Students race to the top of the employability leaderboard

Students at the London campus put their programming skills to the test at a special careers event which aims to give them a competitive edge.

The DeepRacer Event was the first UK event of its kind, held in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Home Office who were on hand to talk to students about the wealth of career of opportunities in cyber security and computer science within the civil service.

The challenge part of the day involved Staffordshire University London(SUL) students working in teams and using to use their technical skills to develop the most efficient algorithms for a racing car to navigate the track. Use of the DeepRacer Simulator enabled them to fine tune their programming skills before competing to achieve the fastest lap using AI technology.

Binita Makanji who helped lead her WackyRacers team to victory in the challenge said: “Seeing all teams progress throughout the event was amazing and achieving first place in the event with a lap time of 7.9 seconds was certainly a good end to such a wonderful event. Also, it was a pleasure to speak to members of the Home Office with regards to their job roles and experiences within the tech sector.”

The event was aimed at encouraging students to develop their skills while also networking with professionals in the industry. Paul Warner from the Home Office said the event had been a “spectacular success” and although none of the students had previously considered a role with the Home Office, after the event 75 per cent said they were interested.

He added: “For the Home Office, our objectives were clear. To reach young, emerging talent and get them interested in bringing their skills to a career in the public sector.

“Thanks to the hard work of all involved we were able to connect with almost 100 highly engaged, passionate students in one day. The Deep Racer cars were the primary attraction but importantly not a distraction. The cars opened up discussions about AWS technologies and how they power massive, critical parts of government infrastructure.

“Now more than ever we are looking to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to evolve how we develop technology within the civil service. Skills picked up by training a Deep Racer car are transferrable to the jobs of the future."

Dhuha Al-Shaikhli, Computer Science Lecturer at Staffordshire University London, said: “The event was significant for the students’ learning as it encapsulated machine learning applications in real life via gamification. It also empowered the students' team collaboration, time management, independent learning, and more.”

Carolina Salinas, Head of Student and Graduate Employability at Staffordshire University, said “This was an excellent event which prompted great conversations between our students, AWS and Home Office colleagues about technology and innovation. Staffordshire University understands business needs and thrives by giving employers access to student and graduate talent through innovative and fun collaborations like this one.”

Students have now been invited to attend the AWS Summit London next month which will be another great networking event, packed with new learning opportunities. The finalists have been invited to race against other competitors - based on their excellent lap times, tech skills and performance at the DeepRacer event.

People standing on an indoor race track
This was an excellent event which prompted great conversations between our students, AWS and Home Office colleagues about technology and innovation.

Carolina Salinas, Head of Student and Graduate Employability

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