Earlier this week PA Consulting Group organised the 2015-edition of its ‘Raspberry Pi programming’ competition, a programming challenge for pupils and students. Twelve groups of finalists from different academic institutions throughout the UK presented their inventions, with four of them recognised for their excellence in creativity, coding skills and potential impact.
The ‘Raspberry Pi programming’ challenge was first launched in 2012 by PA Consulting Group in response to the falling number of students that pursue a career in programming and coding. With the annual challenge, the consulting firm aims at stimulating interest in the tech industry, through the combination of coding on serious topics with a “fun and informal approach”. Anita Chandraker, head of IT delivery at the firm, explains. “Our aim is to help support the teaching and learning of computing, science, design and technology and also inspire the UK’s next generation of tech experts.”
This year entrants from four different age categories* were given the challenge to with the help of a Raspberry Pi computer (a low-cost, credit-card-size computer) create an intervention that could potentially help people lead healthier lives. Twelve teams made the final and travelled on Tuesday 24 March 2015 to London’s Science Museum for the final of PA’s third Raspberry Pi coding competition. Following the presentations the jury** selected the winners and runners-up category. An overview:
Primary school: academic years 4 – 6: William Law CE Primary School
The winning entry in the primary school category was a robotic dog that encourages children to exercise. The dog provides motivation for the child and is programmed with the following phrases: ‘keep up the pace’; ‘keep moving’ and ‘do twenty star jumps’.
Secondary school: academic years 7 – 11: The Liverpool Blue Coat School
This school created an automatic prescription dispenser that works using QR codes given to patients by their doctors. The patient simply scans the QR code on the machine which then dispenses the required prescription. The system aims to make the whole process of picking up a prescription hassle free, eliminating the need to visit a pharmacy.
Secondary school: academic years 12 – 13: Truro and Penwith College
The winners created an innovative way to control your computer. Using a small camera it can track your eye movement and consequently relay this to your computer screen. It allows the user to be able to move the mouse anywhere on the screen just by looking. The thinking behind the invention was to allow those without the ability to easily manoeuvre a mouse, to be able to use a computer more effectively.
Undergraduates: University of Birmingham
Birmingham University team’s entry is a wireless, internet-connected doorbell. When your doorbell rings it can perform various actions such as calling your phone so it can be used as an intercom, text or email you with a photo of the person at the door and even tweet or live stream HD video locally on YouTube. This invention could be used in care homes or in an ill person’s home when the patient requires assistance from a nurse.
Chandraker, chair of the judging pane, says: “This year’s finalists showed very advanced skills and it was incredible to see how teams had pushed the Raspberry Pi to its limits, fulfilling the brief in such inventive ways. The inventions were inspiring and thoughtfully designed and all of the judges agreed that many of the entries had the potential to advance into commercial products and really make a difference to everyday life.
* Primary school (academic years 4-6), secondary school (academic years 7-11), sixth form & college (academic years 12-13) and young entrepreneurs (all university undergraduates).
** The judges were: Lauren Hyams, Head of Code Club Pro; Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent; Clive Beale, Director of Educational Development at Raspberry Pi Foundation; Richard Vaughan, Times Educational Supplement; Samantha Atkinson, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA); Sanjay Sharma, Professor of Cardiology at St George’s University of London; Hobson Bullman, ARM, General Manager - Development Solutions; Anita Chandraker, PA Consulting Group, head of IT delivery and chair of the judging panel.