Biggest Regional Hackathon to use Gilt-edge Quantum Technology

NYU Abu Dhabi’s International Hackathon for Social Good will focus its tenth edition on the exciting use of the “technology of our lifetime”.

NYU Abu Dhabi will host one of the region’s biggest hackathons with the purpose of encouraging students from around the world to utilize the nascent technology of quantum computing in solving some of humanity’s biggest challenges. 

The tenth annual NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good is set to take place from Thursday, March 31, to Saturday, April 2, 2022. The tenth edition will be hosted in person and will bring students (all levels- undergraduates to PhD), from  all over the world into teams to work with the technology. 

This year, professor Sana Odeh, the organizer, founder, and chair for the annual NYUAD International Hackathon, is bringing industry experts from Google, IBM, AstraZeneca, and other leading technology companies to serve as mentors to students working with the new technology. 

Students will be given access to these mentors to engage in solution-driven work and use quantum-based technology to make a positive impact on the future of society. Odeh wants the students applying and those who will ultimately be accepted to be able to identify the world’s biggest challenges that can be solved by using the raw computational power of quantum computing. 

Along with being composed of almost 50 percent female participants, the interdisciplinary nature of NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good separates it from others in the field and makes it a unique opportunity for students to catapult their learning and academic careers. 

Pegged on the theme of promise and technology, Odeh, who is a clinical professor of computer science at NYU and affiliated faculty at NYUAD said the decennial hackathon focuses on “promise using the technology of our lifetime”.

“Quantum-based technology is the future. It brings the computational power to solve problems that we were never able to tackle, from finding cures for diseases, to providing tools for chemistry, math, gaming, or just science in general,” she said.  

Quantum computing is widely regarded as the next generational leap in the world of information technology, similar to the one experienced by the onset of the internet or by the development of silicon microchips. 

The main difference is our computers, or what is increasingly being referred to as classical computers, use transistors, which could only be 1 or 0. Quantum computing uses qubits, which can be 1 or 0 at the same time which increases the quantum computing power exponentially. As a result, quantum computing is much more powerful and can be great for running simulations and data analyses.

For example, Google’s quantum computer, Sycamore, performed a calculation that put it 158 times faster than the world’s fastest computer at the 2019 IBM Summit. The technology has a range of applications from being extremely helpful for running drug trials to cure diseases to being powerful enough to potentially pose a threat to the core technology that makes cryptocurrencies secure. 

“If we thought that the internet revolutionized our world, bringing us together and solving so many problems previously, quantum computing would be the 21-century equivalent of that,” she said.  

This year, applications will be open for students to apply as teams of 5 with the intention of providing students with the opportunity to work in teams on these issues. 

The students will spend three days picking a challenge, and then pitch an idea on how to solve it using the technology. They will then spend the rest of the week providing a framework on how to solve the problem.

Over the last ten years the Annual NYUAD International Hackathon has resulted in the creation of multiple innovations that have contributed successfully to the region’s business operation. NYUAD remains committed to providing a thought-provoking platform that enhances innovation for the benefit of social good in the Arab World, as well as supporting the higher education sector in the UAE. The University’s focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and advanced industries supports the UAE’s 2071 Centennial Plan to diversify and shift to a skills-based knowledge economy. 

Previous innovations resulting from the Annual NYUAD International Hackathon include applications that connect grocery stores with food shoppers to minimize food waste; locate missing refugees; tackle counterfeit medicine; offer affordable translations of texts and increase employment in the Arab World, among others.

Further information on previous NYUAD International Hackathon including profiles on the hackers, mentors, and judges, can be found on the website.