Portstewart boys head to San Francisco with Digital DNA
Two pupils from Dominican College in Portstewart experienced a very special school trip this week when they visited some of the world's major technology landmarks in San Francisco.
Year 11 pupils Liam Broadway and Sam Stuart, along with teacher Mr McDaid from the North Coast school, made the visit to Silicon Valley with Digital DNA, courtesy of Aer Lingus, during St Patrick's week after winning the technology company's Digital Futures competition last year.
During the trip the boys visited some of the world's leading technology brands including Uber, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. They also went to Stanford University to learn from some of the globe's great tech thinkers.
Digital DNA's Digital Futures Programme, aimed at inspiring the next generation of STEM business leaders in Northern Ireland, launched in June 2013 in partnership with Sentinus.
The programme included a six-week roadshow across schools in Northern Ireland, engaging 3,000 young people with a challenge to consider a challenge or opportunity facing the consumers or businesses and create a digital solution.
The boys from Dominican College won the top prize after creating 'Employapple', an app that allows employers and employees to share information in the workplace. The boys wowed the judges with their creativity, technical knowledge and hard work, presenting a working version of the app on mobile and PC platforms.
Speaking about the trip, Liam Broadway said: “The Digital Futures event was a lot of fun and Sam and I really enjoyed working on the idea for our app. It was a brilliant experience to get it up and running and when we found out we'd won and we were off to San Francisco, it was like a dream come true!”
Sam Stuart added: “I still can't believe that we won the competition and the trip to San Francisco. I've been into technology for ages and to visit places like Google, Uber and Microsoft is just mind-blowing.”
The trip to San Francisco was organised by Digital DNA, Northern Ireland's leading business technology company. Its Managing Director, Gareth Quinn, joined the boys on the trip to the US and said:
“Our Digital Futures programme has the simple aim of inspiring the young people of Northern Ireland to consider a career in technology and importantly to help create that entrepreneurial spark. The programme reaches thousands of young people every year and we're really trying to hammer home the message that instead of just having a what can be a fantastic career working for the global tech companies, our young people can create them as well.
“On behalf of the team at Digital DNA, I'd like to congratulate the boys from Dominican College again on their brilliant success and also say a huge thank you to our many Digital Futures partners, especially MCS Group, Innov8, Sentinus, IEDR and Allstate.”
The trip would not have been possible without the fantastic support of Aer Lingus who made it possible for Sam and Liam to travel to San Francisco. Andrea Hunter, Business Development Manager for Aer Lingus in NI comments: “Through participation in Digital Futures, young people are inspired to become involved in computer programming, software development and digital design at a range of levels, and ultimately become interested in entrepreneurship and careers in the area.
“This is something Aer Lingus is incredibly passionate about and we're excited to partner with the Digital Futures programme as we seek to encourage tomorrow's business leaders to embrace a career in technology.”
The Digital Futures Programme is part of this year's Digital DNA – a series of events taking place throughout 2016, designed to enable businesses to understand the critical role that technology will play in local and international growth. The programme includes Digital DNA's spectacular main conference which will take place in various venues across the city including St George's Market on 7th – 8th June and the 2016 Digital Futures programme will kick off in the Autumn.