Tag Archives: Computing Science

Angry Birds: Stella Pop….programmed by ex- Dunbar Grammar student, Alice Thorntonsmith

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Angry Birds: Stella Pop, the latest game to hit the market with great acclaim, was programmed by ex Dunbar Grammar student Alice Thorntonsmith who works for Outplay Entertainment. She was one of three programmers who worked full time on the project.

Stella Pop has been in production at Outplay since early September. Rovio (the owners of the Angry Birds Franchise and IP) and Outplay were both keen to push the game and get it out to the world quickly.

Interestingly, Alice never took Computing at school beyond Standard Grade. It was only at the time of making university applications that a close friend already pursuing a career in the games industry, convinced Alice that this was something she may like to do.

And it really was. Alice quickly took to coding and built up her knowledge and skills at The University of Abertay studying Computer Game Technology. One of five girls in her class, she graduated in 2013.

Summer jobs included working for BP creating an education training game about health and safety aboard offshore oil rigs, as well as competing in the 2013 Dare to be Digital Competition hosted by Abertay.

At the recent Education Scotland event ‘Making Tomorrow happen: Technology Education in Scotland’ there was much discussion around the gender imbalance and the reasons behind why girls are not choosing Computing as a subject and pursuing tech related careers. I asked Alice how she felt working in a male dominated industry?

“To be honest it’s not something I think about all that much. When you’re surrounded by like minded individuals with similar interests, you tend just to get on with each other, and work together to try and make the best product you can. It’s true that there tends to be more men in the industry, but more and more women are getting into it, and it’s not surprising when there are just as many women of all ages playing games in their spare time. It won’t be long before the percentage of women developing games reflect that of those playing them.”

Alice’s interest in coding and gaming extends into her free time too. “I enjoy playing all sorts of games, especially story based or free roaming role playing games. I can spend days concentrating on a single character, leveling them up, and upgrading them. I’m not one to stick to a single console, I like to explore all platforms and a good number of different genres.”

It would seem that informed, relevant advice on different career choices available in the software and IT industries may encourage more female high school students to choose Computing as a subject. There are significant actual and future skills shortages in the industry. Companies are looking for creative people – people who can scan and interpret evolving landscape and those who can learn in the job. There is a need for high level knowledge and understanding as well as personal skills. It can be an appealing, dynamic career path to follow and away from the possibly imagined scenario of predominantly males working solitarily in dark, basement offices.

Alice’s success on Angry Birds: Stella Pop was the result of great team effort; bringing together of colleagues’ skills, ideas, collaboratively working, supporting and motivating. Not too different from any successful project in any line of work.

Oh and it was a huge amount of fun too. That may be the winning ingredient 🙂

2015 Computing Science Education conference 07 November

The 2015 Computing Science Education conference will be hosted by the School of Computing at the University of Dundee on Saturday 7th November 2015.

Peter Donaldson, Kate Farrell and Ross Gibson of Computing at School Scotland say….

‘After the ‘slimline’ conference last year we will be back to our multiple strands plus workshops model that has worked well in the past. Following on from our successful BGE strand last year and the positive feedback we got from the Primary teachers attending we are carrying on with the BGE strand and expanding it so there will be BGE sessions for the full day.

We are also very pleased to announce that we are partnering with SICSA Education to have an Academic and Research strand, and we’re partnering with College Development Network and ScotlandIS to have an Industry and Vocational Strand.

This will mean professionals from Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Further Education, Higher Education and Industry all gathering together to discuss Computing Science education!

In order to make this conference a huge success we need you and professionals within your authority.We are opening a Call for Proposals and we are hoping that many of you will submit proposals for sessions at the conference. There are a selection of themes to give you ideas.

You can get more information and ideas in our Call for Participation document which can be found here : http://bit.ly/1boY0LT

If you would like to submit a proposal, the form is here: http://bit.ly/CASSconf15CALL