Abu Dhabi: A solution that minimises power blackouts has won the top prize at an international quantum computing hackathon hosted by the NYU Abu Dhabi. The winning idea from the NYUAD Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World will be presented at a high-level international platform in Geneva in October, following an agreement signed by the university with science and diplomacy organisation, the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipatory Foundation (GESDA).
The 11th edition of the three-day programming marathon was organised by NYUAD in partnership with social initiative company Tamkeen. The initiative encourages participants to find innovative solutions through quantum computing for challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This year, the event concluded with the signing of the NYUAD Memorandum of Understanding with GESDA. In the presence of Caroline Trautweiler, deputy ambassador of Switzerland to the UAE and Bahrain, the two entities agreed to collaborate towards advancing the role that quantum computing can play in solving the world’s most pressing issues and sustainability challenges, and towards highlighting the importance of quantum computing education for all. As part of its long-term strategic partnership with NYUAD GESDA will grant an Open Quantum Institute prize to the top winners, which offers access to mentorship, industry networking opportunities, academic research, and an open invitation to attend the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit in October 2023. Additionally, GESDA announced it will invite the first-place winners, a team named Smart Current, to present their project at the GESDA Summit in October in Geneva to diplomats, UN leaders, scientists and more.
This year, more than 200 students participated in the contest. Apart from winning team Smart Current, QatraH devised quantum solutions to ensure a robust water distribution network, and won the second prize. feeQra, the team that placed third, showed how quantum computing can be used to detect early signs of malignant tumours.
Smart Current, QatraH, and feeQra were the top three winners of this year’s Hackathon, respectively. They were among the more than 200 elite students from 24 countries who gathered to develop quantum computing-based applications that further the objectives of the UN SDGs.
“We founded the NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good 11 years ago on our firm belief that technology can aid society. Quantum computing has the potential to transform many fields, but the biggest area where it could help is in solving our greatest challenge: Climate change and the need for a more sustainable future. The aim of the hackathon was to direct this powerful technology specifically toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This gave our participating students, who came from all around the world, a real focus for their talents and energy, and I am once again humbled by the results,” said Sana Odeh, NYUAD affiliated faculty, and clinical professor of Computer Science. Odeh organised the hackathon this year.
“This new generation of global talent has used the Hackathon platform to give birth to ideas that can truly have a transformative impact on the future of our society. I thank everyone who participated, along with the mentors and judges who provided valuable counsel, and our partners and sponsors who have all helped make this event a great success,” she added.
Experts from world-leading institutions, including ETH, MIT, and Stanford, acted as a source of sponsorship and mentorship to the students, sharing their experiences and insights into the world of tech startups and academic research.