The winner of Network Rail’s Could IT be You 2016 competition has been revealed.

Network Rail FeatureTalia Grantha, a 17-year-old student from Northamptonshire, has been crowned the winner of the competition, which is designed to give teenage girls the opportunity to learn more about job roles in the firm.

The competition asked girls between the ages of 16 and 18 to describe how they would use technology to make life better in the future. More than 350 entries were received.

Her entry Grantha suggested that technology could be used to improve peoples lives through a location and language agnostic online discussion platform, which would allow members to discuss issues important to them. She also put forward a design for a toilet-finding app.

“I’m really interested in a career in business strategy, but I hadn’t really thought about opportunities in IT until now,” she said.

“Meeting the people at Network Rail opened my eyes to the massive role IT plays in our daily lives and how it keeps our rail network running each day. The people at Network Rail have a really varied background and there’s a huge variety of skills needed to work in IT that aren’t necessarily computer related.”

The competition was originally started by the firm’s CIO and current director Susan Cooklin, with the aim of encouraging more girls to study in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.

Grantha won work experience at Network Rail, as part of her prize, for the opportunity to work with people in different roles across the business. She also won funding for her first year of university fees.

The competition also had five runner-ups; Ashley de Haye, Eliza Short, Taylor Hartnett, Amrita Panesar and Abigail Richards. Runner-ups will be given a week of paid work experience and a year of mentoring from the Network Rail IT team.

Taylor Hartnett suggested technology could be used as a revision timetabling and research tool. She developed a fashion application, which matches clothes with current weather.

Eliza Short suggested using technology as a fundraising tool for a local youth project and developed an application for the over 60s.

Amrita Panesar is interested in working in artificial intelligence to improve education and save lives. She proposed the development of a mass communications tool for the general public for the competition.
Abigail Richards believes that technology should be usd for communication to drive positive change. For the competition she designed an app providing students information about meals and recipes.