Finding solutions to challenges that face the city using technology is what earned Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) tutor and lecturer’s assistant, DK Maponya, the title of outstanding student at the city’s Hackathon Challenge at the University of KwaZulu-Natal recently.
The tutor at the DUT Writing Centre and lecturer’s assistant in Art Theory at the Fine Art Department at City campus was one of two participants that were given such a title. The Hackathon Challenge is the first of its kind in South Africa.
EThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo, who spoke at the event, said he was deeply touched by the high level of determination portrayed by the youth who engaged in an exercise to find innovative solutions to solve some of the major challenges faced by the municipality during the Innovation Hackathon Challenge. Participants competed as teams and presented their solutions in five categories: water-loss management, skills development, port management, heritage museum and smarter cities. The aspiring entrepreneurs were also empowered with skills as they used technology, supplied by sponsors IBM, to try to solve social, cultural and economic challenges.
“Maponya’s idea was an app which acts as a platform connecting informal workers with people in need of their service in a safe and efficient environment thus creating a continuous database which can be leveraged by the eThekwini municipality in understanding the patterns of informal workers and ways to develop them. I was one of the Deep Blue team that won the Hackathon because we created an application skeleton that conceptually and functionally works well. We will be given the opportunity to work with IBM technicians to refine the application and make sure that it works well to suit the needs of the municipality,” she said excitedly.
Having been exposed to such an innovative competition was beneficial to Maponya. “Exposure of what the real world presents is always a good thing. Some things can’t be learnt from a textbook, they need to be experienced,” she said.
Drawing from her own inspiration, she advises any future students wishing to participate in such competitions to ensure they have basic computer knowledge and a keen interest to learn more about coding and new technologies. Also, any person wishing to participate in any future IBM Hackathon competition needs to be willing to share knowledge, ideas and understanding of other people’s concepts,” she added.
City mayor James Nxumalo, who awarded a laptop to the outstanding student and said he was deeply touched by the high level of determination portrayed by the youth who engaged in an exercise to find innovative solutions to solve some of the major challenges faced by the municipality during the Innovation Hackathon Challenge.
He said the laptop must serve as a motivation to encourage the youth to be more involved in technological activities which are meant at capacitating and improving their skills which can result in breaking the cycle of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Winners of Hackathon Challenge will be announced during the Youth Innovation Conference taking place in July 2015 and will receive great prizes sponsored by IBM that will allow them to apply the knowledge and strategies learnt during the competition.
Pictured: DUT’s tutor and lecturer’s assistant at City campus, DK Maponya wins a laptop in Hackathon Challenge.