Tauranga student’s app wins two awards

Tauranga Boys’ College student Michael Ren, pictured with his mum Niki, won two awards for his work.

A Tauranga Boys' College student has won two Priority One Young Innovator Awards for his inventive work developing and perfecting an app to enhance his school's CRM system.

At the school's recent awards ceremony, year 12 student Michael Ren also received both the Supreme Senior winner's award and the top Category Award for Creativity.

Originally from China, Michael arrived in New Zealand at the age of 10 in 2015 with his mother Niki. Upon starting high school at Tauranga Boys' College, Michael's passion for technology came alive - despite the fact he'd never used a computer before arriving in New Zealand.

'I became obsessed with programming when I was 14, and started teaching myself,” says Michael.

'At school the next year I did a design course, which got me interested in design and digital art.”

His motivation to create his award-winning app came from seeing his own parents struggle to understand Michael's NCEA academic results on the school's CRM system.

Realising that people needed display formats other than tables to understand results and track students' progress, Michael set about creating what would become Insightz - an app that converts grade data into easy-to-understand graphs and visual aids.

Now in its third version, the app provides rank score and weighted GPA calculations, NCEA progress (endorsement) tracking across multiple year levels, and a variety of graphs to help students understand their current progress and what they should be aiming for in upcoming assignments to maximise their performance and academic goals.

Priority One's Young Innovator Awards aim to inspire and build the next generation of New Zealand innovators, and Bay of Plenty students were challenged to come up with a unique innovation that could make the world a better place.

There were 417 entries in this year's competition, all of which were judged by top New Zealand and international innovators.

Michael became the first international student to win the awards. As the Supreme Senior winner, Michael received $2000 in prize money and a formal internship with local technology company Cucumber.

'We were all so impressed with the software development Michael has undertaken,” says Cucumber CEO Rob Ford.

'What stuck with us most was his understanding of his target market and the problem to be solved. That is ultimately what separates great technology from that of the pack.”

For Michael, the Young Innovator Awards are a leaping-off point for what he hopes is an exciting future career. He plans to use his learnings from his time at Tauranga Boys' College, as well as his unique international experience having lived in two different countries, to further his technology career.

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