In a nutshell

The new rule for the future is going to be, "Anything that can be connected, will be connected." The Internet of Things is concerned with the how and why of this. In 2017, the number of connected devices in the world surpassed the number of humans. By 2020, this will be 20.4 billion. This explosion offers immense business opportunities for those equipped with the know-how and ideas.

At its core, IoT is simple: it’s about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us, applications, and each other. We as humans communicate regularly using the internet - now it's time for the machines to join in. A good example is the smart home where temperature and proximity sensors tell a computer if anyone is home and how warm the house is. Add in information on weather, climate, personal preferences (of those at home) and the heating becomes intelligent.

IoT is more than smart homes and connected appliances, however. It scales up to include smart cities – think of connected traffic signals that monitor utility use, or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied – and industry, with connected sensors for everything from tracking parts to monitoring crops.

What's involved?

a core introduction

Smart Tech has computing at its core and so Yr 1 is all about a carefully paced introduction to the major elements - hardware and software (programming). However, we'll show you how to learn and how to work with others through group work. This is all about laying down a solid foundation for the programme ahead. If you are still unsure of your programme choice, we'll find room in one of our other computing programmes. We assume no prior experience and are conscious that this material is very new. To help with this we afford a lot of time to the areas of coding and design.

broadening your horizons

Now you'll begin to focus on those technologies that mean the most to the Internet of Things. We're building a dedicated 'Maker lab' - a workshop we stock high with sensors, all kinds of computers (e.g. Raspberry Pi, Arduino), 3D printers, - everything you need to build prototype devices that target IoT. Think of a self-driving robot car, or a watering system for your plants that senses when they need a drink. You'll work alongside other computing students either in class or through assignments so that you understand how your developing skills contribute to a successful project.

professional perspective

The culmination of this year is a work placement which we'll arrange for you. You'll also work on a large group project bringing to life ideas that you'll have been thinking about to-date. You'll learn more about how computing is disrupting established industries everywhere and how IoT is changing the way business is done. This is where you'll find all the skills you've been working on come together - something you then take with you into the work placement we help arrange for you.

capstone year

Now that you have acquired a full tool skillset, we'll broaden your learning to include a greater awareness of the industry and the people you'll work with, and their priorities. You'll focus on a major capstone project and work closely with lecturer supervisors to help realise your goals. This year has a strong focus on your career and the industry that will feed it. You'll hear talks from practitioners, learn how the Internet of Things is a tremendously disruptive force that affects all business - something highly valued by companies.

Career Opportunities

You'll be entering a highly sought-after profession. Software engineers with knowledge of internet of things are in great demand to serve the increasing range of services possible with such devices.

It was Bill Gates who pointed out that “we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years, and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” That certainly applies to the Internet of Things (IoT).
In the beginning (of the Internet), we started connecting people to computers. With the advent of the mobile phone, we started connecting people to people. This has created a LOT of data - 90% of the data on the internet has been created since 2016. Taking just a single day we:

  • 1,209,600 new social media users each day.
  • 656 million tweets per day!
  • 67,305,600 Instagram posts uploaded each day
  • 4.3 BILLION Facebook messages posted daily!
But what if I told you that this is only the beginning….

The Internet of Things is about devices connecting with other devices. This year (2017), the number of connected devices surpassed the number of ‘us’. So what are these devices? Let’s look at some examples:
  • sensors embedded in the roots of trees ‘phone home’ to tell gardeners if more water or fertiliser is needed - the trees at the foot of the Freedom Tower in NY have these.
  • sensors in your car tires report a slow puncture to your dashboard. Some cars already connect with your garage to alert to service needs
  • a sensor attached to a cow alerts the farmer to the birth - Moocall, an Irish firm manufactures, allowing part-time farmers to keep to other commitments
  • a medicine bottle has sensors that detect when (or rather not) it is opened alerting the patient to take their medicine on time
  • the Smart Belly rubbish bin use real-time data collection and alerts to let councils know when a bin needs to be emptied drastically reducing the number of pick-ups required, and translates into fuel and financial savings for communities service departments
  • residents around the Fukushima nuclear power plant distrusted poor radiation accounts in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in 2011 leading them to fashion their own Geiger counters from off-the-shelf parts. They then shared their data (using Google Docs) to build a complete picture - it differed from the state picture!
  • Illegal deforestation in the Amazon is combatted using devices installed on select trees. Felled trees can connect to a mobile network and an alert notification with location coordinates is sent to the authorities.
  • Intel and Microsoft work with Croke Park on Smart Stadium. They employ sensors to intelligently monitor the need for flood-lighting across the pitch. They measure crowd movements, rainfall (to predict flooding), and grass growth - and analyse the findings to improve performance.

These are all small examples of devices talking back to other devices. Often we humans are at the end of the message but increasingly it’s machines. Coca Cola has connected over a third of its vending machines to the Internet so it can tell which machines are busiest, and which varieties of the drink are selling the most. All this data helps to build a picture of what a company should do.

A single Boeing 787 Dreamliner generates one half terabyte of data for each flight - that would fill your home PC. Literally every piece of the plane has an internet connection, from the engines, to the flaps, to the landing gear. If anything goes wrong, or more typically, looks like it might go wrong, engineers on the ground know it first and schedule maintenance. It’s one of the reasons why you’re 3 times more likely to die by choking on your food than flying.
This programme is fundamentally a computing programme but one with a clear focus to equip you for the convergence of software, hardware and networking. There are a number of distinct features:

  • common first year - many are unsure of computing. While we have an array of programmes, we recognise that you may wish to ‘sample and see’ so we encourage students to look their choice afresh at end of Year 1.
  • equipment - we believe you learn best by doing. We have invested heavily in Raspberry Pi, Arduino kit and sensors so you can ‘play’ with building your own solution to problems like the ones above. You’ll do this from Yr 1 but substantially throughout Yr 2 and beyond.
  • project - big substantial projects enable you to really grapple with a problem and create a killer solution. In Yr 3 you’ll have the space and support to work in a team year-long towards a solution that will wow employers.
  • work placement - IT Sligo have been doing placement longer than most. Our network of employers welcome this programme and a successful work placement is often the door to a full-time job.
So, choose this programme if...
  • you want a career in technology - cutting-edge technology - the big companies in this space are already in Ireland (Dell, Cisco, Analog Devices, IBM, Accenture, DairyMaster)
  • you want a mixture of software and hardware
  • you are interested in inventing solutions to problems we haven’t even thought of!

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