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Cisco UTC IoT Project

- April 20, 2017 10:30 am

Cisco is a lead sponsor of UTC Reading and we support the college by running projects with them. The project this year was based around the Internet of Things (IoT). 6 volunteers were chosen from Cisco to assist and support the students at UTC Reading – with soft skills and technical development.

The project kicked off with an awe-inspiring presentation by Jon Ashley – which allowed the students to gain an understanding of IoT and the way in which technology has evolved over the years.

“As part of our commitment to corporate social responsibility, Cisco also offers teaching support, work experience opportunities, awards sponsorship and taster events, where students can meet Cisco apprentices” – Cisco’s Executive Sponsor, Guy Howell.

The students were divided into small teams. Throughout the workshops, they were given the opportunity to learn about 4 IoT solutions, by creating the IoT solution in their teams using a Raspberry Pi.

We used Raspberry Pi’s as they were low in cost and an open source version of a basic computer. However, when adding attachments, you can expand its capabilities, as displayed by the students at UTC Reading during the project workshops:

  • Barcode – The students created a barcode scanner using the Raspberry Pi, to understand the fundamentals of creating the device. They then tested their scanners, using barcodes to see if they could find all of the information specific to that device.
  • Beacon – This solution was used to show the way in which data can easily be transmitted to devices via a wireless medium. For example, when a retailer wants to provide their offers to the customers through their phones when in the store.
  • Computer Vision – This was another solution that the students created, to detect human features within a computer like system, such as facial recognition, smart mirrors and other innovative IoT ideas.
  • RFID – This technology allows a tag to be put on an object, which can be tracked when brought within a certain range of the receiver. For example, a smart card.

“I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to work with other people within UTC, as well as the Cisco mentors. It provided me with a chance to ask questions about possible future careers within the IT profession and to hear from some apprentices about their own experiences. Also, I found that it helped being able to work with people who had more experience than me, which meant that I was able to develop my skills in the areas they were knowledgeable in.” – Holly, Winning Team

The final day was a full day workshop, where the students were given a challenge. The challenge was for each group to use an IoT solution they had previously learned about, to create a quick fix to something they thought was an issue, in the business sectors provided:

  • Cinema
  • Fashion
  • Fast Food

We were impressed by the high standard, quality of ideas and presentations produced in the short space of time. All of the solutions were presented to a panel of judges, where a winning team was selected to be the overall winner of the project. In addition to this, we selected some students who displayed great dedication, as we thought their efforts should be recognised.

By carrying out this project, Cisco has enabled the students to learn extra skills, which they might not in their academic curriculum – like coding in Python and HTML, alongside leadership, project management and teamwork skills. The staff at UTC Reading were also very pleased with the outcome of the project, as displayed in the review by the Business Relations Manager at UTC Reading.

 “The IoT World Project delivered by Cisco to over 200 students across all year groups at UTC Reading is a perfect example of how employer engagement in education should be. What was of value to the students, was the opportunity to compete in teams and develop presenting skills, team work, and time management in order to deliver products and solutions. The levels of excitement were tangible, and the students were engaged at every level.” – Michael Halliday.

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