Queen Mary University of London: Queen Mary academic awarded funding to become an ICT public engagement champion

As part of this, Professor Curzon will work closely with schools and primary schools in particular – both with pupils and teachers. In doing so, he will be part of a wider effort that will build a pipeline of engagement with UK ICT research from primary school onwards, inspiring the next generation of computer science experts. Additionally, the funding will enable Professor Curzon to ensure public engagement is put at the heart of research culture, working with both academics and early career researchers at Queen Mary and from other institutions.

A key focus of the programme will be to highlight the diversity of computer scientists and their range of backgrounds, as well as the wide-ranging and inter-disciplinary research that they do. The project will also show school students the diversity of job roles available to those with computer science skills across a variety of careers.

Professor Paul Curzon, Professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary University of London said: “As we have shown in our previous work, presenting computer science research in a fun way that highlights diversity can be a powerful way to inspire school students about the subject, and the younger this is done the better. Public engagement should be at the heart of all research both to educate and inspire but just as importantly to improve the quality of research.”

There is currently a significant skills gap across the digital sector in the UK, including computer science. By increasing young learners’ engagement with computing, the funding will play an important role in addressing the skills shortages that will further restrict the UK’s development in future. The programme comes at a time when technology’s importance for students continues to grow. A recent government report noted that around 82 per cent of all jobs in the UK list digital skills as a requirement, which is likely set to increase in the coming years. The skills needed will also increasingly be more than just basic digital skills so those with computer science skills will be at an advantage.

The funding will allow Professor Curzon to build on his existing body of work aimed at encouraging uptake in computer science in schools. He co-created the online resource Computer Science For Fun (cs4fn), and the Teaching London Computing project which supports schools in providing both fun and outstanding education in computing.

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