Competitive students prove they can hack it

"24-hour programming" took on a new meaning recently as 55 students from all over the world took part in Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar's (CMU-Q) annual CarnegieApps Hackathon. Rather than watching television all day and night, the students stayed up late to tackle computer programming issues.

The event, sponsored by Education Above All (EAA), the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and Cosette Solutions, challenges teams of students to work on innovative solutions to modern-day problems.

“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,” Dan Phelps, associate professor of information systems at CMU-Q, said.

The students came from Qatar, Kuwait, India and Australia. Haya Thowfeek, an information management officer at EAA, said tapping into the minds of the students is a valuable method to develop solutions.

“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,” Thowfeek said. “This will assist in the EAA/PEIC (Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict) mandate of advocacy in defense of the right to education. 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.”

For the first time, Hackathon added a humanitarian technology category to the challenges. Sponsored by PEIC, the category asked students to come up with technological solutions to humanitarian issues around the world.

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Carnegie Mellon University Qatar

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