Adastral Park
Careers & Education   >   British Science Week   >   Technology: Software & Programming
Day 2: Technology - Software & Programming
1 - Introduction
Meet Steph and Ose, our hosts for the day, who will introduce you to the world of software and programming with our team of experts from BT and The Open University:
2 - Programming with Caitlin & Jess
Photo of Ose Uadiale
Ose (host): Now we know what we're going to be exploring, let me introduce you to our first industry experts, Caitlin and Jess. They will be taking you through a brief history of programming and then looking at how Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and 5G will all be programmed to improve our future.
Over to you Caitlin and Jess...
Photo of Caitlin Howland
Photo of Caitlin Howland
Caitlin
Software Engineer Apprentice, BT
Key qualifications: BTEC IT Level 3. Currently studying towards a Software Engineering Degree through my apprenticeship.
What does your job involve? I rotate around the business working on various projects. Within these rotations, I take on a different role for each project to get experience across the software lifecycle.
How did you get into your current role? I went to British Science Week as a student to run a stand with my school. This is when I learnt about the BT apprenticeship programme and decided to apply. The rest is history!
What did you want to be when you were younger? When I was 12, I started to programme and from then on I saw myself doing something with code.
What do you do outside work? I love to game and bake.
Photo of Jessica Cox
Photo of Jessica Cox
Jess
Graduate Software Engineer, BT
Key qualifications: Digital Technology Solutions (Software Engineer) BSc.
What does your job involve? I work in security, keeping BT and our customers safe and secure. The best thing about my job is that I never stop learning; technology is constantly changing and there is always something new to keep up with!
How did you get into your current role? After enjoying Computer Science at school and having a week of work experience at BT, I worked as a degree apprentice for ARM working and studying over 3 years. I enjoyed my work experience here so much that I joined as a graduate 4 years later!
What did you want to be when you were younger? I wanted to be something creative, like a graphic designer.
What do you do outside work? I spend time with family and friends, playing badminton, going horse riding, walking my dog and I love a pub quiz!
Photo of Caitlin Howland
Caitlin: Thanks for watching our video, I hope you've enjoyed learning about Software and Programming! We have had some questions submitted relating to this topic in the lead up to British Science Week which are answered below. However, if you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you. Please email stemexpert@bt.com. We also held a live Q&A session on the day, a recording of which can be seen below...
Questions and answers
Question:
What is your favourite thing about programming?
student profile
Photo of Jessica Cox
Answer:
I love the creativity used in programming and the problem solving required to write code! You are always learning new things about programming, and I enjoy having a job where every day involves something new.
Question:
Is there a certain programming language I need to learn?
student profile
Photo of Caitlin Howland
Answer:
No, not at all. The key to understanding how to program are the fundamentals behind programming and how it all works rather than the specific syntax aspects of a certain language. If you know the key principles of programming, you will succeed.
See more software & programming questions and answers...
Got a question? email stemexpert@bt.com
3 - Have a go activities
Photo of Steph Bally
Steph (host): Now it's your turn to have a go at analysing different code snippets which make up various shapes. This will help you understand how using the basic principles of programming can help you learn any programming language. You can download the activity pack to get step-by-step instructions...
Downward arrow
Download activity pack
4 - Career profiles
Photo of Ose Uadiale
Ose (host): Programming can lead to a really exciting career and you might be surprised by the various different roles available within this space. Below we've pulled together some profiles of people from Adastral Park and across BT that work in this area. Take a look and discover how varied a career in this space could be.
Photo of Alex Allman
Photo of Alex Allman
Alex
Graduate Software Engineer, BT
Key qualifications: BSc Hons Games Technology, Comptia N+.
What does your job involve? Automating cloud platforms maintenance to help manage costs.
How did you get into your current role? Started as a graduate for the enablers in Global Security Services (GSS) but moved over to the Cyber Assessment Lab (CAL) team Security.
What did you want to be when you were younger? A game developer, but found my calling in programming in general.
What do you do outside work? I still keep involved with the game development community doing game jams and small projects around graphics rendering.
Photo of Ben Pearse
Photo of Ben Pearse
Ben
Digital Technology Solutions Degree Apprentice, BT
Key qualifications: A-Levels (Computer Science, Physics and Maths). AS Level History. Working towards a degree in Digital Technology Solutions.
What does your job involve? My current role is as a Service Designer. I interview end users to understand their needs and produce designs to meet these requirements. I get a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that the designs implemented in the end product are the best they can be.
How did you get into your current role? I started my current role in January 2021 as a rotation as part of the apprenticeship programme. Previously, I've been on rotations within Quality Assurance, Web Development and Solution Design teams. I joined the BT apprenticeship scheme straight out of Sixth Form in September 2018.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I'm one of those people who was never sure what they wanted to be, and I probably never will be! I've always had an interest in technology and how things work, and I enjoyed doing programming in my Computer Science lessons at school. Software Development was something I had a passion for and could see myself doing in the future, so I decided to pursue this route.
What do you do outside work? One of my biggest hobbies outside of work is bouldering (indoor climbing), which I first started in 2019 with some other apprentices – I've been hooked ever since! Other than that, I enjoy baking every now and then and love going for walks in the countryside. I also have a lot of pets, including three ferrets.
Photo of Joost Noppen
Photo of Joost Noppen
Joost
Chief Researcher Software, BT
Key qualifications: MSc., PhD., PGCE.
What does your job involve? My job is to think about what software development will look like at BT in the future. We use artificial intelligence which thinks alongside our developers to build better software faster. Together, with my team, we build new tools with these ideas that our development teams use day-to-day.
How did you get into your current role? After finishing my PhD I became an academic, researching and teaching software engineering at university to students who would go into companies and build fantastic new systems. A few years ago I realised I wanted to do more of that as well, so when a former student dropped by and talked about her position in BT Applied Research, I was sold. At the time, BT had just started their software research program, so I could help shape the direction and ideas, build the tools and work with development teams to make their lives better. For me there is nothing better than developing software that can help with software development itself.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I always wanted to do something technical, as one of my biggest role models, my grandfather, was one of these people who could build anything. He instilled a real sense of curiosity of how things work in me, which meant I would ask for any broken machines and gadgets so I could take them apart. And once I discovered computers and software my mind was made up. Endless opportunities to build things, what's not to like?
What do you do outside work? I like playing computer games, but also I just became a Dad so I love spending time playing with my daughter. One day we will play computer games together!
Photo of Emma Perry
Photo of Emma Perry
Emma
Technology Professional Graduate, Dynamic Networks, BT
Key qualifications: BSc Psychology with Media and Communications.
What does your job involve? I'm currently working in the Internet services team. My team builds network automation solutions to power BT's internet platforms. I'm currently learning Python, AWS, HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I'm a complete beginner so I'm learning a lot by shadowing my team and pair programming.
How did you get into your current role? I've always had an interest in technology and admired those who worked in the field. I thought a job within technology was out of reach due to my lack of experience and background in psychology. I was then lucky enough to be accepted onto the BT graduate scheme.
What did you want to be when you were younger? Both my parents work in the NHS so I always thought I would end up following in their footsteps.
What do you do outside work? I relocated for the BT graduate scheme so I'm currently getting to know my new area!
Photo of Jorge Fitch
Photo of Jorge Fitch
Jorge
Applied Research Degree Apprentice, BT
Key qualifications: A levels in Business, Economics, Geography & Statistics. Currently completing my BSc in Digital & Technology solutions.
What does your job involve? I'm currently in the Big Data Insights and Analytics Research Team, working on improving my programming skills in R, alongside looking at Natural Language Processing - applying machine learning processes to gain insights out of text data.
How did you get into your current role? I initially went to university to study geography, but realised it wasn't for me and instead wanted to pursue a degree apprenticeship: both learning and working within the exciting field of computing and technology.
What did you want to be when you were younger? A graphic designer for an online game I used to play.
What do you do outside work? I'm a keen boulderer (indoor climbing without ropes). I train 3-4 times a week and participate in interhouse competitions at my local gym. I also enjoy gaming on my PC.
5 - The Open University
Photo of Steph Bally
Steph (host): Meet Michael from The Open University who will take you through the evolution of Software and Programming over time, and explores whether we can take a peek into the future of where it's heading.
Over to you, Michael...
Photo of Michael Bowkis
Photo of Michael Bowkis
Michael
External Engagement Lead, The Open University
Key qualifications: B.Sc., M.Sc, CSci, FBCS, MIScT.
What does your job involve? My role is fantastically varied. I'm the external and public engagement lead creating partnerships with industry, government and other organisations. I teach, research and also manage over 60 tutors. The Open University is fantastic, I get to work with great people in computing and all STEM subjects including space science!
How did you get into your current role? I studied computer science at university and originally wanted to apply computing to bio-molecular design. I've had a really varied career in industry, government, academia and security. I have had the privilege of working on super projects with fantastic people around the world, including the Olympic Games in London. I am at The Open University because I believe passionately in its social mission that creates opportunities for everyone.
What did you want to be when you were younger? I wanted to do two things: explore the world, particularly if it involved adventures in jungles, and secondly, be an astronaut.
What do you do outside work? I sail a yacht off-shore and have adventures with my family, I love the challenges that sailing brings to my life. I still have that dream to be an explorer that I had as a child. I play the saxophone and flute, I think that I make rather good sourdough bread, and always spend time with my friends, watching rugby at Twickenham.
Photo of Michael Bowkis
Michael: I hope my video has inspired you to explore more about programming. We have had some questions submitted relating to this topic in the lead up to British Science Week which are answered below. However, if you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you. Please email stemexpert@bt.com.
Questions and answers
Question:
I'm going to my new school in September and I've just got my first computer. At my primary school we don't do much computer programming and I wanted to get ahead before I move schools. What do you recommend I do?
Student profile
Photo of Michael Bowkis
Answer:
One way to really help you understand computer programming would be to start off with Scratch. It's a high-level visual programming tool used in education, and maybe your new school will use this in lessons. If you are interested in robotics, you could also take a look at Gearsbot which is a bit like Scratch for simulating robots! Once you have really understood how you translate an idea into code with these languages, perhaps you'll want to move on to Python.
Question:
I've been told that if you compare running a Python program and the same problem written in another language like C++, the Python code is slower. Does this mean that scientists do not use Python on supercomputers such as Archer2 shown in your video?
Student profile
Photo of Michael Bowkis
Answer:
Python is an interpreted language, and it is not quite as fast as a programming language that is compiled to machine code. But that doesn't mean that Python is not used for scientific programming. It is, most certainly, run on supercomputers like Archer2. We can use wrappers around machine code compiled using other languages such as Fortran, C, and C++, that Python can call for the intensive scientific calculations. The heavy-lifting as some say! Also we use Python to schedule and run intensive parallel jobs and it's a really useful analysis tool too. It's a great language to learn!
Got a question? email stemexpert@bt.com
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