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Auckland teens to compete in junior hackathon contest

19 Sep 2016

Auckland teens are in for a treat this week, with 160 of them competing in a junior hackathon event organised by Manukau Institute of Technology and Microsoft New Zealand.

The teens to design and build their own computer game, working in teams or individually, and will be mentored by industry experts.

Those taking part in the event, called JHack, will have a month to develop their game, after which they will present to Mayor Len Brown, industry leaders, and an expert judging panel.

Edwina Mistry, JHack organiser and industry and community engagement manager at MIT’s Faculty of Business and IT, says JHack aims to encourage teens to consider a career in the IT industry, which accounts for 8% of New Zealand’s GDP and saw a 7% increase in jobs in 2015, yet is facing major skills shortages over the next decade.

She says the competition is an opportunity to give the next generation a taste of what IT is about.

“It’s a wonderful chance for the kids to learn from respected industry mentors, and allows them to develop their ideas and learn about IT in a way that’s fun and practical,” Mistry says.

Mistry says the competition goes beyond coding. “The teens also have to design and market their game. It requires creativity and imagination, as well as technical skills,” she explain.

“It’s the first step in a pathway from school, to a tertiary qualification, to a career in IT.”

The 25 industry mentors come from several tech-savvy New Zealand companies, including Vodafone New Zealand, Xero, Air New Zealand, Orion Health, Auckland Council, Tenzing, Neotek, Fusion, Nyriad, and Davanti.

50 teams and 17 individuals from 21 high schools across Auckland are participating.

When: Saturday 24 September, 10.00am-5.00pm, prize-giving from 3.20pm

Where: MIT Manukau, Davies Ave, Manukau

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