In weeks 3 & 4 of Software Development, the students were joined by an array of special guests willing to offer top industry insight and advice. So, why not compile this into a guest speaker special!?

Before the students were joined by professionals, Phil focused on Python, a programming language used everywhere from games programming to sophisticated mathematical modelling of complex physical systems. The language itself is very simple but it can easily be used to build complex applications. They first had a look at the basics of the language (introduction to how variables and functions can be written and used) then moved onto the more complex concept of classes. They also had a look at PyGame (a framework for manipulating graphics and animating them – to form games) and did a tutorial, creating an asteroids clone game from an existing codebase, but fixing the bugs deliberately left in the game. All very cool stuff, focusing on game construction which is impossible to not enjoy!

Industry insight kicked off with a company visit at Campus North where they had a look around the co-working space and some of the offices upstairs, firstly meeting GoRaise. They had an insightful chat to Adrian Gordon and Paula Donnelly about what they each do day to day. Paula is in charge of helping charities fundraise through GoRaise platform and Adrian is the CTO (Chief Technical Officer), currently in charge of overseeing a complete programmatic rewrite of the platform. It was interesting to hear about the wide range of roles within in the industry, many of which are unheard of.

Next up, Software Development met with Layers who are a digital branding agency based at Campus North. They help clients to realise their branding and marketing needs through the code they write to support the designs that James Hanson (Director) creates. Even one of the programmers was kind enough to give insight on his process and how he goes about translating the design brief from James into a fully realised piece of software.

Ben Mawhinney from Drone Labs was kind enough to stop by and offer some of his specialist tips and tricks to the team. His business helps connect drone created aerial maps with people who need the data. It’s an excellent platform for sharing the data that has been created from this emerging industry. He himself is not a programmer but has other technical skills and this helps him to communicate with programmers he contracts in to help him maintain the site. This was a rather insightful chat, highlighting how progressive this sector is. There are new roles being churned out every day which is always encouraging to aspiring tech fanatics.

We were then joined by Mark Hemmings from Fit Gurus, an app which provides personalised workouts straight to your phone. They have a huge and growing online community of fitness enthusiasts which of course resulted in a very useful discussion. It was fantastic to have insight on the success of apps – a very demanding aspect of the industry over the past few years.

Soon after they were joined by the wonderful James Rutherford, a well-respected contractor in the Newcastle tech scene. He talked us through some of the ventures he has been through (including some startups) and how he started contracting. Again, a completely different route in the industry which has masses of success and potential tied to it.

They also met Chai Lacombe-Bar from Mooshoo Labs who talked to us about her experience of getting into the Games Industry and how she has gone on to run a successful games company which also fulfils contracts for larger companies as well as creating their own games.

Finally, we spoke with Sarah Cox, a project manager from Texas who moved to Newcastle for the tech scene and has been involved with Agile Pixel who are a web agency based in the UK and Texas. She told us about how she was interested in Tech and got started at a co-working space in Texas which helped her get into the industry. After showing a flair for project management she could move into a role where she helps clients trying to get a website communicate effectively with the developers they need to create the site.

We want to say a huge thank you to our special guests who were kind enough to pass on their expertise to the Ladders team. It was particularly useful to be exposed to the various pathways that are accessible in the industry, which has left everyone feeling incredibly excited about what their future could hold.