As part of a month-long campaign dubbed DIZSpark, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) is hosting a Student App Challenge at their brand new Digital Innovation Zone (DIZ) in the heart of Braamfontein - Johannesburg.
Aiming to attract a diverse participation, all Wits students and non-students are invited to enter the challenge. Wits also welcomes participants with different expertise and backgrounds; from Artists to Scientists.
The challenge requires participants to create new Apps that will add on to the existing suite of Mobile Apps for Students called WitsM. Prof Barry Dwolatzky, Director JCSE at Wits University & Founder, Tshimologong Precinct further elaborated:
“Many Universities now have Apps to support some aspects of student life. Students have Apps to check marks, timetables and fee accounts. There are Apps to check bus schedules and read campus news. Wits University has just launched WitsM - a set of mobile Apps to provide all of these functions and a few more.
But what’s missing? What Student Apps would students like to have? The Student App Challenge is an opportunity for students (and their friends) to come up with ideas for innovative and exciting Apps. I’ve always believed that Joburg has the smartest and brightest young minds. Now is the time to prove it!”
The new Apps, created with the aim to improve the lives of Wits students, will not only be restricted to WitsM. Participants will be able to re-use their Apps in other tertiary institutions and different App stores. One of the Mentors and Advisor for the Student App Challenge, Dr. Vukosi Marivate expressed his eager anticipation of the competition:
“I am looking forward to see what Wits Students will be able to come up with over the DizSpark program. More importantly how the students will use data insights to make their campus better.”
The Student App Challenge will run over two weekends: Starting with an Ideathon on the first weekend (15/16 August 2015) and followed by a Hackathon the following weekend (22/23 August 2015).
During the first weekend participants will focus on Ideation and exploring the problems that their App will solve. Leading up to the second weekend, participants will have a chance to perform further idea validation and refinement during the course of the week. The second weekend will involve building a prototype where there will be technical experts and mentors to assist or guide the participants.
Preceding the two weekends, Wits University held a Learnathon where the public was invited to learn about different techniques and tools that can be used to create their Apps. Participants that missed these events will however still be able to access this knowledge through the available mentors throughout the App Challenge. Mentors will include Lean Startup Evangelists, Data and Machine Learning Experts such as Barry Myburgh (Wits University) Nyalleng Moorosi (CSIR), Dr. Vukosi Marivate (CSIR) and Meshack Shabalala (CSIR) among others.
On both weekends, participants will be introduced to different Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) by various industry experts. Participants will also be encouraged to share their knowledge or experience with APIs they’ve previously worked on.
The prototypes of the Student App Challenge will be demonstrated on the 29th of August 2015, where winners will also be announced. The winners will walk away with full membership to the DIZ co-working space and Apple iPad Air tablets among other great prizes.
To learn more about Prof. Dwolatzky's vision for digital innovation in Johannesburg and South Africa, watch the talk he gave at TEDxJohannesburg.
To enter the Wits Student App Challenge, please complete this short registration form.
Cover Image: Artists impression of how the Tshimologong Precinct will look like once re-construction is complete.