A COMPETITION for Irish and US student members of computer club CoderDojo launched in Cork over the St Patrick's Day weekend. Budding programmers can now compete for a $5,000 (€3,850) prize.
The Cisco Transatlantic CoderDojo Challenge is a joint project of US internet and connectivity giant Cisco and the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), an independent organisation made up of senior tech executives based in Silicon Valley who are Irish or Irish-American.
ITLG supports the growth of small and start-up Irish technology companies seeking access to the US marketplace and investment community.
Cisco senior vice-president Barry O'Sullivan said: "CoderDojo is one exciting way for children to get their first taste of tech. It's initiatives like these that can spark a lifelong interest and create the tech stars of tomorrow."
CoderDojo began in Ireland and has spread to 22 countries. It runs free coding clubs led by volunteers where children aged eight to 17 can learn about computer programming, meet like-minded friends and gain exposure to the tech industry. The organisation puts a strong emphasis on open source and free software.
It was founded by 20-year-old James Whelton while he was still in school. Mr Whelton recently made the 'Forbes' "30 under 30" list of the world's leading social entrepreneurs.
The new competition was launched in Cork during the St Patrick's Day festival. Cork's parade was attended by Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee, who on Saturday led the San Francisco parade via a Cisco live stream.
"The ability to virtually lead the San Francisco St Patrick's parade from Cork is just one example of the exciting opportunities that today's technology creates," said Tim Lucey, Cork's city manager.
"This follows on the recent success of the ITLG conference, which took place in City Hall, Cork, in January and which saw over 40 US investors and senior executives take part.
"We aim to explore the opportunities that new technology such as this provides for the benefit of jobs, business and citizens in Cork."