Road safety, traffic flow, and drone detection solutions took top prizes as a group of 150 students from The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) utilized the latest advances in artificial intelligence during the school’s sixth annual women’s hackathon at the Schreiber LevTech Entrepreneurship Center last week.
During the 46-hour event, students from JCT’s women’s campuses who are pursuing degrees in software engineering, computer science, business administration, industrial engineering, and management tackled technological challenges presented by companies such as Rafael Advanced Systems, Intel, Elbit Systems, Amazon Web Services, Amdocs, and Shomrei HaDerech (Safe Lane).
Many of the 150 religious students participating were young mothers who couldn’t leave their babies alone for an extended period. As such, the women wrote programming code while their infants were either on their laps or played in a specially organized nursery set up for the competition.
This year’s hackathon marked the first time students used both classic AI and generative AI.
“People are often initially scared of generative artificial intelligence, but it has quickly become an inseparable part of the technology and industry,” said Orlee Guttman, co-founder of the Schreiber LevTech Entrepreneurship Center.
“Rather than looking at it as a threat, we see it as having tremendous potential, similar to the introduction of computers to math and science. Those who know how to use this tool most efficiently will lead the future. We need to allow our students to get hands-on experience as quickly as possible. Just as generative AI will now be an integral part of industry and science, it now has to be a part of academia and competitions, not as a shortcut but as a legitimate method to create technology,” Guttman said.
AI’s applications in the competition were evident from the solution produced by the Healy team in response to a challenge presented by Amazon Web Services. The Healy team created a system that receives voice reports about a patient’s condition and directs emergency medical personnel to relevant treatment protocols and actions to prevent errors that may occur due to stress or forgetfulness.
Using AI, the system learns the protocols and background information to the extent that it can guide the necessary steps during emergency events. And a generative AI-based system developed as part of the competition, DeMe, aims to assist in writing profiles for individuals using matchmaking websites and social networks, and for businesses.
The top prize was awarded to the RoadEye team, which developed a more effective system to help prevent road accidents. The challenge was presented by Shomrei HaDerech/Safe Lane, a volunteer association that utilizes in-vehicle cameras to identify traffic violations. The students figured out how to obtain accurate images and information taken from the camera of a moving vehicle while the other vehicle committing the traffic violation is also moving and it could also capture images in low-light conditions. This team is the first to take on and succeed in that particular challenge, which SafeLane had also presented in past years.
In second place was the RushHour team, which developed, in response to a challenge by Amazon Web Services, an intelligent system to alleviate traffic congestion. Using computer vision tools, the system utilizes existing cameras at intersections to determine the level of congestion and interacts with traffic lights to effectively ease congestion.
The third-place team, Laser Hunter, in response to a challenge by Elbit Systems, developed technology to distinguish between friendly and enemy drones. They combined a laser system installed on the drone and a special algorithm developed by the students, which examines the received laser data and can classify who the drone belongs to.
“From the moment we formed a team for the competition, it was clear to me that I would participate,” said Avital Horowitz, a second-year computer science student at JCT, who competed while caring for her six-month-old daughter. The baby accompanied her throughout the entire competition while her team developed a system for connecting buyers and sellers of second-hand products using a specially created Telegram bot.
“Despite the challenging moments during the competition, with all the noise and fatigue, something was calming about having her with me. Despite the difficulties, she helped me stay focused,” Horowitz explained. “So, I decided to keep her with me until the end, even though my mother could have taken care of her. I was happy to have her on stage with me when we received the award for the best presentation in the competition.”
The panel of expert judges for the competition included Yoni Colb, General Manager at Cross River; Liat Sverdlov, Investment Partner at OurCrowd; Ruthie Amaru, Chief Product Officer at Freightos; Ayo Oppenheimer Abitbol, VP of Development and Strategy at MassChallenge; and Aaron Zucker, Founder & Managing Partner at Sapir Venture Partners. The hackathon was sponsored by Cross River Bank, Fullstack Systems Ltd, the Women’s Amutot Initiative of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, and the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta.
“The energy level was extremely high. Cross River and I are very proud to have sponsored the event and been able to take part. The hackathon reminded me why we at Cross River like recruiting JCT graduates. They are hard-working, smart, and innovative,” said Colb.