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Hosting firm shares piece of the Pi

UKFast launches Raspberry Pi centre to boost real-life tech skills in the community

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | September 08, 2015 | Technology

Cloud hosting firm UKFast has joined forces with The Dean Trust to launch a Raspberry Pi Café, bringing hands-on tech and computer science education to Broadoak School in Partington, Greater Manchester.

The centre gives students the opportunity to work with professionals from the Manchester-based internet firm and learn how the computers can be used in interesting ways - like transforming an old analogue radio into a digital one, or creating their own arcade style games.

The Raspberry Pi Café aims to help educate and inspire the next generation of tech superstars, showing them the workings of the tiny Raspberry Pi computers and making technology education relevant to everyday life. 

The innovative equipment can be used to assemble a desktop computer for just a third of the cost of traditional IT hardware. The café will also be open for use by the local community, providing adults with access to basic skills training, and children with a safe space to work after-school on a secure internet connection. 

Mike Ward, Group IT Manager of The Dean Trust, who project managed the Pi Café installation in conjunction with UKFast, said: “The launch of the Pi Café has been a team effort, with the students of Broadoak School at the heart of the project. We hope that the new Pi Café will be used both as part of curriculum development for Broadoak students, but also by the wider Partington Community, technology groups and after-school clubs.” 

'We need to give young people the opportunity to get their hands dirty with new technology to unearth their creative talents as an alternative to sitting in a classroom environment.'

Education has been a high priority for UKFast in recent years; its campus office on the edge of Manchester’s Technology Park plays host to a dedicated teaching facility and cutting edge lab for training and development. The firm also runs an award-winning apprenticeship programme and has an ongoing relationship with 10% of schools in Greater Manchester.

UKFast CEO, Lawrence Jones MBE, said: “We need to run initiatives like this to engage the country’s next generation of computer experts. The interest is there and so is the talent; we just need to make the connection between the devices which these young people are already engaged with and enjoy using, and the opportunity they have to get paid for experimenting with them.

“Traditional education can let some kids down. We need to give young people the opportunity to get their hands dirty with new technology to unearth their creative talents as an alternative to sitting in a classroom environment. We know the level of poverty in some areas of Greater Manchester, but there is no reason – given the right opportunities and encouragement – that kids from these areas can’t be the tech entrepreneurs of the future. When we’re putting the latest kit straight into their hands to experiment with, we feel they have a better chance.”

W: www.ukfast.co.uk

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