On October 3-4 weekend, the annual edition of the NASA SpaceApps Challenge hackathon took place in Romania, which took place online, simultaneously in another 200 cities around the world. In Romania, 135 participants aged between 14 and 30 were registered. In the final, 12 teams presented their projects (displayed here – for Bucharest – and here for Cluj) – Two teams from each city qualified for the international judging stage of the competition:
- Fire Fighters – with a solution for automatic detection of natural hazards;
- Carbon FUN – an application that monitors the carbon footprint based on transport and energy consumption
- IOT4NATURE – a solution that detects the presence of smoke and flames generated by fires and sends information to the cloud, in order to alert the authorities and citizens of the affected areas.
- PAN – creates automatic predictions of animal migration to signal any changes in this ecosystem.
Two local awards were also given to the Tandem team, respectively Penteract 3.0, with solutions in fighting vegetation fires.
The jury consisted of Bogdan Niculae, Engineer Manager at Thales; Gabriel Trăistaru, Digital Director at the Digital Division of Telekom România; George V. Scripcariu, co-founder of Space Hub; Florin Păun, theoretician and innovation director in France; Radu Ionescu, co-founder SecurifAI and Ph.D professor in the Artificial Intelligence department, within the Faculty of Mathematics – Informatics in Bucharest; Cristian Român, senior editor at Revista Știință şi Tehnică and Ulpia Botezatu, a research engineer at the Romanian Space Agency. The teams were guided mainly by technical mentors, and they got constant support from the moderator of the hackathon, the journalist of Radio Tananana, Vlad Conovaru.
The two winning teams that will continue to go to the global judging, received prizes from Thales, Space Hub and Sandler Training Romania, and the participants benefited from vouchers from Armada by Nemira and Știință şi Tehnică magazine.
“The great differentiator of this event is that it has no material stake. We are talking about pure passion for science and exploration of the Earth and Space, of evolution, of the intergalactic mission to change the world, to bring our contribution in the service of good through innovation. It’s about involvement, about commitment. Hence, this unique emotional charge it brings. In an extremely short time, it creates and welds teams that prepare the framework for new experiences, creates communities, builds loyalty, generates addiction in the best sense – here we are at the 6th edition in Cluj and the third in Bucharest and we have participants who came to all editions. You cannot imagine how much joy and pride we feel when we find each other every year with the same electric enthusiasm. We can’t wait to see you again next year”, said Diana Iosu, organizer of NASA Space Apps Challenge Bucharest & Cluj Napoca.
“For Thales, innovation and technology are essential for evolution and no other project could put them together, as the NASA Space Apps Challenge hackathon does. By the nature of our work, we place great emphasis on passion and professional training, , and, at each edition I participated in, I discovered real talents that have the potential to grow and conquer not only the Earth but also space. “, says Silviu Agapi, CEO Thales, Romania.
“The Telekom Romania Foundation also supports talented young people, in addition to various social causes. As Telekom places great emphasis on digitalization, becoming a partner of this hackathon was a natural step, as the competition brings together people of all ages with unique and valuable skills to generate solutions for a better future on planet Earth“, said Ionela Păunică, executive director of the Telekom România Foundation.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the ideas of the participating teams and their diversity. It would be nice for at least ten times more young people to participate in the next edition and for the spirit of the event to spread even deeper in all corners of Romania “, said George V. Scripcariu, co-founder of Space Hub.
The solutions of the winning teams from Romania will enter the evaluation process at the international level, coordinated by NASA. The Space Apps winners will be announced in January 2021 and will receive an invitation to present their projects to NASA staff (and space agency partners, if applicable). International winners will also be invited to visit a NASA station with the global space management team, Space Apps Challenge, to witness the launch of a spacecraft.
SpaceApps Challenge is NASA’s innovative incubation program, held annually since 2012 in hubs around the world. Last year, it enjoyed 29,000 participants in 225 events in 71 countries, and in Romania 200 participants in two cities, the youngest being 12 years old. Next year’s edition will take place between October 2nd and 3rd, 2021.