Students representing eight Dubai high schools took part in the first AppVision Competition hosted by the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD).
Eighteen teams entered the first ever staging of the event, which challenges high school students to come up with an idea for a new application for any smart phone or tablet device. The competition ran alongside the seventh annual UOWD Software Tradeshow, which provides an opportunity for university students and recent graduates to develop a unique software project and pitch a prototype of the application or device in front of industry and academic experts.
The idea for AppVision was conceived by Dr Mohamed Watfa, an Associate Professor at UOWD, who was looking to extend the software competition concept to high school students. A serial inventor and runner-up in the televised Pan-Arab science and technology competition, ‘Stars of Science’, Dr Watfa witnessed the talent and enthusiasm amongst high school students during his visits to schools throughout the show.
Explaining the rationale behind AppVision, Dr Watfa said, “The young people in schools today represent the next generation of innovators and we have a role in motivating and nurturing that talent for the future of the region. The competition is also about bridging the gap between school and university and promoting both technical and team work skills at an early age.”
Organised by Dr Watfa and fellow UOWD Associate Professor, Dr Kamal Jaafar, the competition called for students in grades 10, 11 and 12 to form teams of two to three people and develop an innovative idea for an App. The teams were required to produce a poster providing a description of their App, the motivation behind it, and the expected target market for the design, as well as to pitch their ideas to the judging panel. The brief prompted an incredible range of both practical and fun ideas, from health-related tools and edu-entertainment systems, to shopping aids and augmented reality applications.
The innovative ideas on display captured the imagination of the viewing public, even impressing students competing at the Software Tradeshow itself. Dr Watfa commented, “As it’s the first time this competition has run we weren’t really sure what to expect, but all the judges were amazed by the quality of entries coming from the high school students. Some of the ideas could easily have competed in the university-level competition and we have made a commitment to those teams with the most outstanding ideas to work with them on fully developing their applications.”
The members of the judging panel, made up of senior academics, were not only impressed by the skill and imagination that went into the designs, but also the professionalism that the students displayed in their product pitches, leaving them with an incredibly difficult decision to select the top two teams.
The winning entry, ‘Life Simulator’ came from a team representing Our Own High School, Al Warqa’a. According to the team, the App will “change how people make decisions in everyday life”. A truly innovative concept, the Life Simulator features an engine that predicts all possible outcomes of any given scenario. With the capacity to incorporate personalised living environments and interactions, the App would allow its users to live out both fictional and real-time scenarios.
Taking second place in the competition was ‘Naia’, designed by a team from the American International School. An action-based gaming App, Naia challenges users to take part in a test of survival, as humans are faced with adapting to life in an apocalyptic 31st century. The team describe Naia as “an underwater 3D adventure game of fun, excitement and intrigue”.
The top teams were awarded scholarships to attend UOWD in Autumn 2013, as well as winners trophies and technology prizes.