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FEA hosts a social engineering hackathon tackling challenges in the region
3/7/2017
Dana Abed  |  Office of Advancement  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
With the purpose of creating solution-oriented technologies and challenging young minds, a hackathon was organized by the ourMENA platform, in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy in Lebanon, bringing together teams from different universities across Lebanon, including AUB, Balamand University, the Lebanese American University (LAU), and Saint Joseph University (USJ).

Teams were asked to develop innovative solutions to key development and humanitarian issues challenging communities in Lebanon and beyond. The hackathon took place on March 3, 4, and 5, at the Irany Oxy Engineering Complex at AUB. 

OurMENA is an innovation platform launched by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, through its embassy, to enable young entrepreneurs, technologists, and change-makers from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to come together, collaborate, and solve critical challenges with homegrown technologies.

The teams were formed on Friday and were allowed two days to come up with prototypes that offer solutions to some of Beirut’s challenges: pollution, waste treatment, mobility and public transportation, and food security. Teams also had the liberty to shed light on other unlisted topics they deemed critical to Lebanon. This hackathon was run as a multi-city hackathon, in parallel with Amman and Ramallah. 

Teams were expected to start from scratch any type of software or hardware solution that best addresses a selected challenge. A variety of mobile apps, websites, chatbots, and sensor platforms were built over the weekend. 

Each team presented a demo of their prototype, clearly demonstrating their vision and their project’s applicability. Teams were judged based on the impact of their solution, the way they presented it, the product innovation, and its sustainability. 

“It is important for Lebanon to create a culture of hackers and problem solvers and FEA has started this through innovate initiatives,” said Dr. Mariette Awad, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA), who explained that AUB in general and FEA in particular are always at the edge of technology and innovation. “We have talent and we need to empower it to solve our local problems. Hosting the event at FEA with its cutting edge facilities encourages, inspires, and nurtures the hackers’ minds to go for revolutionary and not evolutionary solutions.” 

Creative prototypes included hardware as well as software solutions that offer more efficient garbage pick-up mechanisms, river pollution monitoring, platforms to encourage outdoor activities and healthy living, educational games to promote the culture of recycling among kids, applications that connect farmers with land owners and crowdsourcing platforms for agriculture, in addition to applications to reduce food waste in supermarkets, and others that connect expats. 

The winning project was ‘Project Vany,’ which presented a complete solution to track real time bus location using a customized GPS plug. The UNICEF representatives on the jury showed interest in adopting the prototype in their future projects. The team which won a cash prize of $3,000 was formed by AUB students Qusai Suwan, Ebrahim Karam, Hassan Dbouk, Mohammad Ali Itani, and Emad Yehya from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). 

Coming in second place and winning a prize of $1,500, was the project ‘Souk Balady,’ a platform that connects local products to consumers and organic outlets. The idea was enthusiastically received by shops that were contacted during the hackathon for feedback on the feasibility of the idea. The team included AUB students Georges Kfoury from the ECE department; Lama Miri, Ghida Shehabeddine, and Yara Slim from the Department of Chemical Engineering; and Mohammad Rachid from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.​​
Story Highlights
  • ​​​​With the purpose of creating solution-oriented technologies and challenging young minds, a hackathon was organized by the ourMENA platform, in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy in Lebanon, bringing together teams from different universities across Lebanon, including AUB, Balamand University, the Lebanese American University (LAU), and Saint Joseph University (USJ).​​​
 
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