Working, as I do, for West Lothian College, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the first ever Interrupt Conference at the college, this is the first large-scale digital conference of its kind in Scotland – aimed specifically at college computing students and school pupils who had access to some of the leading digital experts in Scotland.
I caught all of the keynote speakers but didn’t make it to any of the workshops, this time around, although I’m hoping that for next years conference I might be involved in running some workshops.
Our amazing Principal, Jackie Galbraith, who is pushing for a Data Driven Approach, something i can only grasp with two hands, opened and compered the conference, along with talking about some of the great things going on at West Lothian College.
The Speakers were-
Gillian Docherty OBE – Gillian is the CEO at the Data Lab and her keynote revolved around the advancement of technology with a look at what might be in place in 2040. Some of the items were definitely on the cards and some a little more pie in the sky, however she was most definitely right when saying that in 2040 many of the jobs would be ones we have not yet heard of. This initially sounded odd, but then how many of us have grandparents that were SEO specialists, or Data Scientists?
I also couldn’t help but love the nod to the Marvel Cinematic Universe when asking if we would have a digital personal assistant, like JARVIS, in 2040 … i’m certainly hoping we do.
Next up was Eamonn Keane – Eamonn is Head of Cyber Security and Innovation at the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and gave an interesting talk on digital forensics within the Police and talked about the skills shortages in both Cyber and Tech skills in Scotland at the moment and how Colleges and Universities can help to fill those skills gaps.
There was also some interesting chat about volunteering in cyber and digital posts for the Police to assist in active investigations something that definitely caught the attention of at least a couple of the 350 or so people in the room.
Eamonn chatted about trying to keep up with those who have back intentions in terms of cyber, with discussions on Black Hat and White Hat also taking place, something i had heard a little of in the past and I really like the connotation to that and the old cowboy films.
Next was Toni Scullion – Toni is an award winning High School Computer Science teacher who also started a charity (dressCode) which looks to address the gender imbalance in computer science by encouraging girls into, what has been for far too long, a male dominated subject.
Toni was the speaker i was most looking forward to and she didn’t let me down, talking about the #NoWrongPath as we heard the route from very few qualifications at school, to being encouraged by a great lecturer at college and it’s amazing to see Toni, now with a Master Degree and teaching Computer Science to the next generation of amazing talent that will progress through the colleges and universities of Scotland.
Toni is currently nominated for more awards and I wish her all the best for those.
The penultimate speaker was Ronnie Corse – Rpnnie is the Head of Technology for Sky, who just happen to be West Lothian’s biggest private employer.
Ronnies keynote was about teamwork, so although tinged with a hint of digital, it was a refreshing break change to have this type of speaker. starting talking about sporting teams and then moving onto teams within todays digital age and how the same rules apply, working as a team, whether you are successful or not, as long as you work as a team and put in all your effort rising above challenges, you will be doing the right thing.
Definitely some things in here for all the students to take on board about working as part of a team.
The final speaker of the day was Prof Bill Buchanan OBE – Bill is a Professor of Cryptography based at Edinburgh Napier University. I wasn’t taught by Bill in my time there, with my Digital Forensics courses taught instead by Dr Gordon Russell, but after seeing Bills keynote here which talked about how big brother, the Orwellian version, really is out there and added a different slant to that of Gillian from earlier.
Gillian talked about the possibilities for the future, Bill reined that in with chat of security and ensuring that any future technology is tempered by having the right security in place, this also included a live demonstration of a Python based face recognition system.
Bill then followed this with a small interactive competition looking at how password security could fairly easily be cracked as many of us use the same processes for our security and don’t use properly formatted passwords etc.
Lunch was then served alongside a selection of exhibitions before a number of workshops took place over the afternoon.
This was a brilliant event and i can’t wait until #Interrupt20 on the 16th September 2020.
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