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NZ students win big in Orion Health's Codeworx competition

Orion Health, the New Zealand eHealth software company, has launched a number of initiatives to encourage school students in New Zealand to take an interest in software development.

One of the most significant initiatives is Codeworx, the competition for secondary school students.

Students competing in Codeworx create a project using a Raspberry Pi, which is a single-board computer about the size of a credit card. The project must solve a real world problem or be useful for everyday life.

This year, the second year the competition has taken place, Mission Heights Junior College and Burnside High School took away a number of awards.

Dylan Townsend, 14, of Mission Heights won first prize for his project titled ‘Caution, Child on Driveway’. His invention alerts drivers to children, pets or objects on the driveway. As winner of the top individual prize he receives $1,250 prize money and $2,500 worth of digital technology equipment for his school.

The Mission Heights team, consisting of Ngapipi Herewini, Molly Herbert, Hari Narasimhan and Jasneek Sandhu, took away the top team prize with the project ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, which helps blind people move around with an ultrasound device. They receive $750 each and $2,500 for their school.

Individual and team entries from Burnside High School, such as Tom Wright’s coding project to turn his phone into an automated and secure door opener, were named highly commended.

Ian McCrae, Orion Health, CEO, says, “In this, our second year running the Codeworx Challenge, we have been hugely impressed with the wide ranging entries."

"I have been amazed that we could have 14 year old students coming up with great projects which, with a little further development, could easily be products that can go to market and go on to save lives," he says.

Currently technology is New Zealand’s third largest export sector and has an estimated value of $6.1 billion in exports. As the technology sector continues to grow, the demand for skilled employees increases.

McCrae says, “We started The Codeworx Challenge to bring coding into classrooms due to the huge shortage of students taking Computer Science both in schools and universities.”

“This is the reason New Zealand is currently experiencing a disappointing shortage of IT professionals at a time when there is huge demand from the burgeoning IT sector,” he says.

“Our aim has always been to show high school students that digital technology is a highly sophisticated subject where they will learn how to write code, create programs and build applications through the innovative use of maths and science,” says McCrae.

To find out more about the winners and see their projects in action, click here.