Computing trio aim to give Northern Ireland second byte in UK awards

Computing trio aim to give Northern Ireland second byte in UK awards

The 18-year-old from Coalisland wins £250, a game cube and trophy in the ‘A’ Star Awards and now goes on to represent Northern Ireland in the UK final where she will be joined by runners-up Anna Devlin from St Patrick’s Academy and Stacy Mallon from St Macnissi’s College, Carnlough, Country Antrim. 


They will receive their prizes at a reception in their honor at the Parliament Buildings, Belfast on Wednesday 25 September. Results are based on this year’s ‘A’ Level Computing exam marked by Northern Ireland awarding body CCEA. 


The Awards, organized by Edinburgh-based international software firm Axios Systems, are aimed at attracting more girls to take up careers in IT and redress a skills shortage in the industry. The co-sponsors are Ford Motor Company and Accenture, the world's leading management and technology services organization. 


Fewer than one-quarter of UK computing professionals - and under 10% of programmers - are women. 


Last year’s UK winner was Clara Boyd from Portadown College, who is now at Cambridge University. 


In the final, to be held over the Internet, the Northern Ireland trio will try to emulate her success when they compete against other girls from England, Scotland and Wales who scored highest marks in ‘A’ Level or Scottish Advanced Higher Computing exams. The top prizes, which will be presented in November in Manchester, will include cash, a laptop computer and an all-expenses-paid trip to the USA. 


St Patrick’s had no fewer than six girls in Northern Ireland’s top 10 - an unprecedented achievement in the competition. The Academy’s Head Teacher, Mrs Margaret Connelly, will be among the VIP guests at the Stormont reception. 


Shauna is going on to study Law with French at Trinity College, Dublin. She said: “Of course I hope to continue with my interest in computers by undertaking enrichment modules in the area.” Her interests lie mainly in sport and outdoor pursuits - her favorite sport is camogie (Irish hockey) which she has played at county level. 


Her parents Claire and Paul are both teachers - her mother teaches English at St Patrick’s. 


Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive of CCEA, commented: “Congratulations to all the young women being recognized for their outstanding performance in ‘A’ level computing. They are a credit to their schools and parents. Congratulations also to Axios Systems for its ongoing support of this prestigious competition to find the UK's top IT girl. 


“Our best wishes go to Shauna, Anne and Stacy as they move on to the final " 


At the Parliament Buildings reception certificates will also be presented to other girls who scored the next best marks: 


Louise O’Rourke (St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon) 

Helena Cullen (St Patrick’s) 

Lorna Stewart (St Patrick’s) 

Joan O’Neill (St Mary’s Grammar School, Magharafelt, Co. Derry) 

Michelle Robinson (St Patrick’s) 

Mary Conway (St Mary’s Grammar School) 

Ruth Grant (The Royal School, Dungannon) 

Louise Black (St Macnissi’s) 

Katrina O’Boyle (St Macnissi’s) 

Geraldine McKenna (St Patrick’s) 

Fiona McGowan (St Mary’s, Magharafelt) 

Claire Thompson (Lurgan College)