I am very much a man of many hats: CEO, designer, maker, researcher, trainer…etc. The last two days, however, have revolved around my role as one of the volunteer co-organisers of the Manchester Raspberry Jams.
If you're not familiar with Raspberry Jams (except of the edible variety), they are community groups set up to help users get the most out of the Raspberry Pi – a low-cost, credit-card sized computer. Although small, it's very versatile and Jam members (who range in age from 7 to 70-odd) can build a seemingly endless variety of projects, e.g. using the Pi as the “brain” of a robot that can drive itself.
Over the last two days at Manchester Central, we've been showcasing the latest inventions by Manchester Jam members at Business Rocks: “The global stage for tech innovation”, with headline speaker Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple Inc.). The event provided ample opportunity to impress and entertain influential people from key industries with Jam members' creations and prove that digital innovation is alive and well in Manchester.
Highlights on show included racing robots and yet another of my hats: the CodeBug RPi3 Pano Hat, which takes 360° panoramic pictures in an instant using 8 Raspberry Pi3, 8 Pi cameras and, of course, our very own CodeBug.
It's always great fun to be part of the Jams and help people bring their ideas to life. At Manchester Jam, we are committed to helping people get involved in digital innovation — whether experienced makers or complete beginners. As President Obama recently said:
In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill — it’s a basic skill, right along with the three ‘Rs’.
As learning to code becomes increasingly important in our increasingly digital world, the Jams can provide both a useful hobby and a fantastic learning environment for both young and old — and they're open to anyone.
If you'd like to get involved, why not sign up for the next Manchester Jam session at “The Shed” at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) on Saturday, 11th June. Or find a Raspberry Jam near you here.