Students «hacking» Stavanger’s challenges

In cooperation with the municipality of Stavanger, these students are working to find better solutions for the city’s inhabitants.

Picture of five students on campus Five of six UiS students going to Enschede, from left: Elisabeth Stene, Michal Erica Peter-Anderson, Yuen Ching Margot Cheung, Kenny Kaluiji, and Jungwo Seo

A multi-disciplinary student team from UiS recently visited Twente University in the Netherlands, joining an event called ECIU Creathon for Smarter Regional Development.

A creathon is a creative marathon for young entrepreneurs, students and other creative people who come together to solve a particular case. University of Stavanger was invited as the Norwegian member of ECIU – European Consortium of Innovative Universities.

First prize

Studying Business and innovation, Energy, environment and society, Computer science and City and regional planning, respectively, six UiS students have taken on the following challenge:

How can we improve the city’s services for young families?

A team of two UiS students teamed up with two students from Twente, who ended up with first prize for their solution: An app that helps young families choose a kindergarten based on location, meaning somewhere along the route between where they live and work. 

The winning app

This could prove especially useful for international young families, who may be unfamiliar with the city, the language and the Norwegian kindergarten culture/system. 

«Many non-Norwegian cultures have preschool systems very different to ours. For instance, in Korea, where my teammate Jungwon is from, a preschool van picks up and delivers the child to and from school. If an international applicant made that kind of assumption, they would choose a preschool depending on reputation or pedagogic angles, instead of location and convenience, not realizing they have to manage their job hours closely with the kindergarten hours,» says Michal Erica Peter-Anderson, master student in city and regional planning at UiS.

«We included parameters in the application that would select a route and preschool, also based on whether you would take the bus, bicycle or walking path to utilize the regions' investment in its green transportation network. It’s pretty fantastic that Jungwon programmed a working app in only this weekend to demonstrate these features,» she says.

Solving real problems

«I think there are many problems that can be solved by computer programming. I want to join the ECIU creathon so that I can participate in solving real world problems,» says her teammate, computer science student Jungwon Seo.

That could prove to be the case. Linn Jensen at the Stavanger municipality smart city office is working together with the students, and sees potential in their solution. 

«We want to invite the winning team to a meeting where we can discuss their product further,» she says.

Innovation in education

The four other UiS students took part in two other groups, which are also working on practical solutions for the municipality. Representing the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurship, Minnah F. Haniffa believes projects like this give students an opportunity to challenge themselves by working on real-world cases.

«The great thing about this ECIU project is that it is multi-disciplinary.That’s when you get those ‘eureka’ moments. We greatly value entrepreneurship in our education, as well as collaboration with private and public sector institutions. The University of Stavanger aims at solving challenges in society, and that is what we are trying to do in this project.»

The Creathon is just one of many activities UiS is part of in the ECIU network. Read more here

Text and photo: Leiv Gunnar Lie