Computing mentor opens dedicated lab for youngsters in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 11:20 03 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42 03 June 2019

Matthew Appleby (third from left) with young people at the Creative Computing Club  Picture: CHARLOTTE FLIGHT/SECKFORD FOUNDATION

Matthew Appleby (third from left) with young people at the Creative Computing Club Picture: CHARLOTTE FLIGHT/SECKFORD FOUNDATION


A computing mentor in the running for a prestigious BAFTA award is launching a new centre in Ipswich.

The official opening of the Creative Computing Centre at 27a London Road on Monday, June 3, is set to include star guests from the IT world including BBC tech boss Bill Thompson and Sir Andy Payne, owner of the Mastertronic Group, who works with industry charity GamesAid.

Matthew Applegate, who founded the Creative Computing Club in 2012 with a group of about 10 young people at Chantry Library, works with eight to 16-year-olds to develop their computing skills.

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His aim is to teach them skills around robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI), and many have gone on to work in the tech industry.

"We wanted to make sure kids were getting the change they deserve to get involved in these new emerging technologies," he said.

He has now put together funding from a variety of sources including tech giants Google, Amazon and Microsoft, to set up the Ipswich centre, a 'dedicated computing lab', with firms donating cutting-edge equipment to it.

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Mr Applegate is one of three contenders vying for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) YGD Mentor Award, aimed at teachers and mentors inspiring game designers of the future.

Mr Applegate said he was "chuffed" to have made it to the BAFTA finals for the third time. "I consider the kids I work with are part of this award, because they improve the standard of what we teach," he said.

The winner of the arts charity accolade, chosen by a panel of industry professionals, will be revealed at a special awards ceremony at BAFTA's headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London, on Saturday, June 29.

Mr Applegate works with more than 300 young people every week across Suffolk helping them to engage in technology-based sessions.

The clubs offers short courses on everything from robotics to artificial intelligence to game design.

This year he has also set up the Creative Computing Centre to help promote use of video games in schools and has also coordinated the development of a game involving nine schools across Suffolk and 300 students.

Mr Applegate said the club worked with some "really very, very talented kids", including children with learning difficulties.

The two-storey Ipswich centre will include softward development downstairs and hardware development upstairs.

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