“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.”