Nicaraguan students shine in NASA ‘Hackathon’

More than 50 people of different ages formed part of the International Space Apps Challenge 2013, popularly known as Hackathon II Nicaragua. The two-day marathon was held April 20 & 21 in Universidad Americana’s central auditorium, where participants developed solutions of “open source” (free programs or software) applicable both on Earth and in space.

The competition consisted of participants forming different teams and working on selected challenges proposed by NASA. The marathon lasted two days, with rest only for meals and a few hours of sleep. During the event there were various raffles and mini technological challenges, with prizes donated by the sponsors.

Young participants in Hackathon (courtesy photo)

One of the teams developed a way to monitor the Sun in real time and thus warn people through an application for smartphones about the solar (radiation) rains affecting communications on Earth.

One of the youngest teams from St. Augustine School accepted the challenge of “Listening to the Stars” and developed an ipad application by recording sounds of active and dying stars with different instruments sounds, as well as the sound of the Big Bang theory that scientifically explains the creation of the universe.

The winning team from Nicaragua, “Martroma,” had three university students from design, business administration and engineering majors who developed a video that provided the answers to the challenge “Why We Explore.” Second place went to “Slick Developers,” from the American Nicaraguan School, who developed an app called “ispot” in response to spotting the ISS (International Space Station) as it passes overhead. Third place went to the “Pentagono” team which developed a backyard poultry management system called “Espacio Avicola.”

This event was the largest Hackathon ever held and surpassed all expectations with participation of more than 9,000 people from around the world—83 cities in 44 countries. Dr. Foerster, DPhil., from the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies applauded the UAM and Managua for its participation this year.

“This global collaboration to promote the development of applications for space is an important recognition of how vital space is as a ‘global commons’ to be used for all our benefit,” he said.


  • Darrell

    It is good to read these types of articles where Nicaraguans are making significant contributions to global efforts. It is happening all over but good news is not as exciting to read so we often are not aware of these happenings.

    I hope we see more articles about what the universities and other schools are accomplishing. Some of the schools now require 100 hours of community work to graduate and some are helping local businesses and organizations as interns or forming committees to tackle issues.

    Congratulations to the winning hackers!

    • MHWE

      Thanks, Darrell! And getting sponsorship was not easy, but perhaps next year there will be more organizations that value this type of event. The top 2 local projects are now in NASA’s International Competition.

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