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178 participants across 42 teams from 15 of UAE’s schools, took part in the inaugural Murdoch University Dubai Hackathon Challenge in Dubai. Image Credit:

Dubai: The inaugural Murdoch University Dubai Hackathon Challenge which took place from October 28 until 31 with 178 participants across 42 teams from 15 of UAE’s best schools, proved to be a big success.

The event concluded with a live-streamed showcase for 15 finalist teams with judges from the Government of Western Australia (Dubai Office), Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), mplus, Navitas and Murdoch University Dubai.

JSS private school’s team TEZCAS won this edition with their app ‘CollabX’, designed to help students and teachers in schools streamline their assignments, attendance, assessments and progress.

Learning

Sruthi Srinivasaraghavan, a grade 12 student from the winning team said: “The Murdoch Hackathon was filled with a lot of learning and provided great exposure. The workshops on customer value proposition and beta testing were very useful and gave me valuable insights. At the end of it, I acquired and understood the essentials of app development. I was in constant touch with students of Murdoch University and they responded immediately to all our queries. I strongly believe that our team work and resilient spirit helped our team to attain success.”

Sruthi Srinivasaraghavan

Sruthi Srinivasaraghavan

Hackathons are often confused for events dedicated solely to coding or ethical hacking, but they can be also be solely solution-oriented without the need for programming or software development. The Murdoch Hackathon challenge was a platform for high school students to work collaboratively, think creatively, and design and present relevant solution in a sprint-like event.

Workshops

The 42 teams were first led through a series of seven different workshops on Wednesday, October 28 and 29 by Murdoch’s students and alumni on preparatory topics like concepts of design and marketing, brand identity, application development and validation, and presentation skills. The teams comprising two to five students each had to share their initial concept in the first round of qualifiers on Friday evening. The selected 15 finalist teams then went head-to-head in an exciting showcase of their app ideas on a live-streamed event on Saturday morning. The themes of the Murdoch Hackathon were chosen with the COVID19 pandemic and its challenges in mind and included: mental health, e-commerce and collaboration, and physical fitness.

Overwhelming response

Following the overwhelming response and feedback to the hackathon, Murdoch University Dubai’s Dean and Academic President, Dr.James Trotter said: “The Murdoch Hackathon 2020 has been an incredible platform to share the ingenious ideas and plans of these future entrepreneurs. I would like to congratulate all 42 teams for an exceptional performance and I was truly impressed with the depth of concepts and solutions presented by our participants. I would also like to congratulate the schools and their staff for promoting crucial skills like problem solving and critical thinking in their students from an early age. This strong, free thinking spirit is something we embed in everything we do as a University and it was great to see it in action in so many of the high school students.”

The judges for the final showcase included experienced professionals from different walks of life:

*Pankaj Savara, Commissioner, Middle East Africa, for Western Australian Trade Office in Dubai

*Kelly Matthews, Trade Commissioner at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)

*James Smith, General Manager at mplus

* Omid Honari, Regional Director EMEAA at Navitas

* Keary Shandler, Undergraduate Business Program Coordinator at Murdoch University Dubai

*Joseph Stevens, IT Program Coordinator at Murdoch University Dubai

Mark Brown, General Manager for Murdoch University Dubai, Dr Ajay Shukla, Managing Director at EdOrbis and Mabina Daniel Lengweng, Holistic Health and Wellness Coach also joined the judging panel for the qualifiers on Friday.

Quality work

Pankaj Savara, one of the judges at the final showcase event, commented, “Congratulations to all the participants – I am so impressed with the quality of work done by these students. I hope you will be proud of your accomplishments, because I already am.” A similar sentiment was shared by Kelly Matthews, Trade Commissioner at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) who said, “I have been so inspired by all the participants – a big thank you to all of you and Murdoch Dubai for letting us witness such great creativity and innovation today.”

Prizes

The winning team from JSS Private School will receive a host of prizes including four cameras sponsored by Canon Middle East, Dh3,000 Amazon.ae vouchers, Dh1,000 vouchers each by mplus and Emrill. The school will also receive a winner’s trophy along with certificates for the students.