Sixth Form Trip to IBM

Tuesday 26th March 2019

On Wednesday 6 March, a group of our Sixth Form students visited the IBM offices in Hursley.


Millie B (L6) has kindly written about their day.


“When we first arrived, we were greeted by two IBM employees who first took us to the ‘Emerging Technology Centre’. Here, we were introduced to many different upcoming technologies and programmes IBM were developing.




IBM use an Artificial Intelligence platform called ‘Watson’, in which they use algorithms to create different programs. For example, one program predicted football players movement to different teams using their age, game statistics and time played in the duration of one season to give an overall score on each player. In addition, during a hackathon, one of the IBM employees created a system that predicted journey times from any location in London to London Heathrow Airport. This uses videos of traffic and updated tweets to calculate specific areas of traffic and create different routes.


There was another system IBM used, called ‘Node-RED’, where a company could find tweets under a specific category. For example, if you picked the category ‘Trump’, you could see the positive or negative comments in different categories and see the exact location these tweets were posted from, provided their location services were turned on. In addition, Node-RED was used for an Internet of Things (IoT) safety helmet. This was created to be used on construction sites to measure CO2 and radiation exposure to ensure you are only working within safe levels, and it can also calculate the impact force on the helmet.


IBM told us about exciting new ideas created within a competition. The IBM employees created ‘Call for Code’ and in their own internal version of competition, created solutions such as a flood triage system. These allowed emergency services and organisations to access the flood risk in different areas. In addition, we found out about a different idea created abroad, where people could be notified when and where their donations to charity have been used. For example, in comic relief if you donated £10, you would get a notification when this was spent on say twenty mosquito nets.


IBM have developed a ‘Fully Homomorphic Encryption’, which is where the person creating the data is the only person who has access to and can analyse the unencrypted data. This is used for facial recognition for countries to communicate about the locations of various people.


Finally, we were introduced to virtual reality. We were given the opportunity to use their virtual reality goggles and experience floating in space and on the International Space Station. In addition, they described their future ideas for their use with virtual reality. This included using virtual reality goggles combined with a patients MRI scans to overlay it on their body when completing surgery, which is currently being tested. They also talked about their use of virtual reality in education.

In the afternoon, we were given a talk by current employees in the IBM business. One talk was given by an employee who had been on the graduate scheme. She described how she completed a degree in music, then went to work for a recruitment firm, and then applied to IBM. This demonstrated the versatile working force at IBM, with many different employees coming from different backgrounds. Another employee was completing an internship of 12 months in the middle of her International Business course at University. They both described the different routes into being employed into this business.


Finally, we completed a group task which was similar to the IBM assessment process. We were given 15 minutes to discuss and conclude in groups the most important inventions in humankind from a list. We presented our choices and were asked questions by the IBM employees, and assessed on our progress. This gave us an insight into an example activity that you would be asked to complete on your assessment day.”


Have a look at some more of our L6 girls’ thoughts of the day:

“It was a very insightful day, and I realised how many different opportunities there are within one company. Despite not wanting to have a degree in technology, there would still be apprenticeships and internships available for me at IBM. I realised for some jobs it doesn’t matter so much what degree you have, but the skills you learn from it.”

“It was very useful to see how a large company such as IBM has a number of routes into the company. These include apprenticeships, internships, placement years and graduate schemes.”

“One of IBM’s main technologies (‘Watson’), which is an Artificial Intelligence system, is used by multiple companies to market their products. For example, Netflix uses AI to decide which cover frame is used to advertise a programme, to increase your chances of choosing a certain show by using data from previously watched shows.”

“This trip was very useful in widening my understanding about going into the working world. We learnt about what employees wanted to look for in a person’s application. This includes an applicant’s leadership and ability to take ownership, creative problem solving, adaptability, teamwork, passion for the business, client focus, drive to achieve and communication.”

“It was amazing to see all the emerging technologies that IBM are creating that will become ubiquitous in the future. Visiting companies is so key to understanding what you want to do in the future and learning more about the working world.”

“It was really good to get experience about what the IBM assessment process would entail. We were given a group project to complete, which we then had to present and receive varied questions on our topic.”

Thank you so much Millie for your insightful account of your trip.

We hope you had fun exploring and learning about the technology used at IBM!