Teaching Business Students How to Build Apps – Andy O’Sullivan, AIB Innovation

Ekaterina Kislova and representatives from AIB & DIT in the DIT Aungier Street building.

Most Fridays for the last two months, I have been teaching about 50 marketing and business students in DIT Aungier St. How to Build Apps - for both Apple iPhones and Android devices. It's for an experimental app development course and competition conceived and delivered by the AIB Innovation team and DIT.

To complete the course, students had to develop a working app, either individually or as part of a team, and demo it to AIB and DIT judges and their peers at a special event hosted in DIT on Tuesday, 26th April.

About the course

The course was conceived after former AIB staff member, and now DIT PhD student, Niall Minto, heard about AIB Innovation's work with the AIB Build a Bank programme. Build a Bank is an AIB initiative that has run for over 10 years, where enterprising students host their own banks in their schools. We in AIB Innovation became involved with the Digital aspect of the program several years ago, providing information and resources to help the students with app and website development, along with meeting as many of them as we could for tutoring sessions.

DIT recognised the benefit of providing such knowledge and experience to 2nd level students and asked to partner with us to deliver similar content to their students.

Why should students learn how to build apps?

Why is it important? My 7 year old daughter is learning how to code in school and at home; I want her to have the skills to thrive in the modern and future workplace, where technology is and will be ever growing in influence and importance. Each year, more industries will be invented, disrupted, or at least changed by technology and by all the new services that are possible from the vast amounts of data now being generated, analysed and used.

Objectives of the course

The aim of the course wasn't to turn the marketing and business students into full blown coders, instead, it was to give them additional knowledge and experience that they can use to their benefit. We want them to be able to talk to the "tech" team in their future workplaces on the same level, to be able to participate at a deeper level in the design of new apps and services, or to even take their own business ideas and build them themselves. Numerous applicants to the course cited their reason for wanting to participate as a business idea they had, but with no skills to progress it further, technically.

AIB also recognise how important STEM skills are to the economy, in short, Ireland needs more engineers and developers. Our goal with the course wasn't to find the best 2 or 3 students, it was to provide a deeper insight to all the participants into technology and how they can use it.

This year’s winners

So how did it go? We just held our course-ending demo day and there were 18 apps on show, showcasing a wide range of ideas, creativity and technical skills. Ekaterina Kislova came in 1st place, with her “ToySwap” app – a beautifully designed and developed app to allow parents to swap toys with other parents. In 2nd place the team of Declan McGann, Gary O’Toole and Andrew Turner had their “Kickabout” app, a useful app to allow for easy booking of football pitches and organising of football games. Other winners include Luca-Maria Onofri with an app for patients of knee-surgeries, Cian Prendergast with an app to share and find music nearby, Kevin Boland and Declan Kickham for their “Somewhere Else” app, to bring restaurants deals to students and finally an app for the Simon Community from Aoife Mulhall.

It’s worth mentioning aswell that the “Vitra” team, while not winning one of the main prizes, managed to smash the top score on our AIB Quick game that we had along for the event! 101, we didn’t even think it was possible!

I judge the initiative a success and that’s mainly down to the students themselves, who displayed an impressive level of creativity, enthusiasm and hard-work while undertaking something they had never tried before. From their intitial pitches, to their confident demos, I was taken aback by their drive to complete the course and to do it well.

Learn More about the AIB Build a Bank Programme

The AIB Build a Bank Challenge is an enjoyable and exciting way for Transition and 5th Year Students to run their own School Bank, win great prizes, and be introduced to the world of banking and business.