus on the doorstep of Tech City, Hackney Community College (HCC) is fast becoming known as the college for the digital sector. So when Octopus Group approached HCC to put together a young people’s panel for the industry’s renowned Brand Republic Future 5 Awards we jumped at the chance. This was a superb opportunity for our first-year level-3 interactive media students to visit a top media agency and contribute opinions on the effectiveness of campaigns – with a significant outcome for the industry. The shortlisted campaigns were presented to the 16 media students, who discussed how their elements ‘spoke’ to the young people’s market and their overall effectiveness. Our students’ vote resulted in the charity Refuge’s campaign “Don’t Cover It Up” being presented with the Young People’s Award. Octopus Brand Manager Alexia Scilpino, said “We were so pleased with HCC’s input. People were genuinely interested to hear the comments from the students.” To find out more, visit

Ever wanted to be a musician, making your own tracks and storming the charts and airwaves? The next edition of Techmix gives you the inside track to digital music production and skills. And who better to learn from one of the UK’s biggest urban artists, Plan B!




We’ll be speaking to Plan B about Each One Teach One: his fresh way of helping young people get the digital skills that can get them a job!





Name: Zoe Sams Course: Computer Games Technology WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY IN GAMES DESIGN LOOK LIKE? It typically involves a lot of change. Designs, art assets and mechanics go through constant iteration to improve playability, appeal and, most importantly, to make sure the game is fun. As a programmer, I’m constantly learning about new tech and tools being released to make creating games an easier process. WHAT PROGRAMS DO YOU USE WHEN BUILDING A GAME? There are many different tools available to developers which have different uses depending on the platform the game is aimed at. I used Unity over the course of a summer internship, and it’s a really useful tool to create fast prototypes for a range of platforms. We are mostly taught to code using C++ in Visual Studio, as it’s a widely used when developing blockbuster games. WERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN GAMING GROWING UP? Of course! I think to work in games you have to be interested in playing

them. I was brought up with Spyro the Dragon and Pokémon, and I played those games for hours on end. It wasn’t until my fourth year of secondary school that I really thought about creating games as a career, however it made perfect sense with my love of both art and mathematics and I’m now particularly interested in pursuing a career as a technical artist when I graduate. The main roles of a technical artist vary from creating rigs for characters and vehicles, to scripting tools to help artists. WHAT KIND OF SKILLS DO YOU NEED TO WORK IN GAMES? I believe one of the most important skills for any game designer or developer is communication. Good communication skills mean games can be pushed forward, noone is waiting for assets or waiting for something to do. Developers and programmers should focus on maths skills, as well as continually looking into new coding languages and brushing up on old ones.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF STUDYING AND WORKING IN GAMES DESIGN? Studying the latest trends in technology is always interesting, however seeing people play a game you have worked on and enjoy themselves really puts a smile on your face. It makes the hard work worthwhile when you see someone interacting and engaging with your application. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TEST THEIR SKILLS AS A GAMES DESIGNER? Start looking into the games you play in more detail: why do you enjoy this game? Is it the story, the characters, the mechanics, the style, or something else entirely? When you start putting these together, you begin to have a better understanding about what’s really fun. From here, you can begin to see which area you’d like to work in, whether it be design, programming or art.

Abertay University


Al d i Gli Tm fi eciAl sp


issue 2

rizzle kicks 02 & losT GenerATion

t tar Ks Ch KiC ur teturn yo eer! elf l s a r Ca our digit y a or t o int Crea


MakeGetMusic videos yourself on MTV lAdies of indusTry

Women at tech’s cutting edge

Techmix is the UK’s leading digital skills and careers magazine for young people. If you’re interested in digital making or working in the tech industry then Techmix is for you!

The ApprenTices A real alternative to uni?


gadget Creation ◆ App design ◆ Campus party ◆ Top Apps And geAr revoluTionAry designers ◆ digital summer Camp redux ◆ uni courses


UK’S LEADING DIGITAL SKILLS MAGAZINE Each issue of Techmix is distributed direct to more than 30,000 schools, community groups and individuals interested in learning new digital skills, exploring tech careers and hearing from inspirational peers and industry role models. The Techmix events team hosts and supports three large digital skills and tech events across the academic year, with a combined audience of 85,000 schools, students and parents.


If you are interested in reaching our audiences, please contact Jane Simpson on 0207 613 9194 or email



Name: Oliver Jacobs Course: Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) THERE’S A WIDE ARRAY OF APPS TO PRODUCE AND RECORD MUSIC. WHAT’S IN YOUR TOOLBOX? On the Tonmeister course at Surrey (, we use many apps for recording. Pro Tools and Logic Pro are generally the first choice for pop recording, while Pyramix and SADiE are better suited to classical work. The course includes a placement year and I spent mine working for Peter Gabriel at Real World Studios. Here, I used Pro Tools nearly every day and it is now my go-to software for recording. HOW HAS DIGITAL TECH CHANGED MUSIC PRODUCTION? It has drastically changed the way that engineers work. Thirty years ago it would have been impossible to make music as a ‘bedroom producer’. Even so, large studios such as Abbey Road, Air, and Real World, are still needed to record big productions and film scores. On the Tonmeister course, we have three recording studios, which are all differently equipped to mirror different types of production techniques in the industry. Studio 3

contains a new Neve digital console while studio 2 has an analogue SSL. It’s easy to scale down from here to a bedroom setup, but very difficult to scale up. WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY STUDYING MUSIC PRODUCTION LIKE? My studying day often switches between engineering (the maths and physics behind how hardware and software work) and recording (how to operate it). Not only does this mean I can get the best out the gear, but I also have an idea of how to fix it if it goes wrong. DOES COLLABORATING OVER THE INTERNET HELP YOUR WORK? The internet revolutionised the way we listen to and share music. I use services such as Soundcloud and Mediafire to send mixes to bands to receive feedback on them. This means that I can work with musicians as far away as Australia. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO YOUNG PEOPLE WANTING TO GET INVOLVED IN DIGITAL MUSIC? Get a computer and software and

just start making music. Get some local bands in, record them and give them a CD. This process taught me a lot. Get some work experience in your local music venue, studio or theatre. Convince them to let you stand behind them as they work: ask questions and try to learn from them – without getting in the way of course. Then come and do the Tonmeister course. The contacts you will make and the skills you will learn could set you up for life (just look at the long list of award-winning graduates). I’ve worked on music tours, recorded some amazing musicians and met some of the most influential people in the industry. WHERE DO YOU SEE DIGITAL MUSIC HEADING IN FIVE OR 10 YEARS TIME? With future advances in technology it is likely that music consumption by streaming will continue to increase in popularity. Services such as YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud are at the forefront.

Computing at Goldsmiths Goldsmiths, University of London, is acclaimed as one of the UK’s top creative universities (Which? University), and home to the best computing department in the UK in terms of student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2012). Computing at Goldsmiths is hands-on. From the start, you will create your own software and work on your own projects – both in teams and solo – in ways that mirror industry practices. You will develop the skills today’s creative industries demand, and will have access to the cutting-edge tech in labs fitted out with the latest software. You will also benefit from the department’s partnerships with a range of organisations and companies including UK games developer Rebellion, Creative Assembly, Supermassive Games, M&C Saatchi, and the National Film and Television School. We also offer you an optional industry work placement year. So our graduates often take their skills straight into the industry: employers include Atkins, Disturb Media and Sony. Join our Virtual Open Day Our Virtual Open Day lets you to explore Goldsmiths from any location: you can learn about Goldsmiths’ campus, student accommodation and facilities, academic life and social scene. You can also take part in live webchats with our academics and advisors about various topics, including fees and funding, accommodation and student life. Visit to check upcoming dates and book your place. To find out more about Computing at Goldsmiths visit, send an email to or phone 020 7919 7766.

Student profile Eric Brotto graduated with a BSc in Creative Computing in 2011. He’s now an account director at Smile Machine. How did studying at Goldsmiths prepare you for the future? The academics at Goldsmiths were top notch, and I really felt the sky’s the limit! I created an iPhone app which allows users to simulate the experience of being a rap artist. My professors helped me to develop it and it led to my job at Smile Machine. Goldsmiths Careers Service helped me secure a job before I graduated and gained valuable work experience at an agency working as a new media coordinator. What elements of your degree did you enjoy? Goldsmiths is not just about learning new skills but learning what to do with them and how to be innovative. It was exciting to be surrounded by other students with strong ideas of their own. Undergraduate degrees at Goldsmiths: Foundation Year in Computing BSc (Hons) Business Computing BSc (Hons) Computer Science BSc (Hons) Creative Computing BSc (Hons) Games Programming Interdisciplinary computing degrees: BSc (Hons) Digital Arts Computing BMus/BSc (Hons) Music Computing BA (Hons) Journalism



re you interested in taking part in hands-on workshops and learning how to build websites, create apps and write code? Techmix is proud to announce that its northwest Digital Skills Show will take place in Manchester’s MediaCityUK in October, where you can hook up with cutting-edge technology companies to make your own robots, gadgets and music videos. Up to 3,000 visitors are expected to descend on the north’s biggest media hub for unmissable sessions run by world-leading technology firms. Techmix’s first one-day Digital Summer Camp last year saw thousands of you come through its doors and sold out in just three weeks. Visiting celebrities included special guest Prince Andrew, who joined business leaders from the likes of BlackBerry and O2 to celebrate exciting start-ups such as music news aggregator app Music Central. As tweeter had it: “#Digital Summer Camp is so rad; so amazing to see kids so psyched.” The Digital Skills Show will host workshops and interactive displays on everything from HTML coding and peer-to-peer programming to producing magazines. And you can hook up with pioneering games and app producers, who’ll be creating an inspiring synergy of fun and learning. Businesses involved this year include It Is 3D, which focuses on 3D computer-assisted-design (CAD) learning for students; music technology company Knowledge Rocks; and DIY-kit makers Technology Will Save Us. As well as advising students about entrepreneurship and how to set up start-ups, tech companies have the chance to network and discuss between themselves and with schools how best to get you excited about technology in the classroom. The Digital Skills Show is a place for companies to road-test new products, from visual effects

to 3D printers, and find out about schools’ ICT needs. For schools and teachers, it’s a place to increase ICT expertise, build important links with the digital industry and enhance personal professional development. Many leading FE and higher education institutions will be exhibiting at the show and there are still places left. The show will then move on to Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff and London. The Digital Skills Show is a fantastic opportunity for you to explore exciting new career paths and discover new employment opportunities and meet potential future employers. A special Apprenticeship Pavilion will host leading apprenticeship providers and in the Future Study Zone you can find out about the UK’s top universities and further education colleges. National Careers Service representatives will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have. With catwalk fashion shows and a street market full of must-buy gadgets, the Digital Skills Show will be very much a celebration of how cool it is to learn digital skills.

4D Creative This design studio makes interactive education spaces for schools, so classrooms can be turned into rainforests or Iron Age villages. LED lighting, projectors and surround-sound combine to bring immersive teaching environments to life.

LEADING DIGITAL COMPANIES IN MEDIACITYUK In 2011, the biggest media hub in northern England opened for business on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal. The large-scale move of the BBC to MediaCityUK grabbed the majority of the headlines, but the 200-acre site is home to more than 200 businesses, among them a number of innovative tech companies.


design108 This company of graphic designers produces everything from artwork on bottles to wallpaper for TV shows, including Coronation Street and Blue Peter.

digital skills show


The UK’s largest single-site university has a teaching staff that includes Nobel laureates such as the economist Joseph Stiglitz and the biologist Sir John Sulston. It was ranked 12th in Europe in this year’s Times Higher Education World University Rankings.


This internationally renowned conservatoire attracts student musicians from all over the world. Its BMus (Hons) degree is delivered over four years, covering genres from early music to opera and jazz. Alumni include the composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle and the baritone Simon Keenlyside.


The UK’s fifth-largest university counts the comedian Steve Coogan and the Shakespearean actor Sir Anthony Sher among its alumni. With its motto “Many Arts, Many Skills”, and its origins in design and technology, it is particularly strong in contemporary arts subjects.


Located on the banks of the River Irwell, the University of Salford counts Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr among its faculty. Its new digital learning and research centre at MediaCityUK runs courses in animation, journalism and documentary film-making.


A short bus or train ride from central Manchester and Liverpool, Bolton is one of the most popular universities in the northeast, with around three-quarters of its students drawn from the region. It gained its university status in 2005, and has since invested millions of pounds in new facilities, including a moot law court and a centre dedicated to health research.

iBurbia iBurbia Studios is a state-of-theart multimedia venue, where tech companies can show off their latest games, apps and web designs on a multitude of platforms.


Space Digital Doctor Who and Young Dracula are just two of the TV shows that this visual-effects lab has produced motion graphics for.

Humanoid Productions These animation and video specialists produce promotional and training videos, 3D and 2D animation and high-definition TV programmes.







Mozilla Maker Party When: 15 June-15 September Where: Everywhere Web: From now to 15 September, people around the world will meet up at great events, make cool stuff and share it all online. Host your own kitchen-table maker party with webmaker tools or attend one in your area.

Join March of the Robots to star in Robot TV! When: 4 August Where: Bramley Baths, Leeds Web: robot-tv-bramley Ever fancied yourself as a TV presenter, producer or animator? Now’s your chance. Join March of the Robots to star in Robot TV!

Preston Raspberry Jam When: 1 September Where: University of Central Lancashire, Preston Web: Share Raspberry Pi skills, show off your inventions and find like-minded souls to collaborate with on projects.

JULY Digital Kids When: 20 July-31 August Where: Victoria and Albert Museum, London Web: Have fun creating your own digital art with help from experts. Young Rewired State – Festival of Code When: 28 July-3 August Where: University of Plymouth Web: festival-of-code The Festival of Code is our annual celebration of everything code. Expect talks from awesome people, music, pizza, ice-cream vans, gaming, table tennis – and coding!

Camp Bestival – Make Things Do Stuff tent When: 31 July-3 August Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset Make Things Do Stuff will be at Camp Bestival in July in the Science Tent running activities including 3D-printed skeletons, coding robots and sewing your own LED clothing.

Brighton Mini Maker Faire When: 6 September Where: Brighton Corn Exchange Web: From DIY microscopes to CAD workshops and introductions to wool-felting to underwater robot demos, this will be a showcase for makers’ projects from across the UK.

Manchester Mini Maker Faire When: 26-27 July Where: Museum of Science & Industry Web: Manchester Mini Maker Faire will be a gathering of enthusiastic makers, showing the wealth of ingenuity that there is in Greater Manchester and beyond. MAKE THINGS DO STUFF Running a digital making event? Want to learn about digital skills near you? Then you need to become part of the wonderful Make Things Do Stuff! Techmix magazine is a proud supporter – get involved now! MAKETHINGSDOSTUFF.CO.UK


Tech skills for careers in digital, creative and media!




28th July - 1st Aug 4th Aug - 8th Aug 11th Aug - 15th Aug 18th Aug - 22nd Aug 25th Aug - 29th Aug



This summer, Techmix magazine hosts Tech Career Camp - a five day camp in the heart of the UK's digital capital! If you are interested in learning new digital and business skills - discovering how digital products are made, from local tech experts - and making connections with leading entrepreneurs, employers and tech apprenticeship providers, then get in touch!


Entrepreneurial Skills

Learn how to develop your own digital ideas for the next Facebook, Snapchat or Spotify!

Digital Design Skills

Develop your idea, and lean how to create a standout digital identity.

Coding Skills

Bring your idea to life through a hands-on programming course.


Presentation Skills

Communicate your digital ideas to experts, entrepreneurs and employers!


Tech Career Camp is based in Hackney Community College, in Tech City (Old Street). A safe, secure college with fantastic technology resources.

Digital Marketing Skills Then learn how market your idea to the world.


A five day Tech Career Camp course - teaching all five courses (including lunch and tuition from leading digital experts) costs £299. (Normal costs are £450 - now discounted for Techmix readers!)

For more information, please visit: Book Now! Call: 0207 613 9194

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.