Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar hosted an outreach workshop for students this weekend on its campus at Education City. Ibtikar Qatar, the Information Systems Innovation competition for high school seniors and juniors, kicked off with a workshop on Saturday, November 27 under the theme of the United Nation’s 2010 Year of Biodiversity.
Ibtikar, which is the Arabic word for “innovation”, was created as a holistic approach to service learning, where students learn through active participation in projects that benefit the community. Through Ibtikar Qatar, high school students are encouraged to design creative solutions to some of the important current challenges that society is facing using information technology while at the same time raising their interest in the dynamic field of Information Systems. 91 Students from 17 different schools are participating in Ibtikar Qatar.
“We have seen a growing interest in our outreach programs over the years as students see the benefits of having a solid understanding of technology and how deeply embedded it is in society and daily lives,” said Selma Limam Mansour, Ph.D., Information Systems program coordinator at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. “Ibtikar Qatar challenges students to think innovatively and creatively in designing an information systems solution to a real-life scenario, as well as encouraging team work, project management and communication.”
This year’s challenge is to design an iPhone application to help promote the United Nations goals for the 2010 year of Biodiversity. “We always choose a theme which students can relate to, and we have made a commitment to social responsibility. This year we wanted to provide awareness about the challenges of reducing biodiversity in Qatar.”
At the workshop, the students, each organized on a team, learned the rules of the competition and the role that Information Systems and innovation play in the marketplace. The students also gained a basic understanding of biodiversity. As the Ibtikar Qatar competition is a poster competition, the students also learned how to design a poster to explain their project. Poster submissions are due on January 6, 2011. After submission of their poster which outlines their iPhone application, there will be a selective process and the chosen teams will be notified for the final competition. On the day of the competition, scheduled for January 22, 2011, the selected teams will present their ideas to a panel of judges and there will be a prize for the winning team.