Ottawa Network for Education Places Big Emphasis on Girls at Today’s AppJam

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Ottawa Network for Education, a network of education and community partners committed to enriching public education in Ottawa, is hosting its 3rd TechU.me “AppJam” contest for high school students today.

This year it’s also placing a bigger emphasis on girls in tech.

TechU.Me is a website/program dedicated to the high school students, which pairs elementary and high school students with industry mentors to develop mobile apps. Launched in 2012, AppJam is the culmination of these efforts, celebrating the region’s best young app developers. 

“Students – especially female – start to self-select themselves out of tech-related streams as early as in grade nine,” said TechU.me director Steven Evraire. “In the first two years of AppJam, barely 10% of our competitors were female; this year it’s 36% – significantly higher than the 20% sector ratio.”

The finalists are made up of students in grades 10-12, representing 10 schools across three school boards in Ottawa. They’ve already developed an  app either on their own (Independent stream), or through the TechU.me Mentor Program (Mentor steam). At the AppJam, representatives from sponsoring companies will judge the apps and award $4,500 in cash prizes. Judges will also assist students in gaining summer jobs within their firms.

Indeed, as part of the program The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the competition’s presenting sponsor and a long-time supporter of TechU.me, has hired two summer students since 2012. “Last year, our student got to see exactly how things work in our professional environment,” said Stuart Olmstead-Wilcox, development manager at CIRA. “He delivered a feature that got released to one of our partners. Now, he’s gone on to university but we hope that he’ll come back to us as a co-op student. That’s the crux of what this program can offer to our industry – it’s a win-win for the company and the student.”

Prior to May 10 students had to submit their app ideas to TechU.me, which then decided on the 15 finalists presenting today. They’ll learn later on today who will be crowned winner.

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk

Joseph Czikk previously has written for the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post, Techvibes and BC Business Online. Joseph often goes crazy on twitter during NHL and NFL games.