Students from across the region compete in annual Carnegie Mellon Hackathon
New category challenged students to find technological solutions to humanitarian issues
DOHA, Qatar: Students from across Qatar, as well as eight from Kuwait, one from India and one from Australia, came to Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) for the annual CarnegieApps Hackathon. A total of 55 students on 15 teams participated in the 24-hour programming competition held at the CMU-Q campus in Education City.
Hackathon 2017 was sponsored by Education Above All (EAA), Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and Cosette Solutions, who provided judges, mentors and prizes for the event. Hackathon is an annual event where university students work around the clock to develop software for an innovative game, mobile application or web application using software of their choice.
The event is organized by students with guidance from associate professor of information systems Dan Phelps: “The CarnegieApps Hackathon is an opportunity for students to demonstrate everything they have learned to identify, tackle one of the challenges the sponsors are experiencing, and apply their skills to help solve that problem in a real world context.”
This year, Hackathon featured a new award category in humanitarian technology. Sponsored by Education Above All’s program, Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC), the category challenged students to develop technology solutions to different humanitarian issues across the globe. PEIC’s academic advisory director, Maleiha Malik, attended the closing ceremony.
Haya Thowfeek, a graduate of CMU-Q information systems who now works as an information management officer at EAA, said her organization believes in tapping into young minds to develop viable and meaningful solutions to some of the challenges facing NGOs.
“EAA is currently working on a project called the Global Data Service that aims to create a central hub of information with data on the number of attacks on education. This will assist in the EAA/PEIC mandate of advocacy in defence of the right to education,” she said. “The data service will be used to raise awareness of attacks on education, promote legal action and create response measures in the conflict zones. As a systems developer, and a CMU-Q alumna,, I knew that students would be able to come up with innovative solutions that will contribute to the success of our project.”
The winning team in the new category created an algorithm that collects data using web-crawling, databases, and Google and Twitter trends. The algorithm creates a confidence level for each event, visualizes it using mapping tools, and creates a predictive model which highlights regions where an attack was possible. This would allow organizations such as EAA to contact agencies near those conflict zones to offer assistance.
QCRI sent two judges to the event: Hassan Sajjad, scientist, and Yasser Makram, senior software developer. Makram commented, “There is a great energy during the Hackathon, I have seen a lot of potential during the competition, students are enthusiastic and driven to develop real-life solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges.”
Omar Shamiyeh, CEO of Cosette Solutions and a CMU-Q information systems graduate, also judged the event: “It is an honor for my company to be one of the sponsors of the CarnegieApps Hackathon. Our organization believes technology can be used to positively impact people’s lives, which is the most valuable thing in the world. Cosette Solutions fully supports technological innovation that makes use of simple apps that are able to make a big impact.”
The teams at this event represented CMU-Q, the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar, Qatar University, and Gulf University of Science and Technology and Kuwait University. This is the first time a university outside of Qatar has sent teams to the event.
Best Humanitarian Technology: Shahan Ali Memon, Syed Mehdi, Ibrahim Soltan and Sharjeel Khan from CMU-Q
Best Overall App: Maher Khan, Mohammed Fituri, Yasser El-Sayed and AbdulRahman Alfayad from CMU-Q
Best Rookie Team: Muhammad Nahin Khan, Kaustubh Ayer, Maimoon Siddiqui and Hanna Farooq Moazam, CMU-Q
Best Design: Ahmad Alfulaij, Osama Aljassar, Hamad Waleed and Abdullah Almunayae from the Gulf University of Science and Technology and Kuwait University
Best Technical Challenge: Aliaa Essameldin, Sabit Hassan, Aisha Mohamed and Shaden Shaar from CMU-Q
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is accepting applications for the fall 2017 semester. For more information, visit www.qatar.cmu.edu.