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Day 1: Hack4Space - brought to you by IBM Z & DePaul University

By Melissa Sassi posted Fri May 07, 2021 11:33 PM



I met the DePaul University team in January of 2021 when I was asked if I could help organize a hackathon with DePaul students. One of my favorite work activities is running coding camps and hackathons. I love the creativity, innovation, teamwork, collaboration, social good, entrepreneurial thinking involved in hackathons, so my answer was obviously yes. Ok, perhaps it was YES!

This is where Hack4Space started.

Big, Wicked, Societal Problems to Solve with Space Data

Hack4Space is all about using space data to solve a big, wicked, societal problem. Today, we had five hours of training and lightening talks, and I was blown away by our speakers. I mean, who doesn’t get excited about the Chief Data Scientist – Kevin Murphy - from NASA joining your team as a speaker and having an opportunity to ask him questions and pick his brain. In addition to Kevin, we were joined by Fabio Teixeira…a man that has literally walked on the moon! I was OVER THE MOON (yes, I did that on purpose) all flipping day, and might still be flying out of orbit (yes, again) with excitement.

Students had an opportunity to learn about interesting use cases for space data, where to find NASA’s datasets, which are highlighted below. What a wealth of knowledge available to support the concept of open science or enabling the world to solve societal challenges via data and APIs available for anyone anywhere to use.

Datasets from NASA you might want to check out (so much here to explore!):

Just a Small Town Girl from Missouri

As a girl from small town Missouri, I attended Space Camp; however, I never imagined having the opportunity to work on a project with NASA. As a teenager and university student, I was never comfortable in my own skin and lacked a lot of confidence in myself and my ability to change the world. Today, I presented with an astronaut and an incredibly talented senior executive from NASA…things I never even imagined were possible when I thought about what my future would bring. No one talked to me about college when I was a teenager. My parents did not graduate from university. I will be the first doctor in my family once I finish that pesky dissertation.

People often ask what I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time. I would tell myself that you must believe in making the impossible possible. You are smart. You belong. You are not an imposter. Sometimes good is good enough. Perfectionism is unhealthy and it will lead you to always feel disappointed. Oh, and I would absolutely mention something about Bitcoin 😊.

Ok, back to Hack4Space.

Following the first day of training, the teams will start to form and identify the problems they plan to solve. I am incredibly excited to see which teams decide to incorporate the LinuxONE Community Cloud into their solutions…a platform that’s all about machine learning and open source technology. It’s a free platform built for students and researchers to perform incredibly powerful ML magic with massive datasets. What a great way to take a LinuxONE machine for a spin…crunching space data at a hackathon!

I hope you will join us for the Winners’ Announcement on May 27 from 4:00 PM Central Time to 5:30 PM Central Time where Kevin Murphy, NASA’s Chief Data Scientist will be giving a keynote. Expect a Shark Tank / Dragon’s Den style event where the top three Hack4Space team members will pitch live for a chance to win internships with an amazing space tech startup called Hypercubes headed up by our astronaut Fabio. Mark your calendars and register for our livestream here.

If you are interested in running a hackathon with our team, use the discussion board to let us know. We’ll be in touch to coordinate!

See you on the Hub!

Your Chief Penguin

Melissa Sassi