By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Dehradun, 1 July 2020: UPES achieved yet another milestone by organising ‘Sahayak Hackathon 1.0’ – India’s first ever completely virtual hackathon for the disabled sections of society. The pioneering event was organised by the ‘School of Computer Science (SCS)’, UPES, in close association with the ‘ACM & ACM-W (Association for Computing Machinery) Student Chapters’. The participants at the event comprised persons with visual impairment; autistic spectrum disorder; cerebral palsy; Parkinson’s disease; hearing impairment, etc. The subject matter experts guided the participants ‘online’ in conceiving and developing solutions to the various challenges being faced by persons with diminished abilities due to the ongoing pandemic ‘Covid-19’. The experts guided the participants in deploying modern technologies viz. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things, Biometrics, Cyber Security, etc., in creating possible solutions for the challenges.
Event Convener Dr Virender Kadyan – Assistant Professor, Department of Informatics at SCS, revealed that the two-day event saw participation of 816 contestants from 110 institutions spread across 21 states of the country and 3 Overseas Teams from USA. Dr TP Singh – Head, Department of Informatics, SCS, declared the event open and presented the competition ‘problem statements’ to the participants. The pre-selected seven problem statements for the event included ‘Social Inclusion’; ‘Sanitisation Solutions’; ‘Educational Technologies’; ‘Maintenance of Social Distancing’; ‘News/Information Delivery Systems’; ‘Doorstep Delivery of Essentials’ and ‘Shifting from Old to New Conditions’. Shubhi Sharma – Assistant Professor SCS & ‘Faculty Coordinator’ for the event, updated that PR teams working in close coordination with the design, editorial and VFX teams over a number of promotional articles, brochures, flyers, invitations, posters and videos prior to the event, the registrations for which had commenced from the last week of May onwards.
‘Sahayak Hackathon 1.0’ also saw the nation’s eminent personalities sharing their insights with the participants on a plethora of topics. Prominent amongst these included Rajive Gulati, Senior Programme Officer & Head Evaluation, UNTIL, who spoke on ‘Emerging Technological Innovations’; Philanthropist Col Karminder Singh, Secretary, Patiala School for the Deaf & Blind; Sanjay Kumar, Deputy Director, ISLRTC, shared know-how on matters involving Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in India; Dr Himangshu Das, Director, NIEPMD; Arijit Bhattacharyya, Founder & CEO, Virtualinfocom; Nalin Singh, Founder & CEO, Natio Cultus. Hari Ramasubramanian – Business Development Lead, IBM ICE, updated on IBM’s history of Projects for the disabled populace.
‘Team Sparflakes’ from Aarupadai Veedu Institute of Technology, Chennai, claimed the ‘First Position’ with a cash prize of Rs 25,000; while ‘Team Grumm’ from UPES, clinched the ‘First Runner-up’ award with a cash prize of Rs 15,000; and ‘Team Braille’ from Dagriation Solutions, Karnal, won the ‘Second Runner-up’ award with a cash prize of Rs 10,000, along with a round-trip travel tickets to Singapore for all the three winning teams.
Besides the winners, three other teams were shortlisted for their notable performance and conferred the titles – ‘Most Innovative Idea Team’ that went to ‘Team Phoenix’ – Chitkara University, Chandigarh; ‘Team – The Minimalists’ from SRM University, Chennai, was awarded the ‘Most Sustainable Idea Team’ title; followed by ‘Team Bliscare’ – GH Raisoni College of Engineering, Nagpur, was given the ‘Most Cost Effective Idea Team’ title.
Vice Chancellor, UPES, Dr Sunil Rai congratulated the Winners.
Briefing the media, Arun Dhand, Senior Director, disclosed that UPES has always endeavored to align with the National Policies and Schemes and this 1st version of ‘Sahayak Hackathon’ is an attempt to support the ‘DIVYANGJAN’ scheme which has been launched under the aegis of the ‘National Handicapped Finance Corporation’. “The university was ably supported in this noble cause by its industry and external partners which included IBM; UNTIL – United Nations Technology Innovations Labs; ISLRTC – Indian Sign Language Research and Training Center; NIEPVD – National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Visual Disabilities; Guaana – a community-based platform to run online innovation & research challenges from Estonia; ‘Creative Tim’ and ‘Learning While Travelling’,” he added.
Dr Virender Kadyan appreciated the efforts put in by all team members – Shubhi Sharma, Sugandha Sharma, Pankaj Badoni, Dr Deepika Koundal, Anupam Singh and Chandramani Sharma