Livery Schools Link Career Showcase 2017
Livery Schools Link Cyber Space and Outer Space – we have it covered!
Through my Livery Company I am involved with a number of pro bono initiatives for charity and education. Every year a group of Livery Companies host a careers day in the City where they get a chance to demonstrate various aspects of their trade and talk to students who may be considering a similar career. The Event is organised by Livery Schools Link.
Last year I volunteered to assist with the Information Technologists’ stand build and to host one of the four themes on our stand. This year I was asked to Project Manage the event on behalf of the Information Technologists’ with responsibility for the themes of our stand as well as finding the volunteer organisations and people to create an interesting and engaging stand to encourage students to ask questions and to discuss their career options.
As with any project, the majority of the work is in the planning. I was fortunate in that the volunteer organisations I identified as being my ideal candidates all accepted the invitation to join us on the day enthusiastically and were immediately exploring options as to how to make the event a success.
Thursday 16 March
After a few months of planning with emails, risk assessments and method statements flying around and with less than a week to go I assembled the three Raspberry Pi systems and tested the display programmes, tested all of the monitors and PAT tested all of the equipment. With everything packed up I drove it all to the Hall ready for collection early Monday morning. Nothing left to do now until after the weekend.
Friday 17 March
St Patrick’s Day, but I would not rely on the luck of the Irish or anyone else’s luck and thought I would rest easier over the weekend if I just called into the Hall and tested everything one more time. I can’t help it, call it OCD, AS, I will happily accept any of those labels but what I would never forgive myself for is if any of the display equipment didn’t work when we got it to Guildhall.
Monday 20 March
7am arrival at the Hall meant there was time for a coffee, the WCIT Beadle wasn’t due there until 7.30. Having prepared and delivered all the equipment to the Hall the week before (and tested it and tested it again) we just had the short journey to Guildhall. In actual fact it felt as though the cab journey from our Hall to Guildhall was shorter than the carry distance from the drop off point to the exhibition hall? All I remember is my two volunteer friends grumbling about the age and weight of the monitors they were having to carry in (beggars can’t be choosers). It certainly didn’t help that we had a flight of stairs to haul the equipment up.
When all the equipment was in the magnificent Old Library in Guildhall my two colleagues and I worked like a well-oiled machine to get all of our tables ready for our own Raspberry Pi display and the other three tables for the other displays.
By 9.30am, 30 very diverse Livery Companies were ready to present various aspects of their trades to around 600 school students – mainly 15/16 year olds – and over 60 teachers from 30 schools. This was my second Livery Schools Links Event. We had a very busy and enjoyable day last year and as we were fortunate enough to be given the same prime location in the Old Library, I was anticipating the same for this year. We were certainly ready for the first wave of students, just as well. For a few minutes, I was considering having to rearrange things to make a little more room around our stand to accommodate more students. On several occasions, we were inundated with students wanting to talk about various aspects of careers in IT. On a couple of occasions there was not enough space for the number of students around our stand.
The first of the four complimentary aspects on our stand were Cyber Champions. They were conducting a cyber awareness survey. They are always very popular but the initial rush of students wanting to complete their survey caught me a little unawares. Fortunately, we only had to move a couple of pull up banners and move one of our tables slightly to free up sufficient room. I can’t claim credit for that, just a bit of quick thinking and action by the Cyber Champions.
A team from Birkbeck University’s Science Department with their fantastic Ultrascope. Ultrascope is a global citizen science initiative that enables DIY engineers and amateur astronomers to perform useful measurements that contribute to real science. The data they collect can be used for a number of scientific applications including planet finding and asteroid hunting. Ultrascope is controlled by Raspberry Pi and Arduino micro controller and uses a mobile phone for alignment.
City Insights were also very popular and at times we were strong competition to the Butcher’s with their free sausages (is that cheating?). Using on-the-spot recording, the City Insights team asked students to speak about their favourite places in London. City Insights used their digital platform to create – in real time – an interactive map that students could contribute to and watch as their story was added to the live MyLondon.site map. Through the course of the day, the map was populated with favourite places ranging from people’s bedrooms to ice cream shops in Covent Garden – an experience that was clearly enjoyed by the contributing students.
Lastly, we had a trio of Raspberry Pis demonstrating some simple moving graphics (ball bouncing within a frame), a traffic light system for a crossroads demonstrating programme control of external electronics and a rocket ship game programme demonstrating cause and effect.
There were many notable student moments throughout the day but two spring to mind. One student approached the Ultrascope display and announced that he already knew he wants to be an astronomer. Another approached me and asked me to explain how a single pair of wires can be used to carry a data signal as well as a charging current. That was a first for me and I never thought I would ever be explaining phantom power to anyone at an exhibition.
During some of the quieter moments some celebrity visitors called by, including: The Lady Mayoress (WCIT Junior Warden), Aldermanic Sheriff Peter Estlin and the WCIT Master, Chris Histed.
We were all kept busy all day and the time just flew by. All the volunteers on the WCIT stand had a really enjoyable and rewarding day. But at 1730 all that was left to do was to break down, pack up, move out. Unfortunately, our cab driver had other plans. To be fair, not so much plans, he got caught out by the never-ending road works around our Hall and couldn’t get in the way he wanted to so we had to take a detour via Holborn Circus and queue in the traffic for a second attempt.
Once we had everything unloaded into the Hall the three (Raspberry) Pi-oneers headed for the Hand and Shears for a well earned pint! End of story.
Birkbeck University School of Science
Livery Schools Link
MyLondon – click on the blue markers and then on the text link to bring up each individual recording.
The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists