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Smart India Hackathon 2019 drives nation’s tech ambitions

Image Credit: Press Information Bureau, Government of India, press release

The Minister of Human Resource Development inaugurated the last session of the Smart India Hackathon 2019– Software (SIH) in Jaipur, last week.

A hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including, among others, graphic designers, interface designers, and project managers, collaborate on software projects.

The Smart India Hackathon 2019 is a nationwide programme designed to provide students a platform to build and exhibit digital solutions, encouraging a culture of product innovation and problem-solving.

The programme was developed by MHRD and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The AICTE is a national-level apex advisory body designed to conduct surveys on the facilities available for technical education and to promote digital development in the country.

According to a press release, 11,000 students signed up for the Grand Finale, which was held at 48 nodal centres in 42 cities.

There are 28 teams, and each is made up of six students guided by two professors. 40,000 students participated and more than 19 solutions were obtained in the first year.

Essentially, the students are required to code non-stop for 36-hours, to find digital solutions for 350 problem statements. It is the world’s largest hackathon.

Last year, there were 17,400 entries from over 100,000 students. The total participation of the hackathon exceeded 200,000 this year; the number of participants is doubling each year, the release said.

This year, SIH had two sub-editions, the Software edition (a 36-hour software product development competition) and the Hardware edition (a five-day-long hardware product development competition).

There were seven problem statements related to robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning to be solved for the development of software-based industrial solutions.

Problem statements required the development of invoice processing using RPA, finance receipting using RPA, alternative to traditional credential-based authentication, and a customer support chatbot, among others.

This year’s themes included smart communication, smart vehicles, agriculture and rural development, food technology, and healthcare and biomedical devices. Also, waste management, renewable energy, robotics and drones, and security and surveillance. SIH 2019 even explored the uses of technology in tertiary sectors like hospitality, financial services, entertainment, tourism, and retail.

The submitted ideas were evaluated according to the concept’s creativity, complexity, clarity and details in the prescribed format, feasibility, practicability, sustainability, the scale of impact, user experience, and potential for future work progression.

In Maharashtra, the Hackathon was held at the Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Mumbai.

 The press release said that SIH is a unique initiative to identify new and disruptive digital technology innovations to solve challenges in India. It is a non-stop digital product development competition, where problems are posed to technology students for innovative solutions.

In SIH 2019, students had the opportunity to work on challenges faced within private sector organisations and create solutions for some of the top companies in the world.

So far, two editions of SIH have been conducted successfully. The first two editions SIH-2017 and SIH-2018 proved to be successful in promoting innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, especially in engineering students from across the country.

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