RICOH & Java™ Developer Challenge Plus
RICOH & Java™ Developer Challenge Plus is a unique contest for university students to generate ideas, combining Ricoh products with available technology to yield and develop new customer value.
The contest continues to evolve
RICOH & Java™ Developer Challenge Plus has its roots in the contest held in the years 2006 to 2009, sponsored by Ricoh Europe. It was first held in Japan in fiscal year 2008. MFPs (multifunction printers) expanded the realm of possibilities greatly with connection to the network; they became terminals to support the various office tasks evolving from the stand-alone copying machine of the past. The contest started with the idea of giving university students/graduate students a chance to explore potentialities and the thrill of experiencing embedded software development as a team member in a real environment.
Since then, the range of Ricoh products have expanded beyond MFPs, along with Ricoh business, to cover projectors, unified communication systems (video conferencing system), and Cloud services to connect paper with the electronic world. What kind of new value can be thought up for projectors beyond merely projecting presentation materials, or for video conferencing systems with services other than teleconferencing?
In addition to the “Programming Challenge” of discovering new technical capabilities for programming, including implementation, “Idea Challenge” started in FY 2014 to spawn ideas that add value to existing products; it is now in its 7th year. RICOH & Java™ Developer Challenge Plus continues to evolve, encouraging ever bolder discoveries.
What is the contest?
RICOH & Java™ Developer Challenge Plus consists of “Programming Challenge” to complete a system in about half a year and “Idea Challenge” to contest ideas for about one month and a half. The final selections of both courses are in a public setting.
A feeling of excitement not common in universities
The students of both courses work out a system or a proposal, sharing ideas and arguing issues as a team. For the team that passes the primary selection in Programming Challenge, which is a long-range contest, an actual machine is rented and the candidates develop an actual system on the way to final qualification. A team’s development activities represent precious PBL (Project-based Learning) experience, which cannot be experienced easily in college courses. Ricoh backs up its challenge to students solidly by providing a development kit for each objective product, holding technical lectures, providing exclusive technical counselling services, and giving workshops to improve presentation skills. Nevertheless, sometimes the sharing of roles in a team does not work well, or the system is not moving as desired while the deadline approaches.... When the system does work, after being confronted with many difficulties, words cannot express the students’ excitement. You can see the sense of fulfillment on their faces.
Following are some representative comments from students and their professors alike:
- I had a precious experience. I experienced all the processes of system development and felt that I acquired an aptitude that would be valid in society.
- I received excellent experience as I could learn many things possible only in these contests, such as how to write specifications and how to embed things, not only in Java.
- It stimulated me a lot and improved my motivation to acquire more technical skills.
- I enjoyed hearing various ideas from other teams.
- It was my first experience to design one system as a team – spanning about ten months – with respect to the resource of the development team as well as the development period, and I became keenly aware of the significance of process management.
- (Professor) I was able to impart experience on how difficult it is to build a system.
- (Professor) I will keep sending my students to the contests as long as they are on offer.