Winners of the AWS GetIT initiative for 2021 have been announced, shining a light on promising tech talent across the UK and Ireland.
Designed to inspire young students – especially girls – aged 12–13 who are keen to pursue a career in technology, the programme challenges the industry’s long-standing gender divide and general lack of diversity.
This year’s participants submitted ideas for apps that tackle a broad range of issues, including sustainability, mental health and personal safety.
The event first launched in 2018, and has since seen 23,000 students from 136 schools take part. The initiative launched in Ireland for the first time this year.
Programme lead Cecile Bonnet commented: “The AWS GetIT competition entries never fail to amaze us! Every year the students demonstrate their creativity and innovative thinking by designing apps for topics that are meaningful to them, their school and their community. We hope this experience will inspire them to continue their learnings and give them the confidence that they can achieve anything.”
The event runs throughout the school year, starting with an overview of the programme and opportunities for women in tech via a school assembly.
Students are then invited to submit their app design to the inter-school competition and attend the AWS GetIT bootcamps, where teams can refine their creations and prepare for subsequent prototyping and testing. Each school can enter two ideas to the contest, and AWS shortlists 10 teams to present to expert judges.
From there, the winning team is selected and given their prize: the opportunity to work alongside the AWS teams for a day, to workshop how they would bring their app idea to life.
The winners: Ireland
Students from Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh in Limerick took home the top prize in Ireland this year.
Meadhbh, Méabh, Olivia, Maggie May and Siún formulated a unique concept they called ‘Scan’n’Go’ – an app that lets users scan an item of rubbish with their smartphone camera and then tells the user which bin the item must go in. The young people were inspired to create the app when they noticed an increase in rubbish in their local community, largely due to lockdown restrictions forcing more people to socialise outdoors over the last 12 months. The app includes games and badges that allow users to share their success on social media to encourage participation and boost recycling awareness.
“We love the environment and are thrilled that we’ve learned how to develop an app that will help to save the planet” – Meadhbh, 2021 AWS GetIT winner
“It was great to see how Amazon works behind the scenes and we liked learning about the Amazon Leadership Principles,” said team member Meadhbh. “We focused a lot on “thinking big’ and we are already planning our ‘2.0’ version. We love the environment and are thrilled that we’ve learned how to develop an app that will help to save the planet.”
The winners: UK
Students of Dudley’s St James Academy landed the crown in the UK this year, with an app idea they called ‘NuU’ bagging them the reward.
Team members Jaishmeet, Roha, Rhys, McKayla, Sara and Adiele developed an idea for an app designed to connect people and provide mental health support.
“The experience definitely inspired me to consider a career in tech” – Jaishmeet, 2021 AWS GetIT winner
Jashmeet commented on behalf of the team, saying: “I loved being part of this competition! It allowed me to understand what working as part of a team is like, how to present professionally, and I also gained self-confidence by presenting to different audiences. The experience definitely inspired me to consider a career in tech.”