We should try to stimulate curiosity …..

As Science Week gets underway, we have been talking to a number of Midlands people who are working in science and technology careers. This week we caught up with Colin Scally, a Tullamore native who attended one of the schools we work closely with here in the Midlands.  He is now living in London..Here is what Colin had to say…

Colin, you are originally from the Midlands and a past pupil of Tullamore College, what are you now working at?

I’ve been based over in London for the past few years and worked across a couple of different jobs and industries. Currently I’m working for a technology consultancy as a software developer and consultant. I’m helping a fintech startup to build out their product – a system to help small businesses with a range of accountancy features and finance options. It’s a great role as we get to really help bring them on a technology journey and realise their ambitions.

Can you tell us what led you into this role and a bit about your academic journey?

Honestly, I’ve followed a somewhat non-traditional route into this industry. I originally studied law, and then specialised in analytical criminology. I worked for years in cyber risk management and financial fraud analysis. But I got to the point where my role was getting closer to management consulting and I wanted something more technical. So I decided to leave my job and retrain for a few months, before taking on a role as a software developer. I don’t at all regret my previous roles, as I gained a lot of consultancy skills that I still use every day. The days of a software developer sitting all day typing with their headphones on is over – businesses want our technical knowledge but also our ability to consult and work with various stakeholders across their teams!

What are some of the more exciting science and engineering jobs that you are seeing now or you see for the future?

Always a difficult question to answer without straying into buzzword territory! In terms of technology, the whole ‘Cloud’ area is hardly novel any more, but whilst a few years ago it was still thought of as hype, today it’s a core part of engineering for more and more businesses. The big providers (AWS, Azure, GCP) are evolving their platforms and delivering new services at a frightening rate, meaning there is a growing demand in cloud systems engineering.

There’s also a lot of talk about the potential in robotics, much of which is still firmly in the hype cycle! But I would expect more and more practical applications of robotics to emerge in the near future, and this will call for people with a range of technical and scientific skills from materials science and plastics, to software development, to AI and cognitive science.

Why are events like the Midlands Science Festival so vital for encouraging young people to consider a future in a science career?

Personally, when I was still in school I struggled to understand the range of careers that were out there in the various scientific fields. Schools do great work in helping with career guidance, but they can only do so much and their advice is often theoretical and focused on what to do at university. Events like Midland Science Festival can do brilliant work by making young people more aware of career paths that exist and what it is actually like to work in a scientific field. These events are also a fantastic way to allow young people to see and experience science in ways they would never get a chance to otherwise.

How can we make science more fun and engaging for young people do you think?

I think it’s absolutely key to make young people ask two questions “how does this work?” and “why does this happen?” We should try to stimulate curiosity and make young people arrive at these questions themselves, motivating them to dig deeper and look for answers. The easiest way to do this is probably to get ‘hands-on’ with science as much as possible – show young people some of the outcomes and products of scientific application and give them the space to explore and question them.