A Ph.D. student from the Georgia Institute of Technology is part of a team that has been selected to compete in the 2010 U.S. finals for Microsoft's Imagine Cup. Shayok Mukhopadhyay, an electrical engineering student at Georgia Tech-Savannah, and fellow members of team Coders Inc. will take part in the finals in Washington D.C., April 23-26. The team is one of five software design teams selected from a large pool of contestants last fall.
The Imagine Cup competition is designed to empower students to use technology, innovation and creativity to help solve some of the world's most challenging social issues outlined in the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. From designing mobile healthcare applications to enabling access to quality education for all children and creating games that teach disease prevention, young social innovators are using technology to make a difference in the life of people around the world and in their own communities.
Mukhopadhyay is working with two team members from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Yamini Girey and Krishna Rao, to create a Web site known as AwareNet. The site is designed to create an online forum where non-governmental organizations (NGO), volunteers, donors and vendors can interact and share resources.
According to Mukhopadhyay, the underlying idea of AwareNet is to create a social media enterprise/network for people who want to help or those who are in need of assistance. "Finding all these distributed resources is a herculean task," he noted. "It would be simpler to have it all under a single roof, and that is where AwareNet steps in."
AwareNet could create a scenario where, for example, a pharmaceutical company in Australia could easily locate and donate medicines to NGOs in far-flung regions such as the Sahara. A key feature of the program is a system where users can rate a particular welfare effort or provider allowing people to evaluate how effectively their donations are being utilized.
"Putting such a platform on the Internet will enable people from all over the world to collaborate," explained Mukhopadhyay. "Look what Wikipedia has become. Everyone contributed to it and now it is an indispensable resource. Why not do that for welfare?"
Mukhopadhyay said that AwareNet could play a vital role in emergency response, such as ongoing efforts in Haiti. "If this project becomes a central repository that people readily refer to, it can become invaluable," he noted. "People do not need computers to access the Internet -- phones do the job now. If there were common people in the midst of a crisis like Haiti, the information coming in would be first hand and accurate and almost instantaneous. That would enable organizations to better coordinate and plan rescue operations."
While the Coders Inc. team is optimistic about making it to the World Finals scheduled in Poland this summer, Mukophadhyay values the experience whatever the outcome. "Even if our project does not become anything huge in the future, I am happy that this competition is bringing people together to think about such things. Maybe some of the ideas will succeed and make a better future for all," he concluded.
Last revised August 1, 2017