Innovation, technical capability and obvious passion for ICT was on display during the Young ICT Explorers competition in Melbourne.
Last Saturday myself and Yellowfin’s CMO Chris Benham were fortunate enough to be part of the panel of judges for the Young ICT Explorers Melbourne (YICTE) at Deakin University.
Created by SAP in 2010, the program is open to students from Years 3 – 12. It is designed to spark what is hoped will be a long-term interest in technology that will boost tertiary enrollments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The growth of the event to a national competition involving hundreds of students is testament to their vision.
At the judging event, students presented their projects to a panel comprised of academics and ICT industry professionals. Projects were assessed on their creativity, quality, level of difficulty and presentation.
The level of innovation, technical capability and obvious passion for ICT was truly inspiring. Most participants I spoke to had developed their projects during lunchtime clubs and during their spare time with the support of their (incredible) teachers. As someone who is personally committed to encouraging greater participation of girls in tech it was heartening to see so many young women taking part. The variety of projects and scope of vision was amazing – from wearable computers that call for help developed by some of the youngest participants (3rd place winners pictured above) to a VR game to help players navigate the symptoms of depression to a social media enabled platform that motivates users to minimise their waste.
Despite the fact it was a competition with some pretty attractive prizes on offer for winning team members, I was struck not only by the level of engagement of students, teachers and volunteers alike but the spirit of camaraderie. The students demonstrated a keen interest in each other’s projects and were happy to offer advice, and in one case hands on technical support to a team who were unable to present their project in full due to a software glitch.
The ultimate program goal is to reduce the ICT skills shortage in Australia, and in an effort to remove the growing Digital Divide among our young people YICTE has commenced a partnership with the Smith Family to specifically engage disadvantaged young people through 94 communities in the program. With support, it is hoped that both YICTE and the Smith Family Accelerator partnership will continue to grow.
The future of ICT looks bright thanks to SAP, the Smith Family and their partners.