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PyConIE 2018

12 Nov 2018

Derek Smyth

The PyConIE Conference is an annual convention for the discussion and promotion of the Python programming language. It was the 9th PyCon conference to date and Brightwater have sponsored the event each year since its inception.

The conference was well attended by exhibitors, sponsors and attendees from across Ireland, Europe and oversees. There was also a good mix of attendees including some of those still studying at 3rd level, new entrants to the job market, and those who are further along in their careers.

There was a very good atmosphere and the event was very well organised with an excellent array of speakers, topics and workshops over the 2 days, including keynotes from Dr Suzanne Little, Miguel Grinberg, Dr Brett Becker and Keith Quille. PyCon also offered plenty of fun and socialising and a well-attended quiz on the Saturday night with free beers and pizza.

After the success of our Star wars theme last year, Brightwater decided on a retro theme for this year’s conference.  We had a huge variety of retro sweets (mostly blue of course!) on our tables and ran a competition for attendees to win a host of retro computer games. The star prize this year was a Super Nintendo Classic, and congratulations again to Michael Cribbin from Scurri who won our prize draw.  Congratulations also to our other winners on the day who solved puzzles to win their retro games. 

I spoke to a lot of people on the day and the common themes were the excellent talent available in Ireland, the challenges  of attracting skilled IT professionals to Ireland including dealing with the structural issues including housing and transport, and also the challenge of attracting more females into technical roles. I spoke to a number of employers who are actively looking to attract more females in order to better balance development teams. Initiatives like Pyladies and Djangogirls are very important in promoting increased female participation in the Python and development community. They also provide training initiatives and an excellent support network for women and are a bridge to the larger international Python and IT communities.
One topic of particular interest to me was “Leaving Certificate Computer Science and Python” presented by Stephen Murphy, founder of The Computer Science Teachers’ Association of Ireland. Stephen spoke on the pilot programme where 40 schools will teach Computer Science as a leaving certificate subject, with courses beginning in September2018, and with the first exams expected in June 2020. The course includes how programming and computational thinking can be applied to the solution of problems, and how computing technology impacts the world around us. This is a key initiative for Ireland if we are to get more students interested in Computer Science at an early age and particularly to attract more females to programming to help redress the considerable imbalance.  

I was personally delighted for the opportunity to speak as part of a panel discussion on recruitment on Saturday afternoon where we spoke on topics including the importance of company culture and values, the good and the bad when interviewing, and corporate diversity and how it is managed.

We believe events like PyCon are extremely important to the tech community in Ireland and we truly value our relationship with this event in particular. Congratulations to all the organisers and sponsors who made the event such a great success.

Derek Smyth, Manages our IT team and recruits for contract roles, covering Infrastructure, BI, Data Analytics and software development.