Botswana’s 2020 Hackathon Virtual Prize Awards Ceremony held recently was a massive success as hundreds of participants, including awards recipients from their various schools in Botswana logged onto the Internet via the conferencing platform, Zoom, for the prize giving ceremony that featured speeches from the host institution and its key stakeholders.
The BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo, Hackathon event coordinators, as well as representatives from the parent Ministry of Tertiary Education Science and Technology (MoTE) converged virtually.
The Hackathon prize giving ceremony was part of the 2020 National Science Week (NSW) and STEM Festival held from 6-9th October. In his keynote address, BIUST Vice Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo hailed the event as a resounding success for both its ingenuity and coverage despite the COVID-19 constraints. Totolo also paid tribute to former President, H. E Dr. Festus Mogae who opened the science week with a presentation themed ‘Digital Innovation As a Gateway Towards Prosperity For ALL’.
Prof. Totolo hailed Hackathon events as providing a platform for showcasing research and innovation products with a view of exposing commercialisation potential to entrepreneurs. “The Hackathon will in future enable participants to compete favourably in the market and become prosperous from the innovation challenge”. The 2020 Hackathon competition featured a select primary, junior secondary, senior secondary schools as well as out of school youths. A team of BIUST academics leading the Hackathon embarked on a nationwide trip to establish the readiness of different schools to participate in the event. As an endeavour to diversify the schools participating in the STEM Festival, the team chose a select few schools, mostly
Prof. Totolo noted that some of the solutions emanating from the Hackathon competition include prototypes for combating or at least intervening against such malice as Gender-Based Violence. “Prototypes developed are such that they may be taken up by industry and ready for production and commercialisation in line with the entrepreneurship ethic fostered by BIUST, the Ministry of Basic Education and Skills Development (MoBE) as well as MOTE. I therefore wish to encourage project supervisors to ensure that not only issues of Intellectual Property (IP) are adhered to but they should also facilitate development of such products to their fullest.”
The Department of Research, Science and Technology (DRST) Director, Mrs Lesego Thamae was impressed by the excellent execution of the 2020 National Science Week & STEM Festival and the resultant Hackathon competition which will impact positively on the lives of society, saying it was unbelievable that such a feat was pulled off in the midst of all the myriad of challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mrs Thamae underlined her vision to see the NSW and STEM Festival becoming a national calendar event of note for everyone to look forward to, she pledged her Ministry’s commitment to supporting the event.