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Manipal Students Win Big at MIT COVID-19 Challenge

Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently organised an international hackathon—Beat the Pandemic—a 48-hour virtual event aimed at tackling the most critical issues of the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. The event kicked off on Saturday, 4th of April, at 3:30 AM with over 1500 participants hailing from 75 different countries.

Three students from Manipal Institute of TechnolgyAkshatha Kamath, third-year CSE, Shubham Rateria, CCE Batch of ’19, and Adri Rajaraman, ECE Batch of ’19, also participated and ended up winning their track—’Who to Test and When’. Other members of their team includeMelia Watson, respiratory therapist and an MBA graduate from Washington DC, Hsiang Wei Hu, co-founder of Acusense Biomed in Taiwan, and Mariane Melo, an MD from the United Kingdom.

The event commenced with the participants teaming up to identify critical problems and then trying to generate innovative solutions for the same. The team from Manipal identified the problem of overcrowded hospitals with unnecessary admissions as a pressing one, as practically, less than five per-cent of the average population under the age of fifty requires hospitalisation. Their solution was to build ‘QuickTri’, a platform for contactless monitoring of vitals such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen concentration in the blood, by using readily available home-devices such as a phone camera, or even a webcam.

A working example of the solution. (Image Credits: Akshatha Kamath)

Over the weekend, they worked on their proof-of-concept and prototypes, while also developing a preliminary vision for the execution. With guidance from multiple mentors across the United States, a diverse pool of expertise was available to the team to improve their idea and business proposal. On Sunday, the groups reconvened to present their work in the form of a three-minute pitch, followed by an interactive Q&A session with the judges. The team was then declared victorious in the ‘Who to Test and When’ track. “We couldn’t have done it without the insights from the doctor, respiratory therapist, and the bioengineer in our team. The fact that they were from the UK, US, and Taiwan helped us understand the global medical scenario and how we can better pitch our product to suit these needs,” said Akshatha Kamath, discussing the diverse nature of her team.

Another Manipal Institute of Technology alumnus, Shashank Chaurasia, E&E Batch of ’15, also participated in the same COVID-19 Hackathon challenge. His seven-member team, ‘CoronaConnect’, developed an inventory tracking and management web application for hospitals dealing with the pandemic. The team placed first in the ‘Hospital Assets Coordination and Distribution’ track at the Hackathon.

These teams have not only set the right standard for the college but also provided a much-needed boost against the pandemic in these distressing times.

Featured Image Credits: covid19challenge.mit.edu