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Ministry of Awesome hunting for coding all-stars

Finlay Dunseath
Te Ohaka pic
Te Ohaka Centre for Innovation and Growth office on Moorhouse Avenue  Finlay Dunseath

The Ministry of Awesome and Ara Institute of Canterbury are teaming up to provide students with an opportunity to show off their coding skills working alongside an innovative EdTech startup.

Students will be tasked with using their skills to create new systems for tackling problems alongside up-and-coming education technology startup 'Schoolbell.chat', with cash prizes and internship opportunities on offer.

Computing and programming student, Kieran Abelen, 28, said 'I really want to develop software but I think I need a stepping stone into the industry and this is a really good opportunity for that.'

Schoolbell.chat is a collaborative platform for parents and teachers to communicate directly with the aim to promote active parent involvement.

Co-Founder,  Vinay Varma is a veteran in the technology industry with over 22 years of experiences spanning 7 countries.

Varma said he hopes the application will help busy parents to have the same level of involvement in their children's school life as his parents were able to.

His idea for the app was inspired by the communication issues experienced by parents trying to contact schools during the 2013 Seddon earthquake.

The challenge will involve students programming a search engine which will be able to sort a list of school staff using a number of functional search filters are required.

There are currently 13 coders signed up to the competition, participants can choose to undertake the challenge in pairs, groups or as an individual.

Successful participants will receive the opportunity to pitch their solutions at the NZ tech event of the year, the Canterbury Tech Summit.

ICT student, Sarah Ball, said the opportunity to pitch at the summit was the main reason she got involved in the challenge.

The presentation skills involved in the pitch will contribute to the students final grade.

Ministry of Awesome startup incubation manager, Jacob Varghese, said 'It is important that students apply their programming knowledge but also hone their self skills'

The Ministry of Awesome will be running similar programs in the future such as the Spring Sprint startup boot camp.

Central ward Councillor Deon Swiggs fully supports the challenge and welcomes it's competitive nature.

"I think it's a really good thing and we're only going to get better as a city and better as a nation by taking what we have, startups who have that energy to teach and pass those learnings onto other people and create competition," Swiggs said.

The challenge will run from 23 August to 4 September, with workshops running from Te Ōhaka Centre for Growth & Innovation.