ExpoTees is a live-action pitch and exhibition experience embedded in the curriculum, giving hundreds of students first-hand business experience.
The School of Computing at Teesside University offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from computer science and games to animation and visual effects. In 2006, the School recognised that not all students were in a position to undertake a placement with industry, despite the obvious value of this activity, and therefore developed the ExpoTees initiative to foster closer engagement between students and employers through showcasing final year undergraduate work at an industry-facing event on campus.
The event continues to grow featuring work from 167 students in 2016 and over 200 students across 19 undergraduate programmes this year. The initiative is embedded within the final year project module, providing the time and structure for students to develop an appropriate project as the capstone of their undergraduate studies. They then pitch their projects for exhibition at the event to a tutor-led panel during the development phase of the module.
Businesses and organisations which have attended the event include Microsoft, Siemens and CBeebies, leading to opportunities for students to gain internships and direct employment opportunities.
Since launching the initiative, the university has set up ExpoTees London to connect Teesside animation and visual effects students with London-based employers. Employers registered for ExpoTees London this year included Industrial Light & Sound and Criterion Games.
Success is measured through the impact the initiative has on graduate employability and links with industry. It has contributed to a significant improvement in graduate employability on computing programmes, as measured through DLHE, with an 8% increase in professional level employment in the last two years alone.
Links with industry practitioners and employers continue to grow, with 21 industry sponsors, including Sky, Microsoft and Accenture signed up to ExpoTees. Employers have also advised on curriculum development, for example on choices of programming languages and an increased emphasis on teamworking.
In 2011 as a final year student, ExpoTees gave me a platform to exhibit my work and introduced me to what would be my first role in digital. Since then I’ve returned every year as a supporter because Teesside University focuses on teaching techniques and behaviours that are required to succeed in the industry. ExpoTees is about giving these young professionals the opportunity to showcase their talent and for us to provide advice and support as they ready themselves for their next challenge whatever that may be. Scott Smallman , Senior User Experience Consultant, Valtech
ExpoTees’ success has contributed to the recent development of other versions of the scheme for all Teesside University students to raise awareness of the importance of working with industry to first and second year students through ‘ExpoTential’ and ‘ExpoTalent’.
I will always be incredibly grateful to ExpoTalent for the opportunities it has provided me, as fairly early on into my placement I was offered a part-time job during my final year at university based on my skills and work attitude alone. This meant that I could continue working for a company I love whilst finishing my degree, and that I had secured a job for when I graduate. Lana Hedley, BA (Hons) Web and Multimedia