Inclusion key to future of tech as Intercom creates €10k scholarship

New Immersive Software Engineering programme at UL will change how computer scientists are educated.

Tech firm Intercom has announced an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) scholarship valued at €10,000 for students registered with UL Access, UL Sanctuary or Disability Support Services in the Immersive Software Engineering programme at the University of Limerick.

Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison are the driving force behind the new Immersive Software Engineering programme (ISE) at University of Limerick.

“We need this opportunity to be accessible and inclusive to empower all students with an interest in technology to apply, regardless of their backgrounds”

Intercom, which was founded by Irish entrepreneurs, is an industry partner on the ISE course, which aims to change how computer scientists are educated, and to help them learn by getting hands-on experience, building and collaborating with people in the industry through residencies.

Brewed in Dublin, percolating globally

Intercom was founded in the 3fe coffee shop in Dublin but established its headquarters in San Francisco to scale the business. R&D is led from Dublin, with all of its technical leadership located in EMEA. The London office also focuses on R&D.

Intercom marked its 10th anniversary last year, surpassed $200m in annual recurring revenue and has experienced sustained momentum across its customer base.

In 2018 the company gained unicorn status after being valued at more than $1bn. Last year, the company scored a major coup by appointing Karen Peacock, named one of the “top 50 most powerful women in technology” by the National Diversity Council in the US, as its CEO.

Encouraging diversity in the field of software engineering is important for everyone at Intercom, said Intercom CTO Darragh Curran, who said a diverse culture leads to new viewpoints and insight, and opens up a whole world of possibilities when it comes to new ideas.

“The Immersive software engineering programme provides an incredible opportunity for students to build a career in technology in a highly interactive, hands-on environment,” Curran said. “We need this opportunity to be accessible and inclusive to empower all students with an interest in technology to apply, regardless of their backgrounds. Encouraging diversity in computer science is incredibly important to all of us here at Intercom, and I’m so proud that we can support the ambitions of a future software engineer through this scholarship.”

Sparking the next software revolution

Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison.

Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison

But cultivating that diverse culture must start at the roots, which is why it’s important to all of ISE’s industry partners to create an inclusive learning environment. Curran said the hope is that scholarships like these will encourage all ambitious students to apply.

“I’m delighted that this way ISE will be able to support a deserving and engaged student in the first two years of the course,” Prof Dr. Tiziana Margaria, the chair of Software Systems and co-director of the Immersive Software Engineering programme at UL explained.

“The financial support will help overcome severe obstacles that may limit their range of opportunities and their freedom of choice. In ISE we are strongly committed to demonstrating that software science and software engineering are the right career for everyone interested in contributing to the diverse aspects of IT in society. This scholarship sponsored by Intercom is going to make a huge difference, and it shows that we share the same values: engagement and expertise building should be nurtured independently of the individual background.”

The heart of the ISE programme is a new integrated undergraduate and Master’s degree developed in partnership with more than a dozen leading tech companies from Ireland and around the world, including Analog Devices, Stripe, Zalando, Intercom, Shopify, Manna Aero, and many more.

“Software engineers enjoy incredible careers solving some of the world’s most important problems in the fastest growing industries, yet we have nowhere near enough of them,” said Stripe co-founder and president John Collison last year when the ISE programme was revealed.

“Immersive Software Engineering seeks to provide a great path for more secondary students – especially girls – into technology.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.