The App Education course focusing on the design and creation of applications for mobile devices connects the classroom to a world of opportunity. During the course, the students receive mentoring from industry experts. The role of industry professionals is key: with their knowledge and experience in mobile technologies they improve achievement and employability among today’s youth. Daniel Rambla, R&D Engineer at Orange and member of the mSchools Experts platform shares his experience with us.

– How long have you been an mSchools expert?

Although I registered on the mSchools Experts platform more than a year ago, I started my participation as an Expert during the last school year.

– What made you decide to join the initiative?

My attention was drawn by the fact that it is a project with a real impact. I knew about the mSchools programme through the Mobile World Congress, and I was aware of the work being carried out in schools and how it was growing and achieving results. What finally made my mind up was wanting to take part in a fully-fledged project.

– Beforehand, as an R&D engineer in a large technology company, how did you think you could help the App Education students? Was the experience what you expected?

First of all, I wanted to put myself in the students’ shoes. It’s not at all easy for them to make contact with the technology industry from their position – they don’t have the resources to gain access to professional profiles. I thought I could give teachers and students a hand by offering them some insight into the professional world, which is perhaps harder to find in the classroom.

In practice, I found that what the students most need from the Expert is for someone outside of the school environment to listen to them, and to see how what they have in their minds fits into the real world.

– How was your first contact with the students? What drew your attention about their attitude? 

It was outstanding to see that what they were doing was very important to them: they had committed a lot of time and effort to their work. I was impressed by the dedication and seriousness with which they explained their projects.

– What would you highlight about the projects that they pitched?

I was really interested in the consumer-based focus of their projects: they had prioritized the usefulness of their apps over other factors such as profitability, innovation or aesthetics.

– What are the benefits of industry professionals actively taking part in young people’s learning? 

There are many, from offering the students a different perspective that their teachers don’t have to giving them a dose of reality that they have been oblivious to. Is their project viable in a real environment? A €500,000 project is not that same as one with a budget of €4 million. The Expert gives them an idea, on a technical level, of what it would cost to market a project with certain characteristics.

During the sessions in which I participated as Expert, I brought up to consider how easy or difficult it was to materialize their ideas.

– What does being an mSchools Expert mean to you on a personal level? 

Unlike other educational projects I have participated in, mSchools is special because the students are the ones that talk to you, and you are the listener. You meet young people with innocent minds not contaminated by the professional world, who bring forward interesting and highly creative ideas with no awareness of the restrictions you often come across. Understanding their vision and the challenges they propose from their young perspective is really enriching.

– What would you say to someone who is thinking of joining the mSchools Experts platform, but has not yet taken the first step? 

I would tell them that taking part in this initiative is tremendously simple, both in terms of required knowledge and dedication. It is a fascinating and surprising experience: you come across well-prepared, motivated students and meaningful projects. I would highly recommend it.