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Build your own robot at a free ‘Digimakers’ workshop

Press release issued: 13 November 2013

With the UK facing a national skills shortage in electrical and electronic engineering and computer science, members of the public have the opportunity to learn more about these areas and have fun at the same time at a free event this Saturday [November 16].

Students from the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Engineering have collaborated with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and At-Bristol to organise the event called, Digimakers.  Over 850 people from around the region have attended previous workshops, which took place at the science learning centre, At-Bristol in April, June and September.

The theme for this event is Robotics, and people attending will have the chance to take part in hands-on workshops and see some of the cutting-edge technology used at the Bristol Robotics Lab (BRL), which is a collaborative research partnership of the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.

The workshops will use a range of technologies including Raspberry Pi’s Arduino and Lego Mindstorm, alongside programming workshops. The event is free and aimed at anyone from beginner to intermediate level.

Mike Bartley, Chair of BCS and LEP High Tech Sector Group, said: “For far too long computing has been equated with IT which turns a lot of children away.  Our next event at At-Bristol will encourage under-18s to get creative with computers by building robots. Hopefully they will have fun and get to see a whole new side of the subject.

“As Chair of the West of England LEP’s High Tech Sector Group and the BCS I have another objective here.  The area has a huge number of local companies crying out for these skills and they pay good salaries. We need to create a pipeline of talent for both our current employers and for those looking to locate here. Our own local Silicon Valley or Silicon Gorge if you will!”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, added: “The government’s proposed changes to the computer science curriculum shows the national importance of the skills shortage but there is still much work to be done to inspire young people and engage teachers.

“Informal events, like DigiMakers, play an important role in educating children in subjects such as electronics, computer science, digital media and engineering. With over 230 parents, children and teachers attending each event, it is clear there is a huge demand for this type of activity.”

The event aims to provide fun hands-on workshops as well as allowing experts to share ideas with others.

Activities will include:

  • A drop-in centre for those who have just got their Pi out the box but don’t know what to do next;
  • Controlling a Robotic Rover with Scratch;
  • Catch the biscuit thief-using a Raspberry Pi as an intruder alarm;
  • Dance-Off with Lego Mindstorm;
  • Introduction to Python and Scratch.

Digimakers will be held at At-Bristol, Anchor Road, Bristol BS1 5DB on Saturday 16 November 2013 from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.

This event is free and will NOT include access to the exhibits at At-Bristol.  To sign up to one of the workshops go to Eventbrite.


Further information

About BCS - The Chartered Institute for IT

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, is to enable the information society. We promote wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information technology science and practice.

We bring together industry, academics, practitioners and government to share knowledge, promote new thinking, influence the development of computing education, shape public policy and inform the public.

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