Virtual Hackathon to be Held to Tackle COVID-19 Challenges

NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) will be hosting the 2020 Annual NYUAD International Hackathon for social good in the Arab World from April 16 to April 19. The ninth edition of the programming marathon will be hosted online for the first time ever and will tackle challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing together aspiring programmers from around the world to generate innovative solutions in response to the current global situation. 

More than 120 outstanding judges, mentors, and students participating from across the world, will come together virtually to create applications that address issues in diverse fields impacted by the virus, such as health, education, film, music, business, and science, solving problems created by COVID-19. For the first time, NYU Abu Dhabi Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann will also serve as a judge. 

Students will be divided into teams of between five to seven members and will be mentored by 35 experienced international industry and academic leaders while developing applications from ideation to delivery. A mentor at the 2020 Annual NYUAD International Hackathon and Senior Manager at General Electric in the United States Sama Kanbour commented, “This is a difficult situation but certainly a powerful time where many of us see it as an opportunity to contribute to our communities, by proposing innovative solutions that hopefully can address emerging needs.” 

Organizer, Founder and Chair for the Annual NYUAD International Hackathon, Clinical Professor of Computer Science at NYU New York, and Affiliated Faculty at NYUAD Sana Odeh said: “We are living during an unprecedented time that requires us to come together across all borders to innovate and solve challenges caused by the devastation brought on by COVID-19. Our priority is building tech solutions to support vulnerable communities such as refugees who are facing life threatening situations with minimal  support and resources, and also to solve problems related to the healthcare system such as symptom tracking and minimizing exposure to others. We are proud to have more than 120 excellent students and mentors coming together from all over the world in just a three week time to participate in our international Hackathon to learn, be inspired and build creative apps tackling COVID-19 challenges and just may help make the world a better place.”

Teams will then present their final products virtually to a panel of distinguished judges including Mariët Westermann, NYUAD Provost Fabio Piano, WebXR Technical Adviser at UNICEF Fabien Bénétou, Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Khalil Ramadi, Founder of MIT Hacking Medicine Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering and Emerging Scholar at NYUAD Tuka Alhanai, and Director of Technology at Museum of the Future in Dubai Sundar Raman.

Supported by MIT Hacking Medicine, the event seeks to promote innovation in computer science, tech startups, and the development of innovative technology for social good. It also provides an opportunity for students to experience the full cycle of creating a tech startup: sharing, generating, and pitching ideas; learning new platforms and programming languages; designing and developing mobile and web applications; and working within a team. 

Over the last nine years the Annual NYUAD International Hackathon has resulted in the creation of multiple innovations that have contributed successfully to the region’s business operation. NYUAD remains committed to providing a thought-provoking platform that enhances innovation for the benefit of social good in the Arab World, as well as supporting the higher education sector in the UAE. The University’s focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and advanced industries supports the UAE’s 2071 Centennial Plan to diversify and shift to a skills-based knowledge economy.

Previous innovations resulting from the Annual NYUAD International Hackathon include applications that connect grocery stores with food shoppers to minimize food waste; locate missing refugees; tackle counterfeit medicine; offer affordable translations of texts and increasing employment in the Arab World, among others.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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