gKenya Day 1: Computing Students


For those who missed the event this is what basically happened though I can never realy capture how it was so next time don’t miss it or any other event for that matter. The write up below has most of  the content adapted from Akirachix blog

Day one was meant for computing students. The day started off with MC’s Chewy Trewhella and Bridget Sexton welcoming us to the event. Joe Mucheru, Google’s regional lead for sub-saharan Africa then introduced the entire google team, with representatives from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Switzerland, Uganda, the US and the UK attending the event.

Some of the students from JKUAT who attended GKenya listening patiently

Some of the participants from JKUAT at the event

The first speaker was Nelson Mattos, Vice President, Engineering, EMEA, with the keynote address.  He highlighted the fast growing trends and Africa being the last frontier of the online world as reasons why google is targeting Africa for such conferences.  He also brought some projects undertaken by Google in their bid to make information:-

  • Accesible: The University Access program running in Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, in the process of expanding to Kenya, Senegal and South Africa.
  • Relevant: The Wikipedia Challenge to get content translated to Kiswahili as a means of increasing local content.

He also announced the launch of the Android market place in Kenya. For developers that basically translates to cash!!Start coding!

Next was Chewy Trewhella run us through Tom Stocky’s presentation on Google APIs in action, and examples of how these APIs have been put to use. The major focus was on the following 5 APIs:-

  • Map API
  • Google App Engine, which make it easy to build, manage and scale applications
  • Google Web Toolkit, which converts java code into javascript
  • Chrome Extensions, which are enhancements for the google chrome browser
  • Android, an open platform for mobile development.

Right before the tea break , Bridget flashed a  Google Nexus one at us as an incentive to come up with the most creative app by the end of the day using any of the APIs. (Didn’t hear the any API part so concentrated on the Google Appengine..talk of letting opportunities slip right through your fingers).

Google Nexus one

After the tea break the tarining resumed.Paa Kwesi Imbeah, Partner Solutions Organization, London introduced the Google Web ToolKit(GWT) right before Robert Ngamita and Nemo Semret teamed up to introduce us to Python and Google App Engine development platform.Participants were introduced to basic python syntax and working with the google app engine.

Right before the lunch break Bridget and Chewy were at it again with free goodies. The challenge this time was to talk to 5 members of the google team ,remember their names, get their favorite google application and the number of interviews they had to go through before getting into google. The prize was  vase USB speaker.

JKUAT students at lunch during the GKenya event

Participants at lunch

After the lunch break, Dimitris Meretakis, Product Manager for Google’s Mobile products in Africa and Middle East, gave an insightful presentation, armed with statistics, as to why exactly mobile development is the way to go. Dave Hotchkiss, Software Engineer, Zurich then followed up with tips for developing in mobile. He gave the advantages and challenges of developing native mobile applications and mobile web applications, as well as solutions to the various challenges faced.

Next up was Reto Meier, Developer Advocate for Android at Google and the author of ‘Professional Android 2 Application Development’ to give us an insight on Android development, and the market opportunities. “Build Local, Grow Global”. He also mentioned the chinese company, Huawei’s intention to roll out an android mobile handset that will cost about 8000 Kshs.

Avni Shah, Maps Product Manager, Zurich gave an insight on the various uses of the Google Maps API before Angie Cantelmi, Program Manager, Engineering Education, California talked to us about the Google Code University and gave us an overview of what resources can be found there.

The team of 5 panelists was then introduced to us, inclusive of Jessica Colaco, the *iHub Manager,Wilfred Mworia from Afrinnovator, Chris Kiagiri, Technical Lead for Google Kenya, Alex of XrystalGenius and Ken from eMobilis. They basically gave us advice based on their personal experiences on how to make in the tech industry. These include:-

  • Documenting our ideas
  • Carrying out research to establish feasibility
  • How to get funding for Start-ups by networking
  • Product development and User experience design.
  • Believing in ourselves and taking risks for us to advance as tech-preneurs.

Once the panelists were done, it was time to give away the coveted prize everyone was waiting for..the Google Nexus One . A bevy of participants took to the stage to showcase their apps in less than a minute, but the judges, consisting of Nemo, Robert and Kwesi chose three for the audience to pick from. Kwesi and Chewy had a hard time determining who the audience favoured most, seeing as members of the audience owned sets of very good lungs. They must have gone deaf. In the end, it was decided that the audience would stand only for the contestant they wanted to win. The first runner up didn’t go empty handed, as he was awarded a vase USB speaker for his efforts.

All presentations made on that day have been posted here.

Also, all the code and resources you could possible need to get started on developing using the google APIs are available here.

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