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Bath school children are robotic challenge WORLD CHAMPIONS!

Seven youngsters from Bath have been named the World Champions in the 2013 Robotics challenge having beaten over 20,000 international teams.

The 11 – 15 year olds making up Bath’s ‘Team Untitled-1′ are from Ralph Allen and King Edward’s schools. They successfully competed at National level, before making the trip to St Louis in America where they proved themselves to be the very best of the 80 teams that made it through to the world finals.

The seven involved in the team are Freya, Tom, Dani, Max, Joe, Rafi and Claudia. They said: “It’s the team here.. Well, we say “team”, but WORLD CHAMPIONS is more appropriate!!!!! Yes, slight shock. We have just beaten 20,000 other teams worldwide becoming number one in Lego Robotics!! Wooo!! We think it’s true because everyone’s taking our picture but we might need a pinch or two!”

You can watch the moment the team found out they’d won here, and visit the team website here.

Thanks are given by the students and their teachers to the Bath companies and organisations that sponsored their team and made it possible for them to become World Champions.

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Congratulations Jack!

University of Bath student Jack Franklin has been named in the 2013 ‘.Net Awards‘ as one of the top ten ‘brilliant young web developers’ to watch.

The .Net Awards are publicly nominated to create a shortlist, which is then assessed by a panel of 50 industry judges.

Jack Franklin is a 3rd year BSc Computer Science student, currently on his placement year with Kainos as a Software Engineer. He is well known in Bath’s digital community and has been very involved in his university community too, as Chair of the Bath Student Computer Science Society in his second year of study, and as a student ambassador for his department.

Jack is highly dedicated to progressing his career as a developer, and wrote one of his first articles in 2011 for ‘12 Devs of Christmas’. He now maintains a popular JavaScript blog – JavaScript Playground – and writes for a number of influential websites.

Jack was recently asked by Addy Osmani to contribute to his book Backbone Fundamentals, which was published by O’Reilly and was freely available on the internet too. He helped to write the chapter on using Backbone with RequireJS. Jack’s first book, Testing with CoffeeScript, was recently published as a free mini book and has had over 2000 downloads to date. The book looks at TDD with the JS library Jasmine, whilst writing all the code in CoffeeScript.

Jack was approached in June 2012 to write his first physical book, Beginning jQuery, which was published in February 2013. The book aims to guide a JavaScript and jQuery novice through to a level at which they’re comfortable in writing their own plugins.

Alan Hayes, Jack’s tutor at the University of Bath, said: “Jack is one of those students who makes the most of every opportunity available to him. He continues to impress as he progresses through university, and is set for great heights in the future. We wish him all the best with the .Net awards and commend his achievement in being named ‘one to watch’.”

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From RAF engineer to app engineer

When Matt Powlson’s job as an RAF aircraft engineering officer took him away from his family, he still wanted to read his three-year-old daughter Libby a bedtime story.

Matt Powlson

Matt Powlson. Picture: The Bath Chronicle/Bath News & Media

From that paternal desire, an entire business has developed. Matt set about writing a programme for a digital picture book. Every time his daughter turned a page, his pre-recorded voiceover would read the words. So began a series of interactive children’s book apps, with Matt quickly forging links with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

The renaissance man was still with the RAF at the time, but having left the Forces in October, he is now running his business BlueWorks from Regency House in Wood Street.

It marks quite a change of lifestyle – and environment – for the electronic engineering graduate. He spent 20 years in the RAF working in Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and Kuwait. His final four years were in Ohio.

When he left the air force in October and made a trip to Bath’s Christmas Market, he reached the decision that Bath was where he wanted to base his business.

“I fell back in love with the city and things just started to fall into place,” he said. “Since then, with the Bath Digital Festival and the X Media Lab taking place in March, I’ve met some great people in the city who are all digital innovators. The creative mood in Bath is so strong.

In January, he found an office on a Thursday, founded the firm on the Friday, and started work the following Monday.

His main focus now is the We-Reader, an app that enables multiple people to comment on the same text in an interactive way – with the author also being able to interact.

“It allows you to have a reading group all the time – with the author in the room,” explained Matt. “It’s potentially a global community for sharing thoughts.”

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HashBang.TV Episode 8 “The Prime mover in the developer community”

Episode 8 of HashBang TV has arrived.

On this weeks show we are joined by community legend Thayer Prime. We talk about her awesome name, and how she got started in tech. Thayer provides some killer tips on how to break into the industry, discusses how brands are attempting to engage with developers, the challenge of marketing to developers and her latest project, recruiting for the Government Digital Service. We finish off talking about work life balance, being open on Twitter, and Chris talks about his experiences with Air B&B.

As always, the episode is available as a 15 minute video edit with the extended interview available on the Podcast.


Government Digital Service
Air B&B

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Bath’s Innovation Centre embarks on a new era

Andy Council puts the finishing touches to his mural at the University of Bath Innovation Centre. Picture: Kevin Bates, Bath News & Media/The Bath Chronicle

Andy Council puts the finishing touches to his mural at the University of Bath Innovation Centre. Picture: Kevin Bates, Bath News & Media/The Bath Chronicle

Bath is to forge closer links with other tech-savvy English cities as the University of Bath’s Innovation Centre expands.

The centre is launching DigiCity, a space where young firms can have access to office facilities without the cost of permanent overheads.

The revamped area, which includes an eye-catching new mural, will open towards the end of February, and moves are afoot to twin DigiCity with similar bases in London and Cambridge.

The centre’s director, Simon Bond, said: “We work closely with companies that are innovating, applying technology to create new stuff. These entrepreneurs and creators don’t want to be tied to an office but want the ability to hook up in an office environment and work alongside like-minded people.

“The aim is for there to be links with similar establishments in London and Cambridge. We want to connect up these powerful creative and entrepreneurial communities.”

People wanting to use the centre will be able to book a batch of sessions in advance online.

To mark the centre’s new era, Mr Bond commissioned a striking mural by street artist Andy Council. The artwork shows Bath as a writhing dragon and has been sponsored by audio streaming startup Bardowl.

There’s more info on the mural and the Innovation Centre’s plans for the future in the latest edition of The Bath Chronicle (out February 2).

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Startups: need some advice?

There are many places, groups and people offering advice for startups. All helpful in some way, I am sure, but if you are just looking for a quick spark of inspiration, have a look at Startup Quote. You can go to the website or follow them on twitter. My favourite quote on there is from Michael Dell “Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not”.

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