Coventry City of Culture 2021

Coventry is bidding to become UK City of Culture 2021.  On the 23rd of February come along to hear Dr Geoff Willcocks, Coventry University’s Director of Arts and Culture and Michael Mogan (Fundraising Director) talk about the bid, and find out how local organisations can be part of the this bid.  This session will outline the progress to date and plans leading towards the submission of the bid in 2017.  More information is available here.

February planning meeting

Come along on the 17th February, 7pm to take part in the branch planning meeting, hosted by Coventry University.  If there are specific events you would like to happen in the coming year, let us know.  If you are interested in organising an event, come and share your thoughts at our upcoming planning meeting.

VC John Latham awarded honorary BCS Fellowship

On 25th January Coventry University’s Vice-Chancellor and CEO Professor John Latham was officially recognised by BCS the Chartered Institute for IT for his career-long services to IT, that have had lasting impact locally in Coventry and Warwickshire, but also nationally and internationally. The award was presented at Coventry University in the presence of current and former colleagues from Coventry University and Trustees and directors from BCS.

BCS group shotThe award of Honorary Fellowship of BCS acknowledges the exceptional contributions made by John since he first graduated from Coventry Polytechnic in 1983 with an honours degree in computer science.  In the last two years under John’s leadership Coventry University has received a number of national honours, the most recent and prestigious of which was Times Higher Education’s University of the Year 2016 Award, presented in November 2015.

Co-nominator for this award Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ian Marshall MBCS, said that ‘John has more than amply demonstrated the value of Computer Science as a first degree; the analytic and problems solving skills that are at the core of the subject which along with his entrepreneurship, vision and drive have benefited not just Coventry University but the wider community. While academic management is the day job it is not hard to get him leading discussions about the latest developments in technology, computing or new ways to improve systems’.

Current chairman of BCS Coventry branch Irene Glendinning FBCS, who put together the nomination, said she was delighted that BCS had confirmed John’s suitability for this prestigious award. When welcoming the attended guests, BCS Vice President and Trustee Iain Thompson explained that at most one Honorary FBCS is awarded each year for exceptional service to and dedication, therefore John is now a member of a very select group of people, as can be seen on the BCS web site: http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/1648 , and his record of achievement will be a hard act to follow.

On collecting his award, Vice-Chancellor John Latham said:  “I’m both flattered and delighted to receive this Honorary Fellowship from BCS. When I started out computing and IT in general were often regarded as specialist, niche subjects. That’s no longer the case – at least not to the same extent as before – and the fact is that information technology impacts on almost all aspects of our daily lives.”

The landscape has changed now and young people in particular are very IT literate – you only have to look at our students for evidence and that applies to students across all disciplines. There are many reasons for this culture shift but as a tireless champion of IT, BCS has undoubtedly played its part.”

The award was presented at Coventry University in the presence of current and former colleagues from Coventry University and Trustees and directors from BCS.

Come and join us in 2016

Come along on the 20th January 2016 to find out about the benefits of a BCS membership;  Refereshments from 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start – ECG-01 Ground Floor – Engineering and Computing Block – Coventry University

People are concerned about IT because it’s so prevalent in society – they want to keep their children safe; they are concerned about privacy; the legal and regulatory areas have a lot of challenges ahead; some are worried about unchecked AI research.
This all goes beyond technology to societal impact, ethics and our way of life in general. That’s why The BCS feel it’s important to position ourselves as a powerful force for good, and to keep this in mind with everything we do.

If you have any questions about what BCS represents, how BCS works or why it is good to be a member then please join us for our meeting on 20th January 2016, when will welcome Mr David Evans, BCS Director of Community and Policy.  Part of David’s reason for visiting Coventry is to listen to the needs of local BCS members and present the new BCS Strategy.  However what he has to say should also be of interest to students and other people thinking of joining BCS.

As David will explain, the new strategy consists of Three Strategic Pillars: Community, Education and Leadership, please read more about these on the BCS web site at:http://www.bcs.org/category/11281.

Aligned with the three pillars is a series of Campaigns, details to be elaborated in David’s presentation, that are designed to help to deliver the objectives and encourage participation from BCS members and the wider community.

Coventry Christmas Lecture 2015

For the 2015 Christmas Lecture, Abbie Hutty gave a presentation about the challenges around developing the next Mars Rover.

Abbie Hutty is the 2013 IET Young Woman of the Year.  She won the Royal Academy of Engineering Rising Star Award in 2014 and also won the IMechE Young Member Visionary Award for 2013.

She is the Senior Structural Engineer for the ExoMars Rover Vehicle scheduled for launch in 2018.  She has appeared with the prototype Rover alongside Professor Brian Cox on BBC One’s Stargazing from Jodrell Bank.  An accomplished STEM Ambassador inspiring school pupils with her achievements

Thanks to event sponsors: the IMA, IET, BCS, IOM and Coventry University.

How might the Digital World Change the Human Mind

On the 27th of October, Baroness Susan Greenfield visits Coventry to give a presentation on “How might the Digital World be Changing the Human Mind“.   The talk has been organised by the IET Coventry and Warwickshire Network in conjunction with BCS Coventry.  The event is free to attend, but booking is essential – full information, including booking is available here.

Baroness Greenfield is a British scientist, writer, broadcaster and member of the House of Lords.  She is a Senior Research Fellow at Lincoln College, Oxford and she was Chancellor of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh from 1998 to 2010.

Baroness Greenfield co-founded Neuro-bio in 2013 where she is Chief Scientific Officer.  She introduced the concept of “mind change”, an umbrella term comparable to climate change, encompassing the diverse issues involved in the impact of the 21st century environment on the brain.

Neighbours OnLine

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On the 21st of October, Mark Pickering came and gave a presentation about the Neighbours OnLine scheme.  Its a scheme setup by Mark after having taken early retirement from WMG, University of Warwick.  It aims to tackle the digital exclusion of senior citizens by creating an environment where everyone can find support and assistance to enable them to be confident users of the web.  They can keep in regular contact with family members who live too far away to visit regularly.  They can gain access to discounted electricity and a whole range of other services now delivered through the web.

This project directly tackles digital inclusion in a practical way, through a network of volunteers sharing their skills to meet the needs of the local community.  Marks presentation is available on the meeting page

Next Meeting: Neighbours on Line Digital inclusion of our Senior Citizens

For the October meeting of BCS Coventry, on Wednesday 21 Oct 2015 at 18:30 we have Mark Pickering presenting his project Neighbours online: Digital Inclusion of our Senior Citizens.  This meeting takes place in the IMC at the University of Warwick.

Abstract:  Mark Pickering recently took early retirement from WMG, University of Warwick, and has been devoting himself to a project that gets older folk online. He gets them skyping each other, managing electricity, etc all online. Mark will briefly introduce himself and will then discuss some of the priorities and challenges.  Full details are available here.

Successful Teachers Conference 2015

Thank you to all the presenters and attendees of our recent Teachers Conference, run in conjunction with the Coventry and Warwickshire Computing At School Hub and the IET on the 15th of September 2015.   The day proved to be an informative and entertaining event with useful contacts being made.

At the conference,  Challenge IT 2016 was launched.  This is the branch competition for young people and finalists will be invited to the Exhibition on the 16th of March 2016, during British Science Week.  We will invite as many young people as will fit in the exhibition room!  Please get in touch if your organisation would like to sponsor Challenge IT.  For more information about the competition see the September 2015 newsletter.

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Photographs courtesy of Alan O’Donohoe