In 2007 NDS started a local STEM programme called The Red Button Challenge – the goal was to engage with senior schools near our office in Chandlers Ford. In its second and subsequent years two Red Button Challenges were run centred around the Staines and Chandler’s Ford offices.
Following acquisition of NDS by Cisco in 2013 the competition was re-branded the Cisco Little BIG Awards (complementing another UK program – the Cisco BIG Awards).
After six years as a local programme in 2015 we went national with the Cisco Little BIG Awards, building on our experience with the Red Button Challenge.
Working in partnership with STEMNET we created an ‘Internet of Things’ challenge where young people aged 11-14 in schools across the country were invited to design a product or service which connected things together to make a difference in their everyday life.
The schools came together in regional finals leading to a National Final at the Cisco Bedfont Lakes Head Office for the top 10 schools. The programme set out to inspire young people about the amazing things technology brings to their lives and how they might be a part of it!
The underlying purpose of the Cisco Little BIG Awards and other Cisco STEM programmes is to close the engineering and digital skills gaps within the United Kingdom as the country looks to attract more engineering and digital talent, to ensure the United Kingdom maintains its competitive edge, continues to foster innovation, which ultimately drives economic growth.
The Little BIG Awards has provided a powerful link between schools and business by providing students with a valuable insight into what skills businesses are looking for and more importantly how those skills are used in the real world!