More Internet training for J’can youth

Google engineer hosts app workshop at UWI

Shamille Scott

Tuesday, January 21, 2014    

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FOR two hours a day last week, some university students were briefed on best practices and industry techniques by software Google engineer, JJ Geewax.

Twenty computer science students at the University of the West Indies were taught techniques in web development and software engineering, how to make better use of software development tools, and how to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls when building applications.

Computer science Lecturer at the UWI, Dr Daniel Coore, lauded Geewax for his efforts in aiding the development of the tech landscape in Jamaica.

"One of the things I'm happy about in seeing people like JJ participate in Jamaica is the fact that he provides not just financial support, but also provides encouragement for students, who are interested in (tech) activities; that it is an option."

"JJ provides a living example to students that it's possible to compete in the global marketplace. Looking back at his efforts over the summer and with what he's doing now, shows that he is deeply invested in the potential here, and that also speaks volumes to his commitment," the lecturer said.

At the same time, Geewax, who is also a chief engineer at Invite Media, a New York City-based advertising display company that was acquired by Google for US$81 million ($8.2 billion) in 2010, said the country has brilliant students who have the potential but need the right tools.

"Jamaica has a lot of really smart kids — particularly college students — who are interested in software engineering and have the potential to build really amazing things. Potential and a desire to learn more is great, but these students need to enter the field with a toolbox of the latest and most modern development skills and techniques," he said.

He added: "My hope is that if we arm them from the start with the tools they need, the potential we all see might grow into some real tangible success in the marketplace."

Geewax partnered with Senator Imani Duncan-Price and attorney-at-law Ashley-Ann Foster's business incubator last summer to invest in local start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs interested in the global technology industry.

The incubator, JGX Labs, is based in New Kingston and will be officially launched tomorrow. JGX will inject capital and provide office space, legal support, technical and business mentoring to the start-up companies.

"JGX Labs has shifted direction a bit to invest more in the training and teaching aspect of our developmental efforts. There is great potential and talent locally and all that's needed is a push in the right direction -- we hope to do our best to do that," said Foster, JGX Director.

The training workshop, which ran from January 13 to 18 at the UWI, Mona Campus, comes as a part of Geewax and JGX Labs' investment in Jamaica's growing tech industry and was hosted with the assistance of the University's Computer Science Department.

Duncan-Price, co-founder of JGX Labs was pleased with the turnout of students and believes it bodes well for the future of Jamaica.

"The strides made in the tech industry in the last five years towards establishing a tech ecosystem gives Jamaica a strong base from which to grow. After all, Jamaica has the human capital in our innovative young people and with the right investment, the right training and the right tools, the possibilities for growth are endless", she said.

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