I have been invited to speak at Science and the Assembly 2011, an annual event organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, designed to develop closer links between the scientific community in Wales, the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government.
I’m one of six invited speakers from across academia and industry, as well as the WAG Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor John Harries, on themes heralded by the International Year of Chemistry. However, I will be subverting the theme somewhat by discussing the importance of Computing to Wales, highlighting how it underpins modern scientific research and where it sits within the STEM agenda:
Computing: Enabling a Digital Wales
The strategic importance of the provision of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, as well as their contribution to the Welsh and wider UK economy has been frequently discussed, but there appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding with where Computing and related disciplines sit within the STEM portfolio. It should be regarded as the quintessential STEM subject, involving scientific enquiry, engineering design and mathematical foundations, as well as embodying deeper computational thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills.
In December 2010, the Welsh Assembly Government outlined a framework for Delivering a Digital Wales, a wide-ranging strategy to reflect the importance digital technologies now play in our lives, touching upon virtually every strand of public and private sector activity. Hence, being able to innovate with technology will be a crucial part of the future economic strength of Wales. And therein lies the importance and relevance of Computing education: it is imperative that there is a clear strategy for Computing in Wales that distinguishes it from “digital literacy”, recognising it as a core discipline that underpins modern scientific research.
This is a well-timed event considering the recent Assembly elections, so I hope there is a strong turnout from both newly elected Assembly Members and policymakers.
The seventh annual Science and the Assembly takes place in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday 24th May 2011 at the Pierhead Building and the Senedd; registration is online.