Skills & Education

Specsavers Student event, Growing Talent in the Greenhouse

On 27th June Specsavers, working with the Digital Greenhouse, invited a group of students to experiment with MedTech

On 27th June Specsavers, working with the Digital Greenhouse, invited a group of students from Guernsey College of FE and Elizabeth College down to the Digital Greenhouse to spend the day developing skills and exploring opportunities in IT with a focus on MedTech. 

Project challenge - the Micro:Bit

The day started with each of the groups were given two Micro:Bit computers and accessories for designing a MedTech device, and after an introduction from Microsoft presenters, the students had to plan how they were going to programme an experimental device to aid visually and hearing-impaired individuals.

The students first task was to decide who in the group was going to take on each of the 6 roles. After picking a Project manager they had to brainstorm and construct a project brief with a template of the product they had come up with. The aim of this project challenge was to help students practice considering project steps, working with others in a more work-like manner, and identifying resource skills within a well-timed schedule.

The Roles for this project were, the Project Manager,  whose job it was to run the project and assign roles to teammates. The Architect would design the solution to the brief and the Business Analyst would gather all the relevant information and requirements for the project. Lastly, the project would move on to the Engineer to build and develop the device using the Micro:Bit and the Tester to try the finished product out.

In the last part of the challenge, the students presented the initial solution, then went back to their original project brief and added their considerations on marketing, production costs and resources. Then came the final presentation, and the winning team embraced the theme of the challenge by using the technology available to them. Taking advantage of the digital compass to provide audible alerts for the user to let them know which direction they were facing. Will Jones, Will Jones, Global Cloud Technologies and Infrastructure Services at Specsavers, commented that this showed real ingenuity of matching digital tools to physical world problems and great imagination.

While the students were working, we went around to ask a few questions;

When students were asked, How do you see technology impacting people in the future? Their replies covered each end of the spectrum, “Majorly impacting our lives.” one student remarked, “Making us redundant as we won’t need to work.”While another student replied with more optimism “It will allow people to work at a different level. People will have challenging jobs as the more simple ones can be controlled by automation and AI.” 

When asked What have you found most interesting so far?  Several highlighted points were the technology that Specsavers uses to spot problems with the eyes and ears and the micro bit coding the students were experimenting with. One student remarked, “How long it took to get into it. There was a lot of planning before starting the project and learning how important project management is.” Lastly, we asked the students What is your project idea? One group told us, “We’re building a device to test hearing. The device will be sound casting headphones which will play sounds out of each side and test for deafness in each ear.” The next group we asked said, “We are going to make a compass and SOS system which helps people who are visually impaired to navigate safely and alert other issues or accidents.” And the Last group we asked said, “We’re creating a motion sensor to alert the user of objects nearby.”

Towards the end of the event, we had a few words with some of the organisers of the event, Including Will Jones, Lisa le Ray and Emily Girard.  

How do events like these benefit young people? Will commented, “These events benefit young people by showing them what the real world looks like after school. Hopefully, it also makes the idea of business seem less scary and shows them the opportunities that are out there.”

How is the event going so far? “It’s going fantastically!” Will exclaimed, “Everyone is getting on board and inspired by the challenge and their projects.” Emily added, “I think it’s really positive and the turn-out has been great. Lots of these students have finished school now and the fact that they’ve come in during their own time really shows their passion and enthusiasm. They all seem to be working really well together and quickly building their team working skills.”

What is your goal for the end of the event? “For the students to go away and understand what they can do in the future. That there are a lot of different opportunities out there for them.” Emily  said, Lisa then came forward, “So they can talk and discuss with professionals about the path they took to get where they are, which is really good exposure for them.” Will finished off our interview with “Our goal is to show the younger kids what actually is available for them in the world of technology. Also to make them think of Specsavers as an option for them.”

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