Meet the next generation of tech talent: the AWS GetIT 2021 winners for UK and Ireland
AWS GetIT is designed to inspire young students, especially girls, aged between 12 and 13 to consider a career in tech by challenging long-standing gender stereotypes and inspiring them to become tomorrow’s tech innovators and leaders.
Since launching in the UK in 2018, the programme has captured the imagination of over 23,000 students from 136 schools – and this year we offered the programme in Ireland for the first time.
Teams from over 38 schools across the island took part in the competition to design an app which solves a real issue faced by their school or community. We received entries covering a wide range of ideas, including concepts focused on sustainability, mental health and personal safety.
“The AWS GetIT competition entries never fail to amaze us!” said Cecile Bonnet, AWS GetIT Global Programme Lead. “Every year the students demonstrate their creativity and innovative thinking by designing apps for topics that are meaningful to them, their school and their community. We hope this experience will inspire them to continue their learnings and give them the confidence that they can achieve anything.”
AWS GetIT Ireland: meet the winners
Congratulations to students at Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh, Limerick City, Limerick, who are this year’s winners of AWS GetIT in Ireland!
Meadhbh, Méabh, Olivia, Maggie May and Siún came up with the app idea Scan‘n’Go which allows users to scan an item of rubbish with their phone camera and then tells users what bin the item needs to go in to – waste or recycling. The students were inspired to create the app when they noticed an increase in rubbish in their local community, caused by more people socialising outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app includes games and badges where people share their success on social media to encourage recycling and raise awareness.
“It was great to see how Amazon works behind the scenes and we liked learning about the Amazon Leadership Principles,” said team member Meadhbh. “We focused a lot on 'Thinking Big' and we are already planning our ‘2.0’ version. We love the environment and are thrilled that we’ve learned how to develop an app that will help to save the planet.”
Team member Maggie May added: “Working as a team to follow a shared vision of how we want to make a difference in the world gave us a great opportunity to learn a range of new skills we never thought about before.
“Our team learned a lot from being able to brainstorm, reflect on our progress and to use our technical skills to make our presentation both interesting and enjoyable to be part of,” she added. “We learned how to ‘work backwards’ and put the needs of our app-user first, how to collect data and research, and we also learned how to build a prototype. Our AWS GetIT ambassador, Niamh, was great with feedback and we were always encouraged to improve along the way.”
AWS GetIT Ireland: meet the runners-up
Students Jessica, Shona, Anna, Rachel and Freya at St Vincent’s Secondary School in Dundalk, County Louth, were delighted to be named runners-up in this year’s programme.
Their team developed an idea called Go Green, an environment-focused app that informs users of their nearest recycling centre locations using GPS, provides them with the latest environmental news, notifications of environmental events or protests, and tips on how they can act more sustainably in their daily lives.
Team member Anna said: “The AWS GetIT competition was great fun and made me think about using technology more in the future.”
Patrick O’Brien, the team’s teacher at St Vincent’s, explained: “Thanks to AWS GetIT, our students experienced a wide range of roles and skills which reflect the world of work in technology. They also experienced presenting their ideas to a group of judges and received feedback at each stage, which helped them improve their presentation. We’re so proud that they made it through to the final two schools nationally!”
Students of today, leaders of tomorrow
Mike Beary, Country Manager for AWS in Ireland, was part of the expert judging panel: “Programmes like AWS GetIT allow us to reach out to the next generation of young people in Ireland – especially girls – and get them thinking about technology from an early age.
“I hope these students are inspired to challenge gender stereotypes and consider following a path to a career in technology,” he added. “The winning team were hugely creative in making their idea fun and engaging for target users. We were impressed by their big thinking for future development, and the use of a persona named ‘Charlie’ throughout their presentation showed the judges their customer obsession – something we value highly at AWS.”
The leaders of tomorrow are the students of today… With future leaders like this, our future is indeed a bright one.
Claire McHugh, co-founder and CEO of Dublin-based software company Axonista, also joined the judging panel: “I’m committed to creating a better future for women in technology. In our company we have worked hard to create an environment that is inclusive, collaborative and supportive, and we're proud to say that women make up 40 per cent of our workforce – and we are currently hiring extensively.
“Programmes like AWS GetIT are important because they bring that sense of curiosity and wonder for technology and innovation into the broader ecosystem,” Claire added. “The leaders of tomorrow are the students of today. I was honoured to be invited to hear the finalists pitch and was blown away by the quality of the solutions presented. With future leaders like this, our future is indeed a bright one.”
AWS GetIT in the UK
AWS GetIT is now in its third year in the UK and the 2021 winning and runner-up schools have just been announced.
St James Academy in Dudley are the UK winners this year with their app idea, NuU. Team members Jaishmeet, Roha, Rhys, McKayla, Sara and Adiele came up with the idea to connect people and provide support on mental health issues.
Jaishmeet on the winning team said: “I loved being part of this competition! It allowed me to understand what working as part of a team is like, how to present professionally, and I also gained self-confidence by presenting to different audiences. The experience definitely inspired me to consider a career in tech.”
Ian Moore, Principal at St James Academy, added: “Throughout the competition, the team has demonstrated each of our Trust's key values. I am immensely proud of the hard-work and dedication our learners have put into this competition and so pleased that the judges bought into their fantastic app idea. The AWS GetIT competition complements our curriculum here at St James Academy and provides a valuable real-world experience for our learners.”
St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls in Carshalton, South London, were awarded the runner-up prize for their app North Star. The personal safety app is designed to keep young people and teenagers safe when travelling alone, with an emphasis on making it fun and easy to understand.
Team member Alyssa explained: “This opportunity opened our eyes to the vast range of roles in technology, especially for girls, and has inspired us to think about how we can use the skills we developed to help other people through innovation.”
The team’s teacher Mrs Varghese added: “The virtual bootcamp sessions with our AWS GetIT ambassador Trisha were phenomenal and truly helped the team progress at each stage. All the staff at AWS were incredibly supportive and worked hard to make this competition a big success for us as a school.”
How to get your school involved in AWS GetIT
AWS GetIT runs throughout the school year and the journey begins with an overview of the programme and opportunities for women in IT at a school assembly.
Students are invited to enter an inter-school app design competition and attend an AWS GetIT Bootcamp, where the students refine their concepts and prepare for subsequent prototyping and testing phases. From here, each school can enter up to two ideas into the competition. AWS will shortlist 10 teams to present to an expert panel of judges, who will select a winning team and present them with their prize – the opportunity to work directly with AWS teams for a day, to workshop how they would bring their app idea to life.
Find out more about how your school can get involved with AWS GetIT.