The delaware Student Game: where techies and business students meet
This year, the worlds of technology and business collided and came together in the delaware Student Game. More than 40 IT and business students teamed up to try and crack six innovation challenges. Let’s take a look back at this unique two-day virtual event that took place on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th of March. Did this virtual edition live up to its in-person predecessors?
Since organizing a regular hackathon was clearly out of the question, the delaware team came up with a new and fully virtual concept: a digital Student Game. The objective was the same as always: for students to think of an innovative and creative solution to a problem, guided by delaware coaches. The cool thing about the delaware Student Game is that our customers present real-life business cases for the students to tackle, carefully selected from the DEL20 (our ecosystem of innovation).
Challenges ranged from analyzing passenger flows in train stations and predicting prices using AI to finding copyrighted videos and automatically summarizing news articles. “I really enjoyed the process,” said Tibo from Ghent University. “The challenges felt very ‘real’ and my team’s technical background certainly came in handy.”
Raring to go
On Thursday, the students were first welcomed to the virtual event platform by host Tomas, who was later nicknamed ‘the man with the great moustache’, and Thierry, innovation partner at delaware. Customers then presented the six challenges, followed by the students teaming up, getting to know their fellow team members and laying out their game plan.
“Fun fact: every team was named after a city with a delaware office, like Shanghai, Bristol or Budapest, ” says Caro, who is part of the organizing team. “I was glad to see how easily the groups connected virtually.” Any remaining questions about the challenges were sent to the customers, the game rules were clear… We were all set to play!
Time to play
Early Friday morning, the 8 teams set to work. The delaware coaches went round knocking on their virtual doors and helped students with the technical side of things or encouraged them to look at the challenge from a different angle. “But first: coffee”, Chloë from team Kortrijk must have thought. Her team mates found it funny how her (very noisy!) coffee machine joined the brainstorm session. “And our coach was suddenly attacked by her cat,” said team Den Bosch, “but it was smooth sailing from then on.” Much to our surprise, a student from team Atlanta was participating in another business game at the same time. Talk about commitment!
The longer the students would brainstorm, the better they got to know each other (and us). One student from team Alphaville – the team that analyzed copyrighted videos for Sabam – told us that he was a DJ and regularly uses copyrighted music. “It was very interesting to see the other side of the story for once.” The teams continued working on their applications until 4PM, leaving them one hour to prepare their pitches.
Ready to rumble
At 5PM, the moment of truth arrived. Tomas asked everyone to gather in the plenary hall and announced that it was time for the teams to pitch their solutions to the customers, the jury, and the other contestants. All of the students’ hard work boiled down to these 15 minutes. They presented their innovative ideas and answered some (tough) questions from the jury, which consisted of delaware experts and two professors from Ghent University, Prof. Poels (Business Informatics) and Prof. Mannens (Artificial Intelligence).
"I was pleasantly surprised by the students’ determination and sense of creativity. I heard some game-changing ideas!"
Thierry Bruyneel, innovation partner at delaware
Questions ranged from “Which algorithms did you use?” and “How did you divide the work?” to “Can I fool your system?”. But the students were never caught off balance and showed great interest in the jury’s feedback. “I was pleasantly surprised by the students’ determination and sense of creativity. I heard some game-changing ideas!” Thierry said.
Beats, booze and awards
Truth be told, all work and no play would be very out of character for us. That is why all participants also received a Student Game party box, containing all of the ingredients to have a little cocktail party of their own. Matts Devriendt, RPA specialist at delaware and bartender in his spare time, shared his ‘booze best practices’ and taught everyone how to make cocktails and mocktails. The tropical beats by delaware DJ Arian Zand made the party complete. Long Island Iced Tea, anyone?
- Kwinten, Simon, Zhanel, Bolat, Thibaut and Felix from Team Shanghai ended in third place. They took on Barco’s challenge and figured out how mixed reality devices can enhance collaboration and help manufacturing companies reduce throughput time. Their prizes? A Raspberry Pi, Google Nest Mini or bol.com gift voucher.
- Second place went to Brecht, Otavio, Arnout, Safira and Michiel from team Atlanta. The jury was quite impressed by their machine learning model that could predict the cost price of BekaertDeslee’s fabrics with a 92% accuracy. They could choose between a Spotify, Netflix, Disney+ or Apple Music subscription.
- Victory went to team Kortrijk. Niek, Emiel, Tibo, Florian and Chloë were challenged by Roularta to devise an application that automatically summarized big pieces of text into 5 sentences. And that’s exactly what they did! They managed to present a working application and were rewarded with awesome gadgets: an Apple or Samsung Galaxy Watch.
Special thanks go to our customers Sabam, BekaertDeslee, Unilin, Barco, NMBS and Roularta Media Group for sharing their challenges. We’d also like to thank Sylvester Productions for streaming the event on the Meeple platform. And finally, to all participants and the entire Student Game crew: Thank you for making this virtual edition a success! See you again next year? Watch our aftermovie and get inspired!