Sheffield College students win 45-day placement with software company WANdisco

The WANdisco Data Academy aims to train and develop future computer professionals and entrepreneurs

Students from the Sheffield College were thrilled to be offered a 45-day placement with distributed computing software company WANdisco.

Eighteen-year-old Will Thornhill and 16-year-old George Allsop-Hayes are set to spend one week in industry at the new UK head office, collaborating with engineers, testers, customer success and IT infrastructure teams.

Based in Silicon Valley, WANdisco has extended its headquarters to the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield, placing its head office at Kollider – the city’s premier destination for the digital, tech and creative communities.

The young students are part of the WANdisco Data Academy – a venture dedicated to nurturing the next generation of digital engineers and entrepreneurs. Throughout the year, the Academy lays on a range of specialist guest speakers, workplace visits, special projects, masterclasses and references. At the end of this innovative programme, participants are guaranteed an interview with WANdisco.

Both Thornhill and Allsop-Hayes were granted this sought-after opportunity after successfully completing problem-solving activities set by both the college and WANdisco.

As part of the placement, the students will learn how to deploy the company’s data software for customers worldwide.

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“There are a lot of IT courses around but not many with a connection to a company like this,” said Thornhill.

“The founder David Richards is a local guy who grew up in Sheffield and is now a successful technology entrepreneur in California.

“It shows you can do whatever you want if you work hard. It does not matter if you were born in a big metropolis or the middle of nowhere,” added the student.

Allsopp-Hayes, an electrician’s son from Lincolnshire said: “The things that can be done with computers and technology are mind-boggling.

“I doubt people ever imagined that one day, we would have a computer in our pocket that would be more powerful than the spaceship that took us to the moon.

“My parents think this course is fantastic. My Dad had a Commodore 64 computer when he was growing up but nothing like this. Here I am coming to Sheffield and working for a global company like WANdisco.”

Rachel Topliss, head of employer academy partnerships at the college, said: “Feedback from our students at the WANdisco Data Academy has been incredible. Their high attendance rates show they are really enjoying their studies and the course, and are committed to getting the skills they need to go further in their careers.”

For more information about the WANdisco Data Academy, and the College’s next open days on January 28 and March 9, visit

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