Sidero launches Ignite Programme to encourage young people into STEM careers

Sidero, a GlobalLogic company and software, cloud and digital transformation specialist, is today announcing the launch of its Ignite Programme which aims to encourage young people to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

Recent research published by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) found that 30% of students entering full-time higher education for the first time are studying STEM subjects. The National Skills Strategy, meanwhile, points to the need for increased STEM education to ensure the development of skills that are relevant to modern society.

To contribute to this need, Sidero is initially rolling out the Ignite Programme at Coláiste Chiaráin secondary school in Athlone, Co. Roscommon, and plans to enrol up to 40 of the school’s first year students in the programme this year.

The immersive initiative will introduce pupils at the coeducational school to the world of software engineering. Over the course of 12 weeks, students will learn how to build a calculator and create an online computer game using software that they design and develop themselves.

Some 18 Sidero software engineers will work closely with the students on these hands-on projects and teach them how to code, encourage critical thinking and problem solving, and promote teamwork. The programme will culminate in a showcase of the students’ work and their learnings throughout the course.

Sidero is launching the initiative following a positive response to a survey of 49 first year pupils at the school, focusing on STEM. Some 41% of those surveyed reported to be interested in pursuing a career in STEM, while 62% had an interest in STEM subjects because they can learn how things work.

Kelley Keogh, Service Delivery Manager, Sidero, said: “There can often be a gap in computer science education until students reach the Leaving Certificate cycle, and we aim to bridge this gap with the Ignite Programme. We believe that it is vital to encourage and nurture an interest in STEM from a young age.

“We also hope that the programme will help to inspire an interest in technology careers among young girls and our survey highlighted some interesting perceptions in this area. When asked why they think engineering may not be a popular career choice for women, 42% of pupils said it is a male-dominated field, and the same proportion said it is due to a lack of role models. However, an overwhelming majority (96%) said they believe there are opportunities for women in software and engineering. The world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, was a woman, and it is heartening that the next generation recognises the potential of a career in STEM.”

Keith Rowe, Computer Science teacher at Coláiste Chiaráin, said: “We are delighted to be part of this initiative created by Sidero. It gives us a great opportunity to show students what it means to be a software engineer and work as part of a team. We are also very pleased that the programme is thinking about how we can encourage more girls to think about engineering as a career. The students are really enjoying seeing coding in action.”

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