Blockchain technology is definitely not the easiest thing to understand. But the DIT4BEARs project partners not only navigate in disruptive information technologies as in their own element; they also share their vast knowledge and expertise with students and colleagues in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. The core project idea is to generate and use modern technological solutions for addressing such common challenges as maintenance of winter roads, reindeer safety, waste management, creation of verifiable economic identity for Indigenous people.
To achieve this ambitious goal, the project team led by the Luleå University of Technology organizes various events including student hackathons*, internships at IT-companies, workshops and field trips. The article size doesn’t allow presenting all events, let’s focus on some of them:
Norway: the Arctic University of Norway organized a hackathon “Smart roads – winter road maintenance” in March 2021. The chosen hackathon topic is a real headache for drivers, transport companies and responsible authorities. Sudden weather changes ranging between freezing temperatures and mild weather with rain are common during the wintertime in Barents Euro-Arctic region. This makes the driving conditions challenging. During the hackathon teams of 2 and up to 4 students were offered to solve one of the road challenges by creating mobile apps. After 48 hours the participating teams demonstrated the developed solutions to a panel of judges. The winners got a chance to a 3-weeks internship at UiT.
Finland: Lapland UAS tackles the problem of reindeer safety. There are some digital tracking solutions available for the reindeer owners. However, their use in traffic safety has still room for improvement. Annually 4.000 reindeers are lost in traffic accidents in Lapland. So, Lapland UAS DIT4BEARS team made visits to reindeer herders and interviewed them on such topics as movement and activity of reindeers, using and sharing of reindeer tracking data, readiness to use new reindeer tracking solutions. And they have got reindeer owners’ positive feedback: “Animal tracking devices save us time and money”
LUAS team during its field trip to reindeer herders
No team, even the best one, can generate an ideal solution alone
Russia: NArFU hosted an International Online IT-school. The school participants followed the intensive course of lectures and workshops given by the leading IT experts and lecturers from China, Germany, USA and Russia. The students dived into the history of the technology’s development, learned about its usage in commerce, medicine, industry and education. On a final day of the programme students met in a Case-Battle to present their IT-solutions to the Big data processing cases. The cases were designed by the RUSSOFT company and the winners continued working on their project ideas during the internship at RUSSOFT, one of the biggest IT-associations in Russia.
IT-sphere is NO MORE perceived as a male professional field
Sweden: IT-sphere is perceived as a male professional field. The conference co-organized by LTU DIT4BEARS team successfully overturned this statement. Gender equality culture can be a competitive advantage for many companies. Inspiring stories from such Swedish companies as Volvo, Northvolt, Substorm working in tech-driven fields were presented to conference participants. The speakers themselves embodied successful examples of women who made an impressive career and showed the right path to gender-balanced business environment.
It should be underlined that above-mentioned project events wouldn’t be possible without strong partnership and active collaboration between universities, business companies and authorities. This collaborative model brings education closer to current business and regional needs, helps students understand how and where their knowledge can be applied. And IT companies can meet and uncover potential of younger and perspective IT-specialists.
By looking at cooperation and professional growth opportunities within this project, it’s hard not to wish to become a student again. To learn more inspiring information about DIT4BEARS partners and activities, please visit the project website: http://dit4bears.org/
*Hackathon is a sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects in various fields. The goal of a hackathon is to create functioning software by the end of the event.