UST’s SDG-inspired hackathon promotes healthy living, renewable energy, alternative communication

Team InnoVision, first-place winner of UST’s first university-wide hackathon

To foster interdisciplinary collaboration among students, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) TOMASInno Center, UST’s official technology business incubator, hosted the first university-wide hackathon with the theme “Hack-a-Thom: The UST Hackathon on Sustainable Development Goals — Health, Environment, and Education” last Nov. 24 at the Benavides Auditorium.

This inaugural hackathon brought together 14 teams composed of 83 students from various disciplines. Transcending the boundaries of traditional academic silos, it encouraged students to collaborate, innovate, and create solutions to real-world problems.

TOMASInno Center made the event inclusive and appealing to students with varied interests and skills by conducting bootcamps where professional practitioners coming from the field of engineering, business, programming, and other related trades and professions gave lecture sessions.

Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director of Climate Change Commission, Secretary Robert E.A. Borje delivered a keynote message, addressing key issues and emphasizing the importance of innovation. He highlighted the challenges, which range from developing innovative solutions to societal problems to creating new technologies that could disrupt existing industries.

During the competition, the teams presented their innovations on their chosen SDG focus with a five-minute pitch.

In first place was Team INNOvision with their project “AERLYTE.” The project aims to solve rising problems among geriatrics like health risks, reduced mobility, social isolation, and lack of motivation for exercise. This will be addressed through technology, specifically, a revolutionary exer-gaming app that seamlessly blends entertainment and health that enables a personalized and immersive fitness experience, fostering a new era of active aging for a healthier and happier senior community. Members include Julianne Kyle D. Abello, FJ Rio Rey Bantugan, Karl Dominic F. Placido, and Ydel Dominique C. Villariba.

In second place was Team Thoma5eekers with their project “Charging Point,” which aims to solve the problems brought by car-centricity by creating bike-friendly campuses and allowing the community to contribute in generating renewable energy. Mikayla Vera G. Cabildo, Kyle Christian Joshua M. Elgarico, Ronrico Miguel M. Kho, Niña Darlene S. Sebastian, and Russell L. Serranillo are the team members.

In third place is Team “MATCHA” with “Project Gesto,” an app made for everyone who desires to communicate and learn using sign language. Aside from its purpose to communicate, this will also help people who are willing to learn Braille and Sign Language. The team includes Abby Joyce E. Borromeo, Johann Louise V. Castillo, Alyssa Cherrylyn S. Guinto, and Lance Raphael H. Perez.

Team Synapse’s “Sewalert” was recognized as the top environment-related pitch for tackling the causes of flooding by leveraging their innovative flood sensor technology and helping to alert the appropriate authorities. Team members are Marc Angelo S. Ching, Miguel Felipe E. Lugay, Kercwin Paul F. Ocampo, Carl Diego L. Sadie, and Colleen Fritzi Santiago.

Team T6’s project “KKB,” which stands for “kumain ka na ba?” (Did you already eat?) aims to solve lack of nutrition, foster healthy eating habits, and embracing connectivity among college students through an app with interconnected features of assisting users in locating food shops according to their preferences and constraints, providing easy nutrient-tracking through artificial intelligence (AI) photography, and promoting a social community that reminds each other to eat rightfully and healthily. It was recognized as the top health-related pitch.

The top education-related entry was Team Incinque’s ABARKADA, which aims to provide inclusive, accessible, and quality education for all through an interactive learning platform integrated with innovative and inclusive features for children with limited hearing capacities, such as AI learning assistant and digital classrooms.

Winning teams were awarded with cash prizes, medals, and tokens for the overall effectiveness of their interdisciplinary teamwork.

Serving as the competition’s panelists were the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) Head Dr. Kenneth Paul S. Ong, Cerebro CEO/Founder Justine Itugot, Accenture Managing Director Nepthalie Cruz, UST Hospital Medical Director Dr. Charito P. Malong-Consolacion, UST Alumni Association, Inc. President Atty. Dwight Ramos, and UST EdTech Director Asst. Prof. Anna Cherylle M. Ramos.

This event was generously supported by its major sponsors, Accenture and Climate Change Commission, and minor sponsors, Basic Environmental Systems & Technologies, Inc., Unify Platform AG, and Thomasian Employees’ Credit Cooperative.