Aberystwyth University leads Android app world record attempt

16 June 2015

Aberystwyth University taught 62 people to code an Android app on 13 June as part of a Guinness world record attempt for the most people learning to code.

Aberystwyth University was one of 30 venues hosting the attempt to break the record for the largest number of people simultaneously learning to code an Android app. Over 1000 people took part in the record attempt across the UK.

The app-a-thon was organised by BCSWomen, part of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Aberystwyth had a leading role to play – the workshop was written by an Computer Science lecturer Dr Hannah Dee, who also ran online video sessions before the event to train the trainers at all of the other locations.

The event not-only aimed to break the record, but also to encourage young people, particularly girls, to consider a career in IT. Currently, women account for just 16% of IT professionals; a figure that has fallen significantly in recent years.

Each appathon session was led by a female tutor who taught participants how to build Android apps using MIT AppInventor.

At Aberystwyth the leader was Dr Hannah Dee, with assistance provided by staff from AU and Coleg Ceredigion. The sessions were a mixture of talks, activities and hands-on coding.

Hannah is also the Academic Liaison and Coordinator for BCSWomen.

Hannah said: “Hopefully, by having 1093 people learn how to make fun Android apps, we’ll have managed to change peoples’ ideas about programming by showing them it can be creative and fun. Also, by having women lead the workshops across the UK, we might even change a few minds about what programmers look like.  It seems like it worked, too - I bumped into one of the mums in the supermarket on Sunday and apparently her primary-aged daughter had got up that morning and immediately started working on her apps!”

The attempt was organised and run by volunteers. Gillian Arnold, Chair of BCSWomen said: “We are over the moon to have attempted the App-a-thon Guinness World Record. Coordinating something like this is no mean feat – it requires months of planning and coordination, which many of us fitted around our day jobs. To have attempted to set a world record is a fantastic achievement that can be attributed to the hard work and determination of our BCSWomen members and all the locations’ volunteers.”

Gillian added: “It is vital that we support girls wishing to enter the IT profession; the lack of women entering the industry is a very real threat for UK plc. Women represent just 16% of IT professionals. By having a woman lead the App-a-thon sessions, we hope to have inspired many young women and demonstrated to them and their parents what an exciting and rewarding career IT can be.”