As the sixth annual Kainos CodeCamp drew to a close, organisers and contributors were left in no doubt that the future for young Northern Ireland coders looks very bright indeed.
Northern Ireland’s biggest coding workshop for teens was held from 16th-27th of July and was run by Kainos, in association with Queen’s University Belfast for 200 teenagers. Attendees new to the camp took the Foundation Course, during which they learnt the principles of coding and how to create their own apps. Those who had previously completed the Foundation Course were eligible for the Advanced Course, where they developed their own website with the help and guidance of skilled mentors.
On the last day of camp, students were selected to pitch their newly developed apps and websites to a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style judging panel of IT experts, who were collectively blown away by the intelligence, technical aptitude and sheer creativity of the 14-18 year olds involved.
Conor Doherty from Our Lady and Saint Patrick’s College Knock, who took the Advanced Course, won first place for his ‘Surf Scope’ website. Designed for people who want to get into surfing, his website advised on the correct surf board for specific skills, included tutorials, maps to surf locations, tidal information and a chat room for like-minded surfers. The judges agreed that the website identified a gap in the market, had real world usability and the potential for revenue.
St. Dominic’s student, Eimear Creasy took second place for her ‘Talk App’, for people with speech difficulties who can practice conversation through her website. Third place went to Jamie Wright from Antrim Grammar, who designed a website to inform school kids and GCSE students what Computer Science is all about. His website included tutorials on the basics of coding, topics covered while studying Computer Science in school and the varied jobs and opportunities available in the sector.
In the Foundation Course, Caolan McKendry from Dalriada School in Ballymoney, won first place for his ‘Pick it Right’ app that allows shoppers to scan the barcode of any food, to identify allergy risks. The judges concluded that Caolan’s app was user friendly, could be operated quickly and conveniently by anyone shopping for food and was massively helpful in the everyday lives of people with food allergies.
Jack Thompson from Killicomaine Junior High School, Portadown, was awarded second place for ‘Walk World’, an interactive app designed to encourage more walking whilst gaming. Another St. Dominic’s student, Emma Bonnar, took third place for creating an app called ‘Lost Brother’, aimed at inspiring young girls to learn coding via a game where players solve coding problems in order find their lost brother in the forest.
All six students took home some phenomenal tech prizes including a Raspberry Pi, Nintendo Switch and iPad pro, sponsored by Danske Bank, to reward their progress and coding capabilities.
Commenting on the success of the CodeCamp this year, Conor McCourt, CodeCamp co-ordinator at Kainos said: “I was completely amazed at the phenomenal quality of the apps and websites produced by our CodeCampers.
“It’s easy to forget how young the campers are because of the talent, passion and technical aptitude they brought to their designs.”
Kainos CEO, Brendan Mooney said: “The principal function of Kainos CodeCamp is to encourage more students to pursue STEM subjects and careers.”
“It was inspirational to see so much creativity on display and what these talented young people have been able to do in just two weeks of coding is absolutely amazing.
“We hope to see some of the CodeCampers back next year to take the Advanced Course or on one of the other courses we offer through the Kainos Academy. Our annual A.I.Camp, for undergraduates and our Earn As You Learn apprenticeship scheme are further initiatives delivered in an effort to find talented young people and help them fulfil their potential, through world-class training and mentoring.”
Kainos CodeCamp is set to return in summer 2019 and students can register their interest for a place at codecamp.kainos.com.