At Como Secondary College, team Skill Box describes 2018 as “a rollercoaster year”, thanks to the Just Start IT initiative for Western Australian secondary schools.
The program’s goal is for student groups to find a societal problem and create an IT-based solution. Just Start IT had a strong uptake, with 350 teams from 50 schools taking on the challenge.
At Como College, the six-member, all-female team of B-E Tan, Kiran Chilka, Cheryl Ngaw, Issy Sinton, Cara Howes and Leon Khow identified two complementary problems:
“There’s a shortage of volunteers for not-for-profit organisations and community groups, plus there’s a lack of work experience opportunities for students,” explains team spokesperson, B-E Tan.
“Our solution was for a new app called Skill Box that allows teenagers to find community volunteering opportunities that would provide work experience suited to their skills.”
Skill Box won the Como College internal round, then the competition semi-finals and, finally, the Just Start It Gala conclusion held at the end of July. For their winning entry, team Skill Box received $5,000 prize money, and, in Tan’s opinion, “some very snazzy” medals.
Representatives from the WA Information Technology and Telecommunications Alliance also attended the finale, to select the teams that would represent WA at the national iAwards in Melbourne. The three teams chosen were Como’s Skill Box and the Just Start IT entries from Penrhos and Sacred Heart colleges.
Curtin’s School of Management, which sits within the Faculty of Business and Law, sponsored the team’s travel to the iAwards, which were hosted by the Australian Information Industry Association.
“Not only is the Skill Box app an awesome idea, it also aligns with Curtin values of courage, excellence and impact.”
“We were very pleased to support the team,” says Jess Gibbs, Business Manager in Curtin’s School of Management. “Not only is the Skill Box app an awesome idea, it also aligns with Curtin values of courage, excellence and impact.”
In Melbourne, the team participated in innovation showcase events and pitched Skill Box to the iAwards panel of judges and live audience.
“That went well. We didn’t take out a prize, but being in the top seven in Australia is an achievement to remember,” says Tan.
The team is continuing to hone their networking and presentation skills, ready for their appearance as a finalist in the 2018 WA Young Innovator of the Year award, which will be announced on 7 November.