Poppie Simmonds is 19 years old. Originally from Leicestershire, she is currently studying Computer Science at the University of Birmingham.
My interest in Computing started at primary school. I remember always getting really excited when it was our class’s turn to go to the IT suite and being in lessons, explaining to my friends how to do things on the computer. Somehow it all seemed to just click with me.
I went to an after school computer club at primary school and got involved with various computing activities at secondary school. I went on to do A-level Computing where I was the only girl in a class of nine by the end of Year 13, but it was a really nice group, with a friendly teacher and a supportive atmosphere. The A-level course gave me more of a technical background and introduced me to programming. I really got into it - so much so that I set up my own code club and taught some of the younger pupils at my school. My A-level Computing teachers were really supportive and encouraged me to study the subject at degree level.
I also took part in Young Rewired State’s (a network of young coders) annual Festival of Code. This is where teams of young people work with open data sets to build an app, website, or physical hack over a week in the summer. I’m still involved with Young Rewired State now, though these days I go back as a mentor and to judge the projects.
I’ve just completed the first year of a four year MEng in Computer Science with Software Engineering. I absolutely love computer science and am so glad I chose to do my degree in it. There are about 15 - 20 girls in my year out of about 180 students, so not too many - but I don't really seem to notice the imbalance. It’s a great course and so far we have covered everything from robot programming and artificial intelligence to language and logic.
These days, people with computer science degrees are in demand. If you have a sense of the real world, good people skills and a degree in something as highly technical as Computer Science you will be invaluable to businesses and employers. I’m pretty confident that my degree will set me up well for the future and give me a lot of options. Although I enjoy coding I don’t particularly want to be a developer, but to go in to a job with that technical knowledge behind me will be useful. I originally wanted to be a teacher when I was younger, but there are so many careers that I can consider once I get my degree, that I’m now not quite sure what I will end up doing.
It’s great that children from the age of five will be learning about computing when the new curriculum is introduced. Having a new curriculum more closely aligned with Computer Science will be a massive improvement. The change has come a bit too late for me and I’m kind of sad that I’ve missed out on getting an education in computer science from such an early age, but I have ended up in Computer Science anyway, so it’s all worked out ok!
Computers are absolutely everywhere and fundamental to the way we live our lives now. They have already become increasingly important, and not having an understanding of the way they work limits you. It doesn’t mean that everyone needs to have a degree in Computer Science, but the subject is becoming as important as English, Maths and Science these days - if we don’t teach this to children they will miss out. Technology helps to solve problems in all areas, and I feel children should be encouraged to think about how things work. If they gain that technical background, they may go on to invent new things which have the potential to change the world around us.