Student inventions reap awards at Tshwane Varsity Hackathon 

by Thembeka Manetje

10 November 2022

The development of software solutions to solve the real-life problems global citizens currently face, once again delivered on TUT’s promise to make a positive societal impact to solve 21st century challenges. The top three teams were announced and rewarded at the 4th annual Tshwane Varsity Hackathon (TVH) hosted by the Tshwane University of Technology’s Faculty of Information and Communication Technology in partnership with the Directorate of Research and Innovation. 

Mashitishi Phurutsi, founder and Chief Organizer of the TVH, and unit manager at the Faculty’s first-year and foundation unit, introduced the TVH in 2018 because of his concern about the mismatch and misalignment between universities and industry. The TVH competition, during which industry partners and the municipality (City of Tshwane) presented challenges global citizens currently face, is used as an opportunity to prepare students for industry. These challenges include issues such as health, safety, service delivery and education for which students had to develop innovative solutions, using technology. In only 48 hours, students had to produce solutions and develop a working conceptual software system. “This competition, therefore, helps to grow students’ problem-solving skills and in so doing, contributes to producing future-ready graduates,” said Phurutsi. 

Welcoming students and guests at the award ceremony, Dr Etienne van Wyk, Executive Dean of the Faculty of ICT and Soshanguve Campus interim Rector, said “We are proud to reach the milestone of hosting the 4th annual TVH award ceremony. It supports government’s national plan vision 2030 and aligns with TUT’s strategic pillars that aim to produce future ready graduates that can make a societal impact through research, innovation, engagement and technology transfer to foster growth, development and sustainability.” 

Dr van Wyk added that it is through such interventions that the university has been able to achieve the ranking as the number one university in the country for the teaching of ICT and Engineering in 2021 - according to the Times Higher Education that conducts university rankings. “Over the past 18 years, TUT has risen like a proverbial phoenix,” he said. 

Alderman Peter Sutton, MMC for finance at the City of Tshwane, addressed the audience about the importance of collaborating with institutions of higher learning for service delivery innovation. According to him the Local Government Municipal Systems Act of 32 places an important obligation on municipalities to put mechanisms and processes in place to enable municipalities to move progressively towards the social economic upliftment of local communities and ensure universal access to affordable essential services to all citizens. “We are elated by the thematic areas identified for this competition, as they resonate with the socio-economic challenges that have plagued our city,” said Sutton.

He added that for service delivery innovation to occur, strategic collaboration of all the role players within an innovation ecosystem is necessary to fast track the city’s economic growth. “As a progressive and developmental focused municipality, we sincerely appreciate strategic interventions such as the TVH because they demonstrate our innovation capability as a community”, he explained.

“We envision this initiative to go a long way in remodeling and transforming Tshwane into Africa’s leading innovation city,” Sutton said, also expressing his desire to maintain the strategic collaboration.  

Following Alderman Peter Sutton’s address, Mashitishi Phurutsi, announced the winning team, Cloud Docket, who invented a cloud docket solution meant to combat the theft of missing police dockets. They did this by creating and keeping the dockets on a cloud drive, therefore, making it impossible for the official or the complainant to lose track of it. The team comprises of eight students:

  • Mpiana Agnes Mujinga
  • Moses Mathobela
  • Mohlatlego Sekhitla
  • Vanessa Maluleka
  • McDonald Manyama
  • Nkosinathi Msiza
  • Bongani ThwalaLuvo Ntapane

Exclusive Code 8 were the runners-up with their technological invention comprised of a service request app, which allows citizens to register their services and expertise, such as a skilled artisan, voice over artist, painter, or software developer for people in an area to easily access their services. 

One City walked off with the third prize. Their solution was invented for community members to use a bartering system with municipalities to help pay their outstanding municipal accounts. This is done by offering their expert services when they are unable to pay their outstanding bills owed to the municipality. 

In concluding the award ceremony, Dr Hamilton Mphidi, Deputy Director for Innovation Support and Technology Transfer and 1st Vice-Chief Organiser of the TVH expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the partners, City of Tshwane, AWS and AB4IR, as well as the sponsors, Innovate Pretoria, KOEDR, IQ Business, Agile Alliance, Intervent, Faethm, WeDoChange, CSFS, and Nelekat. 

“TUT is a University that doesn’t just ask for money, we aim to build strategic partnerships and collaboration,” said Dr Hamilton.To watch the full TVH awards ceremony, click HERE.

Big smiles from the winning team, Cloud Docket, who invented a cloud docket solution for the SAPS, after receiving their award.

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