Creating solutions: NAU community can apply to be a part of 48-hour global COVID-19 challenge

COVID19 challenge graphic

Creative problem-solvers have an opportunity to address the pressing needs related to the coming surge of COVID-19 in Africa.

Northern Arizona University is a partner in the MIT COVID-19 Hackathon Challenge focusing on Africa, which brings together engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, software professionals, media specialists and other professionals or innovators to pinpoint problems facing Africa as coronavirus gets worse throughout the continent. Individuals will be assigned to teams and joined by mentors and industry partners to come up with practical solutions that can be implemented immediately.

Bill Carter, a co-creator of this hackathon and a creative media and film faculty member in the School of Communication, has done several long-term collaborations with MIT’s Global Programs. He said the problems being considered could address diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 in more rural areas, how to do contact tracing to prevent the spread of coronavirus or strengthening the supply chain to move food, personal protective equipment and other commodities to areas that need it.

“From partners on the ground, we are hearing about basic, fundamental issues, such as good communication to rural areas, PPE best practices and clean sources of water,” Carter said.

The hackathon will start May 1 and last for 48 hours. People interested in participating must submit an application; for the last hackathon, which focused on helping health systems and protecting vulnerable populations domestically, organizers selected 1,500 participants from about 4,500 applicants from 96 countries. Experts from throughout the world, including professors from top universities, will be mentors for the teams. The winning team will likely win a cash prize and be teamed up with industry partners to turn their idea into action.

“We have worked with Bill on a range of issues from big data and fintech to fusion energy and work of the future,” said David Capodilupo, assistant dean of MIT Sloan Global Programs.  “Our faculty value his ability to translate complex problems into workable solutions—a skill that is core to our DNA. Now, it is great to have him as part of the launch team for this Africa COVID19 Challenge, and we are thrilled that NAU has joined as a partner.”

For more information and to apply to be a participant or mentor, visit the MIT COVID-19 Challenge website.

Download the event marketing kit for materials: Media Kit – MIT COVID19 Challenge Africa takes on COVID-19 (51-53)

NAU students, staff or faculty who are interested and want to learn more can join Carter in a Zoom meeting at 11 a.m. Friday, April 24. The meeting ID is 989 3706 4237 and password is 1aV8Qh.


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Heidi Toth | NAU Communications
(928) 523-8737 | heidi.toth@nau.edu