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National Software Academy ‘flourishing’

3 November 2016

National Software Academy

Students and companies work side-by-side as unique software engineering programme takes off.

An innovative degree programme set up in Wales to educate and train the next generation of software engineers is well on course to plug the shortage gap of skilled employees demanded by industry across the country.

Cardiff University’s ‘National Software Academy’, which is celebrating its first anniversary this month, has succeeded in attracting leading companies to work with students on a wide range of real life projects.

The success of the Academy was witnessed first-hand today by Julie James AM, Minister for Skills and Science, who was taken on a tour of the Academy and given an insight into the projects the students have been working on.

In addition to sponsoring projects over the academic year, companies have also been supporting the Academy in other ways, by providing sponsorship, hosting students for summer placements, and visiting the Academy to talk to students.

Some of the companies the Academy has attracted include Admiral, Laing O’Rourke, the Welsh Rugby Union and GCell.

Newport-based GCell, a world leader in the design and manufacture of solar cells, has been working with the Academy students on its ground-breaking iBeacon product – a device designed to broadcast Bluetooth signals that a smartphone can read and understand. This technology enables companies to communicate with audiences at a chosen location, right at the time of their visit.

The students have been working with GCell on a prototype for a visitor experience app with Newport Council.

Speaking of the benefits of this collaboration, David Pugh, Systems Engineering Manager at GCell, said: “We were keen to get a new, eager bunch of developers working with iBeacons. We were interested in how they saw beacons enhancing apps and bringing another dimension to the user experience. Having 25 new pairs of eyes working with a new technology and giving their feedback was important to us. Experiencing that energy and seeing the projects develop was a real pleasure.”

Professor Karen Holford, Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Physical Sciences and Engineering at Cardiff University, said: “It’s great to see the National Software Academy really flourishing since it was first launched a year ago.

“We’re continuing to attract the best businesses from across Wales, the UK and the rest of the world, which is giving our students a priceless experience and helping them to develop the skills that will make them fully equipped for the workplace when they graduate.

“This relationship with industry works both ways, however, and the knowledge that our students are imparting on these world-leading businesses is having a real impact. This is what sets the National Software Academy apart from the rest.”

Speaking at the event, Julie James said: “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills are vitally important to the Welsh economy and this Academy, which we are proud to have supported since its pilot stage, fully supports our vision of attracting and building capability in this area.

“I am delighted by the progress that has been made during the Academy’s first year. It is helping to ensure our graduates have the right skills and training to not only hit the ground running but strengthen this fast growing area of the economy.”