Tuesday 18 June 2019

My story: 'Computing is not about sitting in front of a screen all day'

Kate Lait | Trinity College Dublin

Kate Lait: ‘I am hoping to help other students to start their business’
Kate Lait: ‘I am hoping to help other students to start their business’

When Kate Lait decided on computer science as her top CAO choice, a teacher cautioned that she "could end up sitting in front of a computer all day".

Initially, she had stumbled into computing while at school, but once she discovered it, she developed her interest to the point of even teaching herself some programming language.

As the passion grew, her initial thoughts of pursuing a career in hotel management fell by the wayside and, by the time she was in sixth year, she had her mind firmly made up.

The 20 year-old, from Co Louth, is now entering third year BSc Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin, and loves it.

"It is both challenging and interesting at the same time. You get exposed to such a great variety of subjects," she says.

But Kate is far from being glued to a screen all day. In her early days in Trinity, the former pupil of Wesley College, Dundrum tapped into her entrepreneurial side, and is now combining her computing expertise with a business head.

It all came about when she joined Trinity Entpreneurial Society (TES) even though she admits, "I wasn't sure what it was". A friend had encouraged her to come along to the AGM and even put herself forward for a committee position.

It was in TES that she met Paul Allen and David Ola and they, and others from a range of different disciplines, developed a business idea that was selected for Trinity's LaunchBox programme.

LaunchBox is a platform for students to develop a business and to receive mentorship, funding, and access to alumni and investors.

Since its start in 2013, LaunchBox has helped 50 student ventures. The businesses have created 122 jobs and raised €6.3million in investment and funding.

Paul came up with an idea for a product called BOP (Biological Optical Prevention), and Kate and David are working with him.

BOP aims to identify, prevent and treat healthcare-associated infections and they believe it has enormous potential.

The product is a solution that, upon making contact with a surface, changes colour depending on the pathogens present and eliminates them before disinfecting the area.

Through LaunchBox students work on their business idea with mentors over the summer, which is what the BOP team has been doing.

Among the challenges facing computer science students is to create their own app and, according to Kate, overall the course "is great for encouraging you to work in teams", so it laid great foundations for a business.

Her well-honed flair for business sees Kate taking on the role of president of the TES in the incoming year, a challenge she relishes. "I am hoping to be more involved in this world and, through TES, help other students to start their business."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News