Apps for Good Awards 2017: Meet the Fellows of the Year

The Fellowship Prize, powered by GoDaddy, celebrates three outstanding Apps for Good students who’ve gone above and beyond the course to continue engaging with tech and entrepreneurship. We’re pleased to present the 2017 finalists for the Fellowship prize. All nominees will be receiving mentoring sessions from GoDaddy in areas of interest, including marketing, user research and entrepreneurship. 

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Internet of Things for Good – New course for the new school year

This year, we piloted an Internet of Things (IoT) course powered by Samsung, which is now open to all Apps for Good schools. Here Learning Content Manager, Donna Hay, talks about the new course and some key information teachers need to know.

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of everyday objects to the internet (and to one another) with the goal of smarter, more efficient experiences. These ‘smart’ devices can be anything from fridges and washing machines to wearables, medical equipment and jet engines. The Apps for Good IoT course explores the benefits and potential issues surrounding IoT and gives an introduction to the technology underpinning these devices. Students work in teams to design and prototype an IoT project which solves a real-life problem, with an emphasis on building technical physical computing skills and the design of the devices to develop a great user experience.

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The Fellowship: how can I get professional experience in tech?

Almost half of the students completing the Apps for Good course say afterwards that they are interested in a technology focused career. Apps for Good students and teachers alike tell us that real-world experience is essential, and many employers feel the same. This blog is part of our latest project with Monster to provide high-quality content and support for Apps for Good Students and Fellows keen to find out more about careers in tech.

In 2012, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills cited “lack of experience” as the number one reason employers gave for turning young applicants away. At the same time, students and teaches tell tell us that formal work experience placements are increasingly difficult to find.

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There’s no reason to fear! Here are some helpful ways to get out there, get experience and get a taste of what the tech industry is really like.

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Taking Apps for Good to the next level (aka Global Domination for Good)

Many of you will have shared in our celebrations last year of 5 years of Apps for Good. When we first launched, we were sometimes asked what our ultimate goal was. Iris would say immediately, “Global domination.” I would laugh nervously and add, “For good, of course.”  Back then, with only 50 students at one London school, it seemed a wildly ambitious dream, but one we both believed in, knowing that the first step was to get things working in the UK.

Now five years later, we are not only established in the UK, but also growing in Portugal, Spain, Poland and most recently, the US.  I’ve been to New York, Minnesota, Maine and Arkansas and we now have 40 schools across the US, reaching around 1000 students this year.

As I bounce back and forth across the Atlantic, and Iris around Europe, we’ve realised we need someone to focus on leading our efforts in the UK, as our ambition remains equally great here. So, we’re recruiting a new UK Managing Director who can build on our strong foundation, leading the UK forward on its next phase of growth and innovating on our successful programme.  The new MD, working with the enthusiastic UK Apps for Good team, will have the chance to help us implement our new Internet of Things course, expand on our Fellowship Programme for former Apps for Good students and reach even more young people across the whole of the UK. They will be supported by Iris and I and our experienced Global Team. I will continue to oversee Apps for Good’s efforts both in the US and UK, while Iris guides our work in Portugal, Spain, Poland and our emerging partnerships around the world.
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Celebrating diversity in tech

In our latest blog Arfah Farooq shares her experiences of working to improve diversity within the tech sect. Arfah leads on the various marketing campaigns to get people excited about Makers Academy, a 12 week coding course! She is passionate about changing lives and empowering more minorities and women into technology. She has set up MuslamicMakers a meetup for Muslims working in tech and is a Youth Trustee of charity Spark+Mettle.  You can follow her on Twitter to keep up to date with her work.

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Apps for Good nominated for a GamesAid grant – Voting now open!

We are very pleased to announce that Apps for Good has been nominated for a GamesAid grant!

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Between the 15th of August and 5th of September this year, games industry professionals and affiliates will be voting to decide if Apps for Good will receive a GamesAid grant. GamesAid is a UK charitable organisation that seeks to harness the talents, creativity and enthusiasm of games industry professionals to raise money for a number of smaller charities that are working to help children and young people.

Each year GamesAid members come together to select grant recipients from a group of shortlisted charities. Apps for Good has been selected alongside 18 other worthy causes to be in with a chance to receive a GamesAid grant to support our work. Apps for Good has a strong track record of working with the games industry, and the impact that we make through schools is helping to create a pool of talent which can support the work of a thriving global games industry. By opening the eyes of students to the wealth of opportunity in the technology and entrepreneurship fields, it is lighting the path for young people  to move into industries such as gaming while simultaneously helping them to develop the skills, knowledge and opportunity required to succeed in an increasingly tech driven world.

A popular creative direction taken by students studying our course is to create games with a social purpose, for example helping others learn through gaming. Apps for Good Award winners CryptoConnex (2014)  and My World of Atoms (2015) are both excellent examples of fantastic student apps in this area. CryptoConnex was created by a team from Hymers College, Hull to help people learn cryptography and code-breaking. My World of Atoms, the brainchild of brother-sister team Ben and Rebecca Jilks from The Boswells School, Chelmsford, helps students learn about the periodic table through a fun adventure game based on finding and combining elements to complete a collection. With inspiration from Minecraft and Pokemon, Ben and Rebecca won Gold in the Mobile App category at the 2016 Essex Digital awards for their efforts.

Ben and Rebecca Gilks, creators of My World of Atoms

Ben and Rebecca, creators of My World of Atoms

Students from our growing Fellowship Community are already using the skills and experience to pursue careers in gaming. 16 year-old Jashvanth from London is one of our most active Fellows and has taken advantage of what the Fellowship has to offer in order to learn from industry professionals.. Last summer  the skills Jashvanth gained as an Apps for Good student and Fellows helped him secure work experience with a games development company and learn more about the industry.

Jashvanth (left) answers questions on a panel with other Fellows at the 2016 Apps for Good Awards.

Jashvanth (left) answers questions on a panel with other Fellows at the Apps for Good Awards 2016

Ensuring that all of our former students have the opportunities available to them to follow their interests, expand their skills and inspire others is the central goal we are trying to achieve via the Fellowship Community. If we’re lucky enough to receive a GamesAid grant we will use it to focus resources on strengthening the impact that we have on our Fellows. It would allow us to leverage the great connection we have with tech firms and industry professionals, to build a varied and interesting pipeline of activities for students, continue building their skills,  find mentors and gain valuable experience.

If you or someone you know is a games industry professional or affiliate who would like to support us over the coming weeks, go ahead and sign up to GamesAid! A polling card will be sent afterwards via email where you can find more information. Voting closes on September 5th 2016, so stay tuned for more updates over the next few weeks.