Developed by senior University of Cape Town (UCT) students, tech projects and innovations that aim to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems were on display at the 2020 School of IT Showcase this week.
The School of IT merges the innovative, technological and multidisciplinary capacities and knowledge of the faculties of Science, Commerce and Humanities. And the annual show-and-tell offers students an opportunity to showcase their best work.
Traditionally, the event takes place in the Sarah Baartman Hall on upper campus, but as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibit was held virtually on Tuesday, 17 November 2020. The display included the research and software development projects of third-year BCom and BSc students, as well as honours, master’s and PhD students in the departments of Computer Science and Information Systems. Roughly 100 participating students showcased their work.
During her welcome address, the School of IT director, Professor Ulrike Rivett, said the showcase marked the end of an “unusually challenging year” and demonstrated students’ resilience and ability to adapt and engage using new and alternative modes of communication.
“It is therefore a particularly great pleasure to see what students have designed and developed as part of their final year of study.”
“It is therefore a particularly great pleasure to see what students have designed and developed as part of their final year of study,” she said.
“It is important to note that all of this work was done off campus – from home, observing the socially distanced protocols. [But] group work still had to happen, sometimes with the challenge of managing data provision, slow connectivity or an interrupted service.”
Rivett said the fields of computer science and information systems have the “profound ability” to change the world by creating a more just and equitable society for all who live in it.
The displays offered insights into the students’ research methodology – to recognise a social challenge and respond to it by creating an effective computing solution. The showcase organising committee’s Samuel Chetty said students’ projects covered a diverse range of topics. This included artificial intelligence, digital libraries, computer games and graphics, human–computer interaction and information systems.
Some of the projects on display included a web application especially designed for Carenet, a non-profit organisation that connects carers with individuals who need home care in marginalised communities. The application facilitates the initial link between carers and care seekers and enables carers to advertise their service and care seeks to respond to the advert online. The platform’s built-in filter system also allows caregivers to select their area of expertise and respond directly to jobs that fit their individual skill sets.
The residence booking system, Trak, was also showcased. The web-based system lists UCT residences’ in-house facilities and provides a one-stop-shop for bookings. In the past, residence administrators recorded all student bookings on paper with no back-up options. Trak allows students to create a booking request online, and based on the built-in calendar, administrators can either accept or decline the booking.
“You will also find resilience, stamina and perseverance of our final-year classes of 2020 – undoubtedly one of the most testing years in recent history.”
Additionally, in partnership with South Africa Makes, a Cape Town-based business that offers low-volume 3D manufacturing for the medical, dental and research sectors, students devised a 3D printing platform. The platform allows users to place orders online, request 3D design files and provides a comprehensive support function to assist new clients. The system was especially designed to speed up the response time to supply shortages for clients in the health sector.
“What you will find in the presentations is not only the design and development of applications, research methods and engagement in social challenges. You will also find resilience, stamina, and perseverance of our final-year classes of 2020 – undoubtedly one of the most testing years in recent history,” Rivett said.
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