Saturday 19 October, 2019

'Plan It' website comes out on top in Coders of the Caribbean contest

Team Plan It walked away with the $100,000 top prize at the fourth staging of NextGen Creators' Coders of the Caribbean, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew last weekend.

The team comprised of Danielle Mullings, Marlon Williams, Alrique Welsh and Je-hiel Smith topped the competition with its creation of a website that streamlines all the processes involved in planning a trip with loved ones - from picking a destination to transportation mode and costs attached.

Coders as young as 12 gathered with sleeping bags at the doors of the hotel on Friday morning, eager to make their names as the next big thing in technology. The 42-hour weekend innovation marathon kicked off with introductory speeches from industry changers as well as Technology Minister Fayval Williams. 

"It is with absolute pleasure that I am here today with you all, sharing and listening to these inspiring and insightful ideas to make not only Jamaica but the world, a better place. It is key that people need to be equipped with the necessary skillsets so that they can take their place in the digital society and the time to do so is now,” Williams said.

As the world becomes more digital, jobs within the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, inclusive of software engineering, are becoming increasingly in demand worldwide. Breaking the stigma and ensuring that the future is digitally savvy was one of the goals of the Coders of the Caribbean initiative.

“For years The NextGen team has sought to break the stigma attached to coding and provide different opportunities for youth to explore technology and entrepreneurship…” stated Ja'dan Johnson, Co-founder of NextGen Creators, during the event launch.

Along with the grand challenge, the tech-intensive weekend held several workshops surrounding software engineering, all of which were hosted by mentors with experiences from working with tech giants such as Google and Microsoft.

Attendees were able to improve and learn new skills as well as network with fellow peers. At the end of the marathon, over 10 innovations were submitted, many seeking to confront and solve issues such as the United Nations sustainable goals as well as increasing governmental revenue from local tourism.

Though only one winner could be selected, the exceptional ideas shared were indeed a testament to the hopeful and sustainable future of Jamaica.

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