Class 8 students who were part of a two-week workshop that concluded in Bengaluru on Friday, expressed the desire to work with Infosys one day.

Catch Them Young An Infosys grassroots initiative honing high school talent in IT
Atom Education Saturday, April 28, 2018 - 23:53

Friday marked the conclusion of a two-week long workshop titled Spark Catch Them Young (CTY) for high school students, conducted by Infosys at its sprawling campus in Bengaluru. High performing students who have completed class 8 were the target group, and they were selected based on a screening test. Over 220 students participated in the online assessment test this year and 32 students were shortlisted for the programme. 

On the final day, students working in groups of five had to present a project, which was to be evaluated later. At the end of the workshop, students are given a memento and feedback about their performance. 

CTY is an annual decade-long initiative of Infosys that aims to nurture a sense of passion in young students, with a focus on Information Technology and hands-on lab work from an early stage. The workshop for the students is conducted by Infosys employees and subject matter experts, at their nine development centres across India, including Bengaluru. 

Speaking about the workshop, an Infosys spokesperson said, “Infosys has been in the business of IT for quite some time and we are considered the bellwethers in the industry. But being bellwethers, it is not only about doing what you do as a business, but it is also about how you contribute back to the society. So in that context, what we wanted to do was looking at all the different schools, colleges, we realised that there is a need for doing some focussed programmes to bring up the understanding, awareness of IT and how it is used in the industry.”

“We started this programme, Catch Them Young in 1997. The umbrella programme called Spark was started in 2008. Spark is all about igniting the minds of the students in terms of how do we make them realise what are the technology trends that are happening in the market, what does it mean for the industry, and how will it help them to take it forward in their own career planning.” 

In the two-week workshop, the first week is typically focused on understanding the technology and the concepts as well as communication techniques. It’s a hands-on project that is developed and demonstrated with the concepts of user experience, teamwork. In the second week, the students apply the concepts learnt, to real-life scenarios. The final learning indicator for the students is a project.

How the programme has evolved

For the first few years, it involved usage of Office products to know how it helps in your day-to-day life. But later, we went into concepts of object-oriented technology, and other technologies such as Java, Cloud Computing, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing. So, the curriculum has undergone a sea change and is even at par with what we teach our employees. 

“These students are already into mobiles, gaming, internet. So we give them a different perspective and experience when they come to us. It helps them realise the practical scenarios which can impact the lives of people, for e.g. healthcare, banking,” the spokesperson said. 

Response to the programme

The feedback we get from students and parents is that they see it is a great value addition, and the thought process of the children undergoes a visible change. When they come here, it is not just about training and giving hands-on experience. We take care of their travel, food and they almost become like our employees for those two  weeks. 

In the course of training the students, it’s a reverse learning for us also since their thought process is so different. Depending on their understanding of IT, it helps us in refreshing our curriculum and content every year. Going forward, we want to make it a more immersive, practical way of learning and the programme will become more futuristic, the spokesperson added. 

Students’ views on the workshop

Aria Narayan Vikram from National Public School said, "We got to work on many of the scripting languages like PHP, HTML, CSS and it was hands-on work, which couldn’t have been learnt online. I think Infosys is the only company which has such a programme at the grass-roots level to teach the fundamentals of IT." 

"We had a final project and our group created Hangman. I felt like we learnt so much about working with each other and actually communicating on an intellectual scale and at the same time, retaining our innovative ideas and integrating them."

She said that the teachers were easily accessible and go beyond the book, offering to collaborate with you on places like GitHub (the world’s leading software development platform where you can host and review code, and build software alongside millions of other developers). 

Srishti Kulkarni from Gear International School said, "We learnt a lot about the use cases of IT. Half these applications we didn’t even know about. We thought IT was just used for software engineering but it is used in so many other places. For eg. IRCTC, so it’s all around us and we didn’t realise that." 

She added, "The project work is not like an exam but it’s open book. So you have teachers all around to help you understand everything. Plus, you get inputs from everyone in your team. It was a very fun, interactive programme and the teachers helped us a lot. We know how to face a real-life problem and the different technologies used to solve it." 

For Abel Briosh from Sri Aurobindo School, he used to think that all software is developed based on general requirements. "But we realised what goes on behind the scenes. How to handle the amount of data that comes in from different fronts, how to distribute the data, all that was taught to us," he said.  

"They also gave us a lot of references and some websites which we didn’t know even existed. For eg, they told us about codeshare. We learnt about creating a better user interface (UI) and about security procedures implemented in the software," he added.  

All three students unanimously agreed that they want to work in the field of IT and even harboured the ambition of coming back and working with Infosys one day. 

If you wish to know more about the programme, click here

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