NASA hackathon en­cour­ages new ideas

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than 500 par­tic­i­pants in­clud­ing stu­dents from more than 10 higher learn­ing in­sti­tu­tions took part in the NASA Space Apps Chal­lenge re­cently at Pet­ro­sains, Kuala Lumpur, to de­sign in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions that could con­trib­ute to space ex­plo­ration mis­sions and help im­prove life on Earth.

For 48 hours, 179 teams of tech­nol­o­gists, sci­en­tists, de­sign­ers, artists, ed­u­ca­tors, en­trepreneurs, de­vel­op­ers and stu­dents across the globe col­lab­o­rate to de­velop mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions, soft­ware, hard­ware, data vi­su­al­i­sa­tions and plat­form so­lu­tions by us­ing pub­licly avail­able data. The hackathon was jointly or­gan­ised by Un­lock De­sign Sdn Bhd (UDSB) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Pet­ro­sains.

Pet­ro­sains chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tengku Nasariah Tengku Syed Ibrahim said: “In­volve­ment in this chal­lenge al­lows us to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety in a rel­e­vant and re­spon­sive way, as we are en­cour­ag­ing ideas and so­lu­tions to deal with the cur­rent is­sues im­por­tant to so­ci­ety such as the preser­va­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment, liv­ing sus­tain­abil­ity, ex­plor­ing so­lu­tions for the space fron­tier and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy such as Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence and Big Data.

“This chal­lenge pro­vides ac­tual con­text and re­quires solv­ing of real prob­lems which is an ex­cel­lent route in the learn­ing of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics, or STEM.

“We are also push­ing for so­cial learn­ing by bring­ing peo­ple of dif­fer­ent back­grounds — pro­gram­mers and non-pro­gram­mers alike — to work to­gether and reach for a com­mon goal that will fo­cus on im­prov­ing life on earth.”

UDSB chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Shozo Ya­m­aguchi said: “I have been al­ways fas­ci­nated by Malaysia’s multi­na­tional cul­ture. Over the course of host­ing IT hackathon events in Malaysia, I re­alised that tech­nol­ogy com­mu­ni­ties are closed and separated into small groups.

“I be­lieve that in­no­va­tion comes from the en­vi­ron­ment that has mix­ture of dif­fer­ent cul­tures just like Malaysia so­ci­ety it­self. Bring­ing a va­ri­ety of new tech­nol­ogy com­mu­ni­ties to­gether and col­lab­o­rat­ing with NASA, I hope that the new, cre­ative and in­no­va­tive ideas that will change the world come up from the event.”

The chal­lenge is di­vided into two cat­e­gories: Global Awards for Hackathon and Lo­cal Awards for Ideathon.

The top two win­ners for the Global Awards and Peo­ple’s Choice win­ner for the chal­lenge will also par­tic­i­pate in NASA Global judg­ing com­pet­ing with oth­ers from all over the world. All win­ners from both cat­e­gories will com­pete in MDeC Na­tional Apps Chal­lenge in data anal­y­sis re­lated field.

The first group win­ner for the Hackathon com­prises Joel Lee, Gla­dys Lim, Jan­son Chah, Wei Lip Kho and Ali Torabi. The sec­ond win­ner — Maish Maseeh, Ibrahim Fathih, Ab­dulla Niyaz, Dibakar Su­tra Char and Madin Maseeh

In the hackathon chal­lenge, par­tic­i­pants must fol­low the chal­lenges set by NASA, use the NASA’s dataset and de­velop their projects based on cat­e­gories such as the Our Eco­log­i­cal Neigh­bour­hood, Warn­ing!Dan­ger Ahead, Plan­e­tary Blues and The Earth and Us. Projects from the hack­ha­ton chal­lenge must pro­duce tan­gi­ble so­lu­tions and proof of con­cept for the pro­posed idea.

The Ideathon, on the other hand, did not use the data from NASA and projects should be fo­cused on key ideas such as Big Data, Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, and Smart City to en­hance in­dus­tries in Malaysia.

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