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Author's profile photo Nancy Callahan

Students Hacking for Safety, Equality and Empowerment

The positive impact of technology seems to be overshadowed often by raging debates concerning the potential risks, with hot topics today being artificial intelligence, autonomous cars and data breaches.   So, it was uplifting to spend the weekend of March 24-25, 2018 with over 550 university and high school students who dedicated their weekend to applying technology as a force for good.

SAP was proud to be the major sponsor for the 2018 University of Virginia hack-a-thon focused on Diversity. hack.UVA participants were asked to create web or mobile applications or platforms in three categories:

  • SafetyProvide physical and emotional security
  • Equality – Strive to eliminate social and economic inequality
  • Empowerment – Giving people the tools to succeed

Leaders across SAP choose to sponsor this diversity hack-a-thon because of the fit with SAP’s vision and values. SAP’s vision is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, and we know that creating a diverse, inclusive, and bias-free culture makes us a better company.

With SAP’s sponsorship and the inspiring themes, hack.UVA was 2.5 times larger than prior years. We had over 550 students from 46 universities and high schools across 16 states gather for a weekend of creativity and innovation.  Arnim Jain and the student leaders of hack.UVA managed the event beautifully.

I followed John Fitzgerald Gates, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Engineering Chief Diversity Officer, U.Va. in welcoming the students on Saturday with an introduction to SAP and the theme of empowerment.

Heather Czech   from SAP Next-Gen kicked off the workshops with a session on Design Thinking.

Meredith Hassett ran a workshop on SAP technology, and Meredith, Philip Liberato and Jonathan Baker mentored and coached teams.  Robin Kusnick  provided career counseling and information about life at SAP.

We were honored to join the judging of the amazing and purpose-driven work of the student developers, designers, and entrepreneurs.

Roughly ten of the hacks qualified for the SAP challenge by incorporating SAP technologies such as SAP UI5, SAP Cloud Platform including SAP HANA and SAP Build.

All the hacks and demos were impressive, showing creativity, completeness and polish. Some of my favorites included:

  • Helping amputees manage phantom limb pain using low cost virtual reality
  • 3D printing a data-driven, smart gun designed to reduce the risk of school violence
  • Fighting bias with facial recognition artificial intelligence
  • Advancing equality through a recruiting app developed with the rapid prototyping of SAP Build
  • Keeping people and property safe using a safety API in an app hosted on the SAP Cloud Platform
  • Creating and sharing music through voice recognition and motion sensors in an app also hosted on the SCP Cloud Platform
  • Providing accurate medical advice anywhere using low cost SMS communications, natural language processing and an SAP HANA in-memory database.

Check out all the projects at Looking through these projects reaffirms the positive power of technology when applied by caring and aware individuals.

 First place team for best use of SAP solutions

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      Author's profile photo Caroleigh Deneen
      Caroleigh Deneen

      What an impressive collection of submissions. Congratulations to all the participants and winners!!

      Author's profile photo Moya Watson
      Moya Watson

      Awesome! So impressive.  The future is bright!