Amazon Web Services (AWS) GetIT offers a unique chance for young people to learn about technology, and design app ideas to solve problems in their communities. AWS GetIT is a fully funded, cloud-focused education programme and app-design competition for school students. The programme, currently available in 13 countries, helps schools and educators encourage their students to think about their future careers; learn new skills through cloud-focused science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities; and gain exposure to professionals in tech. During the school year, educators lead students through an international curriculum on design thinking and cloud computing. AWS employees serve as programme ambassadors and, together with educators, deliver bootcamps and help students develop their app ideas by sharing their tech experience.
Ukraine: Empowering students to develop app ideas relevant to their communities
This year, the AWS GetIT programme was piloted in Ukraine at the distance learning school Optima. With more than 125,000 students online, Optima is Ukraine’s first and largest private distance learning school. After Russia invaded Ukraine, AWS has actively supported Ukraine's continuity of education through Optima, by providing AWS cloud computing credits and technical support.
“The AWS GetIT programme gave students an opportunity to develop their design thinking, brainstorm new ideas, collaborate in teams, and learn from tech professionals,” said Olha Bilodid, Optima school director.
Out of 23 teams from Optima who submitted their AWS GetIT app ideas for judging, three teams earned spots to present their app ideas to a panel of judges from Ciklum, N-iX, and AWS at the Ukraine finals on 23rd May.
Here’s what judges said about students’ work:
“We were impressed by the depth of analysis, understanding of social problems, and proposed functionality,” said Nataliya Khorkava, alliances and partnerships manager at N-iX, who was a judge at Ukraine’s AWS GetIT finals. “Many of these app ideas covered serious topics related to the war—students suggested services related to safety, refugee support, and mental health.”
“It was an exhilarating experience to witness the enthusiasm and passion radiating from the students as they presented their groundbreaking app ideas with their genuine interest and love for technology,” said Kateryna Yashchenko, learning and development specialist at Ciklum and a judge at Ukraine's AWS GetIT finals. “Their ideas went beyond mere convenience or entertainment; they aimed to make a tangible impact on society. The students' passion was a reminder that the future lies in the hands of these bright young minds, and that with their dedication and innovation, the relentless pursuit of knowledge, and the audacity to dream, anything is possible.”
The winning app idea focused on mental health support for people affected by the war, and it included functionality for communication with mental health practitioners, chats and an interactive bot, mood diary, and suggestions for movies, books, and music. The other two projects were aimed at solving other important problems in the community—one app project was about building safe public transport routes in cities and directing the user to the nearest bomb shelter in case of air raid alerts, and the other was about special digital glasses for visually impaired people that would help the user navigate their way in the city and inform them of their surroundings via audio notifications.
Poland: Empowering future builders
This year, the AWS GetIT programme in Poland was piloted in XV High School in Wroclaw, which provides education to about 400 Ukrainian refugee children, along with 700 Polish children and other nationalities.
“Our partnership with the XV High School in Wroclaw started from the donation of Amazon Kindle devices to facilitate the integration of new students from Ukraine,” said Cecile Bonnet, head of Young Learner Programmes at AWS. “We piloted the AWS GetIT programme with the high school, and we were impressed by the pace of innovation and forward-thinking of the students.”
Ten teams from Wroclaw High School submitted their app projects for the competition, and three project teams were selected for the finals, which took place on 26th May at Amazon’s fulfilment centre in Wroclaw. Each finalist team presented their app design to an audience of teachers, programme supporters, and AWS GetIT judges. All three finalist teams inspired the audience with their creativity and passion, with their ideas tackling several challenges, including food waste, intercultural integration, and job finding. The winner was the team that developed an idea for an innovative app for learning languages in an interactive and relations-building manner. After the finals, all students and educators were invited for a behind-the-scenes journey at the Amazon fulfilment centre, learning how products make their way from the Amazon website to a customer's doorstep. The visitors were especially intrigued by the printing facilities, where they discovered the possibility of creating and publishing their own books on Amazon.
Robert Pisarczyk, Ph.D. and CEO of cybersecurity startup Oblivious, said, “I just took part in the AWS GetIT Poland Competition as a judge, and I have left feeling inspired by students’ app ideas that focus on solving problems in their local communities.”
Students and educators also shared their feedback on the programme:
“I liked this programme because there were modules with information and training that helped us design our app idea,” said Anna, an AWS GetIT student. “Everything was clear and very interesting. I received a lot of new information, and I am now thinking about future work in this area.”
“We were inspired by AWS GetIT and its ambassadors who empowered our students to think creatively and go all the way from ideas to comprehensive projects,” said Bogumila Mandat, director of the XV High School in Wroclaw. “We loved that the programme encourages students to work together and to innovate.”
Collaborating organisations delivering the AWS GetIT programme in Poland and Ukraine are accepting indications of interest from schools for the September 2023–May 2024 programme.
If your school is interested in participating in the programme, we encourage the school management to contact the following:
For more information about the programme, visit the AWS GetIT site.