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A big thank you to our small ‘army’ of volunteers January 19, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
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Deirdre Kennedy with some of our volunteers

Deirdre Kennedy with some of our volunteers

The BT Young Scientist may be over, but as we start to wind down activity on this blog until the next year, we can’t say goodbye without posting a huge thanks to our small ‘army’ of volunteers. From manning the stand, to brainstorming concepts for the stand and looking after the technical side of it, no job was too big or too small for them and their enthusiasm was truly contagious.

We had a team of approximately 60 volunteers from different nationalities, different walks of life and different IBM career paths. It was a recipe for success.

One of our volunteers, Claudio Procida, an Italian software developer working with Lotus social software, took the time to write a few paragraphs about his experience. In my view his account summarises an IBM volunteer’s experience pretty well, so I thought I’d add it at the bottom of this post, for everyone to enjoy. But first, I want to give you a flavour of some of the interesting characters we had in our volunteer team…

Gareth recently helped build a 1 Petabyte Database (1 million Gigabytes) at IBM in Dublin. David, now married with 2 little girls, once took part as a student in the BT Young Scientist Competition, back in 1994. Claudio himself, is passionate about technology, cooking and painting. Aleksandra has developed quite a fancy for playing golf. Amanda works on the LotusLive Sametime Unyte team within IBM Ireland. Before moving to Ireland to work for IBM, Alessandra had over 40 tortoises at her family home in Italy. Massimiliano studied aerospace engineering but then got involved into software development following a passion for technology.

A volunteer’s view: Claudio Procida

“My name is Claudio Procida and I am a software developer based at IBM’s Technology Campus in Dublin 15. I volunteered for the BT Young Scientist exhibition because I appreciate IBM’s commitment to bring students closer to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. I also generally like being involved into activities where the company exposes its public persona to the local community. I was assigned to man IBM’s stand on the BTYSTE’s last day, Saturday afternoon, between 1pm and 6pm. Attendance to IBM’s stand was massive, and varied. There were families with children, as well as individuals in technical positions interested into learning what IBM is doing today.

The days before, volunteers had been giving away frizbee to students coming to our stand. To help them in their journey across our Smarter Cities theme, visitors were also given a special ‘passport’ and invited to collect stickers by picking them up from IBM volunteers scattered around the exhibition hall. In return for a passport completed with all stickers, they’d get a bag of Smarter Cities pins. Well, this initiative was so successful that by the time I came to volunteer on Saturday, there weren’t any passports left… but we did keep giving out the pins 🙂

My colleagues Deirdre Kennedy and Brian O’Donovan were present at the stand for the entire afternoon and took most of the questions from visitors. I think I spoke to more than fifty people myself and everybody else did a great job to welcome the crowds of students coming to our stand.

I think it is very important that we promote IBM’s commitment to help build a Smarter Planet, I was surprised to learn that most of our visitors thought IBM is still making consumer PCs. Many didn’t know we are now a services company, and weren’t aware of our recent releases of groundbreaking social software and collaboration tools. We invited visitors to learn more about Smarter Cities by watching an interactive demo available on the laptops at our stand. People were also invited to fill in a questionnaire, sharing their views on how we can make our cities smarter in every way, from classroom activities, to interaction with General Practitioners, to daily commuting. Results were displayed live on a well visible screen. With little surprise, students were asking for more laptops for their classrooms, and online lab analysis results were popular among families. Overall, I think IBM’s presence at BTYSTE was a success, and I am looking forward to being involved in it next year again!”

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Comments

1. bodonovan - January 19, 2011

@Claudio – thanks for writing up your experiences

@Alessandra – I hope someone good is looking after those 40 tortoises at you family home – I think this might be an even tougher job than looking after the 60 IBM volunteers at BTYSTE 🙂

2. pollicia - January 19, 2011

@brian – alas, my parents have had to move house and the tortoises have had to find a new home too (with proper documents and stuff – very beaurocratic). Some have even found new home with an IBMer, would you believe??

3. Deirdre Kennedy - January 20, 2011

Claudio, I think you have voiced the experience of the volunteers really well, so glad you found it such a rewarding experience, it really was a great event.


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