Innovation North Showcase - Festival of Student Achievement 2008

Wednesday 5 May 2008


I had the honour of standing in for Margaret Moore, Chairperson of the WY Branch of the BCS on Wednesday 7 May at the above event.

I arrived a little after 5pm, the lobby was very busy as people were signing in and getting their identity passes.
I obtained mine and walked through in to the main hall.

What a sight to behold - arch lights, computers, lots of people, big screen showcasing some of the students work, noise, people dressed up, people dressed down (promotionally inspired) and the heat...

The speakers

Kath Orange, Head of Innovation gave the opening address, welcoming the 160 guests and praising the students on their hard work and some excellent results. Kath also gave credit to the tutors for their dedication and hard work and that was clearly reflected in the exhibition entrants’ work.

It took me half an hour to get down one aisle of the exhibits, I found some of them extremely interesting, coming from an educational background; the “1st Class Education Online” exhibit caught my eye. It was an Internet Teaching Aid - now to be fair I have seen quite a few of these, some good, some not so good and although there were similarities between this and other teaching aids, it certainly had that extra something that could be developed and taken further. I felt their brief “To create a prototyped web-based learning environment to educate users of all ages and abilities in a variety of subjects”, to be too broad a base.

All the exhibits had a commercial based background and many had direct sponsorships. The “2ft Puppet Productions” had managed to negotiate and persuade the producers of M&M (the sweet) to re-brand their product and produce some unique M&M’s for the event.

At this point I was so hot.. that I decided to walk through to one of the other rooms (hoping it would be cooler). As I was walking around I heard someone say “ if you see anyone who looks BCS ish...” my immediate response was “Do I look BCS ish?” to which the speaker said “Don’t tell me - you’re Su!”. This was my first introduction to Paul Doney, Professional Group Leader, Connectivity and Interactive Systems, my host. Paul then proceeded to escort me round and introduced me to several students, who in turn told me about their product.

The exhibitors

There was one team who had designed an Emergency Network Response to enable communication in areas of disaster and deprivation. What a small world, one of the students works for the NHS in Leeds at St. James University Hospital in the new Oncology wing. (I also work for the NHS in Leeds). He was doing the part-time course and was in his 5th year, what dedication. I did highlight however, how pro-active the Leeds Metropolitan University are in structuring their courses to meet the work and home commitments of some of their students.

As Paul took me back into the Ghandi Hall (the main exhibition room) and we had looked at a few more exhibits a voice said “hello Su”. What a small world. Here I was face to face with the WYBCS student representative, Andy Mitchell, who had recently resigned from the post to concentrate on his academic studies. His team’s exhibit was “ & Active4life”, the project aim: A website for local people to buy local products and a website to improve patients’ lives. Both of which were extremely interesting and which you could see a commercial future in.


It was clear from what I had seen and heard that everyone had spent a lot of time and commitment to their individual / team projects and the Festival of Student Achievement was an exemplary way of celebrating not only the students’ achievements but the University’s achievement as well.