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Nationwide competition launched to free future computing talent from top up fees

News from Queen Mary, University of London, organisers of the internet bursary competition BrainAcademy, www.brainacademy.qmul.ac.uk

BrainAcademy 2005 goes live on Monday 16th May 2005, offering study places and funding for the most talented computer enthusiasts.

Entrants complete an online research quiz and computer programming challenge, the finalists then face an tough interview in front of panel of judges. The competition opens on the 16th May 2005 and closed on 14th September 2005.

With support from Microsoft and the chance to win an Undergraduate or Masters Degree place starting in 2006, the competition is open to school leavers, students and, for the first time, people in the workplace who wish to return to study to advance their career.

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16th May 2005

COMPETITION LAUNCHED TO FIND COMPUTING TALENT OF THE FUTURE

Queen Mary, University of London today launches its annual UK wide computer science talent competition for prospective students - with prizes worth almost £30,000 and the support of Microsoft. Up for grabs in BrainAcademy 2005 are a place on an undergraduate computer science degree course at the College, starting in 2006 with all tuition fees paid; postgraduate degree bursaries; study abroad; and other unique career opportunities. The competition is just one way in which Queen Mary is demonstrating its commitment to widening access to University education.

BrainAcademy 2005 opens on 16 May 2005 and closes on 14 September 2005. The challenging competition involves an online research quiz to qualify for the programming challenge, followed by a tough interview for the finalists. With diversity as a requirement, BrainAcademy is open to people of all ages throughout the UK, whether school leavers, students, or those in the workplace wanting to advance their career. We expect to announce winners in December for entry to study in 2006.

The competition is bigger and better this year, with more prizes and three winners instead of one. For the first time, postgraduates can enter BrainAcademy, with two places and bursaries for Computer Science Masters degree programmes at Queen Mary starting in 2006. The undergraduate winner will be guaranteed a fast-track interview for the popular Microsoft Student Intern Programme and, upon successful graduation, a fast-track interview for the coveted Microsoft Graduate Programme. Winners are also in line for Microsoft software, laptops, textbooks and cash prizes. Kevin McDaniel, Academic Group Manager, Microsoft Ltd says, "Microsoft is delighted to be again working with Queen Mary, University of London and supporting its annual computer science bursary competition. Encouraging and enabling young technology enthusiasts and students to realise their full potential with technology is a common goal that both Microsoft and Queen Mary share."

Queen Mary already provides an excellent career platform for graduates, with the second highest graduate starting salary and sixth best employability record in the UK. BrainAcademy judges can also award additional career enhancing prizes depending on the student’s performance and interests. Prizes available include a summer work experience placement with top Internet publishers ZDNet, or a student exchange year abroad at another top international University.

Dr Paul Curzon of Queen Mary’s Department of Computer Science is in charge of this year’s competition. He says, “BrainAcademy is a fun way to find the most talented students and give them the life-changing opportunity of a university education together with great career options. We want to show how Computer Science draws on many different areas, from the social sciences to engineering, and from maths to the performing arts. It is far bigger and more diverse than ICT at school. Computer Science has been shaped by both women and men of many different cultures and backgrounds. Most of all, it is great fun, challenging and rewarding!”

To enter the BrainAcademy competition, please visit: www.brainacademy.qmul.ac.uk

[ends]

Media contact
For further information and photography, please contact:

Rose Ross and Hannah Knowles
Omarketing Limited (for BrainAcademy)
020 8255 5225
rose@omarketing.co.uk / hannah@omarketing.co.uk

Dr Paul Curzon
Department of Computer Science
Queen Mary, University of London
020 7882 5212
pc@dcs.qmul.ac.uk

Anna Bednarek
Press & PR Office
Queen Mary, University of London
020 7882 3004
a.c.bednarek@qmul.ac.uk

Notes to editors

History of BrainAcademy
BrainAcademy was first launched in 2003, with 120 hopefuls making it through to the programming challenge, and a handful making it as far as the interview stage. The fun "life-changing-prizes-game-show" caught the imagination and received commendations from the government Minister for IT. The competition also won Queen Mary’s Drapers prize for teaching and learning. The 2003 winner, Adam Kramer, from North London, is currently entering his second year and is one of the top students on the Queen Mary Computer Science course. Adam, then 17, was a self-taught programmer when he entered. "I wasn't expecting to win the competition, but I'm really pleased to be studying at Queen Mary," he said. More information at: www.brainacademy.qmul.ac.uk

The competition is sponsored by Queen Mary, University of London, and by the information technology industry including Microsoft, high-tech PR and marketing consultancy Omarketing (www.omarketing.co.uk) and Internet publishers ZDNet. The British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Group and BAFTA winners Soda Creative Ltd (http://www.soda.co.uk/) also support this year’s competition.

Queen Mary, University of London
Queen Mary is the fourth largest of the Colleges of the University of London. Its roots lie in four historic colleges: Queen Mary College, Westfield College, St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and the London Hospital Medical College. Pooling strengths, expertise and resources, Queen Mary is now fully integrated.

The College currently has over 10,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, with an academic and support staff of around 2,600. It is organised into the four faculties of Arts; Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; Law and Social Sciences; and Natural Sciences, and Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry. It is a research university, with over 80 per cent of research staff working in departments where research is of international or national excellence (RAE 2001). It has a strong international reputation, with over 20 per cent of students coming from over 100 countries.

For more information on the Department of Computer Science, please visit: www.dcs.qmul.ac.uk

Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the world-wide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people. The Microsoft Academic Initiative is committed to advancing research and scholarship, enhancing the teaching and learning experience and empowering students to realise their full potential with technology. Visit www.microsoft.com/uk/academia/

ZDNet
ZDNet is the UK's leading source of fast, authoritative information on technology solutions for the IT Pro. The site, which launched in 1996, provides news, features, reviews, downloads, white papers and a price comparison and tracking service. Today ZDNet is part of CNET Networks, which has the largest worldwide network of technology editors and writers of any news organisation, and over 65 million unique users every month. Builder UK is a new site launched by CNET Networks UK to cater for and support the UK developer community. Visit www.zdnet.co.uk and http://uk.builder.com

British HCI Group
Founded in 1984, the British HCI Group is a Specialist Group of the British Computer Society (BCS). It provides an organisation for all those working on the analysis, design, implementation and evaluation of technologies for human use. The HCI Group works to break down barriers and to promote communication between people who use computers, people who implement them, and people who investigate HCI issues. The group works with professional societies to support practitioners and to promote standards of HCI within the information and communications technology industries. Visit http://www.bcs-hci.org.uk/

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