Ireland has produced some hot app success stories of late, with children as young as seven creating apps and getting noticed on the global digital stage. Microsoft is getting in on app act, as it wants to make Ireland a hotbed for app development by launching a gaming competition for second-level students in Ireland.
The challenge, issued by Microsoft Ireland as part of the Smart Futures campaign, will mean secondary school students can opt to enter the competition to design and develop an app.
The winner will receive a new Nokia Lumia 800 running Windows phone 7 OS and a one-week work placement in Microsoft’s Xbox Games studio.
Smart Futures itself launched today a national careers campaign and website for second-level students in Ireland. Its aim is to highlight the diverse opportunities for young people in the technology sector.
Calling serious young gamers
For the Games category sponsored by Microsoft, students are being asked to build a Microsoft Windows Phone 7 game around the Smart Futures theme.
- Students will be given an access code to download free software to develop their games through Microsoft’s DreamSpark programme.
- For those who don’t own a Windows Phone 7 – Microsoft will provide a software phone emulator to test and play the game.
Paul Rellis, managing director, Microsoft Ireland, spoke today about how it is paramount that students are encouraged to embrace technology.
He said the technology sector will be a "key" part of Ireland’s recovery strategy and future economic growth.
"There is no end to the possibilities in this area and students should be encouraged at a young age to constantly challenge themselves and embrace new technologies," said Rellis.
Coder Dojo movement in Ireland
The Coder Dojo movement in Ireland created by 19-year-old entrepreneur and programmer James Whelton from Cork and tech entrepreneur Bill Liao is another example of how students are being encouraged to learn all about computer programming and began as a Saturday morning club for kids to teach each other software programming and app development.
Since Coder Dojo was created this summer, it has spawned into a national movement. Kids and their parents can go and learn to write software code in a friendly environment. The first UK Coder Dojo was held in London a few weeks ago.
Examples of computer programming prodigies in Ireland include 12-year-old Harry Moran, who recently emerged as the world’s youngest Mac app publisher and when his game PizzaBot was published in the Mac App Store. It shot to the top of the charts – scattering Angry Birds and outflanking Call of Duty.
Another example of a young app developer is 11-year-old computing prodigy Shane Curran. At the age of six, Curran did his first Linux install. At age 7, he learned how to programme in Visual Basic and built a simple web browser that he made available on the web for download. Since then, he has learned how to programme in multiple languages, such as PHP, C, C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Perl and Bash.