Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Youth come up with solutions to address global challenges

More than 60 youth from diverse backgrounds came together in Kathmandu, Nepal, over the weekend to compete in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) International SpaceApps Challenge. The two-day Kathmandu Hackathon was organized the other day by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and YoungInnovations in collaboration with CSIT Association of Nepal (CSITAN) and Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN).
The challenges provided by NASA were divided into five categories: Technology in Space, Human Space Flight, Asteroids, Earth Watch, and Robotics. The participants included developers, students with knowledge of Geographic Information System (GIS), engineering students, and entrepreneurs. They were divided into 16 teams and used publicly available data to design innovative solutions to address global challenges.
On the second day the teams presented their applications to a panel of four judges who selected team G10E with the project ‘Clean City’ as the winner of the SpaceApps Challenge 2014. The team was awarded a cash prize of NPR 30,000.  Team Cool Nepal, the first runners-up, and Team the Maker, the second runners-up, were awarded NPR 20,000 and NPR 10,000 respectively. Based on votes on social media, team Geo Trackers won the popular choice award.
Team G10E and Cool Nepal will now join the global International SpaceApps Challenge and will compete against 180 teams from around the globe.
Opening the event, the Director of SERVIR-Global, Dan Irwin, said the event offered bright young minds an opportunity to work with others from around the world to come up with innovative applications.
Speaking at the closing event, ICIMOD’s Director Strategic Cooperation Basanta Shrestha talked about the role of space technologies in forecasting natural disasters and reducing their impact.
Basanta Shrestha announced that in due course of time ICIMOD will select three innovative applications that link to ICIMOD’s thematic areas and extend financial support to develop them further.
The event, organized within the framework of SERVIR-Himalaya – an initiative supported by NASA and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aimed to improve environmental decision making in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. The event attracted aspiring developers from colleges and organizations who were building both software and hardware-related applications.
“It was exciting and fun for me, it gave me opportunity to discuss my problems with other developers, and what I have learned here will be useful for me in the future,” said Ashim Sitoula, an 18-year old student from Universal College of Preparatory School in Kathmandu.

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