FoICT annual hackathon provides innovation playground for students

By Kgothatso Monono

13 September 2023

Kicking Spring off on a high note, the Tshwane University of Technology’s Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (FoICT) hosted its 5th annual Tshwane Varsity Hackathon from 1 to 3 September. This ever-popular series of hackathons that provides an innovation playground for students, form part of aligning the Tshwane University of Technology’s strategic pillars and the National Development Plan of the RSA to prepare future-ready graduates and to enhance employability.

Organised by FoICT in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the City of Tshwane and the industry, the TVH hackathon competition specifically supports the National Development Plan (Vision 2030) of the Government of the Republic of South Africa by addressing Chapter 9 of the plan that focuses on "Improving Education, Training and Innovation". 

The competition gives students a significant opportunity to contribute to positive societal growth and change. Using technology, students help to solve complex challenges global citizens face currently. In this way, the University ensures the future-readiness of students to be able to solve these problems once industry employs them.

Preceding the hackathon, partners from industry, the City of Tshwane and other universities convened at an undisclosed venue to present current challenges that can be used to develop technology-based solutions. These challenges and ideas were captured and put in a backlog. The hackers who participated in the competition, did not know what these challenges were until the day of the official launch of the Hackathon.

According to Dr Thato Shuping, Director of the Innovation Unit at the City of Tshwane (CoT), the TVH fits in perfectly with the CoT strategy, since it makes provision for achieving five of the key innovative strategic pillars. These are to expand and strengthen an inclusive innovation ecosystem; decentralise digitalised management programmes; modernise innovation governance structures; initiate new strategic platforms for piloting of service delivery solutions; as well as build a value at project portfolio of service delivery solutions.

 “We receive many ideas from the city and residents, but innovators do not have the platform to share the ideas. We hope that the TVH will assist to conceptualise and develop innovative solutions that we can implement to improve service delivery in the city and the quality of life for Tshwane residents," he added.

Dr Moshe Masonta, guest speaker and CSIR Principal Researcher at Next Generation Enterprises and Institutions, highlighted the importance of 4IR and Cloud Computing. “4IR is rooted in digitalization to enable the creation of a virtual world from which we can steer the physical world. As cloud computing cuts across many networks, it allows the delivery of computing services over the internet.”

The success of the previous hackathons has inspired confidence that the faculty could extend the work for more students and more solutions for Africa’s problems while keeping the youth active and vibrant with tech development.

“Hackathon as an innovation playground for students, is a beneficial festival of creation and it simulates opportunities to first practice design science and then perform under pressure, due to the short time allowed to complete the assignments. It is an opportunity to enhance students’ digital skills sets for the future of work, as it provides access to commercial digital platforms such as AWS for building digital solutions,” said Mashitishi Phurutsi, Manager at FoICT’s First year and Foundation Unit.


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