Hackathon Co-Afina 2023 - Latin American Students Drive Innovation with Open Data

- Reina, Alexander

Image by Reina Camacho Toro (CC-BY)

This blog post was originally shared by Software Sustainability Institute, and can be found here, as authored by R. Camacho Toro, Y. Briceño and A. Martínez.

Fueled by adrenaline and a shared passion for innovation, seventy-eight university students from across Latin America converged virtually for the second edition of the Co-Afina hackathon. Armed with open data and computational tools, these bright minds tackled real-world challenges related to the environment, citizenship, and education, showcasing their skills, motivation and collaborative spirit.

This year’s Co-Afina hackathon was made possible by the support of the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and its Physics Without Frontiers (PWF) programme, the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) and Open Life Science (OLS), as well as the artificial intelligence company INAIT SA. Joining forces with the organising alliance of the LA-CoNGA physics project, Creative Commons Venezuela, the Latin American Advanced Networks Cooperation (RedClara), and the Academic Network of Ecuador (CEDIA), these sponsors provided the platform for Latin America’s next generation of innovators to shine.

Over three intense days (October 20-22, 2023), sixteen teams, including students from thirty universities across eight Latin American countries, immersed themselves in the hackathon’s challenges. With creativity and determination, they devised solutions that addressed pressing issues such as informed voting, market forecasting, and sustainable tourism.

The winning solution, “Electoral Radiography of Colombia,” emerged from the minds of the “DarkArmy” team, representing the Universidad Industrial de Santander (Colombia). This innovative web application aims to empower citizens with informed voting decisions by providing a comprehensive overview of electoral candidates’ profiles. The team members, Jorge Jaimes, Camilo Carvajal, Brayan Barajas, and Paula Uzcátegui, showcased their exceptional problem-solving skills and commitment to civic engagement.

Second place went to the “Chaotic Coders” team from Yachay Tech University (Ecuador). Their proposal, “Predicting the Value of Coffee,” employed machine learning techniques to forecast the future value of coffee in the financial market, leveraging historical data to make informed investment decisions. The team members, Arianna Paredes, Mateo Carpio, Jordan Zambrano, and Kevin Robalino, demonstrated their proficiency in data analysis and financial modelling.

Rounding out the top three was the “CongApps” team, a multinational alliance of students from the Universidad Industrial de Santander (Colombia), the Universidad Simón Bolívar (Venezuela), and the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (Peru). Their solution, also focused on promoting informed voting, presented an accessible app for citizens to gain insights into electoral candidates’ profiles. The team members, Steven Rico, Adrian Vasquez, and Omar Medina, highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability in the democratic process.

Beyond the top three, the “Neotropical” team received a special mention for their proposal, “Quantum Peru.” This environmentally conscious project sought to mitigate the impact of tourism on archaeological and culturally significant sites, demonstrating a deep understanding of sustainable practices. The team members, Andrés Caña, Cristian Usca, Emilio Toledo, Rubén Niño, and Isabella Sánchez, represented universities from Venezuela and Ecuador.

Participants and organisers expressed excitement over the innovative solutions developed during the hackathon. Yany León Castañeda, a Co-Afina challenger, highlighted the results achieved in a short time, emphasising the enthusiasm, knowledge, and creativity of the participants. The organisers commended the teams for their critical, creative, and environmentally sensitive perspectives.

Co-Afina 2023 showcased the incredible work of Latin American student teams, emphasising their ability to respond swiftly and effectively to regional challenges. The organisers expressed gratitude for the collaborative effort that made this edition possible and concluded the event with an invitation to next year’s hackathon. With this call to action, Co-Afina sets the stage for continued innovation and collaboration among Latin America’s brightest minds, paving the way for a brighter future.