South Africa Summer 2013 Blog

University of the Witwatersrand
June 19, 2013 to July 31, 2013

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa!

Colette Abah

June 22, 2013

Our first week in South Africa has been quite eventful to say the least. Because students in the southern hemisphere are on winter break (3 weeks long) right now, we have to run a shorter and more intensive AITI program (5 weeks instead of 6).

Most of the instructors arrived on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, we visited some of the facilities at WITS University including the Joburg Center for Software Engineering (JCSE) and the Chamber of Mines (electrical engineering building). In the afternoon, we met with two Google representatives at the Google office. 

We had our first class on Wednesday morning at 9am. Full class! In fact, we had twenty students more than we could admit in the class. How we managed to reduce the number to the 30 students limit is still a mystery to me. 

From the entrepreneurship side, we hope to guide our students from the first steps of clearly defining the problem they are trying to solve, all the way to building a valid business proposal and pitch to Venture Capitalists on demo day. Last week's lectures were on problem specifications and idea generations.

From the technical side, the end goal is to have the students create a fully functional and marketable mobile application. So far, they have reviewed Java through lab exercises. They will be working on android next week.

It has been an intensive first week teaching during the day, preparing for the next day’s lecture in the evening and meeting potential mentors, guest speakers and venture capitalists in between. At the same time, it has also being an awesome first week. I am especially grateful for the students in the program. They are incredibly smart, hardworking and dedicated to taking full advantage of this opportunity. It’s encouraging and exciting.