Students from BlackBerry apps lab excel in SA hackathon

Developers studying at the BlackBerry® apps lab at the University of Pretoria emerged as big winners in the South African leg of the global m2Work Hackathon

October 4, 2012

Developers studying at the BlackBerry® apps lab at the University of Pretoria emerged as big winners in the South African leg of the global m2Work Hackathon, clinching the prizes for the Best m2Work Application as well as the Best Individual Hacker.

The South African leg of the m2work Hackathon was hosted by mLab Southern Africa and formed part of a global event that also involved mLab Kenya, mLab Armenia, mLab Vietnam and mHub Nepal.

The Hackathon challenged developers to come up with an app idea to address a global challenge and develop it in 24 hours. In this case, the spotlight was on developing solutions that could address the challenge of unemployment by developing concepts and applications for mobile micro workers.

The BlackBerry apps lab students spent two hours brainstorming ideas before choosing to develop a prototype for the Translate 4 Me app that won the top spot in the Best m2Work Application category. The team was made up of Eugene Masinga, Collen Mphabantshi, Ndivhuwo Nthambeleni, Ernest Mashele and Mitchell Leigh Dart.

They developed an innovative application and solution that allows anyone who can speak at least two of South Africa’s 11 official languages to register as a micro translator and provide services to other mobile users who need translations done.

Ernest Mashele says the Hackathon was a lesson in how to work fast and effectively in a limited time frame and scope. The BlackBerry apps lab provides a good coding environment and resources, he adds.

“The BlackBerry apps lab has provided me with the equipment and environment I need to effectively develop BlackBerry apps,” says Mitchell Leigh Dart. “The apps lab team has proudly won the South African m2Work Hackathon. It would not have been possible without the support from RIM.”

Blessing Mahlalela won the best Individual Hacker after deciding to pursue an idea for a Web and SMS service to match jobs with potential candidates.

Mahlalela says that the BlackBerry apps lab helps mobile developers by providing access to the latest BlackBerry devices and fast Internet. “What I enjoyed about the Hackethon was that the limited amount of time forced me to think only about the key features that are needed for the app,” says Mahlalela.

“We are proud of the achievements of the developers at our BlackBerry apps lab at the University of Pretoria,” says Alexandra Zagury, Managing Director for South and Southern Africa at Research In Motion (RIM). “The students showed flair, innovation and enthusiasm in addressing a global socio economic issue. We believe that they will benefit greatly from the exposure they got from the m2Work Hackathon.”

RIM and the University of Pretoria opened the BlackBerry apps lab in May this year with the aim to accelerate mobile application development in South Africa and thereby creating new economic opportunities and jobs in the mobile space.

The BlackBerry apps lab aims to accelerate mobile application development in South Africa, thereby creating new economic opportunities and jobs in the mobile space, supporting the objectives of the South African Department of Communications’ (DOC) eSkills Institute.