Campus Challenge Sounds Way Cool

I know the title is lame, but it’s also true.  Sometimes life is like that.  Let me give you a run-down on what the Campus Challenge is and you can decide if you agree with me.

You know all those nifty apps that you use on a daily – even hourly – basis on your smartphone?  Well they all have to be developed by somebody.  TradeKing is an online broker that is challenging students to become the “somebodies” who develop those apps with a contest called Campus Challenge.   They tried this program at Loyola University Maryland during the spring of this year, and now they’ve rolled it out nationwide – this time with $100,000 in prizes available!

The idea is fairly simple:  Develop an app that runs on any platform, designed in any language, which utilizes the application programming interface (API) either alone or in combination with other APIs from Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Finance, etc.  In other words, build a better online or mobile investment “mousetrap.”  Oh, and did I mention that the contest is only open to students?

That part alone is already pretty cool.  I always love the idea of teams competing to solve a problem in the best way possible.  Not only does each team learn a lot in the process, but the awareness that they are competing with other teams drives each group to perform to the best of their abilities.  Some really amazing stuff comes from contests like this.

But what makes Campus Challenge “way cool” to me is how my alma mater, Loyola University Maryland is involved.  It’s one of only five schools (out of the 30 teams that have entered) that is weaving the contest right into the classroom instead of setting up extra-curricular teams.  That mean students are doing this as their class work, not in addition to it.

This, to me, is the future of education.  Why should it be that students create nothing of value to the world outside of their university until after they’ve graduated?  It’s a totally artificial barrier.  In fact, why aren’t we challenging students to contribute to the “real world” right from the beginning?

I see contests and opportunities like this as a great step towards that happening.  The face of education is changing, and it is all thanks to schools being willing to step outside of what is considered “normal” and companies like TradeKing who believe that students can make a difference too.

Check out the Campus Challenge website here.  If it sounds intriguing to you, see what you can do to get your school to participate in a contest like this one next year!

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