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      Volume 6 | Issue 45 | November 11, 2012 |


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Campus Tech

A training session before the competition.

A Dynamic Marathon!

Rakibul Hasan
Photos: Microsoft Bangladesh

It was a battle of brilliant minds in the Institute of Information Technology (IIT), University of Dhaka on November 3, 2012. Microsoft App-a-thon, an application development marathon for the Windows 8 operating system and Windows phone was taking place in the computer labs of the IIT, and, the student participants of the programme made almost a cacophony as they boggle their mind both silently and loudly to come up with the ideas of applications (apps) that can best realise the users' various demands. The outcome was spectacular. Though, the event was aiming at developing 80 apps, the participants ended up developing 100 very useful apps for the users of Windows 8 and Windows Phones, which was certainly a record for any software development competition in Bangladesh.

The year 2012 has been quite exciting for the tech-savvy generation all over the world. The giant software maker Microsoft Corporation introduced Windows 8, Surface and Windows phone with a range of modern features. In order to complement the benefits of its consumers in a regular basis, Microsoft Corporation arranges training and activation programmes to help build developers new smart apps for its products. In light of this legacy, the Bangladesh wing of the corporation came up with the idea of arranging Microsoft App-a-thon, the first ever software development marathon to take plac in Bangladesh. As part of the preparation of the event, Microsoft trained over 400 students from eight Bangladeshi universities on how to build applications for devices that use Windows operating system. The universities include Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, University of Dhaka, American International University Bangladesh, North South University, Khulna University of Engineering and Technology, BRAC University and United International University. Training sessions on certain aspects of programming were arranged in these universities by the student partners of Microsoft, popularly known as MSPs. After conducting such sessions, Microsoft received over 400 applications from the students to participate in the App-a-thon. After a rigorous profiling of their programming skills, 80 candidates were selected to compete in the final phase of the event.

Microsoft Student Partners present at the programme.

On the day of the Microsoft App-a-thon, contestants gathered in the premises of IIT, DU in early morning. The event kicked off with a speech from Tanzim Saqib, Technical Evangelist of Microsoft Bangladesh. Later on, the 80 participants were divided evenly according to their choice for developing apps for Windows 8 or Windows phones. Two labs were set up, where each participant was given a computer to develop their apps. The Microsoft Student Partners assisted the contestants throughout the time with certain technical issues such as coding, programming language etc. Syed Monowarul Islam, a student of North South University and a participant in the programme says, “It has been a great learning experience. I got to know so much about the use of C Sharp programming language from this event. I have developed an application which I named 'Zakat Calculator' for Windows 8 operating system. Through this app people can precisely calculate their amount of Zakat after putting up the amount of their total wealth.”

A contestant brainstorms while writing the codes for an app.

The app development marathon continued till 5 pm, and then judges Shah Mostafa Khaled, faculty member, IIT, DU and Raisul Kabir, CEO, Brainstorm-23 went through the submitted applications. After a close scrutiny of certain aspects of the apps such as visual aspects, utility and user-friendliness, eight top apps for Window 8 and Windows Phone were declared. The developers of the top 8 applications were awarded with mementos in a small ceremony.

Fahim Masroor, President, Bangladesh Association of Software and information Services, and a special guest in the event says, “It's amazing to see how our students despite being from a third world country, are successfully developing very useful applications for the world famous operating systems and smart phones. What's more fascinating is that they are developing these apps keeping our local realities in mind. So, these apps will be useful for the people from both urban and rural areas. Currently, the out sourcing business is booming in our country. And events like Microsoft App-a-thon can help our students a great deal to gather practical experience and master the art of software programming.”

Tanzim Saqib, Technical Evangelist of Microsoft Bangladesh, says, “After such a grand success of Microsoft App-a-thon, we are planning to continue such capacity building initiatives in future and help the young minds of our nation excel in technical industry."

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