Portico competition invites students to work on high-tech business case

May 28, 2015

Fifteen Simon Fraser University students participated in a competition held by a high-tech Gastown company, gaining valuable mentorship and real-world experience in a short time.  

Vancouver’s Appnovation Technologies developed and launched the 4-week competition, called Portico, in April. Appnovation shortlisted the 15 computing science, engineering science and mechatronic systems engineering students to compete in Portico.

Appnovation developed the Portico competition after touring SFU parents and students at their office and identifying that many of them did not realize the real nature of high-tech positions.

Working together with SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences, Appnovation used the Portico competition to help students get a better grasp of the tech industry.  Along the way, students were led by Appnovation mentors, learning best practices in consulting, project management and development, and gaining essential soft skills for the workplace.

“The Portico competition puts these students to the test and they really rise to the occasion,” said Arnold Leung, CEO of Appnovation Technologies. “All while getting invaluable insight into a career in open technologies and the opportunity to develop professionally and technically.”

Each student team designed and developed a project from start to finish using open source coding – this involved designing a “Partners” and “Projects” landing page for the Appnovation OS Accelerate community site. They had to incorporate technical and client requirements.

On May 22, the 2015 Portico competition wrapped up after all five teams had 10 minutes to sell their final solution to the mock client, composed of Appnovation employees, in a Dragons’ Den style presentation. The 2015 Portico winning team was “Eagle Sights” composed of first-year computing science students Bosco Raja Noronha, Gurinder Hans and second-year engineering science student Jin Ng.

The winning team earned a 2-month paid internship at Appnovation and each member won $500.

"Portico has reminded me of the reason for choosing Computing Science as my major," said Bosco Noronha. "The competition provided an outlet where students could showcase their talent, skill, perseverance and creative spunk. I'm grateful to have been a part of Portico and I'm excited to work with Appnovation over the rest of summer."

Jon Whang, one of the Portico mentors and a Senior Drupal Lead for Appnovation, was thoroughly impressed with the winning team’s final solution.

“They proposed a simple, elegant solution that was future-proof and easy to maintain. The team also included comprehensive documentation with a detailed hours schedule and cost breakdown that demonstrated how their proposal came under the initial budget constraints.”

While only one team was eligible to win the paid internship, Appnovation was impressed with everyone’s dedication, hard work and passion to learn. Portico students will be encouraged to apply for co-op terms with Appnovation when they become eligible. SFU and Appnovation were pleased to see the progress the students made in the 4-week period and to provide an opportunity for students to experience working life in the competitive tech industry.