SOLIDitech has once again partnered with Nelson Mandela University (NMU) – this time it was to sponsor their 2019 Young African Women in Computing (YAWiC) Winter Design Thinking Workshop.
The two-day workshop, which took place on the 17th and 18th of July 2019, is aimed at increasing awareness and providing future career and employment opportunities for female learners in disadvantaged schools in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. These are schools that do not have access to technology, technical education information or any computer science infrastructure.
As a very successful and well-established annual event, the workshop took a slightly different approach this year by taking everything a step further. Instead of the regular digital literacy and coding agenda, the organisers thought that the girls would benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of the various degrees offered in the Department of Computing Sciences, and the career opportunities such an education would afford them. They also wanted to include a good example of a practical and real-world project to work on, and thus included a ‘Design Thinking’ component into this year’s workshop.
Students from a wide variety of high schools were invited, including Qaphelani High School, Chubekile Secondary School, Ethembeni Enrichment Centre, Lawson Brown High School and Kwazakhele High School.
Wednesday, 17 July [Day 1]:
- Talks and presentations that shed light on the different BSc (Bachelor of Science) and BCom (Bachelor of Commerce) degrees available from NMU – intake requirements, module choices and career options.
- Testimonials and a Q&A session with both current students and alumni about their experience studying and what their current jobs are/what’s involved.
- A specific highlight was a talk from Chloe Clemence, a past attendee of the YAWiC workshops who is currently in her 2nd year of a BSc in Computer Science at NMU.
- This really gave the girls a great idea of what they could potentially do with their futures, post-education.
Thursday, 18 July [Day 2]:
- This was the ‘Design Thinking Workshop’. The girls were presented with real-world problems and were given a few skills and the space to brainstorm a variety of solutions.
- The real-world problem presented was kept pretty close to home, the students were asked how to increase awareness of YAWiC while effectively pushing the agenda of improving the number of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
- The creative solutions proposed included funky t-shirts, live-streaming workshops on Facebook and developing a mobile app.
This year’s workshop proved to be a huge success! YAWiC aims to encourage more young ladies to participate in computing and build confidence in the field of Computer Science and it seems like that goal was certainly achieved.
The students left far more enthusiastic about Computer Science in general and the opportunities available to them, especially around the role that women play within the field. The Computer Science Department even had multiple requests for more frequent workshops.
SOLIDitech is truly proud to be a part of such an empowering initiative and look forward to continuing our work with the YAWiC team.
For more information about YAWiC and their initiatives, visit the NMU Projects Webpage.