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Rize Enrichment Programs and MDS CTS collaborate to help students define careers of the future

The iOS App Development Challenge demonstrated how social and environmental challenges can inspire anyone to code

Dubai, March 22, 2022: Rize Enrichment Programs, an after-school program organized by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and MDS CTS, an Apple Authorised Education Specialist, recently concluded an iOS App Development Challenge where students were tasked with creating apps or app prototypes in response to social and environmental challenges. 

The challenge themed, ‘Be Well Together’, provided the next generation of app developers and social innovators the opportunity to learn UX/UI design and to code using Swift and Xcode programming languages. A criterion in the app development stage was building apps and app prototypes with accessibility at their core. 

The challenge awarded 8 winners who developed apps or app prototypes that offer solutions in education, environment, health, and accessibility. All winners ensured their apps were inclusive and user-friendly for anyone with sight or hearing impairments. 

Over 1,000 students aged 14-17 from 142 Abu Dhabi schools applied for the competitions, with 488 qualifying for its challenges. Following the first milestone, 227 students submitted their projects, with 66 of them participating as individuals and 161 teams. Finalists were chosen in the categories of Top Overall Solution, Top Education Solution, Top Health Solution, Top Environment Solution, and Top Accessibility Solution. 

The eight-month program equipped students with key skills including creative problem solving, communication, design thinking, prototyping, among other skills that collectively represent the foundations the students will need upon entering the job market. 

“We are committed to working with our partners to enable our students reach their full potential by equipping them with 21st Century skills that prepare them for real world problem-solving in the future,” says Joni Cholwich, Director, Education Partnerships Enrichment and Intervention Division. 

“The ‘iOS App Development Challenge’ program provided students a well-rounded experience and offered them the opportunity to improve their creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills – all key to developing life-long learners. The success of the program can clearly be seen in the high-quality submissions and the positive impact it has had on the participants.” 

The challenge was rolled out in stages to allow students to collaborate in teams or work individually to provide an idea of their project and the real-world challenge it addressed. The next stage involved students being asked to submit an app prototype and develop it in the final submission. Virtual workshops included guidance on careers and skills of the future, showcasing the importance of accessibility, creativity, problem-solving skills, communicating ideas, and documenting the app development process. 

“It is an integral part of our business as an Apple Authorised Education Specialist to help transform the way educators integrate technology into learning experiences and prepare students for life beyond school,” says George Habel, Apple Practice Lead, MDS CTS.We are thankful for being able to work on this program with the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge.” 

Insights from the challenge demonstrated that students were eager to learn UX/UI design, how to write code, and build prototypes. It highlighted how they enjoyed collaborating with team members virtually and wrote their first lines in Swift and Xcode. Students also enjoyed the process of ideation while incorporating accessibility features into their apps to answer the challenge in a most inclusive way. 

“The idea of coding has always been very exciting for me. The opportunity to participate in the  iOS App Development challenge provided me the right platform to nurture my skills. The program was systematically organized for us to learn and apply our knowledge, and this will always remain etched in my memory. And I hope to continue on my coding journey in the coming years,” says Rawda Al Tamimi, iOS App Development Challenge participant. 

“The iOS App Development Challenge was a wonderful experience! It was a head start for my programming skills. It was organized very well, and there were many workshops hosted by experts. I learnt a lot of new concepts, and would definitely recommend this to everyone who loves to code. This challenge has been a great inspiration for me. It has increased my interest in developing apps. I look forward to more challenges like this one. Thank you for this unforgettable experience,” says Thiagarajan Manickam, iOS App Development Challenge participant.

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