Students listening in during the 2017 Tech Fest at USP's Laucala Campus.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Computing, Information and Mathematical Sciences (SCIMS) organised the Tech Fest event at the Laucala Campus on 8 April, 2017.
The Coding Carnival is a Microsoft Initiative at USP and Tech Fest is a day dedicated to IT-related competitions at USP.
In welcoming students, Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Services (LTSS) welcomed everyone “to this important initiative”.
Mr Penioni Narube, Analyst Programmer at Software Factory and USP alumni was guest speaker at the inauguration.
He emphasised the importance of collaborating and interacting with the industry saying the University can only do so much in terms of providing lectures, labs and tutorials.
“Nowadays there are soft skills that employers look for in graduates and the value of such an event as this is that it will help you develop these skills,” he explained.
Professor Coll reminded students of the importance of team work saying that in areas like IT, “there is seldom any project where anyone works alone on so getting on with people and how to interact contributes in a way that is beneficial to the project”.
He thanked the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) and industry mentors for putting together the Tech Fest 2017.
Associate Professor Anjeela Jokhan, Dean FSTE told students that soft skills are important because it gives them an edge over students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to be exposed to such events.
“Soft skills development will ensure that you are better qualified for the workplace. The programme is made up of technical and soft skills development so you are given a more holistic learning experience.
“USP and FSTE is pleased to bring you this Microsoft Initiative because it is a platform which allows students and, hopefully in the near future, secondary school students an opportunity to develop these skills even before they come to USP,” she mentioned.
Guest speaker at the inauguration was Mr Penioni Narube, Analyst Programmer at Software Factory and a USP alumni, who emphasised the importance of developing soft skills for graduates to blend in with the industry.
Software Factory is a locally owned software development company that specialises in software design and software development.
Mr Narube mentioned that his experience at USP prepared him well for the job especially the instilling of good programme fundamentals and practices which allowed him to easily pick up on intricacies specific to the platform on which he worked.
“But while having technical capabilities is crucial there are also skills you must have like how you conduct yourself in the workplace, work ethics, attitude to which you approach your work, communication skills and how you blend in with the team. These skills are equally important,” Mr Narube said.
“I was technically prepared to join the workforce but that was not enough,” he stated.
Mr Narube shared his experience when sending out his first email to a client saying it took him almost half a day to compose it, check it and proof-read it before it was eventually sent out.
“The reason was I had to ensure it was clear, concise and professional. I was technically prepared to join my field when I graduated but that was not enough,” he added.
He commended the effort by USP in joining hands with stakeholders to ensure that students are ready for work when they graduate.
“I am glad that USP is taking tremendous efforts to try and bridge this gap for instance the IT programme are given projects from the industry, students work under very strict deadlines and some even go and work on-site which is really excellent,” he remarked.
He advised students to make an effort to attend all their lectures, tutorials and labs, as missing these arranged teaching sessions will result in too much time and energy wasted later on in trying to understand the concepts which ideally should be done in the classrooms.
Mr Narube graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computing Science and Mathematics in 2011.
Mrs. Georgina Naigulevu, Manager Application Development, HFC Bank and USP alumnus delivered the valedictory address and distributed the prizes to all the winners in the day-long event. She inspired the participants with her talk by drawing references from her own personal experience as a USP student and how she has become a manager in the industry.
Dr. Dhenesh V Subramanian, coordinator of Tech Fest delivered the vote of thanks and said the event was well attended by 100 students in 20 different groups with five (5) participants each from USP taking part in various events like Poster design, Marketing, Quiz, Word hunt and Coding.
Eight (8) other alumni from the industry attended the festival and provided mentorship for the participants.
According to Dr Subramanian, the Microsoft initiative will be organising similar events in the future to provide a platform for students to sharpen their technical and soft skills and eventually enable them to be industry-ready when they graduate.
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