Three days of non-stop determination and hard work and it was all worth it! The International Data Science Hackathon organized in Lebanon by Beirut AI was an eye-opening and exciting experience for everyone involved. From proving to us that Lebanon has great potential in moving forward within the AI industry to showing us where we need to focus our efforts, here’s what our weekend was like!
What is a “Datathon” Anyway?
The international Data Science Hackathon (a.k.a. Datathon) is a competition that requires participants to submit solutions to problems that were presented to them. The two cases for this Datathon were:
Provided with a retailer’s image recognition data set, participants are required to use skills in computer vision to detect missing or misplaced items on supermarket shelves.
Provided with meteorological, traffic and other air quality metrics, participants are required to detect what exactly causes air pollution in Sofia.
Over the weekend the participants received introductory workshops and training to ensure they had the basic knowledge to tackle whichever problem they chose. The workshops first introduced python, Tensorflow and Machine Learning (ML) generally. Then, the workshops went deeper into topics on computer vision and predictive analysis specifically to help with the assigned challenges.
The Datathon’s tasks were then divided into sub-tasks to pave the way for our participants to effectively tackle the issues at hand. From data cleaning to creating the predictive models we made sure everyone was ready to take the challenges on!
With over 30 participants overall and 7 teams the energy in the room never died down. We knew that Lebanon is teeming with potential talent.
According to American University of Science and Technology (AUST)’s Dr. Elie Nasr, very few of these students were required by their professors to attend and the majority were there out of personal interest. He stated that this event is the first of its kind in Lebanon and it should not be the last. Dr. Nasr also expressed how the event tackled extremely timely and relevant problems as they are also issues that Lebanon faces.
The students expressed their fondness of the way this Datathon helped them learn and apply data science and machine learning. One participant mentioned that this was a more effective way of learning in comparison to lectures. The benefit he saw revolved around the idea that in a very constrained timespan he and his team were required to muster up all the knowledge they had already acquired as well as develop sufficient skill to solve any issues they might run into.
Overall the resilience the teams demonstrated paid off. At the end of the last day, “Predikt” and “Internet of Kings” made it to the finals and we are so proud of all their efforts and dedication.
The Datathon proved to us that Lebanon is full of talented and dedicated individuals that with a little bit of guidance can achieve wonderful feats in the fields of AI and ML. We want to be a catalyst to such innovation and we plan to do that by providing as many workshops and trainings as we can.
We know now that individuals have a deeper interest in learning from application rather than from plain instruction. That is why we provide hands on workshops and we would like to provide many more.
If you want to be a part of the Beirut AI mission to make AI and ML more accessible in Lebanon you can become a university ambassador. If you believe you can make a difference contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to the American University of Science and Technology for allowing us to host this event and opening their doors to us over the weekend. We can’t wait for more collaborations.
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