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Students who took part in the aws comic relief project inc student bhushita jolly who was awarded a special individual prize front row second from left

Career College students showcase digital talent in employer-led project

26th March 2018

A nine-week ?live? project set by Career Colleges with Amazon Web Services and Comic Relief for 60 students from four digital Career Colleges, has come to an exciting climax.

The students had been challenged to develop a solution within the digital space to engage even more 16-24 year olds with Comic Relief and secure their future support.

At the project’s final, the 16-19 year olds from Barking & Dagenham College, BMet, Harrow and Westminster Kingsway Colleges, had to present their solutions to each other and a panel of judges, including representatives from AWS, Comic Relief, the LTA and the Career Colleges Trust.

In a very tight contest, a team from Barking & Dagenham College triumphed as overall winners, as well as picking up awards for Best Presentation and Best Run project.

Initial proposals to this challenge were submitted at the end of last year and three winning ideas were selected – Think Feel Do, Red Hand Print and a Malaria application. Students were then split into groups of five and given one of these three ideas to develop and create a digital application for.

Alongside coming up with an innovative solution, students had to cost and plan the project out. They had attended an initial brief at AWS’ offices in January and had to hold regular meetings, mirroring a real-life industry project.

Digital Lead for the Career Colleges Trust, Julia Von Klonowski, says:

“This project was the second one we have undertaken with AWS – part of our ongoing plan to increase young people’s awareness of the digital industry and the roles available. The standard of presentations and ideas today blew me away. The winning teams were exceptional and I have no doubt that everyone involved has an exciting digital career ahead of them. Taking part in a live project with one of the world’s biggest digital companies is a unique opportunity.

Students have not only developed their team-working and digital skills but they have also gained first-hand insight into this extremely exciting industry. The link with Comic Relief added an important aspect, highlighting how technology can benefit so many people and causes. I am hugely grateful to AWS and Comic Relief for all their support to help these talented young people and congratulate everyone involved, especially the winning teams.”

This is the second year that the Trust has worked with AWS to set a live project brief for digital Career College students and plans are underway to develop a further project for later this year.

Chris Hayman, Head of UK & IR, AWS Public Sector says:

“We were delighted to be part of this project and to help inspire the next generation of digital technology experts. My colleagues and I were highly impressed with the work produced and the professional way in which the students conducted themselves and managed the project. Through our work with the Career Colleges Trust, we have the opportunity to introduce more young people to the latest and most innovative cloud technologies. These technologies are critical for today’s workforce, and we were impressed as to how the students put these new skills into action. I wish the students all the best in their future digital careers and we hope to see many of them again.”

Judge Val Pomfrey, Head of Youth Engagement and Fundraising for Comic Relief, added:

“Comic Relief is so proud to have supported this event. What we witnessed was truly special, the students gave such care and attention to the task. If you’d asked me to come to Amazon in my formative years and present to such an audience, I’d like to think I’d have had the courage, but I’m really not sure.”

The winning team from Barking & Dagenham College were each presented with £50 of vouchers from AWS. Other winners were awarded certificates and Comic Relief goody bags.

Each student had to reflect on their own performance during the project and the areas they have developed in, found challenging and enjoyed. Many students explained that their confidence has grown throughout the project and time management was frequently flagged as a challenge.

Student Bhushita Jolly (18) from Ilford was awarded a special individual prize for resilience, motivation and communication skills. She is studying for a Level 3 qualification in IT at Barking & Dagenham College and said:

“I’ve learnt so much about myself during this project and really grown in confidence. Some of my group pulled out but I didn’t give up and was really pleased with the final result. Having support from the Career Colleges Trust representative, Julia, was brilliant and she really inspired me to stick with it. This project has given me an interest in digital marketing and I hope to pursue this for a career.”

The Trust will now be running a follow up session with all the colleges, helping to reinforce the skills that have been learnt and to plan next year’s project.

The other winners from Barking & Dagenham College were:

Jason Santos, Edward Flack and Wahab Khan who were crowned overall winners for their idea for a malaria app. Aivaras Suskinskas, Abdur Rahman Patel, George Reece and Luke Young who won prizes for both the Best Run Project and Best Presentation for their idea of a virtual reality headset to enable young people to be ‘in the moment’ and get a realistic experience of mental health issues.

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