Students compete in app building contest at the Ottawa Game Conference

By Michelle Haag on 8 Jun 2012 02:42 pm EDT
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Krista McCormick and Melanie Lapointe
There is a lot going on in Ottawa for young people looking to get into app development. TechU.me is an organization that encourages students to pursue careers in technology through educational programming in Ottawa’s schools. Recently TechU.me hosted an App Jam at the Ottawa Game Conference where students from 12 different high schools showcased their apps, each hoping to win a $1000 scholarship and/or summer job with one of the sponsors. Several of the students created apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook, including Krista McCormick and Melanie Lapointe, whose curriculum quiz game earned them one of the seven prizes. Not only did they win $1000 from Dan Dodge of QNX, they also won BlackBerry PlayBooks from Patrick Mollins, Developer Evangelist at RIM, who was also a guest speaker at the event.

The competing students were all 11th and 12th grade level, and had been working on their apps for about 2 months. The students work with industry mentors and design apps for the younger grades in their school, consulting with their "clients" on the application's design and details.

Melanie and Krista had never considered developing apps before this project, and they admitted that starting out wasn't easy.  “It was horrible, we didn’t know what we were doing, it took a lot of tries to get it to work,” Melanie said. “At the end of the project, I was happy it was over, I never thought about going into this kind of career, but now, it sounds so interesting.”  The girls were working with a 7th grade class on the app. “They (the Grade 7 class) really wanted to have a rocket in the app, so we put it in.” McCormick said. “If they get all the questions correct, they get to launch a rocket into a tree.” After this experience, both girls said that software development is a carrier they're now interested in.

The girls weren't the only ones that got BlackBerry PlayBooks that day, and in fact all of the students that made apps for the tablet received one, as well as some participants that had developed apps for other platforms. The Ottawa Game Conference is designed as a showcase in global industry advances and a forum for strengthening the development industry in the Ottawa area. What better way to strengthen the development industry than by engaging youths and getting them interested in app development through programs such as TechU.me? I'm sure next year we'll see more students developing apps and competing, but by then time it will be for BlackBerry 10!
Michelle Haag Michelle Haag "@_Miche11e_ and C0001B3B5" 1189 (articles) 1683 (forum posts)
11 comments

mssca

Good for them... I learned programming when I was in Grade 7/8. Early start us better.

kastortroy

Reminds of the days when I learnt my first programming lanugage back in the days of Basic. I envey them now cus they have all the cool technologies to learn from.

Peace

crumbonthefloor

Those girls look very cute, just saying...
Wish my school would have thought me programming. Will be on it soon!

wgtcarlos

Yup, they are cute, but most important: they look very proud. Proud of their work and I believe this feeling is the most important!

pkcable

I remember writing a basic program that would make my name repeat all over the screen!

toosweetnitemare

great to see companies promoting programming with scholarships and prizes for kids. Get them interested in something they would never try otherwise. Great work! congrats to the winners!

kingofthenerds

Cool, I know Krista's dad, he's more than a little proud of this (justafiably) and has been telling anybody who'll listen about it.

f1mx

I wish Mexico had these types of contests. Most students find programming logic and math pretty boring without learning about their application

Android Market for QNX

application software is pretty boring too, but the $ you make from it isn't lol. This is a great program. Congrats to the winners from Ottawa.

Joe257

That's a very cool idea to get students involved in development early. They look really proud of their work!

Useful student apps on PlayBook could use a boost as well.

Joe257

Check spelling: I think you mean career nor carrier :)
Good old autocorrect at work.