Innovative Initiatives (1/5) — Luxembourg Tech School: Not Coders, Digital Leaders

We could spend the next few pages telling you about Luxembourg’s digital transformation. Instead, we want to show it to you. Digitalization is here & now, happening all around you thanks to behind-the-scenes innovators. Today, they get the spotlight. Consider this a taste of what our entrepreneurs contribute to the country every day — an exciting buffet of initiatives that could not be more different. Up close, they form a colorful collage of efforts, big & small, but zoom out & you see a picture of national transformation. Each of our team members have chosen a Digital Luxembourg-enabled initiative to introduce & highlight. All five have impacted us, the country &, now, you too. Here are their stories & Luxembourg’s.

(Featured Image: Anne-Catherine Ries, Project Management Lead & Sponsor at Digital Luxembourg / Image Credit © Silicon Luxembourg / Olivier Minaire)

Luxembourg Tech School: Not Coders, Digital Leaders

Anne-Catherine’s pick, Sergio’s story.

There are those of us who shrug when we notice a problem. Then there are the entrepreneurial minded who see it as an invitation to spring into action.

A few years ago, Dr. Sergio Coronado was following a career that combined industry and academia when he was struck by an inconvenient reality: while hiring, it was hard to find people working in technology. It was even harder to find experienced people.

He could have shrugged and carried on, but Sergio began examining the Luxembourgish system, and, more importantly, what he could offer it. With a background in computer science and technology and teaching experience at the university, he set out to find gaps.

“I thought the university was doing quite well and didn’t see a gap. Then I looked at the high-school level and saw a curriculum with almost no technology,” reflected Sergio, Founder & Head of Luxembourg Tech School (LTS). “This was a problem, because who’s going to lead in the future?”

Without looking around to see who could fix this, he sat down to create a curriculum designed to develop future digital leaders. He pitched it to Digital Luxembourg and within minutes had its full support to set up the extracurricular Luxembourg Tech School.

“It’s not just coding. It is about using technology to build solutions.”

“Next, I went to the Ministry of Education, because I never wanted to do this outside the system. This happened immediately – Anne-Catherine [Digital Luxembourg] opened the door to the highest level of ministry,” Sergio said. “They said, ‘yes, let’s start.’”

That was spring of 2016. By the fall of that year, LTS and its mixed team of school teachers and industry professionals welcomed its first 32 students. Since then, it has quadrupled from 32 to 120, supported by 15 coaches.

While the non-profit initiative began as an extracurricular offer, some schools have absorbed it into their curricula. The multidisciplinary, one-year program is based on three modules: game development (the most accessible starting point), big data and, lastly, financial technology.

“We want to push them to create something useful for society. I use project management as the core. It’s not just coding. It is about using technology to build solutions,” Sergio added.

Informed by the country’s needs, LTS’s dynamic, project-oriented approach awakens and molds digital leaders – individuals who can take an idea and turn it into a product or service that helps society.

“I had this idea for a one-year program, but after the students’ first-year pitch performance in front of 600 people at the ICT Spring conference, the students walked out and asked, ‘what are we going to do next year?’” Sergio said. “At that moment, I didn’t truly understand the question.”

He does now: a product of popular demand, LTS is introducing Level Up, a follow-up year that lets students continue exploring — this time, with an emphasis on space resources and AI for finance.

Anne-Catherine Ries | Project Management Lead & Sponsor | Digital Luxembourg

“The story of the Luxembourg Tech School (LTS) is the perfect illustration of how you can get things done in Luxembourg when you’re passionate about a project & prepared with a plan. I still recall meeting LTS Founder Sergio Coronado for the first time at Digital Luxembourg’s (DL) offices to hear him pitch his idea. From that point on, we played the role that is so central to DL’s approach: we listened, saw the opportunity, opened doors to the right people & endorsed his project to fortify its credibility. At the heart of LTS are the teachers & coaches who dedicate their free time to awakening students’ passion for technology. I hope many more kids will join the adventure!”

(This article was first published in Silicon Luxembourg magazine).

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