SAP has expanded its flagship youth innovation program, the Young ICT Explorers (YICTE) competition, across six states and territories to meet the increasing appetite for technology innovation among young Australian students.
This year, in partnership with Digital Careers, events will take place across New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia.
This expansion is in direct response to the demand for education programs of this type, and due to the extraordinary turn out for the competition.
In 2014 520 students entered 234 projects – all competing to become the best Young ICT Explorer in their region.
YICTE is designed to encourage Australian youth to create and innovate with ICT while promoting greater understanding of the real-life applications of technology and the career paths it enables.
Now in its sixth year, YICTE has inspired over 2,000 students to innovate in ICT-related projects.
SAP A/NZ vice president and general manager for global partner operations, Greg Miller, said these types of programs were essential in bridging the ICT skills gap.
“The Australian Industry Group recently released research showing that a lack of skills in areas such as science, technology and engineering in the current and emerging workforce is holding back Australia’s economy,” he said.
“This is not just an ICT issue; it’s an issue all industries, as well as government, education and the not-for-profit sector need to address together.”
Intel Australia will support this year’s competition, donating 200 Intel Galileo Gen 2 development boards to eligible students submitting Arduino-based entries or those interested in building ‘Internet of Things’ projects.
Intel managing director, Kate Burleigh, said it aimed to inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators.
"That’s why we’re supporting Young ICT Explorers – because it’s about creation and invention of technology, which are skills critical for the future of Australia’s knowledge-innovation economy,” Burleigh said.
National Director of Digital Careers and YICTE head judge, Dr Karsten Schulz, said YICTE was a collaborative effort.
“School teachers have contributed to the design of YICTE; industry, government, and the tertiary sector are providing high-profile judges that assess the students’ projects," he said.
"The engaging, can-do atmosphere at the YICTE events is an ideal environment for our young talents and their parents to build networks and to engage with ICT professionals. YICTE aligns perfectly with the objectives of Digital Careers."
This year’s entrants will be hoping to emulate the success of previous winner, Knox Grammar year-11 entrant Viney Kumar.
Since winning, Kumar has designed a new mobile app that could be making its way to smartphones in the not to distant future.
“I really loved the YICTE program, as it allowed me to develop my passion for science and technology but also real world work experience," he said.
"Through YICTE I secured an internship with SAP, where I worked on a large database project,” he said.
“The YICTE program jumpstarted my interest in these subjects and led me to develop a transport app for emergency services that won a prize at the Google Science Fair.
"I also had the opportunity to visit National ICT Australia (NICTA), and there’s the possibility that my transportation app may become a commercial reality, which is really exciting.”
The SAP Young ICT Explorers competition runs in partnership with leading universities including University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, Monash University, The University of Tasmania, Edith Cowan University, James Cook University and the Australian National University.
The projects will be judged by industry professionals and academics. Each project is assessed on the criteria of creativity, uniqueness, quality, level of difficulty and project documentation.