PA Consulting Raspberry Pi Awards Celebrates Ingenuity

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Put away those skills shortage worries, the Raspberry Pi event shows there is still interest in coding

In an age where IT skills appear to be at a premium, a spark of optimism was revealed at PA Consulting Group’s Cambridge Technology Centre yesterday when schools competed in the Raspberry Pi-making Competition 2013.

From “dozens” of entries, 14 of the best entrants were invited to present their projects at PA Consulting’s research centre. The event was a “delight”, accrding to PA’s Frazer Bennett, in an interview with TechWeekEurope.

A better world

The theme of the competition, run in conjunction with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, was to devise a system built around the tiny, powerful computer that would make the world a better place. The judging panel considered team passion; the simplicity and clarity of the project; creativity originality and “general coolness”; commercial potential; and, of course, world benefits.

DSC01438The teams were allowed a budget of £50 for additions to the basic Raspberry Pi computer and the allowed keyboard , mouse, display unit, SD card and Internet connectivity parts. Programming language was down to personal choice.

Speaking on behalf of the judging team,  Alan Middleton, CEO of PA Consulting Group, said, “The competition has really engaged the natural creativity and initiative of our entrants. It’s so encouraging to see the passion that young people have about technology, especially as it is now part-and-parcel of our everyday lives. As computing skills are so vital, it goes without saying that we should foster the future generation of technology enthusiasts.”

The panel of judges comprised: BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, Raspberry Pi’s director of education development foundation Clive Beale, president of the IET and head of computer technology at Cambridge University Andy Hopper, CEO of Trader Media grou pZillah Bing-Maddick, Google cloud platform sales lead Barak Regev, and head of IT delivery at PA Consulting Group Anita Chandraker.

Award winners

Raspberry Pi WinnersPrimary school (age 8 – 11): This saw East Sheen Primary School, Norton Community Primary School, and The Richard Pate School battling it out.

The winner: Richard Pate whose pupils designed a system to help old or disabled people answer the door. Anyone who has difficulty getting to the door could use the Rasperry Pi system to send a message to the person at the door and unlock the door remotely.

Judges’ opinion: This project was brilliantly executed and there was really good team work to create the door answering system.

Secondary school (age 12 – 16): Dalriada School, Haileybury School, Highgate School, Roedean School, and Bedford Prep School competed in the section that drew the highest number of entries.

The winner: Dalriada School developed an automated pill dispenser to make it easier for forgetful patients to manage their medicine-taking more easily. The Raspberry Pi connected to a pill dispenser to allow a doctor tomanage the administration of drugs through a website. If a patient does not take the measured dosage at a given time, an alert is sent to a family member or neighbour who can pop in to investigate.

Judges’ opinion: This entry stood out among some outstanding projects in the category. It was the one that produced good use of the hardware and software as well as showing superb team work.

Secondary school (age 16 – 18): The older age group comprised Dulwich College, Haileybury School, and Westminster School

The winner: Westminster School’s air quality and weather surveillance device won over the judges. The Raspberry Pi with an additional circuit board of environmental sensors provided a comprehensive device to measure temperature, humidity, smoke, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide levels. Results could be loaded onto a website for instant access or to compare a number of devices geographically dispersed.

Judges’ opinion: The project was very impressive in its category and showed real foresight, both technically and for expanded community interaction

Open category (all age groups): The entries in this category, which was for older competitors comprised UNOP and Penguin Tutor.

The winner: UNOP’s winning entry enabled home owners to monitor household electricity consumption using a wireless electricity monitor from a high street electrical store. By reverse engineering the monitor’s communication protocol, the low power consumption Raspberry Pi could keep a log of energy usage.

Judges’ opinion: It was a really simple concept delivered brilliantly.

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Author: Eric Doyle
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