K-12 Computer Science Curriculum Framework Author and CS Advocate Hal Speed Takes on Key Role at Edinburgh Tech Firm
EDINBURGH tech company Robotical has appointed a Head of North America to spearhead market development its STEM learning solution built around walking robot, Marty the Robot.
Instrumental in micro:bit’s growth internationally – four million of the pocket-sized codeable computer were sold in 69 countries within three years, Hal will help Robotical refine its educational offering, augment channel partnerships and build awareness among key audiences.
International from the start, Robotical has sold over 7,000 Marty units since 2017, growing distribution to 65 countries via resellers and direct sales and the company is now looking to increase its US presence and gain solid market traction.
Robotical founder Dr Sandy Enoch said: “North America is an untapped market for us and the opportunities are huge albeit complex. The landscape varies dramatically to the UK, not only is it vast in terms of geography, the curriculum is also set out at a state level so reaching the decision makers takes connections and knowhow. It’s important for us to have someone who is both well recognised and well respected within the STEM education sphere to drive the awareness we need first of all and then get us in front of the right people. We had known of Hal for his great work and commitment to levelling the playing field for the introduction and uptake of computer science in schools in the US. With his background, knowledge and expertise, he’s the ideal person to help us optimise our offering and get a strong foothold within the North American market.
Boasting a career in tech that spans over 20 years, Hal has led sales and marketing strategies for both start-ups and household names including Texas Instruments, AMD and Dell. Along with other writers, Hal authored the K-12 Computer Science Framework, used by curriculum standard writers such as CSTA and state and national education departments and agencies.
In 2015 he established CS4TX (Computer Science for Texas), a grassroots initiative campaigning to put computer science on the curriculum for all children, spurred initially by experiences with his own children.
“The local high school in my community did not offer any robotics or computer science courses.” he said. “I perhaps naively assumed that the education system would be preparing children for the digital future they are growing up in by making computer science available to everyone but when I looked into this further I discovered this wasn’t the case. We’re doing young people a huge disservice by not teaching them computer science as a core foundational skill and I wanted to redress the balance. So I connected with other likeminded people and took up volunteering with Code.org to inform myself more on the scale of the problem. I set up CS4TX and by 2016, was doing more volunteering and outreach than my day job.”
The global education technology market size was valued at USD 89.49 billion in 2020 and is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.9% from 2021 to 2028 (Grand View Research, Inc). A physical STEM learning tool supported by progressive curriculum-linked teaching resources to enable children from as young as five to learn to programme, Marty the Robot is the only humanoid walking robot widely used in education.
Hal added: “It’s imperative that children at a young age have the opportunity to learn computational thinking and coding, and Marty provides a fun and engaging way to introduce these concepts. Robotical is focused on making it easy for educators to introduce STEM with instructional materials aligned with national curriculum standards, and a sequence of learning starting with pre-readers and progressing to advanced robotics concepts. I’m delighted to join Robotical and ignite a passion for learning with Marty across North America.”