Waikato University computer science students help Africa medical charity

17 December 2020

Ye-Gon Roo

An international charity which finds sponsorship for medical students to study in Africa has had a helping hand from a team of Waikato University computer science students as part of a third-year paper which requires them to work as a group to tackle a real-world challenge in the industry.

The students designed, built, and implemented a new ‘cloud’ based system for the UK-based charity, Medic to Medic, which helps find donors to pay for medical school fees of students from countries including Malawi in East Africa. This solution means the charity can now do away with the cumbersome system of updating and sharing information held on Excel spreadsheets. Now the charity’s database of students and donors, records about donations made and money paid out – along with other important records like handling applications and graduate correspondence - can be kept in one secure place.

Medic to Medic gives thanks to team of computer science students

The charity’s New Zealand based chief executive Tamsin Lillie, a doctor in paediatrics at Rotorua Hospital, says the new system will make her life easier.

“It is going to be really useful for me on a personal level because I manage all of the student data, all on Excel spreadsheets, and am really excited about using this new product.” Dr Lillie says it has been a great experience working with the students.

Eight students work to their strengths to build new system

The cloud-based system was designed and built by Waikato University computer science students and was ably led by Ye-Gon Roo (Project Manager). Ye-Gon worked alongside classmates Adam Thompson, Caitlyn Thompson, Leo Oliver, Natch Sadindum, Shashank Mylarapu, Taran Kern and Tristan Brynildsen. The project taught each one of them a lot.

“We all had to figure out each other’s strengths so we picked up a lot of skills that we simply could not pick up in a lecture or classroom environment.”

Ye-Gon says that now both donors and students can access the website, with a secure log-on, which means information can be shared in a much more structured and organised way.

Learning ‘real-life’ skills before entering the workforce

Social distancing restrictions because of the global pandemic this year meant most of the correspondence about the project was done via Zoom and email. Ye-Gon, who personally met Dr Lillie to hand over the project in November, says the collaboration has been a valuable experience for all involved.

“It was great to have an opportunity to work on a real-life industry problem and have exposure to how things may play out in a workplace.”

Ye-Gon has successfully completed his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and has been accepted into the graduate programme for the telecommunications company 2degrees in Auckland in 2021. He immigrated from South Korea when he was 12 and has lived in Hamilton since, attending Marian School and St John’s College. He is an accomplished musician, teaching both the clarinet and saxophone.

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