Contributing to Google Solutions Challenge — The Beginner’s Guide.

Jesutoni Aderibigbe
12 min readJan 6, 2024
Retrieved from https://opportunitydesk.org/2022/03/26/google-developer-student-clubs-solution-challenge-2022/

Imagine a world where the power of Google’s technology directly tackles some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. This world isn’t a distant utopia — it’s the reality you can participate in by joining the Google Solutions Challenge. Participating in the Google Solutions Challenge offers an unparalleled opportunity for students and developers to leverage Google’s cutting-edge technology and make a real-world impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, transforming your technical skills into tools for change.

This article presents what the Solutions Challenge is and how you could maximize your technical skills in solving problems in your local community.

THE OUTLINE

  1. Introduction
  • What is the Google Solutions Challenge? (Brief explanation of the competition, its focus on UN SDGs, and the use of Google technologies)
  • Why participate? (Benefits for students, developers, and society)
  • Who can participate? (Eligibility criteria, individual or team participation)

2. Getting Started

  • Choosing a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG): (Overview of the 17 SDGs, tips for selecting a relevant one)
  • Brainstorming and ideation: (Techniques for identifying problems and developing solutions)
  • Forming a team (optional): (Finding teammates with complementary skills, roles, and responsibilities)

3. Building your Solution

  • Choosing the right Google technologies: (Exploring available platforms, libraries, and tools like Android, Firebase, TensorFlow, Google Cloud, etc.)
  • Learning resources: (Online tutorials, workshops, documentation, support from GDSC communities)
  • Development phase: (Coding, prototyping, testing, iterating)
  • Focus on feasibility and impact: (Considering technical feasibility, scalability, and potential contribution to the chosen SDG)

4. Preparing for Submission

  • Creating a compelling demo: (Showcasing your solution’s features and its impact on the chosen SDG)
  • Documenting your project: (Clear and concise project description, technical details, and future development plans)
  • Practicing your presentation: (Preparing to explain your solution and answer questions from judges)

5. Additional Tips

  • Collaboration and community support: (Joining GDSC, online forums, and seeking advice from mentors)
  • Time management and keeping deadlines: (Planning your workflow, setting realistic goals, and meeting submission requirements)
  • Having fun and enjoying the learning process: (Focus on the positive impact and the opportunity to develop your skills)

6. Conclusion

Introduction: Unleash Your Inner Innovator with the Google Solutions Challenge

The Google Solutions Challenge is an annual competition that empowers students and developers to use Google technologies to tackle real-world problems aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Essentially, it’s a platform for young, tech-savvy minds to come together, ideate, and bring innovative solutions to life, addressing crucial global challenges on everything from climate change and poverty to access to education and healthcare.

The purpose of this challenge is tailored to meet the UN’s 17 SDGs, which tackle pressing issues like hunger, climate change, education, and equality.

Why participate in this challenge?

Imagine building software that solves a major problem in your community, there is a lot that it does to you. It boosts confidence in your skills. It also improves your CV and makes you earn plenty plenty money. The same applies to the Solutions Challenge.

The benefits include:

  • Students: Boost your tech skills, build your portfolio, and stand out from the crowd — all while making a real-world impact!
  • Developers: Expand your knowledge of Google technologies, collaborate with like-minded peers, and gain valuable mentorship from industry experts.
  • Society: Witness the power of innovation firsthand as talented minds unite to address global challenges, paving the way for a more sustainable and equitable future.
  • The Top 100 wins a T-shirt, certificate, and mentorship from Google and other experts to improve and submit a solution for the top prize.
  • The final 10 win a $1,000 cash prize per team member and a feature in the Google Developers Blog and global Demo Day livestream, plus mentorship with a Google expert, swag, and a certificate.
  • The winning 3 win a $3,000 cash prize per team member and a feature in the Google Developers Blog and global Demo Day livestream, plus mentorship with a Google expert, swag, and a certificate.

And the best part? The Google Solutions Challenge is open to everyone! Whether you’re a lone wolf coder or a dream team of tech wizards, as long as you have a Google Developer Student Club (GDSC) member on your team and a burning passion for making a difference, you’re in!

Getting Started: Your Journey to SDG Success in the Google Solutions Challenge

Imagine the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a tapestry of global challenges, each thread interwoven with the hopes of a better future. Your task is to choose one, a cause that resonates with your passion and sparks your creativity. To navigate this horizon, you would have to:

  • Explore the official SDG website and see which of the goals you would love to use to tailor your needs. Perhaps SDG 13 on climate action calls out to you. Is social justice your passion? SDG 10 on reduced inequalities might be your guiding star.
  • Look for local challenges: Consider issues faced by your community or region, and see which SDG can be a catalyst for positive change.

Building a Dream Team (Optional): A Symphony of Skills

While the Google Solutions Challenge welcomes solo innovators, a strategically assembled team can amplify your project’s potential. If you would be building your solution with a team, the team has to be a total of 4 equally passionate members who are committed to harmoniously contributing their talents to see the project through.

You could create a team or just join a team. In creating a team, ensure you properly define roles and responsibilities to ensure that everyone feels valued and empowered.

For example:

Millions of children in rural areas around the world lack access to quality education due to limited resources, poor infrastructure, and inadequate teacher training. This project aims to bridge this gap by providing accessible and engaging educational content through interactive mobile apps.

Let’s say that the software attempts to provide the following solutions:

  • Develop a series of mobile apps aligned with local curricula and tailored to the specific needs of rural communities.
  • Content can cover core subjects like math, science, and language, as well as relevant local topics like agriculture, health, and environmental awareness.
  • Utilize gamification elements, quizzes, and interactive exercises to keep children engaged and motivated.
  • Integrate offline functionality to ensure accessibility even in areas with limited internet connectivity.

You would need the following people on your team:

  • Mobile app developer: Expertise in Android or iOS development platforms like Flutter or Kotlin.
  • Localization and translation(AI/ML Engineers): Adapting content and interfaces to local languages and cultural contexts.
  • Data analysis and evaluation: Tracking app usage and learning outcomes to measure impact and improve the solution.

Crafting Your Changemaker: Building Solutions for the SDGs with Google Technologies

The Google Solutions Challenge beckons, a crucible where passion for social impact meets the forge of technological innovation. To emerge victorious, you must craft a solution — a beacon of hope for the challenges outlined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This journey, however, requires careful navigation, choosing the right tools, and honing your skills to make your vision a reality.

Our definition of Google Technologies would refer to the various software provided by Google. They are:

  1. AI and Machine Learning:
  • Dialogflow: Build chatbots for mental health support, educational assistants, or personalized learning experiences.
  • Vertex AI: Utilize pre-trained models for image recognition, speech-to-text, or sentiment analysis, saving time and boosting your solution’s capabilities.
  • Teachable Machine: Empower non-programmers to create their simple machine-learning models for tasks like anomaly detection or data classification.

2. Cloud and Computing:

  • App Engine: Deploy your web application with ease and scalability, focusing on building features instead of server management.
  • BigQuery: Analyze large datasets to track progress, measure impact, and gain insights into user behavior.
  • Cloud Firestore: Leverage a flexible, NoSQL database for real-time data synchronization and offline functionality.

3. Web and Emerging Technologies:

  • Flutter: Build beautiful and native-looking mobile apps for both Android and iOS, reaching a wider audience with a single codebase.
  • WebAssembly: Integrate existing code written in languages like C++ or Rust into your JavaScript projects, unlocking powerful capabilities.
  • Material Design: Create user interfaces that are not only functional but also beautiful and user-friendly.

4. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality:

  • ARCore: Overlay digital information into the real world for educational experiences, environmental monitoring, or interactive storytelling.
  • VR for Google Cardboard: Develop immersive experiences for education, healthcare, or cultural preservation, accessible even with low-cost hardware.

5. Other Tools and Services:

  • Google Earth Engine: Analyze global datasets like satellite imagery for deforestation detection, agricultural monitoring, or disaster response.
  • YouTube APIs: Integrate YouTube videos into your app or website to share educational content, showcase community stories, or build interactive learning experiences.
  • Google Maps Platform: Leverage maps, location data, and routing functionalities to enhance your solution’s geographic awareness and empower users.
  • Google Cloud: The power behind the scenes, Google Cloud provides the scalable infrastructure to keep your solution humming. From data storage and analytics to containerized deployments, it ensures your creation reaches and serves millions.
  • Firebase: Your back-end bestie, Firebase simplifies authentication, databases, and cloud functions, freeing you to focus on building impactful features. Leverage it for user management, real-time data updates, and push notifications.
  • Android: The ubiquitous mobile platform, reaching billions, is ideal for solutions aimed at accessibility and widespread adoption. Consider apps for education, healthcare, or environmental monitoring in remote areas.

The key is to align the technology with your chosen SDG and solution’s needs. Carefully observe your solution and see which of the Google Technologies will be a perfect fit.

Learning Resources

The fun stuff about this challenge is that Google provides lots of resources to equip you. So! You are not on this journey all by yourself. These resources include:

  • Online tutorials: Dive deep into specific Google technologies with interactive tutorials, step-by-step guides, and code examples. Master Firebase data management, build your first TensorFlow model, or conquer Android app development — the possibilities are endless.
  • Workshops: Delve deeper with hands-on workshops led by Google experts. Collaborate with peers, tackle real-world challenges, and get personalized feedback on your project. Google Developer Student Clubs (GDSCs) often host these, forming a vibrant community of support.
  • Documentation: The ultimate handbook — Google’s comprehensive documentation for each technology serves as your trusted guide. From API references to best practices, find answers to your questions and conquer coding roadblocks.
  • GDSC Communities: Your fellow changemakers await! GDSCs are vibrant hubs of student developers passionate about solving global challenges. Tap into their collective knowledge, share your ideas, and find collaborative partners.

Building the Future, Iteration by Iteration(The Building Phase)

Having chosen your tools and your mind brimming with knowledge, it’s time to embark on the exhilarating journey of development:

  • Coding: Write the lines that give your solution life. Whether you’re crafting the logic of your Android app, training your TensorFlow model, or configuring your Google Cloud infrastructure, your code is the bridge between vision and reality.
  • Prototyping: Don’t wait for perfection — build rough prototypes quickly to test your ideas and gather feedback. Use tools like Firebase for rapid prototyping, iterate based on user testing, and refine your solution.
  • Testing: Rigorous testing is the shield against bugs and the key to a seamless user experience. Leverage Firebase Crashlytics to identify and fix issues, and ensure your solution performs flawlessly across devices and platforms.
  • Iterating: Improvement is a never-ending journey. Embrace feedback, analyze data, and constantly refine your solution. Remember, even the most impactful creations evolve through continuous iteration.
  • Kill the perfection mindset: You don’t have to all 100% perfect software. Think big and work on your software. Others will fall in place as you build. You don’t also have a 50-year experience in Tech for you to be able to participate.

Preparing for Submission: A Rigorous Approach to Securing SDG Success

As the culmination of your innovative journey nears, the final preparation phase for the Google Solutions Challenge demands a rigorous and meticulous approach. This stage is where your brilliant work transforms into a persuasive case for impact, presented with clarity and confidence to captivate the judges and illuminate the potential of your solution. By meticulously preparing your demonstration, documentation, and presentation, you transform your project from a mere technological creation into a beacon of impactful change.

1. Crafting a Compelling Demonstration:

Your demo is your asset, a condensed showcase of your solution’s functionalities and its tangible impact on your chosen SDG. To be truly compelling, it must adhere to the following principles:

  • Conciseness: Focus on the core features that demonstrably address the SDG challenge.
  • Clarity: Present the features simply and intuitively, ensuring ease of understanding for even non-technical audiences.
  • Impactful Narrative: Embed your demo within a clear narrative that weaves together the problem, your solution, and its tangible benefits for the target community. Showcase real-world scenarios where your solution makes a difference.
  • Engaging visuals: Utilize compelling visuals, data visualizations, and user interactions to keep the audience captivated and immersed in the potential of your work.

2. Documenting Your Project with Precision:

The judges need a comprehensive understanding of your project, going beyond the surface-level demonstration. Your documentation should serve as a detailed roadmap, offering insights into the technical underpinnings and future vision:

  • Project Description: Provide a clear and concise overview of your solution, its purpose, and the SDG it addresses. Highlight the unique value proposition and key differentiators.
  • Technical Details: Dive deeper into the technology stack, outlining the specific Google technologies used and their role in enabling your solution’s features. Include relevant code snippets, architecture diagrams, and technical specifications.
  • Future Development Plans: Demonstrate your commitment to the project’s sustainability and scalability. Outline future development plans, potential partnerships, and strategies for continued impact.

3. Honing Your Presentation Skills for Confident Delivery:

The final hurdle is to confidently communicate your project’s merits to the judges. Practice with rigor, ensuring your presentation is:

  • Well-structured: Follow a logical flow, transitioning seamlessly between problem, solution, impact, and future vision.
  • Precise and concise: Avoid technical jargon and unnecessary details. Aim for clear and impactful communication that resonates with the audience.
  • Engaging and passionate: Infuse your presentation with genuine enthusiasm and conviction, demonstrating your commitment to the cause.
  • Prepared for Q&A: Anticipate potential questions from the judges and prepare well-reasoned responses that showcase your deep understanding of the project and its potential.

Additional Strategies for SDG Success: Optimizing Your Journey

1. Cultivating Collaboration and Community Support:

The Google Solutions Challenge is not a solitary endeavor. Embrace the value of collaboration and community support to propel your project to greater heights:

  • Join a Google Developer Student Club (GDSC): Immerse yourself in a vibrant community of like-minded developers passionate about solving global challenges. Share ideas, collaborate on projects, and tap into the collective knowledge and experience of fellow innovators.
  • Engage in online forums: Utilize online platforms dedicated to the Google Solutions Challenge and your chosen SDG. Seek advice from mentors, exchange best practices with other participants, and gain valuable insights from experienced developers. Ask questions.
  • Seek mentorship: Don’t hesitate to reach out to Google experts, GDSC mentors, or past challenge winners for guidance and feedback. Their insights can help refine your solution, address potential roadblocks, and maximize your chances of success.

2. Mastering Time Management and Deadlines:

  • Set SMART goals: Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals for each stage of your project. This clarity will keep you motivated and ensure you’re consistently moving towards the submission deadline.
  • Prioritize effectively: Learn to discern between essential and non-essential tasks. Don’t hesitate to delegate or outsource certain aspects to ensure you dedicate your energy to the core functionalities of your solution.

3. Embracing the Journey and the Rewards:

While striving for success is essential, remember to enjoy the learning process and the positive impact you’re creating. It means to have fun while trying to build a solution. It is an adventurous time!

Conclusion

The Google Solutions Challenge is not just a competition; it is a gateway to unleashing your inner prowess, harnessing technology for good, and leaving a lasting positive impact on the world through the lens of Sustainable Development Goals while collaborating with people of like passion; A win-win approach.

So, why wait? Dive into the Google Solutions Challenge today! Let your passion be your compass, your creativity your fuel, and your commitment to change your guiding light.

Register here:

I can’t wait to see the solutions that would change the world for good!

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