A HISTORY OF SYNAPSE
Origins – 2015, by David Renton
As it turns out, I like to take chances and build things. I like to engage others and influence them to come along on my journeys. Then empower them to take their own chances, start their own journeys.
I have been on many such journeys in my life so far, this is still one of my favourites.
In 2012 I started my undergraduate degree at NUI Galway. During scheduled break times from classes, I loved going to career events organised within the college. In my first few months, I had attended various events where companies would come and talk to students about the latest developments, the direction their careers had taken them and how happy they are with their work. I spoke to a great many Law, Biomedical, and Engineering companies while I waited for Google and Facebook et al to appear, they never did.
As a representative of my Computer Science & Information Technology class, I approached the Universities fantastic Careers department and asked:
Me – Why don’t we have an I.T. focused event?
Careers – No one has ever asked for one.
Me – Can we have one?
Careers – Yes.
Me – Can I be involved?
Careers – Sure.
Our pitch was “Synapse is a one-day gathering to showcase the latest in computing, data, and infrastructure technologies. Organised by students, for students.”
So with the help of so many people in the University, ‘Synapse’ was conceived, we ran as a side note to another event being run by the Entrepreneurship Society. We used one-third of the Bailey Allen Hall, and, it wasn’t very good. So bad in fact that we don’t acknowledge it as the first Synapse. But the truth is, that is where we started.
I couldn’t leave things like that, this was not the end of this journey. I needed to decide what Synapse was, and what I wanted out of it, really define the message. I needed our elevator pitch, who we were and why should someone care? Why would a company want to exhibit; and; why would a student want to attend?
After considerable contemplation, I concluded Synapse wasn’t a careers event. Synapse wasn’t for companies to hire graduates or interns. The event we wanted, was to facilitate the connection and continuing conversation between industry professionals and the students studying to enter that industry. To discover the kaleidoscope of sub genres open to us as soon to be computer science graduates. I rebranded the event to “Synapse //A Tech Carnival” and booked the Bailey Allen hall for the following September. This time, we ran the event under the Computer Science department, College of Engineering purview instead of the Careers department.
Over the summer months, I doubled my recruitment efforts, improving my communication technique with the help of Richard Hunt, keeping the faith with the encouragement of Evan Preisler and Jerry Lehane and the supervision and friendship of Tina Earls and Michael Madden.
For the event to live on and grow, a way of passing the event reigns would need to be implemented. On the first week of term, I spoke to the incoming first years and floated the idea of getting involved in organising the upcoming event.
I had one volunteer immediately, David O’Dea. David would go on to understudy me in 2014 and take the reins himself in 2015. In David’s’ year in charge, I would act as an advisor and David would recruit his own understudy.
The month before the event, both David O’Dea and Cathal Kelly were invaluable. Their efforts with logistics, budget, advertising, and more often than not just taking responsibility for jobs. Between print media, advertising, set up, logistics, communication with companies, AV requirements, fire safety documentation, project planning, finances and keeping on top of classes, there was too much for one person. Without their help, the event wouldn’t have been as successful.
On the day, the core team of David Renton, David O’Dea, Richard Hunt and Cathal Kelly were assisted by Evan Preisler, Jerry Lehane, Alex McIlhenney, Ryan Heir, Thomas Keane, Matthew Hallinan who all deserve a mention.
We had three key note addresses and two-panel discussions. Just under one thousand attendees visited the event throughout the day.
2017 is Emma and Deirdre’s’ journey, I am proud to be included as an advisor and know they will make their version of Synapse the best one yet. They have chosen a strong team with a variety of skill sets. With the effort put in, they can only succeed.
I wish them the very best and am very excited to attend the event as a guest five years after this journey started.