Variety is the Spice of Tech Life

Published Monday 18 June 2018 in Sheffield

Twelve 14-year-old Digital Technology Ambassadors got the inside track on life in the digital tech sector on a visit in June to one of Sheffield’s hotspots for tech businesses, Sheffield Technology Parks. The Ambassadors from All Saints Catholic High School in Sheffield are all studying for Computer Science GCSEs and participate in a local industry-led programme to gain experience of the world of work.

Top digital agency 3Squared, who provide software solutions for rail and construction industries, came in to run a session with the Ambassadors on career paths and skills. The highly interactive session focussed on the wide range of people and job roles in tech companies such as theirs, starting with six large photos of 3Squared employees.

The Ambassadors were presented with a range of job roles on post-it notes and had to decide which job would suit each of the six 3Squared staff, judging by their photos.  They were then asked to add post-its identifying what duties the job might involve, what skills they would need in the role and what subjects they might have studied at school.

3Squared staff then gave feedback on what job the person in the photo actually did, illustrating how varied the career paths into tech can be.

The Ambassadors then performed a similar exercise on the actual 3Squared staff who were present, plastering them with post-it notes from head to toe!

Afterwards, the 3Squared team talked through their own stories on how they ended up in their current jobs.

This activity was followed by a game of Pointless, where Ambassadors privately listed all the technology in their homes.  Each named the item of technology that they thought others might not have listed, earning a small prize if they were correct.  This illustrated how tech is everywhere and in every job, not just those specifically focussed on technology.

The final activity with 3Squared was an exercise in communication and collaboration.  The Ambassadors were split into teams of four to build models with Lego kits.  These teams were split into two designers and two builders.  The designers were given the finished model and wrote descriptions showing how to build it.

The builders took these instructions to see how close they could come  to rebuilding the original.  The exercise was repeated with another model but this time designers were allowed to talk to the builders but not allowed to touch the Lego pieces.  Unsurprisingly, the builders recreated the models much more accurately, demonstrating the importance of ongoing communication and collaboration when designing software to meet a client’s needs.

Next up, Tom Wolfenden, manager of Sheffield Technology Parks, talked about the centre and took the Ambassadors on a tour of the building, visiting five companies.  Inviqa, Castus, 3D Folkes, Podcast Websites and TobiiDynavox showed us their offices and gave fascinating insights into the wide range of work they do, from 3D printing of prosthetic hands to eye-tracking to help people who can’t use their hands.

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