October 3 was a very exciting day for Oracle Academy. From the Oracle OpenWorld main keynote stage, in front of an audience of 8,000 people, Thomas Kurian, Oracle’s president of product development, announced a partnership between Oracle Academy and the Bloodhound Education Foundation.
Richard Noble, CEO of Bloodhound SSC, whose ambitious goal is to break the world land speed record (763 miles per hour) on its way to exceeding the 1,000-mph mark, underlined the importance of the partnership to Oracle, to Bloodhound, and to students and teachers worldwide. “This partnership is going to be really, really huge,” he said.
We couldn’t agree more.
One of the main challenges in teaching computing is in making the subject matter tangible for students. As with its cousin STEM disciplines, math and physics, computing makes use of algorithms, equations, and functions to describe, explore, and manipulate the world around us. The challenge in teaching those subjects to middle and high school students is that it’s very hard to connect what is on the paper or in the code to something they can see or touch.
It’s one of the reasons so many students give up on studying STEM subjects.
Almost since its inception nine years ago, the Bloodhound Project has aimed to change that dynamic for students of math, engineering, and physics. With the new Oracle Academy partnership, together we now aim to change it for students of computer science, too.
Born of the Space Race
There is a compelling story behind the Bloodhound Project that I didn’t know about before beginning this collaboration. Inspired by the Space Race in the 1950s and ‘60s, a small group of people set themselves a challenge to build a car that could be driven faster than the speed of sound.
Noble, a Scotsman, was one of those people. Working with a team of engineers and other experts, he succeeded, first driving the Thrust2 car to a 633-mph world record and then leading the Thrust SSC team (SSC stands for “supersonic car”) to be the first to break the sound barrier on land in 1997 at a still-record speed of 763 mph.
The Bloodhound Project was initiated not only to surpass that land speed record, but to put it entirely out of reach by driving its SSC faster than 1,000 mph—faster than any car or, for that matter, low-altitude aircraft has ever gone.
The team must consider all kinds of variables: What kind of surface does the car need to travel on to optimize speed? How do you engineer solid wheels since the centrifugal forces at these speeds make the use of regular tires impossible? How do you manage fuel flow to maximize thrust? Which kind of fuel do you use? How do you design the car for maximum aerodynamic efficiency? How do you keep the car from catching on fire, and most important, how do you keep the driver safe?
The dream of designing and building a car to go faster than 1,000 mph will likely become a reality thanks to expert engineering, a mastery of the principles of physics, the driver’s and team’s raw courage, and (through the partnership with Oracle) leading-edge computing and data analytics technologies.
But the Bloodhound Project isn’t only about going fast. From the outset, it has also aimed to accomplish what John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon in the 1960s did for children of that time: Inspire them to study math and engineering and become the inventors and innovators that lead society into the future.
At the urging of the UK Minister of Defense in the late 1990s, Noble led the vision to bring the project’s ongoing development challenges to students across the UK. Project organizers estimate that in 2016 more than 129,000 students in the UK had face-to-face access to a variety of instruction materials related to the project’s data feeds.
As part of its partnership with Oracle, Bloodhound will stream data during its test runs from the more than 550 sensors and cameras on its car to the Oracle Cloud. It plans to deliver that data to 230 countries.
Machine learning algorithms will support data modeling in helping the team predict what will happen to the car and driver as the vehicle nears and then breaks the sound barrier. “Once we go faster than 800 mph, we are truly entering the unknown,” says Mark Chapman, the project’s technical director. “We may discover challenges and barriers we haven’t even thought of.”
The augmented reality simulation of the car traveling at 1,000 mph—developed by Bloodhound students and interns, using the Oracle Java Cloud and real car data, and shown at Oracle OpenWorld on October 3—is mind blowing. It’s so good that it’s simultaneously like being in the driver’s compartment, inside the car engines (there are three of them), and watching a movie of the car in motion.
It takes everything that is abstract and makes it very exciting and very real.
Oracle Academy Vision
The goal of the Bloodhound-Oracle Academy partnership is to make the project’s data available to students for learning, both in the form of structured, controlled course work and eventually in the form of raw data.
Oracle Academy’s role will be to help as many as 3.5 million of our students and their teachers worldwide understand and explore how computing technologies enable such a project. The first two projects leverage Alice and Greenfoot, educational Java development environments, to encourage students to explore and design a base camp for test runs, as well as to modify car design and driving variables to make their simulated cars exceed 1,000 mph. Additional projects are currently being considered.
The collaboration between Oracle Academy and the Bloodhound Education Foundation has the power to bring all the difficulties and excitement of a real-world, unsolved problem to classrooms and students worldwide. It will give students and teachers the opportunity to ask their own design questions, consider their own variables, and eventually test their own theories and designs using real-world data.
We’re delighted to become part of this 21st century engineering challenge.
Original Post: Oracle Blog, October, 2017
More than 1,800 students representing 75 countries, regions, and territories gathered in Los Angeles, California, to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Intel ISEF brings together top high school students—regional, state, and national science fair winners from around the world—to showcase their talents, have their projects reviewed and judged by doctoral level scientists, and give them the opportunity to win approximately $4 million in awards.
And, we were delighted to be amidst these rising stars to witness their talents and brilliant innovations as a Special Awards sponsor. Oracle Academy Special Award finalists received an aggregate value of $45,000 in recognition of their outstanding work in computer science using Oracle-related technologies in the Systems Software category.
“Volunteering as an Oracle judge at the Intel ISEF science fair was such a humbling experience. I am awestruck and inspired by the passion and creativity these students applied to real-world problems. I left that fair with renewed confidence that our future is in great hands,” Steven Entezari, manager, Oracle.
Congratulations 2017 Oracle Academy Special Award Winners!
We were honored to award eight individual projects and one team project. The individual student projects each received an Oracle Academy Special Award of $5000 and team project members shared the Oracle Academy Special Award of $2500 each.
And, the winners are:
Thank You, Volunteers!
Thank you Oracle Volunteers for serving as project judges for the Oracle Academy Special Awards, dedicating your time and talent to interview and judge the projects of the finalists, and helping to congratulate and applaud the winners at the Award Ceremony. We join you in being inspired by the talent of all the future scientists, innovators, and leaders who participated in the International Science and Engineering Festival!
“It was truly an honor to meet these brilliant students from all over the world, to review their remarkable projects and to reward their hard work and innovation,” shared Nabeela Khan Hartwell, volunteer judge and Oracle senior principle technical account manager. “It was an inspiring and amazing experience. I thank Oracle Academy for providing me this opportunity and to promote scientific education and its importance in our lives!
Building on Oracle’s commitment to expanding its support of CS education globally, we recently signed partnership agreements with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Vocational Training Authority (VTA) of Sri Lanka. The agreements were exchanged during an Oracle Academy Day in Colombo which was attended by more than 60 officials, HODs and faculty from both the organizations and other educational institutes in Sri Lanka.
The signed partnership with the Ministry of Education Sri Lanka aims to integrate our programs into 200 institutes at the secondary and higher secondary levels where ICT and Computer Science are part of the curriculum supporting more than 200 faculty and 10,000 students.
“Our mission is to develop competent citizens keeping with the global trends through innovative and modern approaches to education. The Ministry is committed to investing in education programs that help inspire students’ interest in Computer Science,” said Mr Sunil Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Education. “We look forward to working with Oracle very closely to help prepare our youth island wide for Computer Science education. This partnership provides cutting edge information technology skills for our students to be competitive in the future.”
Our programs will also be integrated into 35 VTA’s Training Centers located island-wide supporting more than 10,000 students on the pathway to future IT careers. Over the next three years, the agreement will also facilitate the training of 150 faculty members to help develop their skills in order for them to become instructors for Oracle Academy courses in Sri Lanka.
“The core intention of the VTA is to make vocational training more accessible for our rural youth throughout the country,” said Major General (retd.) Gamini Hettiarachchi, Chairman VTA. “We are extremely pleased to work with Oracle Academy and provide our students with a world-class IT curriculum, boosting their confidence and equipping them with a competitive edge for successful careers.”
Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP), known for its scientific and technological development of their students, hosted EMPLEATE Otoño 2017 a week long event aimed at connecting companies and employee relations offices to these talented students.
Because this focus aligns with our mission and purpose, we were thrilled at the opportunity to host Oracle Day, a full day at EMPLEATE Otoño 2017 dedicated just to Oracle. First semester students experienced programming and basic Java programming concepts by creating 3-D Animations with our Getting Started with Java Using Alice workshop. For those participants who were with us last year and have a basic understanding of programming, we took them through our Creating Java Programs with Greenfoot workshop to help them learn detailed object-oriented programming terminology and concepts while creating 2-D games in a fun and interactive environment.
In addition to the workshops, Oracle Academy members and Oracle volunteers shared insight about their experiences in the IT industry, the teams and projects they are involved with, and the latest technology trends including the Oracle Cloud.
As Oracle Day came to a close, both first and second year students, as well as university professors, gained an understanding and awareness of what a computer science education—paired with the power of programming skills and knowledge—can do to inspire creativity. By the end of just one day of learning to program, students had the skills to develop their own fantasy worlds of life in space, adventures in the jungle, and underwater journeys in the ocean.
"Today our students have had an incredible experience. We thank Oracle Academy for all the effort it takes to be with us for a day at our university," said Professor Alma Ambrosio, Labor Exchange Coordinator from the Computer Science Faculty.
When you think of volunteer projects, a one-day event with a t-shirt dedicated to a certain cause usually comes to mind. This Oracle supported Mentorship Program is not one of those typical volunteer projects. More than 50 Oracle Romania engineers and managers from across several functions at Oracle, including EMEA Presales Center, Global Customer Support, Advanced Customer Support, and Software Development, donated their time and expertise to university students from Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, and Suceava, Romania, throughout the 2016 – 2017 academic year.
Hands-On Experiences with Experts
Driven by their passion to help improve students’ technical skills and better prepare them for the IT market, volunteers shared their knowledge via workshops focused on Oracle Database, Big Data, WebLogic, BPM, Oracle Cloud, Agile Methodology, and Java Programming as well as operating systems, primarily, Oracle Linux, to supplement what students already learned through our Oracle Academy curriculum. More than 160 workshop hours were delivered to 800 ready-to-learn university students.
To help apply the knowledge to practical experiences, Oracle senior engineers hosted weekly Oracle Academy Club sessions, shared presentations and practical exercises in Java programming, process automation, and applied project management. Twenty-five graduate-level students were assigned an Oracle engineer to assist with their papers and projects and help prepare them for their final exams.
The University Politehnica, Bucharest, hosted a summer school offering workshops and presentations on Oracle Database Cloud, Business Intelligence Cloud Service, Oracle Data Visualization Desktop, Big Data, Database Architecture, and Database Security delivered by Oracle Romania experts.
“The IT market demands engineers to be knowledgeable on a wide range of Oracle products and connected software technologies, to fulfill multiple roles in various areas such as: Support, Development, Project Management being able to cope with new IT trends such migrating to Cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data,” said Florin Dragnea, director, ACS Service Management, and DB Expertise Center. “Oracle Academy Romania brings students closer to our needs and makes possible a continuous collaboration between Oracle Engineers and University Students with the scope to improve their technical skills and have them better prepared for a fast changing IT Labor Market.”
In today’s fast paced and technology driven economy, computer programming is an essential skill to introduce to kids from an early age. This was the goal when we collaborated with Wi-Fi Combat Academy, MTN, and other corporate bodies to launch the one-day “Oracle Academy Students Hackathon” in Nigeria.
Leading up to this hackathon, Oracle Academy and Wi-Fi Combat Academy team members have successfully taken approximately three hundred K-12 faculties and students through our Getting Started with Java using Alice and Creating Java Programs with Greenfoot workshops throughout the 2015 – 2017 academic calendar years. In addition, six teacher-trainings were delivered to help support educators teach how to program with Java.
The Oracle Academy Students Hackathon brought together more than 100 young students, ages 7 – 17, who had previously completed our workshops and were ready to showcase what they learned. The result—awesome animations and games. The winning team left parents and guardians in awe at the level of creativity they demonstrated with their new game created in Greenfoot. In recognition for their achievement, the winning team was invited to run a demonstration how their game worked for Oracle Nigeria employees.
The International Student Olympiad in Information Technology “IT Planet” in Russia gave us the opportunity to support two contests focused on improving relevant IT skills. More than 10,000 students have participated in these Oracle Academy-sponsored contests.
IT-Planet is a unique, multi-vendor educational project. The main purpose is the professional development of students in the field of information technology. The project has gained international status by bringing together students receiving vocational and higher education in Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
After passing two qualifying stages, 36 students were invited to the finals at the Russian International Olympic University in Sochi. With the support our Oracle Academy team, finalists competed in two areas: Oracle SQL programming and Oracle Java programming. These competitions helped students learn more about Oracle technology, as well as tested and improved their level of practical knowledge for successful employment in the IT field.
More than 8,000 of the world’s most innovative student minds—1,400 teams from 45 states and 14 countries—gathered in Knoxville, Tennessee at Destination Imagination Global Finals May 2017, to showcase their challenge solutions. The Destination Imagination Challenge program gives teams the opportunity to solve one of seven open-ended challenges. It encourages students from elementary school through college to turn their creativity into innovation while teaching patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and the collaborative problem-solving process.
Featured in the expo, Destination Imagination hosted an Oracle Academy experience that gave its global finalists a hands-on look at Alice and Coding the Finch Robot with Greenfoot. Student participants learned the basics of Java programming concepts through developing 3-D animation with Alice and the participants learned Greenfoot to program an interface to make the Finch robot move.
Programming Meets Cooking in the Oracle Academy Coding Kitchen
Destination Imagination teams used their critical thinking skills needed for coding in our Oracle Academy coding kitchen to prepare a meal. Teams worked together to construct a recipe and the steps needed to program a chef to cook the perfect dish. One false step and the chef would not complete the meal.
We are turning the spotlight on our members who are making an impact with Oracle Academy.
Yuda Munarko is Head of Informatics at Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM), Malang City, East Java Province, Indonesia, an Islamic university with three campuses and 10 faculties. He manages a teaching staff of 30, designs the curriculum, ensures delivery, and is responsible for partnerships.
Oracle Academy is the UMM partner of choice for teaching Java and Database technology. Yuda was trained in the Oracle Academy curriculum after graduating with a Masters Degree in Computer Science from RMIT University, Australia.
Today Yuda and his colleagues teach the Oracle Academy curriculum to 1,500 Computer Science students in first to final year as well as to some classes within Electrical Engineering.
Oracle Academy: Why did you select Oracle Academy as a resource for teaching computer science?
Yuda: I am a programmer and I love databases. For me, the Oracle Academy curriculum is perfectly suited to teaching Java and database to students from all backgrounds and skill sets and preparing them for the Indonesian job market.
What I like about Oracle Academy is that it levels the playing field. Students at UMM come from many different areas in Indonesia with varying educational backgrounds and abilities. Oracle Academy serves as a bridge for equipping them with a standard knowledge base, putting them all on the same level.
When it comes to programming, Alice and Greenfoot have been excellent starter resources for later creating applications using NetBeans or Eclipse.
Oracle Academy: How much of the Oracle Academy curriculum do you use?
Yuda: All of it! The curriculum is perfect for students to acquire industry leading knowledge and apply for jobs. Oracle Academy content supplies the materials for our courses and has become part of student credits. By that, I mean that we combine the results of Oracle Academy quizzes and exams with our own mid-term and final exams for the final grading. We find that students who pass Oracle Academy exams almost always do fine in the final University exams.
Oracle Academy: How do you distribute the teaching?
Yuda: My colleagues and I combine classroom instruction with lab work at least twice a week in five classes, each with 40-50 students.
Five of us teach Java Programming and three teach Database technology. My colleagues have all taken Oracle Academy training and have applied for Oracle Certified Associate certification.
Oracle Academy: Do your students also get certified?
Yuda: We push our students to obtain Oracle certification, which most of them do after graduating. It certainly gives them an advantage when it comes to jobs.
Oracle Academy: Do they all find computer science related jobs?
Yuda: For sure, jobs in database and Java programming are abundant. The market is very large and growing day by day. Anyone completing Oracle Academy courses—in any university or vocational school in Indonesia—will qualify for those jobs.
I regularly get contacted by companies asking me to recommend students with good programming and software development skills - in oil & gas, mining, financial services, you name it!
But they don’t all end up in companies; many of them start their own businesses. A large number of them have founded start-ups in video games, mobile applications, and other creative industries.
Oracle Academy: In addition to your great work at UMM, you have also trained other teachers to teach Oracle Academy. What was that experience like?
Yuda: It’s enriching. I joined the train-the-trainer program in 2014 and since then I have trained some 200 teachers in Indonesia and 100 teachers in the Philippines.
In Indonesia, where hundreds of Vocational Schools have joined the Oracle Academy program, I find that most teachers have basic programming or database knowledge but they do not know the specific features or techniques of Java Fundamentals or database design.
So in a way training other teachers is very much like teaching students. And at the same time, of course, I share the Oracle Academy teaching methodology and pass on tips & tricks and best practices.
Oracle Academy makes it easy to stay abreast of innovations in the database and tools—the curriculum is always improving and there are always new slides and materials online.
Oracle Academy: Outside of teaching what are your favorite activities?
Yuda: My hobbies are outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing and cycling. I love cycling, so I commute to work by bike. Travelling is a passion too.
Thank you Yuda for your dedication and making an impact on your students!
It’s time to turn the spotlight onto our members who are making an impact with the Oracle Academy. If you are interested in being featured or nominating another member for the spotlight, please contact us.
Oracle Academy members and Coders in Action around the world are advancing computer science education to drive knowledge, develop skills and deliver innovative solutions in technology fields.
Future Steps in the Computer Science Education – Industry & Higher Ed Collaboration