Two University of Venda (UNIVEN) students, Ms Tshianeo Mellda Ndou Honours student in Environmental Sciences and Mr Tinotenda Murwira doing his PhD in Health Sciences at Univen were among students from other participating institutions during the Hackathon workshop. The workshop was held in Heidenheim, Germany from Saturday, 17 February to Saturday, 03 March 2018.

Ms Tshianeo Mellda Ndou, Honours student in Environmental Sciences and Mr Tinotenda Murwira PhD candidate in Health Sciences waiting for their time to jet-off to Germany

This came after the scholarship was advertised online and fifteen students from Univen applied. Two UNIVEN students were selected and awarded scholarships covering travel, health insurance and accommodation in Germany by Duale Hochschule Baden-Wurttemberg (DHBW) Heidenheim.

Participating institutions were represented by two students each. The other institutions that participated in this workshop were Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology (NMAIST), Arusha; the Institute for Finance Management (IFM), Dar-es Salam, Tanzania. DHBW Heidenheim which was the host, was represented by fifteen students and all participated in this workshop.

The Scholarship was sponsored by EXAKT4YOU. EXAKT4YOU is a project funded by Baden-Wurttemberg Foundation, Germany coordinated by Duale Hochschule Baden-Wurttemberg (DHBW) Heidenheim for a period of three years until 2020. The exchange of students and faculty are predominantly in innovative formats of short duration such as Hackathons, Staff and Student Innovation Workshops, OER-based collaborative development of teaching material as well as webinars for scientific methods and research.

Hackathon challenge (Collaborative, innovative and educative) is a digital problem solving exercise which focused on Cultural exchange between Germany, South Africa and Tanzania. The topic was worked on collaboratively by the participating students and staff. Five groups each comprising of students and staff from the three countries were formed. The participants were innovative as they work on their tasks with lots of research into the history, culture, education, economy, etc and they came up with very informative and educative products for effective cultural exchange among the three countries.

Other international students from South Korea, France, Hong Kong, Syria, Spain, Hungary and Taiwan were part of the workshop. The participants worked in international and interdisciplinary teams for a period of two weeks. The students used the opportunity to visit important places and companies in Germany such as Mercedes Benz museum, Stuttgart; Voith and Hartmann, Heidenheim.

The participants learnt how to create a website from the scratch and that has improved their Information Technology (IT) skills together with the way of collecting information from the internet. They have also learnt how to adapt to different climatic conditions, food and language. Among other things, the participants learnt about time management and punctuality skills as Germans are known to be punctual. Subsequently they presented their results which were either an applicable solution or a workable prototype.

Software, websites, games and mobile Apps were developed by the groups. According to Mr Tinotenda, “For all students to connect and know each other’s cultures and food; students were asked to prepare their home country’s popular meal such as pap, beef stew, rice, plantain, fried chicken, traditional cake and many others. This was such an amazing experience to see different people eat and taste different food for the first time, it was great, and we had fun, and this is why I regard this amazing opportunity as exploring the world.”

Participants were awarded certificates of participation at the end of the workshop.

Some of the participants displaying their certificates after the workshop

A MoU was signed between UNIVEN and DHBW in 2016 with the component of staff, student exchange and joint project initiatives. The Steering Committee meeting (SCM) was organised for the opening of the project and the implementation strategy for phase one of the project implementation. The Acting Director, International Relations, Dr Segun Obadire represented the University at this meeting and participated in the workshop together with participants from other institutions. Presentation on UNIVEN’s operations was made to different industries and universities during the visit and a number of prospective collaborations were initiated. The nextExakt4You programme will be held at NMAIST, Arusha in August 2018.

Prof Dr Rainer Przywara, President DHBW; Dr Segun Obadire, Acting Director International Relations, UNIVEN; Mrs Brigitte Ilg, Director International Relations, DHBW and Prof Dr Andreas Mahr, Vice President, DHBW

Issued by:
Department of Communications & Marketing
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525
Date: 14 March 2018

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