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Spotlight: Tanya Howden, Digital Education Programme Manager at Heart of Midlothian FC

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I can play Hakuna Matata on the ukulele

Tell us about your career journey so far

Since finishing my degree in Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University, I was offered the chance to do some research at the uni looking into how we can display data in different and interactive ways. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so I took up the offer of research but a year down the line, I found that whilst I found the area really interesting, it just wasn’t for me.

Through some connections during university, I came across a small start-up in Edinburgh called Robotical who make a programmable robot called Marty. They were on the lookout for someone to help them put together some resources and activities that schools and families could do with Marty and I had spent quite a few years running code clubs across Edinburgh so they were really interested in getting me involved. I eventually became a permanent member of the team as Learning Experience Designer and day to day involved designing different activities or going into schools and running coding classes to test out some of my ideas.

Through my volunteering work of running coding clubs around Edinburgh, I got invited to support a new code club starting up at Heart of Midlothian FC. I was really interested in exploring the links between sport and technology as it wasn’t something I had thought about before but I found it fascinating exploring the ways that technology is used in different areas of a football club and other sports. My voluntary work there got me the opportunity to join HMFC full time as a Digital Education Programme Manager, where I would be in charge of organising and running all of the programmes at the stadium. I have only been in this new job for a few months now but I’m really enjoying finding different ways of showing everyone how creative and exciting technology and coding can be!

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

Computing was 100% my favourite subject, especially when we started coding in class because whilst it could be really frustrating when things weren’t working how I wanted, it made it even more worth it when I finally solved the problem and got the result I wanted! I also really enjoyed most of the work that we did in English class, especially when it involved writing creative stories.

What subjects/qualifications are useful in your role?

I think to have an understanding of Computing/Computer Science and definitely elements of English because although it’s important for me to understand how to create fun activities and coding challenges, I need to be able to explain different concepts to people who maybe haven’t done those kinds of things before.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

I get to work with such a variety of people each day from the team at the stadium to the volunteers from so many different companies and all the young people that come through our doors to take part in our coding clubs. It is so rewarding at the end of a code club when everyone is leaving feeling a little bit more confident and smiling with some new friends that they have made.

What is a normal day in your role like?

I would not say there is a normal day in my job, each day is completely different. Some days I might be working on designing some new activities that I want to try out at one of the clubs, others might be spent on the phone catching up with volunteers and running training sessions for them or writing reports for our sponsors to keep them up to date with what we are doing. The best part of the day though, is when there is a club on and I can go along and spend time with the volunteers and young people working in some coding projects.

Suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work?

We have some activities listed on the STEM Academy website that you can look at here:

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Tel: 01383 626070


Address: 2 Pitreavie Court, Dunfermline, KY11 8UU

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The UK-wide STEM Ambassador programme is managed by STEM Learning Limited, which operates the National STEM Learning Network, alongside other projects supporting STEM education. To find out more please go to the STEM Learning website