Cognit, the joint venture established between Mubadala and IBM Watson to be the exclusive provider of Watson technology in the MENA region, and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a joint hackathon, in celebration of the nationwide Innovation Week 2016, being held between 20 and 26 November.
UAE Innovation Week, part of the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy, is a week-long initiative for the nation to embrace and promote the country’s position as a global innovation hub. Throughout the week, partnerships and collaboration between the government, private sectors and the public, are encouraged to foster innovative thinking.
The Cognit and Etihad hackathon will take place at Etihad’s state-of-the-art Innovation Centre, and will feature the skills of over 30 talented computer science and engineering students - both female and male. The students were selected from leading Abu Dhabi based universities, including the Institute of Applied Technology, Higher Colleges of Technology, Khalifa University and New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).
Hackathon participants will utilize IBM Watson’s transformative cognitive technology to create new innovative applications to benefit the travel and aviation industry – one of the cornerstone sectors to support the diversification and growth of the UAE economy.
Competing over a three-day period, the students will be guided and evaluated by IBM Watson chief developer, Sam Richard, from IBM’s headquarters in New York, United States. An innovator and renowned expert in his field, Richard will also be on-hand to mentor and coach the students and offer world-class knowledge sharing experiences during the hackathon.
Amal Al Jabri (photo), General Manager, Cognit, commented: “Cognit was launched exactly one year ago, during UAE Innovation Week 2015 and I am proud to be able to celebrate along with the rest of the nation to promote the ICT talent and continued ICT transformation in our nation.”
“The hackathon, in partnership with Etihad, demonstrates an important commitment Cognit has not only to advance the interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and skills with students, but also to the broader local developer and start-up community who can help ignite the UAE’s knowledge based economy aspirations. I wish all of the talented hackathon students every success, and I look forward to seeing their innovative ideas at the end of the week,” she added.
Robert Webb, Chief Information & Technology Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Etihad has been a true pioneer in the investment and advancement of transformative technology, including IBM Watson, not just within the aviation industry but the business environment. We believe cognitive computing will shape the future of aviation, locally and internationally, and this week’s hackathon alongside our partner, Cognit, demonstrates our passion for challenging the status quo. We encourage the students to think creatively to develop new solutions that could revolutionize our sector.”
During the hackathon, students will learn how to manipulate and operate IBM’s AlchemyAPIs and Bluemix deep learning cloud platforms. Both ‘open’ platforms were developed by IBM to support the deployment and management of multiple applications hosted in a cloud environment.
Throughout the competition, Cognit will also install various IBM Watson demonstration booths in the Etihad Airways Innovation Center showcasing various real-world and live applications of IBM Watson. Organizations in the UAE are set to benefit from IBM’s evidence-based and machine learning decision making solutions, with the cognitive technology representing a new era for ICT transformation across the country.
Etihad Airways has a fleet of over 120 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with 204 aircraft on firm order, including 71 Boeing 787s, 25 Boeing 777Xs, 62 Airbus A350s and 10 Airbus A380s.