The UK-based SITA Air Transport Community Foundation, in partnership with Wits University and the Tshimologong Precinct, has awarded a prize valued at $10,000 to the winners of the SITA Air Transport Community Foundation Innovation Award 2018.

One of seven finalists, the group Team One Exceptional, made up of Wits University students Jules Ntumba, Tso Mello and Fiona Ndlovu, were shortlisted in the innovation competition to identify tools for first-time air travellers.

Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at SITA Air Transport Community Foundation, Amber Harrison, said: “SITA’s focus is on information technology and education in Africa. We created this innovation award to highlight the challenges and opportunities for a continent that is seeing a changing demographic, coupled with growth in technology and aviation.

“The quality of submissions were of a high standard and it is encouraging to witness the brimming innovation in South Africa.”

Harrison believes that this is significant to the continuous growth of the aviation industry which will require more skilled people.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Affairs at Wits University, Professor Zeblon Vilakazi said, “The University of the Witwatersrand prides itself on pushing the frontiers of excellence in its almost 100 years of existence. These initiatives play an important role as we need to ensure we stay at the frontier of knowledge.”

Team One Exceptional were awarded the top cash prize of $10,000 for their winning idea, which was targeted at the 50 year old+ first time traveller.

“Young people don’t usually have difficulties navigating around an airport, but an older, potentially illiterate traveller will experience challenges.

“It gets more difficult for them because they are not as tech-savvy as younger people. Our research showed that in Africa one out of three people above the age of 50 can’t read and we wanted to cater to them,” said Mello.

The trio, who recently completed their Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in June from Wits University, were ecstatic with the win and will use the prize money for a start-up company.

Dr Lerato Masisi, a lecturer at Wits and one of the judges, said that the teams were judged on originality, target audience, solutions, report and presentations.

“Due to the high caliber of ideas submitted for the competition, SITA decided to award two additional prizes for the runner-ups,” Madison said.

The runner-ups were Team Ava; Alice Yang, Sean Morrow, Linda Khumalo and Muhammed Chand, and Team Wits Elites; Rachel Mohlomi, Nqobile Mhlanga and Takatso Molekane.

Each of the runner-up groups were awarded a cash prize of $1000.

By: ClaraDoku/