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Students demonstrate new computer apps

By Dale Johnson Posted: May 10, 2016 9:30 a.m.

Zach Horvath (left) receives his prize of $3,000 from Mark Lemmerick, ISM Chief Operating Officer and Dr. Howard Hamilton, head of Computer Science Department at U of R.
Zach Horvath (left) receives his prize of $3,000 from Mark Lemmerick, ISM Chief Operating Officer and Dr. Howard Hamilton, head of Computer Science Department at U of R. Photo: U of R Photography.

Computer science students at the University of Regina displayed mobile apps they developed – and first-place prize money of $3,000 was up for grabs, thanks to a sponsorship from ISM Canada. The second annual event, a partnership between the University of Regina and ISM, is modeled loosely on the TV show Dragons’ Den and includes a celebrity panel. Students compete to convince three teams of judges that they are the top game developer in their Computer Science class.

There was a four-member celebrity panel, made up of J. C. Garden of CTV Regina; Lyndon Bray and Whitney Stinson of Global TV Regina; and Bruce Johnstone of the Leader-Post. There’s also a three-member academic panel from the Department of Computer Science at the U of R, made up of Dr. Howard Hamilton, Dr. Robert Hilderman and Dr. Orland Hoeber. New this year was a five-member youth panel made up of Arcola School grade 8 students. As well, about 120 students from Arcola School came to the U of R to watch the presentations.

The judges awarded Zach Horvath the top prize for his game called Floaty Boats. Competitors try to navigate their boat without getting attacked by pirates.

“It’s a very simple game at its core – you’re just really steering and shooting – but it’s very fast-paced and I think anyone could just sit down and pick it up,” Horvath says. 

Horvath was awarded a cheque for $3,000 from ISM Canada.

As well, Justin Cooney was awarded a $500 prize from the Department of Computer Science for his game called Saturn Armada.

“It’s an exciting initiative for students. Not only are they developing applications that have meaning for consumers, they are learning effective presentation skills, and are stepping forward as role models for future generations of IT and math students,” says Dr. Howard Hamilton, head of the Department of Computer Science at the U of R.

Horvath was pleased to be able to show off his game to the grade 8 students.

“For the kids, they can see that things that might seem boring to them – like math and physics – can actually pay off in big ways.”

When Horvath began his studies at the U of R he was a physics major – but he enjoyed an introductory computer science so much that he decided to switch. He has just completed his bachelor of science a degree in computer science and in the fall he will begin his masters at the University of Toronto.

This partnership between the U of R and ISM is a further step in the U of R’s strategy to enhance meaningful and productive relationships with industry in the community. And for creative computer science students, the competition is a chance to win big money by designing computer apps.