Dalriada students experience trip of a lifetime to Silicon Valley

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Digital DNA Futures winners, Age Engage from Dalriada School in Ballymoney, set off to visit some of the biggest names in the tech world last week, on a trip that will inspire them for years to come.

Noah Patterson and Daniel Price, year 11 pupils from Dalriada School, were crowned winners of the Digital Futures competition, when they impressed a panel of leading business and industry experts with their app, Age Engage.

The app aims to help combat the effects of loneliness amongst the elderly, something very relevant in today’s society with our elderly population rising. The annual competition culminated at Digital DNA 2019, Northern Ireland’s largest technology and business event that took place back in June, with Daniel and Noah competing with over 1,000 other year 10 & 11 pupils for a chance to win the trip of a lifetime to San Francisco.

Now in its seventh year, Digital DNA’s Futures programme, is held in partnership with Sentinus, a leading NI charity promoting STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and is kindly supported by Aer Lingus, Ireland’s leading airline for transatlantic flights and global outsourcing specialists Concentrix.

The programme is aimed at inspiring the next generation on the possibilities that digital technology provides. During the 8-week programme, over 1,000 young people are introduced to the fundamentals of digital technology, they receive a crash-course in coding and a brainstorming session to solve or embrace a real-world social or business problem or opportunity.

Bill Connor, CEO of Sentinus commented: “Digital DNA Futures provides really important opportunities for students of all ages to develop digital skills, innovate, create solutions and develop ideas born out of personal, societal or business need. It is essential not to underestimate the innovative and entrepreneurial capabilities of our young people and this programme represents an investment in Northern Ireland’s future.”

During the trip, the two Year 11 boys met leaders from the world’s top technology brands including Instagram, Uber, Nextdoor and Salesforce, as well as spending time at the world renowned DSchool at Stanford University. They received invaluable advice from the companies that they visited and now hope to progress on to building the app.

Digital DNA CEO Simon Bailie said: “Over the years, we have been very fortunate to have forged some amazing connections within the world’s leading tech companies.

“Inspiring our next generation is a fundamental principle of Digital DNA and with the generous support of our partners at Aer Lingus and Concentrix, I am delighted that we have once again been able to bring an amazing group of young people to the global centre of technology.”

Dr Ian walker Deputy Head at Dalriada, said: “We are very proud of the achievements of Noah and Daniel. What a great opportunity for them to rub shoulders with staff from some of the greatest digital companies of our time. We have a great track record in the Digital DNA competition having won it last year as well. Thanks to everyone in the ICT Department who assisted Daniel and Noah in getting to this stage, especially Mrs Williamson who assisted the boys in their trip to the USA.

“At a time when digital careers are very much in demand in Northern Ireland, the skills that these two young men have exhibited and showcased are of great importance.”