Back in February, we worked with University Campus Suffolk to open its Fujitsu Innovation Hub after it joined our Ambassador Programme as a founding Higher Education member. This week I caught up with Matt Applegate from the Creative Computing Club to chat about how the hub is helping them support the wider community, as well as his plans and hopes for the future of the club.
JM: What is the Creative Computing Club?
MA: Creative Computing Club provides technology based learning opportunities for all ages and abilities to participants in Suffolk. We deliver courses on computer programming, video game design, hardware programming, web development, electronics, robotics and more. Founded in 2012 the Creative Computing Club has helped hundreds of people take their first steps in to the world of technology.
JM: What are the three most exciting projects the club have worked on?
MA: The current one, the ‘near space’ balloon that is taking pictures and collecting data, the robotics course, and the next one is which focusing on Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality.
JM: Who attends, and who is it open for?
MA: Anyone aged between 8 and 18. But parents are also welcome – they often stay in some sessions, and some even sit at the side and learn to code.
JM: What do the participants gain from it?
MA: The main thing is confidence. We have great bunch of kids who attend who have fun learning and socialising in a non-competitive environment. They learn to make things, make friends, and have fun. It gives them a confidence that spreads to other areas of their lives. We get them out of their bedrooms and in front of each other working on cool cutting edge stuff.
JM: What are your plans and hopes for the future of the club?
MA: To continue to help those school age kids who have an interest in technology, and giving them access to engaging and worthwhile sessions. This year we saw our second student enter university and that is a wonderful feeling to know that in some small way we helped him get there. I wanted to create a club that I would have attended at their age if it existed. A kind of techy sanctuary where you could talk to anyone about the cool stuff you are interested in and maybe collaborate with others on building stuff you might not be able to do on your own. We have a great community and I just want that to remain in place to help as many as we can possible help.
JM: What can the club do now that they couldn’t before they started using the hub?
MA: Having access to the hub is priceless, it’s a wonderfully designed state-of-the-art area that is immediately appealing to anyone interested in tech. Before the programme started, we were already working with 30 kids on a Wednesday but having access on Tuesday allowed us to double to 60. This means we are covering a good amount participants in Suffolk. We also use it on a Saturday mornings for our social sessions, allowing the kids to come together, play games and have a bit of help with their homework. We just wouldn’t be able to offer this if we didn’t have the hub.
JM: What devices are proving most popular in the club and why?
MA: It is all about the laptop at our club. They are all makers. The kids want to make the full range of things available to them, so most of them need the versatility of a laptop; they are coding games, programming arduinos, making websites. It also helps them with their homework. The laptop is king.
For more information on the Creative Computing Club check out their Facebook page, and you can find out more about the Fujitsu Ambassador programme.
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