NI students jet off with Aer Lingus for trip of a lifetime to Silicon Valley
Digital DNA Futures winners, Age Engage from Dalriada School in Ballymoney, are set to visit some of the biggest companies in the tech capital of the world this week, on a trip that will inspire them for years to come.
On Saturday, Noah Paterson and Daniel Price, year 11 pupils from Dalriada School, jetted off from Dublin, direct to San Francisco with Aer Lingus. They were crowned winners of the Digital DNA Futures competition back in June, when they impressed a panel of leading businesses 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, 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 7th year, Digital DNA’s Futures programme is held in partnership with Sentinus, a leading NI charity promoting STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). 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, receive a crash-course in coding and a brainstorming session to solve or embrace a real-world social or business problem or opportunity.
Explaining why the Digital Futures programme is so important, Bill Connor, CEO of Sentinus said “Digital DNA Futures provides 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.”
The programme is also supported by Aer Lingus, Ireland’s only 4 star airline that flies to 14 North American destinations including San Francisco and global outsourcing specialists Concentrix who are disrupting the way we work with new products such as Solv and Brill.app.
Philip Cassidy, VP at Concentrix, explained why it is important for Concentrix to be involved, “We are delighted to be able to support young people from our community starting out on their digital journeys. We believe that our young people are key to continuing these types of innovative developments and want to support them getting exposure to the best of the best.”
Andrea Hunter, Leisure Manager Ireland & UK with Aer Lingus also added: “We’re delighted to support Digital DNA’s Futures programme and to welcome the deserving winners Noah Paterson and Daniel Price on board. We very much encourage innovation within our own business in terms of continuing to improve our guest experience and product offering and it’s encouraging to see the talent coming through at school level. We know for Noah and Daniel this is a trip to remember and we will ensure the excitement begins the second they step on board their Aer Lingus flight.”
During the trip, the two year 10 boys will get the chance to meet 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.
Speaking ahead of the trip, 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 an important element of what we do at Digital DNA and with the generous support of our partners at Aer Lingus and Concentrix, I am delighted that we can once again bring an amazing group of young people to the global centre of technology.”