If physics teacher James has his way Ada the musical may be just around the corner!
My first six months working at Ada has left me with two very large questions echoing through my mind. The first is why hadn’t I really heard of Ada Lovelace before I came here? Her story is crying out for some sort of feature film, lavish BBC drama or (my own personal favourite) a huge upbeat musical. Given the vast array of well-known names that feature in her life it would be perfect fare for character actors to ham up Dickens, bring a flamboyance to Bryon or light up the stage as Faraday. Most importantly of all though it would send out the vastly important message “Hey boys, the girls got there first”. As with so much of history, I’m ashamed at how little credit I’d given the role of women in the development and use of computers. Even if Ada was just the launchpad or hook for the drama, she’s so central to the development of what followed over the next couple of hundred years it would be a crime if she didn’t get her name in the title. Ada may have died young but her name will live on forever.
This then leads me on to the second question. Ada is a very new, innovative college with strong links to industry and a fantastic worth ethos so why, in the last few decades of my teaching career, haven’t I seen more places like this before? Don’t get me wrong, the environment is very focussed on education, but it takes education as a starting point and takes students fresh from their GCSE results and enables them not just to grow their knowledge (every school does that, hopefully) but also really helps them grow as people. Ada Lovelace is the perfect role model for them and it’s no surprise that the college is really pushing to get more women into the computing and technology industries. With AI systems becoming more prevalent in our lives, whether we like it or not, it’s going to be vital that we encourage more females to have their voices heard. The world can’t afford to have everything dictated by white men of a certain age and background. Ada, the National College for Digital Skills is, quite literally, out to change the face of the computing industry and let’s face it, it needs changing. What Ada Countess of Lovelace started in the 1830s, this college aims to continue in the 21st century. We have a new building to take us into the 2020s and, who knows, we might just have enough floor space to premier “Ada – The Musical” so we open with a celebration of this brilliant woman.