The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) will be launching the first-ever breakbeatcode hackathon on August 21st and 22nd for students between the ages of 13 and 18. Breakbeatcode is a 20% time project with Google that introduces young people in various communities across the globe to the basics of computer coding. AMCHAM T&T is working with the breakbeatcode team to bring this event to Trinidad and Tobago.
Nearly 500 students from over 120 secondary schools responded to AMCHAM T&T’s call to participate in the inaugural session of the initiative. A selection committee reviewed the applications and chose fifty (50) students between the ages of 13 and 18 from secondary schools across Trinidad and Tobago to be part of the breakbeatcode hackathon.
The event will feature contributions from a panel of famous local artists such as Nailah Blackman and DJ Robbie (Kes the Band) who will work alongside Googlers Akaash Rampersad and Elizabeth Mannette. Akaash Rampersad who is a Customer Engineer responsible for Infrastructure Modernization, is one of two "Trinbagooglers" (Googler from Trinidad and Tobago) who are working on the Google team to bring the breakbeatcode hackathon to Trinidad and Tobago. Dion Paul, Program Manager - Privacy, Safety and Security, is the second Trinbagoogler and leading the management of the hackathon on behalf of the Google team.
Nirad Tewarie, AMCHAM T&T CEO expressed his gratitude at the number of applications that were received from students and the quality of local talent the initiative has attracted. “I have no doubt that our students will benefit greatly from their interactions with award-winning local talents such as Nailah Blackman and Kes The Band and from our Google experts with whom we are happy to partner on this initiative,” Tewarie said.
“This Breakbeatcode hackathon is another example of AMCHAM T&T continuing to engage conversations around the promotion of tech as a viable sector of growth and development in Trinidad and Tobago. There is no way to develop a thriving tech sector in T&T in the absence of youth participation and engagement and skills development. Therefore, as part of AMCHAM T&T’s efforts to promote tech, we will engage more with youths on issues associated with technology and providing more opportunities for youths to develop new skills using technology.”
The panel for the breakbeatcode hackathon will be moderated by Stuart Franco, CEO of Trinidad Systems Limited and Director of AMCHAM T&T. Apart from learning the basics of coding, students will gain valuable insights and life lessons from the panelist’s personal stories about their journeys of becoming a successful artist or engineer. These stories will highlight how their work has inspired their art and vice versa, thereby creating a more holistic approach to the programme. In addition to the students benefiting from the programme, nine (9) volunteers from Trinidad and Tobago also gained an introductory lesson to coding and developed techniques to enhance their coaching skills as they were trained to be coaches for the hackathon.
Beyond the hackathon, AMCHAM T&T and the breakbeatcode team have already started discussions to create additional opportunities to help the students further develop their coding skills as well as the hosting of future breakbeatcode hackathon events to facilitate the 400+ students that were not selected to participate in the two-day event.
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