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Digilab is the Barking tech hub helping youngsters to become digital daemons

PUBLISHED: 10:05 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:05 20 August 2018

Local companies and youngsters making use of Digilab at the Barking Learning Centre. Picture: Ken Mears

Local companies and youngsters making use of Digilab at the Barking Learning Centre. Picture: Ken Mears

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Nestled at the back of Barking Library, a tech hub is turning bright sparks into digital daemons.

Digilab founder Seun Oshinaike with the tech hub's 3D printer. Picture: Ken MearsDigilab founder Seun Oshinaike with the tech hub's 3D printer. Picture: Ken Mears

Digilab, at Barking Learning Centre, is a social enterprise based around increasing the borough’s youngsters’ technology skills, knowledge and experience.

Their base bustles with activity. Drones and handmade computers litter the main space, where a young computer whizz holds court on building hard drives. Elsewhere, beside a green screen and two spotlights, a 14-year-old schools a man ten years his senior on online marketing.

For founder Seun Oshinaike, 29, the hub proves young residents are hungry to follow in the footsteps of tech titans like Bill Gates and Apple gurus Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

“We need an ecosystem of developers, of coders in the community,” he said.

Producer Marie Groth and Jenkinson-Denzel Southern of Mavrik Studios. Picture: Ken MearsProducer Marie Groth and Jenkinson-Denzel Southern of Mavrik Studios. Picture: Ken Mears

“The idea [of Digilab] is to get people into computer programming, gaming, start building hardware and software products, and introduce them to the digital world.”

The project, Seun added, had grown constantly since it was founded two and a half years ago.

“We set up in a small room in the library,” he said.

“After six months it was really packed up and we had to move into a bigger space, which we are now in.”

Ebenezer Odubanjo (left) and Siji Alonge. Picture: Ken MearsEbenezer Odubanjo (left) and Siji Alonge. Picture: Ken Mears

Alongside those using the space is Jenkinson Denzel-Southern, a 22-year-old filmmaker fresh out of Kingston University.

With producer and former classmate Marie Groth, he hopes to shake up the silver screen with their production company, Mavrik Studios.

“When you’re in that space, you can network much more easily,” said the former Barking Abbey pupil.

“You’re much more likely to run into the person who does the arts for the council.”

Producer Marie Groth and Jenkinson-Denzel Southern of Mavrik Studios. Picture: Ken MearsProducer Marie Groth and Jenkinson-Denzel Southern of Mavrik Studios. Picture: Ken Mears

Marie, 24, was cautiously optimistic on the future.

“I would like us to have the freedom to be able to produce our vision, to not be restricted by funding and be able to tell the stories we want to tell,” she said.

Dagenham Park pupil Ebenezer Odubanjo, 14, first walked into the hub out of curiosity while searching for a library book.

He now makes pocket money coding and designing websites for businessman Siji Alonge.

Local companies and youngsters making use of Digilab at the Barking Learning Centre. Picture: Ken MearsLocal companies and youngsters making use of Digilab at the Barking Learning Centre. Picture: Ken Mears

“It’s really exciting seeing young people take ownership of their work,” said the 24-year-old.

“People see this and think I’m mentoring him. Actually, no: he gives me advice.”

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