What happens when you take a group of 75 maths, computer science and languages students who have never met before and ask GCHQ to set them a major societal challenge? You get new creative approaches to cyber security!
Locked away in the Great North Museum this week, supported by mentors and employers, an interdisciplinary group of students worked intensively over a period of 24 hours to generate, develop and present a range of ideas on how to stay safe online.
The event was driven by academic staff members; Phil Ansell, Steve Riddle and Jean Christophe Penet from Maths, Computing and Modern Languages respectively. They all felt that their students would benefit from working in teams with students from other subject areas in a field unfamiliar to them – conceiving and presenting a business idea. When GCHQ (major employers of languages, maths and computing graduates) heard about the event they immediately came on board and worked with the Rise Up team to construct a scenario that was unveiled at the start of the challenge.
For Dawn Weatherston, Entrepreneurial Development Officer with the Rise Up team, leading this event was a first:
‘Although I frequently work with mixed groups of students enterprise challenges I have never had the chance to run an event that brings together such a specific group of students that fit the profile of an organisation such as GCHQ’.
The students rose to the challenge…
‘All of a sudden I realised what I was actually doing – I was thinking about a real business idea!’ (Computer Science student)
‘This is one of the best things I have done at university – and will great to talk about at forthcoming interviews’ (Modern Languages student)
‘It was good to work with students from other degree programmes. They thought and worked differently to me’ (Maths Student)
Charlie Wainwright from Newcastle Science City, acting as a ‘business expert’ for the event said:
‘The quality of ideas generated by the student teams in the short space of time available was exceptional’
Rise Up are looking to host events with schools throughout Newcastle University. If you’d like to see your school get involved in a Rise Up challenge please let us know.
Entrepreneurial Development Officer