Power and Energy Hackathon, 2018: A Unique Experience as a Jury

The government of Bangladesh has set a very ambitious target to increase its energy mix in terms of renewable energy. Now the question is how can we harvest more solar and wind energy. Though Bangladesh already has made significant development in this area but to engage the young and fresh minds, Bangladesh Power and Energy Ministry have arranged a national Power and Energy Hackathon. This two-day hackathon will bring experts in industry and policy together with researchers and students from diverse disciplines to unlock ideas, educate influencers, and stimulate entrepreneurship in the energy industry of Bangladesh. In this hackathon students have to solve real-life challenges in the energy and the power sector, the winners will get seed fund and incubation support from the government.

I had the opportunity to work as a mentor and a jury member in this event, hosted by the Ministry of Power, Energy & Mineral Resources, Bangladesh held on North South University on 6-7th September 2018.

The organizer opened the registration platform and called for the registration on 9th August. On 11th August, we met the other juries at Biddut Bhaban, Dhaka, in the Problem Identification Workshop. Considering enormous requests, organizers extended the registration deadline till 28th August, and in the end, 517 teams got registered for competing in the event. It was an overwhelming number, considering only 100 teams will get selected based on their proposals.

On 6th September in the afternoon, the event was inaugurated, and we started mentoring our designated teams. It was supposed to end tomorrow at the same time. I was lucky to observe the fresh and energetic minds, who are notoriously known as “Bent-Neck,” aka “Tech Neck” or “HunchBack” generation. But these guys are not only using techs for entertainment but also harnessing the power of tech. Their minds are filled with patriotism; they think deeply about our traditional power system’s current drawbacks. One of the bright minds made a small system circuit that would enable the farmer to operate his water pump by mobile SMS. Another team brought up the idea of a dust cleaning system for the solar panels.

It was truly an overwhelming experience for me to coach them, share ideas with them, and at last, evaluating them. The program ended with the prize-giving ceremony, where the power secretary was the chief guest. He eloquently described his feeling and inspired the young talents. He also promised the prize money for the next Hackathon will be increased, and more teams can participate.

After the closing ceremony, we took some photos, and then I came down to the main hall room where students were closing their projects and packing their materials. In a competition like this, not everyone gets the prize. The prize is for a few people only, but participation is important than winning. It seems the students knew this line. Everyone is still in a party mode, it was a positive vibe that I took away from that gathering.

I have seen their eyes, and those shinning eyes give me hope.