Taking place October 6-21, the Meet and Code initiative gives children, teenagers, and young adults the chance to meet and program together, as well as to discover the thrill of coding and of the digital world as a whole.

The initiative provides funding and resources to support exciting projects in many European countries.

Both in terms of theme and timing, Meet and Code aligns with EU Code Week, a grassroots initiative that aims to demystify coding and “bring it to life.” Because despite being one of the most advanced industrial powerhouses, Europe lags well behind its international competitors when it comes to digital education — almost half of its population lacks the skills deemed necessary for the digital age.

Meet and Code aims to change this. The initiative is organized by SAP in conjunction with social enterprise Haus des Stiftens GmbH and U.S. non-profit organization TechSoup and promotes projects in digital education for young people across Europe. SAP is contributing financial support and providing resources. Focusing on young people between the ages of eight and 24, the projects and events sponsored as part of Meet and Code are designed to give them valuable insights into coding and show them how the digital world works — in an entertaining way that allows plenty of freedom and creativity.

That the initiators have struck a chord with Meet and Code is evident from the number of projects and events registered. Last year, in the first round of the initiative, 599 projects received funding. This year, more than 1,000 events and projects have been registered in 513 different cities and 22 countries.

Fun Way to Explore and Code

Meet and Code is not about learning in the conventional sense, but about actively developing the skills needed to bring ideas to life. It is about discovering one’s own “digital potential,” the most important asset in an age of sweeping transformation, by taking part in a hackathon, coding café, or workshop, for example. The initiative is open both to individuals and to schools and non-profit organizations. Signing up is simple at www.meet-and-code.org.

From Chocolate Printer to IoT

The sponsored projects and events span varies degrees of difficulty, from beginner to expert. This year, they include a project at a technology museum that is holding a special event supported by various universities and offering spectacular activities like robo-football and a 3D chocolate printer. A three-stage course on machine learning and artificial intelligence encourages participants to look critically at these game-changing technologies. A crash course on the Internet of Things (IoT) follows a similar objective and employs similar methods, with participants designing and building their own smart alarm system. The range of ingenious ideas for projects and ideas is almost boundless.

New for 2018 are free online training courses for teachers and instructors. These train-the-trainer courses include materials and seminars on Scratch, Calliope mini, and app development.

“Digital education is one of the most important investments we can make in Europe’s future competitiveness,” says Hartmut Thomsen, regional president of Middle and Eastern Europe at SAP. “Although our young people are digital natives, much more can and must be done to ready upcoming generations for life in a connected world. Meet and Code is certainly about learning and experimenting. But mostly it’s about breaking down inhibitions and generating a positive, creative energy that will form the most sustainable and fertile foundation possible for true innovation in the medium term.”