University of Primorska Faculty of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technologies

Monday, 28 October 2019 UP FAMNIT students won the first round of NASA Space Apps Challenge

From 18th to 20th of October, Inkubator Sežana held for the first time the NASA Space Apps Challenge, which has become the world’s largest global hackathon. It inspires local communities to come together, think intensely, and create solutions to important problems. Each year, Space Apps engages thousands of individuals in cities around the world to work with NASA’s open source data in a 48-hour sprint, in which participants hack solutions to challenges that NASA proposes, creating games, smartphone and computer apps, videos, teaching tools, and much more.

31 creative competitors participated the challenge in Sežana, while globally, 29.000 participants attended 230 events in more than 80 countries.

Among the six teams, one was composed by three students from UP Famnit: Maheshya Weerasinghe, Nina Klobas and Cuauhtlli Campos and two from UP FM: Nikola Nakov and Łukasz Popowicz. Within this year's challenge, they created a game and entered into the 2nd round.

Nina Klobas, student of Mathematical Sciences, comments the decision for participating in such a diverse team: »The decision to participate was really spontaneous. A friend of ours (Lukasz) was telling a story about his competition last year and he got me thinking that maybe it is worth trying. The team was set up a bit randomly. Maheysha and Campos are always open to do something more and new, so convincing them to participate was not hard. Lukasz and Nikola took part of the competition last year and they were planning to repeat the experience anyway. We are from different backgrounds (two from management, a mathematician and two computer scientists), which turned out to be our great advantage.« »We like to participate in this kind of activities where you put in practice what you have learned in your academic life. It was also a good opportunity to work with student from other backgrounds,« added Cuauhtlli Campos, PhD student of Computer Science.

After choosing the inspirational name of team Wind of change, they came up with the original idea, equipped with the knowledge of actually producing it and having the capabilities of selling it. Nina continues: »Our goal was just to have fun and see how good we work as a team. We also wanted to think of something new and unique, which could be used in some educational purposes.«

In the frame of this year’s topic they were able to decide between six categories: Living in our World, Earth’s oceans, Our moon, Planets near and far, To the stars, and “Invent your own challenge”. The Wind of change team chose the first one with the challenge 1UP for NASA Earth. They have created a game Ure planet with the slogan »Explore it. Save it.« Cuauhtlli Campos: »We believe that the proposed solution has a potential, but it is still in an earlier stage and it can be improved for a better version.«

Congratulations to our students! Fingers crossed for round two.