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Education through IoT – our Operation Innovation competition. By Ash Merchant

In the past few decades education has evolved almost beyond recognition. And it continues to do so at an incredible pace. But with such tremendous change comes a proportionate degree of turbulence. While technology is playing an important in education, the danger is we end up forgetting the fundamental pillars that underpin this profession.

In any industry, innovation should always be human-centric – focused on how technology can help change people’s lives rather than the nuts and bolts that make it up. But this is particularly important in education, which has a knock-on effect on every student’s life and the entire economy.

At Fujitsu we are focused on how we can close the gap between education and employment and inspire a generation through technology. We want to raise aspirations and create opportunities for young people while overcoming some of the challenges around social mobility.

That’s why we ran our Operation Innovation competition in 2016, alongside our partners Intel, Brocade and Kyocera: to help provide students with real-world commercial
experience and opportunities, but also to give them a chance to interact with technology first-hand and be enthused by it. And, that’s why we will be running the competition again in 2017.

Watch the highlights from 2016 below.

Here’s what the competition involves…

We’re tasking students aged 16 and over from across the UK with developing a proof of value around the internet of things (IoT) – asking them to come up with a way
to solve a real-world problem using IoT technology.

The problem can sit within one of three sectors: education, utilities or manufacturing – all industries in which IoT is already beginning to have a significant impact. The teams last year, and again this year, will be supported by our Offering Management Director for Global IoT and Innovation, James Maynard.
IoT is an extremely fast-growing area of technology, and will continue to be in the coming years.

Why are we running it?

But while it’s already beginning to have an impact on education, it still has some way to go before being fully adopted.

That said, from a digital skills perspective we expect students who have experience in IoT and other digital technologies will find a huge number of career opportunities available to them.

This is the idea behind our competition: arming students with the digital skills and knowledge now that will help them excel in the future.

But in addition to technical skills, we also want to help them develop softer abilities such as teamwork and presentation skills. These are extremely important traits that when coupled with digital know-how will give these students a massive head start as they enter the working world.
At the end of the project there will be a finals day at the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park.

The prize

Ten finalists will present their idea to our panel of judges, and the winning team will be flown to Munich to attend our Fujitsu Forum event in November 2017. They’ll also be given a tour of our Fujitsu Labs HQ and have the chance to present their concept to our chief technology officer Dr. Joseph Reger!

But more importantly than any of that, the winning team’s idea may actually go on to become a real-world innovation. Something they imagined may end up having an impact on real people’s lives. A tremendously exciting prospect for any young student!

It’s a fantastic and rare opportunity for all entering the competition to gain the kind of learning only possible when education and industry come together in this way.

The winning team and two runners up will also have the opportunity to carry out work experience at Fujitsu and they will also receive dedicated mentoring from the organisations to help prepare them in taking the next steps from education into employment.

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