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Cebu students get coding intro in Hour of Code in Accenture

School principal Rosemarie Novabos was apprehensive. Her students at OPRRA National High School only started ICT classes this year and they were already being invited by Accenture to join Saturday’s…

School principal Rosemarie Novabos was apprehensive. Her students at OPRRA National High School only started ICT classes this year and they were already being invited by Accenture to join Saturday’s Hour of Code.

While she told ICT coordinator Vince Impel to “immediately say yes” to the invitation by Accenture, whom she described as an important stakeholder of their school, she admitted to being apprehensive because the activity involved “coding.”

Hour of Code Accenture Cebu

This will be fun, Accenture Managing Director, Technology Arvin Yason tells students of OPRRA National High School at the start of their Hour of Code session.

Excited by sessions

Her students, on the other hand, said they were excited by the opportunity. Most said in an interview that the only experience they had with computers before the Hour of Code at the Accenture office in Cebu IT Park was to play games. Impel said their lessons so far were only on how to use the PC and some office applications.

For Grade 10 student Marites Hagoyahay, time on the computer meant using Facebook and YouTube. But on Saturday, she was among the first to finish 2 modules for the Hour of Code – essentially 2 hours of work in less than an hour. One involved control of Disney characters on the screen by manipulating blocks of code and the other an introduction to concepts on artificial intelligence (AI).

Accenture Hour of Code Cebu

Grade 10 student Marites Hagoyahay works on the intro to AI module as Accenture employee Jon Alistair Ong looks on.

It was really fun and exciting and I learned from it, Hagoyahay said in an interview.

When asked if she is considering a computer science course, she nodded enthusiastically but said “mahal man kaayo if direct computer engineering. Plano nako is accountancy lang sa and then after, engineering.” (Computer engineering is very expensive. I plan to take up accountancy first and then take up engineering after.)

Encourage to take up STEAM

“We must give our students, our youth, that kickstart to encourage them to go to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics),” said Accenture Managing Director, Technology Arvin Yason. “This Hour of Code is a fantastic example, fantastic venue for organizations like Accenture.”

Yason said students should be exposed to code since “it’s a great first step towards a career in technology. It is a great first step towards a career in computer sciences.” He recounted how his father’s decision to buy a personal computer when he was young led him to try out coding and eventually guided him to a career in technology.

Accenture Hour of Code Cebu

FIRST TO COMPLETE. Kenth Bryan Suquib was first to complete the tasks in his group. Although he has been considering taking up Chemical Engineering, he said he is also looking into programming as a career option.

He said he’s hoping the Hour of Code will also have a similar impact on the students they hosted.

Accenture chose OPRRA National High School because it is a recipient of computers donated by the company.

“We’re very happy to know and see how technology is enabling these students and all it took is one yes and a commitment to say yes, we wanna do it. Now they are enabling more of their students with all these skills,” said Accenture Media and Analyst Relations Lead Grace Cuenca.

Hour of Code Accenture

AI CONCEPTS. For this year’s Hour of Code, Accenture built a module that introduced participants to concepts on AI.

Intro to AI concepts

Accenture has hosted Hour of Code in Cebu for 3 years, mostly with students of Passerelles Numérique. What differentiates this year’s session is the inclusion of an introduction to AI.

Accenture built a module for students to “discover how various AI techniques can teach a robot to explore a new planet — including recognizing animals and plants, understanding a new language, and conversing with inhabitants.”

Yason said encouraging the youth to take up coding is important in light of what he described as a “global war for talent.”

Shortage of talent

“There is a large demand for computer science professionals globally. In the US. for example, there are for any given year demand for almost half a million computer science jobs. And they only graduate 40,000 CS majors every year. Not enough to fill the demand,” he said.

In the Philippines, there is also a shortage of talent.

Hour of Code Cebu

VOLUNTEERS. Accenture programmer Joyce Anne Dreyfus gives Grade 10 student Clint Manolat tips in programming Elsa to move on the screen. When Accenture Cebu opened slots for volunteers to the Hour of Code, it was filled up in minutes, said Managing Director Arvin Yason.

“We see a problem if we don’t work with academia, we don’t work with government to really encourage students into a career in technology,” he said.

Yason said Accenture employees were also enthusiastic in volunteering for the program, with slots filled up in minuted.

“It’s providing opportunities to people. It’s a way for us to pay forward, invest in the youth, and invest in the country also,” he added.

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Robotics Cup builds foundation for future tech workers

“Failure in our school is not an option,” said Ana Mariolla Martinez-Quijano. “It is a necessity.” Quijano is the founder and managing director of Compass Education, which promotes STEAM education…

“Failure in our school is not an option,” said Ana Mariolla Martinez-Quijano. “It is a necessity.”

Quijano is the founder and managing director of Compass Education, which promotes STEAM education and 21st century learning skills built on creativity, innovation, collaboration and critical thinking. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

“Failure in a STEAM classroom is a necessity because we’re trying to inculcate in our kids, as young as they are, that sometimes the most profound lessons they will learn are actually in their mistakes,” Quijano said during the media briefing for the 3rd Robotics Cup at the Accenture office in eBloc 2 at the Asiatown IT Park.

Accenture, Compass Robotics Cup

MEDIA BRIEFING. (From left) Accenture managing director Arvin Yason, Compass Education managing director Ana Mariolla Martinez-Quijano, and engineer Tristan Abando of DOST 7 during the media briefing on the 3rd Robotics Cup held last month.

Hands-on learning

The 3rd Robotics Cup was held last November 11 and 12 at the SM Seaside City.

Winners of the event included student teams that offered solutions to such issues as trash, transportation, weather monitoring and health. (See photos below)

Quijano stressed the need for students to learn in a hands-on environment.

“When you just let your kids sit down and memorize, you waste their brains. We believe in hands-on learning. Children are hungry for that,” she said. “We can’t sit down the whole day listening to facts. I don’t get that.”

The Robotics Cup was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Accenture.

Better understanding

“We believe in Accenture that there is a need to bolster efforts to create a better understanding of these technologies,” said Grace Cuenca, Media and Analyst Relations Lead of Accenture in the Philippines, during the press briefing.

The partnership to support the event “is growing,” said engineer Tristan Abando of DOST 7.

“We are very happy because it’s really the private industry that’s spearheading to introduce this to our young kids. Robotics is one of the areas where the DOST is a delving into, especially for our research and development,” Abando said.

Accenture managing director Arvin Yason said the partnership for the event does not just lead to students understanding technologies like artificial intelligence or AI but to actually “build skills for AI.”

Accenture AI

FACIAL RECOGNITION. A demo of a system built by an Accenture employee that is able to scan a crowd and deduce demographic data such as age and moods. Among potential applications are for use by retail establishments or even a quick survey of people’s responses.

Opportunities on AI

Yason said Accenture defines AI as any system that can, on its own, sense, comprehend, act, and learn.

“Three of these core components of AI are already part of the kits that the participants are using,” Yason said. “What differentiates true AI is the learning portion.”

He said AI is an important technology because it can increase profitability of companies. “We’re looking at AI doubling the profitability in the next 10 to 20 years,” he said.

Yason said AI can also boost productivity.

He said Accenture has identified 4 imperatives that industries, organizations, and even nations need to focus on to maximize opportunities in AI.

“I’ll focus on the first one: preparing the next generation for artificial intelligence. There is a need to consciously focus actions and ensure that the upcoming generation of people not just developers but also artists etc. are prepared to maximize the AI potential,” Yason said.

He said Accenture is doing this through various initiatives internally and externally. Supporting events like the Robotics Cup, he said, is among the key initiatives.

Robotics Cup winners

PULSO. Krisha Suico, Gwyneth Seciban, John Hora of the Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus built Pulso, an Arduino-based pulse rate monitoring device. It alerts registered guardians via SMS and contacts the nearest hospital whenever the user’s pulse rate reaches a critical limit. The team won 1st place in Everyday Solutions.

 

Robotics Cup Accenture

WEATHER MONITORING. Gregory William Liu, Charis Philip Palacio, and TG Giles Geonzon of Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus built ARAW or the Arduino-Powered Assistive Weather Monitoring Device. The system seeks to provide accurate and real-time information on “health influencing weather parameters.” They won 1st place in Growing City Solutions category.

 

Robotics Cup Cebu

RECYCLING. Hyeonseo “Rose” Kim, Clarice Alexandria Asero, and Chelsea Megan Sim of SAGE Prepschool House built a model of a recycling facility with a claw machine that picks up and segregates trash for cleaning and recycling. They won 1st place in the Loving Our Planet category.

 

Robotics Cebu

MONORAIL. Cowan Noel Adlawan, Andre Paramide, and Sean Lerin of Blessed Trinity Achiever’s Academy built this model of a monorail. “If people ride it, there will be less cars on the road. It is similar to a train but it will be helpful to our environment because it will not run on fossil fuels,” they said. They won 1st place in Traffic Solutions.

 

Robotics Cup Cebu

GripAID. The Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus team of John Burtland Allosada, James Gabriel Casia, and Cleo Agustein Sevilla created GridAID as a way to help people with grip disabilities by providing them additional grip strength. The team said GripAID is lightweight and low-cost and can be powered by a consumer power banks such as those used for phones and other portable gadgets. They got an Accenture Innovation Prize.

 

Robotics Cup Cebu, Accenture

SAFETY FOR BIKERS. The team of Mike Payo, John Burtland Allosada, and Jojemar Janea of the Philippine Science High School-Central Visayas Campus built Safemo, a proximity-sensing device with GPS tracker for bikers. The Safemo alerts the biker whenever a vehicle is near. The team also won an Accenture Innovation Prize.

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Accenture inaugurates 5th facility in Cebu, highlights new and emerging tech in providing solutions

Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the…

Accenture inaugurated its 5th facility in Cebu on Wednesday with a hologram of one of its officials briefing the guests and handling the ceremonies in the Filinvest Cyberzone at the IT Park in Lahug, Cebu City.

That part of the program was meant to highlight a key character of the facility: a center for agile development and design thinking to produce innovation using “new IT.”

“This floor is very much in ‘the new IT’,” said Accenture managing director Arvin Yason, who hosted the ceremony as a hologram. With a lot of open spaces and movable furniture to allow quick reconfigurations as well as huddle areas and design-thinking spots, “we instill nimbleness and agility in the way we work.”

Accenture in Cebu

HOLOGRAM. Accenture inaugurates its newest facility in Cebu with a hologram of managing director Arvin Yason leading the ceremonies (3rd from left). With Yason are (from left) managing director JP Palpallatoc, Jun Sa-a of CIB.O, and Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag.

Commitment to Cebu

The opening of the new facility is also “a manifestation of our commitment to Cebu,” said Accenture country managing director Lito Tayag. He also said the company is on track to meeting the 1,000 in additional workers it committed to employ at the start of the year to mark their 10th anniversary. He said they’ve already hired an additional 800 workers for Cebu, bringing its workforce here to 5,800.

“Cebu is an integral component, a strategic part of our practice here in the Philippines,” Tayag said. “More than the numbers – and we’re very happy with the numbers so far – it is really the value, the kind of innovative services that we deliver out of our Cebu operations.”

The new facility will showcase technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality, and the internet of things.

Cebu talent

“We are very happy about the kind of talent that we have here but just as importantly, we would continue to develop these talents,” Tayag said in a press conference held after the inauguration and facility tour for journalists and members of the academe.

Tayag, Yason and JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, led the tour of the facility.

Among the highlights of the event was a demonstration of a parking system that allows people to know ahead, via a mobile app, available spaces in a business such as a mall. The system, built by a Cebu team as part of a company-wide innovation contest, also allows for people to reserve parking slots and even pay digitally.

Another product presented to guests was a crisis response and management system that allows Accenture to keep track of its employees and know whether they are safe or in need of assistance after an emergency like a natural disaster. Alerts can be sent out on various platforms like email, SMS and mobile notifications.

Accenture also showed guests how a redesign of the Qantas website resulted in higher sales. They also demonstrated an augmented reality app that makes print materials such as a map of an amusement park interactive and multi-media as well as overlay ads and information triggered by location data.

Accenture Cebu

PASSION PROJECTS, DESIGN THINKING. JP Palpallatoc, managing director and Accenture digital lead in the Philippines, introduces the team that built a system for parking that uses apps to inform drivers of available spaces and let them reserve locations and pay for it.

Redesign retail experience

More than digital, Accenture also highlighted how they were able to reinvent the physical retail experience for customers of Smart Communications using design thinking and various technologies. This resulted in a 249% increase in foot traffic, 80% reduction in waiting time and 169% increase in store sales in the redesigned stores.

During the tour, officials stressed the design thinking approach into providing solutions to their clients. “To deliver delight consistently at the speed that our clients desire for their customers, we need to start with design thinking and user-centricity,” Yason said.

The way the newly-inaugurated facility is configured also plays a key role in how Accenture is “upskilling, reskilling, cross-skilling and multi-skilling our talent,” he said. From being focused on “classrooms” in teaching workers new skills, Accenture has started to “enable nooks and areas where people, while on break, can start learning new IT in smaller bite-sized formats, whether via video or an app or game that we develop.”

Accenture Cebu

CRISIS COMMUNICATION. This system enables Accenture to keep track of its employees, notify them during emergencies, and get feedback on whether they are safe or not.

Empower workers

Other locations will be retrofitted based on the new facility’s design because workers gave positive feedback that the configuration “empowers them to work in the new IT – working agile, doing standup meetings, being able to collaborate,” said Yason.

The facility helps Accenture “future-proof our people,” Tayag said.

“We’ve grown tremendously in Cebu for the last 10 years. That growth is a reflection not just of Accenture’s capabilities but also the capabilities of the local market in terms of talent, the way the academe has been producing talent for us,” Yason said.

Accenture is among the top tech companies based in Cebu. It has been given that recognition by the Cebu IT-BPM Organization for several years. The company’s other locations in Cebu are in Pioneer House, Robinsons Cybergate Cebu, eBloc Tower 2 and eBloc Tower 3 at the IT Park.

Accenture in Cebu

TREMENDOUS GROWTH IN CEBU. Accenture managing director Arvin Yason (left) and country managing director Lito Tayag after holding a press conference with Cebu journalists shortly after a tour of their 5th facility in the province.

Position as innovation center

Yason said the company is looking for engineers with good grasp of AI, robotics, and analytics to staff their locations.

“Our clients sit on top a lot of data but a lot of that is what we call dark data – they don’t know what they have. We are partnering with them to leverage more and more of that dark data to create revenue where there was no opportunity in the past. (We do this) through the power of data visualization and analytics and eventually AI as well,” Yason said.

Tayag said that what the company wants to foster among its workers is a mindset for innovation as they move up in the “value chain of our services.”

“At the end of the day, we believe that we can position our services here in the Philippines from an innovation standpoint rather than purely from a delivery standpoint,” he added.

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