Digital Solutions and Technologies Students Visit River City Labs

Recently our Years 10 and 11 Digital Solutions and Technologies classes attended an excursion to River City Labs (RCL), an organisation fostering growth within start-up companies solving the big problems and providing resources to empower, support and connect entrepreneurs to achieve their potential. Accompanied by Mathematics and Digital Design teacher, Dr Daniel Tuazon and Head of Digital Solutions and Technologies, Mr Paul Herring, students were given their own ‘Hot Desk’ to get a feel for the experience of working in a start-up community.

“Hot desking is an office system that involves multiple workers using a single physical work station or surface during different times and is big in the start-up industry,” Mr Herring said.

“The Australian Computer Society (ACS), who now own RCL, very kindly donated some HotDesk space for the students,” he said.

“This gave them a real sense of what it’s like to work in a start-up community.”

Receiving an in-depth tour of the facility by RCL Operations Manager, Tarryn Thiele, students then had the chance to sit at their HotDesk’s and also hear from three female guest speakers involved in high technology start-up companies.

“Firstly students heard from Jen Jeavons, the Managing Director of Pixel Palace,” Mr Herring said.

"Jen spoke about her experiences in the IT industry, especially in User Experience (UX) Design and encouraged our students to appreciate that they have a ‘superpower’ in this domain,” he said.

“Pixel Palace do a lot of work with the RSPCA, and our Year 11 students had earlier this year created a prototype for a mobile Pet Shelter App, so there was some good synergy there.”

Students next heard from Ashwini Balnaves, a software engineer with company Kapiche, a high-performance text analytics tool to understand customer feedback.

“The students thoroughly enjoyed Ashwini’s presentation around the fascinating work Kapiche does, understanding data analytics of customer surveys,” Mr Herring said.

“What was also interesting is that Ashwini is also involved with the ‘Brisbane Py Ladies’, a community group that helps women who use coding program Python – a program our students learn to use across Years 8 to 10,” he said. 

Following these two very informative presentations, students then heard from the CEO of FloodMap, Juliette Murphy. Explaining how the 2011 Brisbane floods lead to her seeing a significant social need, Juliette spoke to students about the challenges and achievements starting a new company that could be of great help in future flood events, both in Australia and across the world.

After all of the presentations were complete, students took a short afternoon tea break, eager to utilise their HotDesk’s to work on their own projects, with Year 11 students in the middle of developing a mobile phone Vehicle Management App React Native, a new and very popular Mobile App software development kit created by Facebook.

“While working on their projects, students were very fortunate to have Head of Product and Lead Developer at Rex Labs, Thomas McCarthy offer some support,” Mr Herring said.

“Thomas is an ex-student of mine and an expert in React Native, our students learnt a lot from his knowledge of the program,” he said.

Reflecting on a very successful excursion, Mr Herring believes students gained an exclusive insight into the work and drive that goes into founding and running a start-up company in the high technology space.

“Overall, it was a most interesting, enlightening and enjoyable excursion,” Mr Herring said.