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CPIT and Google Sydney to bring global coding push to NZ

CPIT teams with Google Sydney to bring global coding push to NZ

CPIT is the only New Zealand institute spearheading a global phenomenon designed to encourage more students to learn to code.

The ‘Hour of Code’ is an international event being held during the week of 8-14 December 2014, which aims to get more people involved in coding on computers. During the week people are asked to spend one hour taking part in a simple online coding challenge.

The event is backed by the biggest names in IT, including Microsoft, Google and Facebook. In 2013, 40 million people globally took part, including President Barrack Obama and celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Dwight Howard. This year, the goal is to reach 100 million people. Locally, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel and MPs Nicky Wagner and Megan Woods will take part.

CPIT Department of Computing tutor Amitrajit Sarkar says the event provides an easy introduction to coding. “The tasks are fun and logic based. You can do them alone, work in pairs or form a team to solve them. We also have options for every age and experience-level, from kindergarten and up.”

Sarkar says while computers are everywhere, few people know how to create with code. “All of us know that it’s important for students to learn how to navigate today’s tech-saturated world, but many people aren’t experienced in computing and don’t know where to start,” he says. “This event is a chance for all of us to see what computing is about. We hope it’ll spark interest in students and staffs alike to keep tinkering.”

CPIT is supporting the Hour of Code event, in conjunction with Google Sydney, as part of a wider push to get more people interested in code. Sarkar helped to develop the programme materials for New Zealand, coordinated the New Zealand pages of the Hour of Code website and targeted schools and industry partners to get involved. While he encourages Hour of Code events, he also wants to spread the message that coding can be done anywhere there is a computer and internet access.

According to writer Lee Suckling in a recent article in The Press, learning to code is essential in today’s world and teaches students how to think logically and solve complex problems. “There are not many industries left that don’t rely on technology, so coding is essential in being able to communicate,” she wrote.

Sarkar believes all CPIT graduates need software skills to succeed in their future roles. “We know that regardless of what our students do in future, whether they go into nursing, business, science, or the arts, knowing how to build technology will give them the confidence and know-how to succeed.”

An all-female IT group has also been created at CPIT so that women studying computing or taking technology related classes can support each other. The ‘CPIT Tech Girls’ group aims to create a friendly female community to help support, connect, and promote women in ICT both at CPIT and in the wider community.

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