A team comprising computer science and engineering students from American University of Sharjah (AUS) recently won first place in the UAE Hackathon: Data for Happiness, the country’s biggest data analysis challenge. The competition aimed to use data to develop innovative solutions and ideas that contribute to the happiness of the community.
Held in conjunction with the UAE Innovation Month, the competition was launched by the Telecommunications and Regulatory Authority (TRA), with the objective being of bringing people together with the common goal of using technology and data to solve challenges around a certain topic for happiness. By leveraging UAE’s new initiative on data sharing, the teams had the task of utilizing specific datasets to make informed decisions on problems and give solutions.
The AUS team selected “environment and climate change” as a topic to base its project on from among eight options offered by the hackathon. The other areas included: transportation and traffic congestion, health and safety, sustainable development (post-oil age), education, gender balance, social relations in the UAE community, and enhancement of lifestyle.
The team’s winning project focused on developing a mobile application for energy conservation that utilized electricity consumption data to not only compare individual usage with other consumers but also to compete with other application users, and rewarding those making the extra effort to reduce their electricity consumption.
The judges’ panel looked into some key aspects of the AUS team’s project such as: the application prototype developed, the use of the provided datasets, the importance of the issue being tackled, the potential impact of the solution on people’s lives, and most importantly, how the solution contributed towards making the UAE a happy country.
Dr. Fadi Ahmad Aloul, Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, expressed pride in his students and said:
“The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at AUS plays a big role in our day to day lives and in helping us make smart decisions, such as improving sustainability. We aim to help students focus on developing their technical and soft skills and making them independent and successful problem solvers, especially in today’s challenging world. They made us proud and we are very happy at their achievement.”
Commenting on the win, Mumtaz Ummar, a member of the winning team, said:
“A misconception about hackathons among students is that to participate or even win one, you need to be a coding genius. However, I learnt that you do not even have to be the smartest of students. Hackathons depend on your creativity and the presentation of your idea. So everyone out there shouldn't give up as it is a great experience that may end up being rewarding as well!”
The winning team comprised AUS students: Mumtaz Ummar, Arwa Ibrahim Alblooshi, Donthi Sankalpa, Karam Ahfid, Ahmad Mohammad Khater, Labeeba Begum and Hassan Al Ali.