Engaging the Next Generation

| 2 min read

As many of you might know (from my #YRS2013 tweets this month), I was involved again in Young Rewired State, an initiative that gathers kids all around the country, gives them a week-long opportunity to learn or improve in coding skills, embrace open data and understand the value of it, and work together to build hacks and apps using open source and that open data. I was centre lead for one of three Manchester-based centres this year, at MadLab, and the whole event, which culminated in the hundreds of kids and mentors from centres all round the country coming together for a weekend of show and tell (and prizes) in Birmingham, was a terrific success yet again.

From the show and tell and judging on the weekend, here's a quote from one of the kids during his team's presentation to the judges, to explain their use and choice of data sources and backend systems:

"has an open API so we used that"

In my tweet I alluded to the fact that this was a sentiment echoed by all the participants at YRS - the kids building cool hacks on open data and sharing the source code are our future.

What are we doing to help form and guide this future? Well for a start, there are a great number of people who get involved with this sort of thing on a regular basis. John Astill for example took part in a "hyperlocal" instance of YRS - at YRS NYC, last month. And of course, for the second year running, SAP itself, through the guidance and steady hand of Thomas Grassl is headline sponsor, helping make the whole thing happen (thank you SAP, I'm proud to have been able to connect you with YRS in the first place, last year!). Ian Thain was there also and wrote up a piece on YRS this year too: SAP and the young Developers of tomorrow.

As well as YRS there are other initiatives, regular events in the UK that take place. I wrote about what I've been involved with in a post:

Computational Thinking and Kids - A Year in Review

In SAP's continous re-invention of itself, it is getting involved more and more in embracing a wider audience, engaging with those kids and students who are our future, and reaching out more broadly then ever. For this I applaud them. Yes, there are corporate goals and useful side-effects, such as bringing more developers closer to an SAP flavoured platform, and increasing the chances of SAP software longevity, but those side-effects have very real benefits in helping teach computational thinking and prepare our youngsters for a data-driven future.

If you're interested in this and more besides (such as the InnoJam and University Alliance initiatives), then watch this space - there will be a public SAP Mentor Monday event in September to cover these subjects. Hope to see you there. In the meantime, please let us know in the comments what you think, and what it might take for you to get involved too. Believe me, it is hugely rewarding as well as great fun.

Originally published on SAP Community