How Computing Ambassadors can help you: John's story

26 April 2024

The world we live in relies on technology. It touches our lives in so many ways and provides many opportunities for interesting, well-paid careers. As a Computing Ambassador, I talk to lots of students and see too many put off further study or a career in tech because they see it as synonymous with programming. The reality is that there are so many more roles and opportunities, so dispelling that myth is my top priority. I want to inspire and show students that there is so much more to computing than this. 

Words by John Easton

Not knowing what a career in tech might look like is also a challenge to improving diversity. Encouraging more girls and other underrepresented minorities into STEM subjects at a higher level, and into tech specifically, relies on helping them know what careers might look like as well as seeing more role models. 

For many students, the key challenge is relating what they are being taught into the real world. Unfortunately, many teachers lack STEM or IT backgrounds and so are unequipped to do this. Computing Ambassadors with their industry experience can help explain how the concepts being taught could be applied to solving real world problems.

So, what might this look like? 

One way for Computing Ambassadors to bring the subject to life for students is through teaching classes, whether single sessions or even entire course modules. The key value brought by the Ambassador is to help them relate what they are being taught to real problems that organisations have faced and how they practically went about solving them.

Programming is just problem solving but putting this into the physical domain. Using a robot, such as those from Lego, provides a tangible way to see programs being used in real life. Seeing students create a program, run it, and then change it to make it run better next time gives an engaging experience. Making a robot navigate a simple course is quick to do but can be extended to make it more challenging if needed. 

For those students approaching the end of their time at school and looking to understand the options open to them post GCSEs, Ambassadors could participate in careers fairs or run an assembly to explain how their internet presence might help (or hinder) their future.

An Ambassador role is not just about helping students. There is much discussion in the media about keeping children safe online. Many parents and teaching staff feel themselves unequipped to even understand some of the challenges that children face, let alone how to deal with them. As a fellow parent, I can share my knowledge and describe the practical steps I have used with my own family.

Too many courses are being taught by teachers with no background in STEM or computer science. Their schools may not have the resources to allow students these experiences. This is why engaging a Computing Ambassador can provide these experiences to pupils and show them why tech is worth considering as part of their futures.

Computer Science Topic - Systems Architecture - John Easton

About the author

John Easton is an IBM Distinguished Engineer currently leading a team of technical professionals helping large enterprise clients on their journeys to successful cloud computing.