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Northumbria University Student Wins Top Prize in Microsoft Cloud Computing Competition.

A rising star in the world of computing from University of Northumbria has been named the winner in the UK-wide Azure Fundamentals Championship 2021. Hosted in partnership with Microsoft - the largest and most recognisable tech company in the world.
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Northumbria University Student Wins Top Prize in Microsoft Cloud Computing Competition.

Prodigy Learning and Microsoft are delighted to announce that Gemma Robson has been crowned the 2021 UK Azure Fundamentals Champion, winning a Surface Go and a pair of Surface Headphones. Gemma, who is currently an Artificial Intelligence MSc student at Northumbria University presented a MS Learnbot (an educational chatbot) solution to solve the ‘Road to Recovery’ challenge. Judges were highly impressed by the overall system architecture of her submission which addresses a very relevant need.

The UK’s Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Championship invited university students to complete a complex challenge by applying skills learnt by certifying in Microsoft Certified Fundamentals certification – The Microsoft Certified Fundamentals exams are the pathway to fully understanding what cloud computing is, what options are available from Microsoft, and which options make sense for businesses to invest in. This set of exams is for students who are exploring a career in artificial intelligence, data science, and cloud computing.

Hosted by Prodigy Learning and Microsoft, the 2021 UK Azure Fundamentals Championship attracted top cloud computing students across the UK to consider themselves an Azure Developer or team of Developers to design an innovative solution to the theme ‘THE ROAD TO RECOVERY’. Students were challenged to design and present any solution which will be of global benefit in the journey to returning to some form of pre-Covid life using their cloud computing skills.

The UK Azure Championships allow talented students to apply their Cloud Computing Azure skills to solve real life challenges.” said Chris Rothwell, Director of Education, Microsoft UK. I have no doubt that these students will continue to strive for innovation and be future leaders in the Cloud Computing industry.

Northumbria University student Gemma Robson chose to focus on solving the challenge of the effects of school closure on learning with her MS LearnBot. The educational chatbot is accessible to school children from KS2 +, available 24/7 for all aspects of the curriculum including Microsoft Office and Azure testing and Covid related anxiety support. The intelligent chatbot can help with individual questions, signpost learners to suitable replicable and certified educational resources and can be adapted for use for visually impaired learners.

Winning student Gemma Robson said: “I am thrilled to be named as a competition winner, and thoroughly enjoyed putting my cloud computing Azure Skills to design and deliver a solution to a real-life global challenge. I loved developing the idea to tackle the effects COVID-19 has had on education and learning and submitting my MS LearnBot concept. When submitting my final presentation I created a live demo and had my two 12-year-old children, Halle and Alfie, showcase the need for the concept and I think this helped me to stand out from the other entries. I would love to thank my tutor Hasnae Rahimi for inspiring me and my peers, my passion for Azure Services and Success has undoubtedly stemmed from her championing it during workshops and seminars.”

Second place was given to Mohammed Bilal Ashfaq, who is currently an MSc Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence student at the University of York for his ‘GrateTable’ solution which connects verified customers to restaurant tables. Third place was presented to Northumbria University students Balaram Guddanti and Nitesh Rajmohan, both studying MSc in Artificial Intelligence for their AI-Powered Portable Sanitization Hubs solution.

Hasnae Rahimi, Lecturer in Computer & Information Sciences, Microsoft Certification Programme Leader, Northumbria Unievrsity Newcastle, said: “At Northumbria we are constantly looking at ways to improve the student learning experience through industry partnerships and certification opportunities. Gemma, Balaram, Nitesh and the entire AI MSc cohort at Northumbria proved their Artificial Intelligence skills using Azure with the AI-900 Microsoft Azure AI Fundamentals extracurricular course and certification. We are incredibly proud of all students and delighted Gemma has taken first place. This year, Northumbria is offering more certification opportunities for students and we look forward to celebrating more successes and preparing our students to #TakeOnTomorrow.”

The national competition, which received entries from university students across the UK, invited participants to see themselves as ‘Azure Architects’ to solve a complex challenge. A Cloud Computing Architect is responsible for converting the technical requirements of a project into the architecture and design that will guide the final product. Often, Cloud Architects are also responsible for bridging the gaps between complex business problems and solutions in the cloud.

Given the current global pandemic of the COVID-19 virus, the global challenge for the UK Azure Student Championship this year was ‘Road to Recovery’. Entrants could design any solution which would be of global benefit in the journey to returning to some form of normality, whether it be improved early detection and prevention of future viruses or how to enable students to catch up with the school they may have missed during the pandemic.

Commenting on the success of the competition Prodigy CEO, Andrew Flood, said: “The priority of Prodigy Learning as an innovative online platforms provider is to empower learners to develop and prove skills with industry-recognised, global certifications. In the current climate it is critical we continue to deliver on our priority as the road to recovery post pandemic presents a different employment landscape for students. It is an honour to host the best of the best cloud computing skills at the Azure Fundamentals UK Championship, celebrating the top talented students who are positively impacting society and solve real world challenges. The Azure Certification and participation in this final will stand out on their CVs and will be key to successful academic and career pursuits!”

About Prodigy Learning

Prodigy Learning is an award-winning global EdTech business, providing innovative online platforms that enable learners to develop and prove their skills. The Company was established in 2000 and opened its Sydney office in 2017, joining offices in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

To learn more, visit www.prodigylearning.com

Published on Thursday, 30 Sep 2021

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