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It’s A Nurse In A Cell Phone–And It Can Save Your Life

Use a PC application? I can’t remember my name!” exclaimed Islam Al-Husban—and her audience roared with laughter.

Al-Husban isn’t really a forgetful elderly woman, or a stand-up comedian: she’s a Jordan University student who nervously traveled abroad for the first time to attend the 2014 NYUAD Hackathon for Social Good from February 14 -16. But her impersonation of a difficult patient during her team’s presentation helped its virtual nurse app Tabebe win first place.

Competition was stiff, ranging from an orphan locator to an app that lets citizens report civic corruption. “What’s really challenging at the Hackathon is to synchronise team efforts,” says Tabebe member Abdallah Zoubir Ourad, a computer engineering student at Khalifa University. His initial “simple seed” concept “grew to form our winning application” to which all six team members contributed a vital part.

The team was full of charisma,” says Ken Leland of Monmouth Telecom, one of its two mentors. “They had more than their fair share of strength in visual design and mobile application development, and they chose an application suited to these strengths.” The final app contains a medical reminder for patients, a record of their important personal details, family contact information, and an emergency function to summon help—no internet required.

Al-Husban’s favorite part was the brainstorming, which convinced her that her old belief–“that the sky is my only limit”—was far too limited. “Now I see how far beyond the sky I can go!” she declares.

Hackathon founder and NYU professor of computer science Sana Odeh was elated by the “incredible feedback” from participants. “Many said this was the most rewarding experience of their lives,” she says. “Most judges will be following up to make sure the teams go live soon, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s Hackathon.”

For more info – Hackathon website and Facebook page

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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