Meet our new Head of Computing!

If you read our last blog, you will have seen us talk about some of our exciting new courses in gaming and computing that are going to be starting in September. We’ll be running courses in Level 3 Creative Computing, Software Development T-Level and Level 3 Esports Management!

This week, we’re introducing our new Head of Computing, Jackson Armstrong. Jackson has over 6 years of hands-on industry experience as a programmer and developer, alongside a long experience in the education sector developing T-Levels. Find out more below!

How did you get into the computing industry?

I originally studied agricultural engineering at college as computing courses weren’t available at the time (I can take the clutch out of a Massey Ferguson tractor, which I’m sure is a skill I’ll never use again!). After engineering, I did a BTEC in Music Technology, and then finally did an access course to get into university. I’m not sure I really knew what I wanted to do at 16, I was just interested in how stuff worked. 

At uni I studied web programming and development, which included elements of computer science but was mainly writing code. I loved that, and still do. 

I was a School of Computing representative at Teesside University, exhibited programmes aimed at educational social networks at the universities employer fair, and got my first full time programming job straight out of university based on that. Prior to that I did a lot of freelance work to get through uni and it all just escalated from there. I also ran my own business for a while!

What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on whilst working in the computing industry?

One of my first projects out of uni was working for a company that dealt with a lot of door and window businesses – sounds super exciting, I know! But we actually developed augmented reality apps that allowed people to design doors and windows, take pictures of their house and then place their designed door on their house before they bought it. That was in the early days of AR, so it’s been cool to see how far it’s come on as a technology since then with programmes like Pokemon Go. 

Why should people study for a career in computing? 

It’s a really interesting industry that is ever-growing and changing. Some of the advancements in computing are changing the world. AI is curing disease, helping us travel into space and automating processes. Virtual reality is also getting more and more powerful. 

Computing is a part of almost every sector from healthcare to construction to nuclear, none of which would be able to operate today if it wasn’t for digital systems. The skills gaps and jobs are growing day by day which means there are a lot of well-paid jobs. A career that is interesting and makes you good money is a win for me. 

What skills will people learn on our computing courses and what are you most excited about?

Our Level 3 Creative Computing course is looking at coding for a creative purpose. You’ll be exposed to programming and the more technical aspects of the creative industries such as games programming. It’s an excellent start if you want to get into that side of the creative digital industries. 

Our Software Development T Level takes that a step further and is aimed at turning you into a junior software developer, ready for an entry point into the world of work. It covers a range of fundamental computer science such as networking and cyber security as well as physical, virtual and cloud computing systems with the main focus being how these systems influence programming and software development.

Esports is a mixture of events, esports coaching and esports performance. It’s a multi-million pound industry that is only growing in popularity and job demand. It will teach learners how to plan, manage and run esports events including all aspects of video production, live streaming and shoutcasting. It will help them establish a brand as an online content creator, and it will also teach them techniques to improve their performance in esports and look after their physical and psychological health. 

I’m excited by the things that we have planned for our new courses including employer events, masterclasses, world skills, national esports events and tech events to show them the cutting edge of digital technologies and give them the base knowledge they need to participate in those industries. 

Collaboration is a big thing at Access, how do you see our computing students collaborating with other courses?

Everything computing students do will compliment courses that we already run. Games programmers can work with games artists. Esports management students can access cohorts of students that are avid gamers. 

I definitely think projects should pull ideas from all our courses. It simulates the real-world industry as professional teams are made up of different specialists. Computing students could work on Esports events, games production, web and app production, launching freelance companies or entrepreneurship. There’s even possible collaborations with our Music and Media students!

Is there anything else you’re looking forward to at Access? 

We are investing heavily in the School of Computing. I think given the right support and opportunities, it can grow into something exceptional with strong employer links for our students. 

I’m excited about my job. It allows me to pass my knowledge of the geeky and cool things you can do with computers to ACC students. When I think about some of the work that will be produced, and the events and showcases that our students will be a part of, I get very excited. I can’t wait to see that.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our Creative Computing and Software Development courses, head over to our School of Computing page!