Students at ORT Argentina’s Belgrano High School have outperformed more than 1,200 teams of undergraduates and professionals from across the Americas to reach the final of an international business competition.
ICT track students Luciano Bertenasco, Pascual Galliverti, Matias Nisenson and Melanie Babour and Business track students Alan Kronik, Cindy Russo and Daiana Ganiewich are in the Peruvian capital, Lima, this week as one of 30 teams competing in the final of the Talent and Innovation Competition (TIC) Americas 2010. They are presenting their concept of using 3-D virtual imaging instead of the scale models of real estate developments still used by architects and town planners at the TIC Americas Expo ahead of the Annual General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
“Every team has a stand and the competition judges will evaluate entries on how they are presented at the expo as well as on the merits of the projects themselves,”? said Business student Cindy Russo, 17, before leaving Buenos Aires.
“We were not expecting to get to the finals so we’re amazed that we’re going to Lima; we can’t believe it. We realised that our project was really good; we didn’t realise it was so good.”?
Organised by the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), the competition is an opportunity for people aged up to 35 to develop and present business ideas to a diverse international audience and so develop the business potential of innovative young entrepreneurs and scientists.
The winners of the Americas final will go on to the world finals in Taipei in August.
This, said Cindy, was her and her team mates’ goal and had helped to motivate them as they devoted much of the southern hemisphere’s summer holiday as well as an average three hours a day during term time to developing their project to meet the April 1 deadline.
The pressure has been immense: registration for the competition opened in October last year but ORT Argentina did not decide to form a team until February.
“I teach in both the Business track and the ICT track and the school approached me to enter a team with members from both tracks,”? said staff member Clara Rujinsky. “It’s not common to form teams with students from different tracks but we felt this would broaden the students’ skills.”?
She contacted the students at home during the summer vacation and was struck by the enthusiastic way in which they embraced the idea and gave up their free time.
“I think it’s a great opportunity; it’s really cool to do something like this, so I wanted to be part of it,”? said ICT student Matias Nisenson. “Not all schools give you such an opportunity.”?
It was Pascual Galliverti who proposed the idea of using augmented reality technology to pre-visualise real estate developments instead of the scale models which are still standard practice. The technology allows the user to view the development dynamically, from various angles, and evaluate its colours, textures and general environment.
While the Business track students worked on developing the project’s business plan and economic feasibility study, the ICT students used the compute programme to design a small housing project.
“Understanding the real estate development was the most difficult part,”? said Matias. “We talked to architects and other professionals who helped us to understand how a housing project should be in reality and then designed housing on plots.”?
The school has supported the team by re-arranging their timetables to allow them to devote the time necessary to work on the project and the students have enjoyed the guidance of staff members. However, Ms Rujinsky was adamant that the final product was “100 per cent by the students”?.
“I have been a teacher for 10 years and I’ve always thought that if you are prepared to work hard towards a goal then you can reach it. This is a case in point,”? she said.
But she was tempering her hopes for success in this week’s final with a healthy dose of realism.
“We do have a chance of winning but our team is very young, the other competitors are older, at university or professional level,”? she said.
Matias was excited about going to Peru and savoured even the possibility of going to Taipei. But it has been the actual preparation of the competition entry which may prove to be the biggest reward.
“I’ve loved it,”? he said. “We’ve learned a lot and that’s cool.”?
And beating so many hundreds of other entries, all of them prepared by people older and more experienced than them, has shown the ORT Argentina students that they have reached a far higher level of ability than they had realised.
Matias was too modest to comment but admitted that the experience “has helped us a lot to be more confident”?.