Hackathon seeks extraordinary solutions to common problems

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Over 100 University of Johannesburg (UJ) students from various fields of study will participate in a hackathon challenge aimed at finding innovative tech solutions to some of SA’s everyday challenges.

The hackathon, which will be staged on Saturday, 28 November, is a joint venture between UJ’s Technopreneurship Centre and the Pan African Information Communication Technology Association (PAICTA).

Established in July, PAICTA seeks to advance the ICT pursuits of African SMMEs through the facilitation of an inclusive ecosystem that is conducive to their economic growth.

In a statement, the organisation says the goal of the hackathon is to empower and inspire youth to acquire technical skills that will help them prepare for emerging jobs or entrepreneurial opportunities, so they are ready to disrupt the marketplace and grow the economy.

It further states the challenge will be a “great” platform for the participants to learn while experimenting and having fun, and it will also help them improve their problem-solving skills and develop their entrepreneurial capability.

“The programme begins at 07h00 on Saturday, 28 November, when the students will be grouped and each team given a problem statement. Working with specially selected mentors who have technical expertise, they will be expected to develop a prototype using the Design Thinking process.”

PAICTA indicates the mentors’ experience spans academia, to private companies, such as Cisco, FNB, BMW, Iderto, HERE Technologies, Custodiet Advisory Services and DFA, as well as Geekculcha and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. They will be reinforced by mentors from UJ and Nelson Mandela University.

The judging panel will include Doreen Mokoena, CEO of CyberSec Clinique; Muzi Ntombela, CIO of the Centre for Public Service Innovation; Tiyani Nghonyamai, COO of Geekulcha; Dr Mpho Raborife, senior lecturer at UJ; Gerald O'Sullivan, a solutions architect and IT professional at IT Works; and Dr Naomi Isabirye, head of ICT at OPECS and PAICTA advisory board member.

“Judges will select the top five teams from the initial presentations who will go into the final round from which the winning team and the two runner-up teams will be announced. There will be great prizes up for grabs, varying from software training and exam certification from Huawei, Cisco Networking Academy courses, Siyafunda CTC training programmes and digital devices, Deviera software training certification courses, plus accessories from SAP.

“This is the first of many activities planned by the UJ Technopreneurship Centre and PAICTA to build an enabling environment for South Africa’s ICT practitioners in order for them to use technology innovation to improve the quality of life of the country’s citizens.”

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