Blackathon 2021

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Check out our speakers from Blackathon 2021!

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Blackathon 2021 Winners

1st Place (Tied)

Assistive Technology For The Visually Impaired

Nuredin Ali and Mustapha

Currency is used almost everywhere to facilitate business. In most developing countries in the world, especially in Africa, a tangible note is used predominantly. Ethiopia is one of these countries. Ethiopia is believed to have one of the world’s highest rates of blindness (1.6%) and low vision (3.7%). AI/ML applications intend to solve various problems. In this paper, we try to provide a solution to this issue. We developed an Android and iOS compatible mobile application using transfer learning. The model achieved 98.9% accuracy. The application has a voice integrated that tells the currency on hand in Amharic. It is developed to be easily accessible by its users. This application is developed to reduce the burden of visually impaired people in Ethiopia.

1st Place (Tied)

Culturally Responsive AI Curricula

Tosin Akintibu, Georgiana Rene Wright, Charles Campbell, Tamaro Green

The project goal was the design of a culturally responsive curriculum for machine learning and artificial intelligence, drawing upon critical race theory (in HCI). The next generation curriculum will provide a framework for understanding culture and providing flexibility within the studies. The next steps would be to promote the cultural responsive curriculum to schools and universities and develop a STEM kit that is designed for African-Americans.

2nd Place

Covid-viz-App : A web app for visualizing covid-19 statistics

Michel Nzihou

Covid-viz-app is a web application developed with react.js and chart.js which make a call to an API to get latest statistics from coronavirus and display them into three cards (Infected, Recovered, deaths) and a graph.

3rd Place

TRYBE: A hub application which provides a safe space recommendation system, positive entertainment content, financial literacy and crowdsourcing.

Marvin Tchio, Sabeer Muhammad, Oluwabunmi Adetunji, Victor Olufemi, Sebastien Ndagijimana

TRYBE would act as a hub for black parents to seek advice as to creating a safe environment for their children on the internet; assist parents who are seeking positive and educational Music, Movies, Books, and Video Games for their children; Provide a guide to financial independence; Be a space to crowdsource community-driven cultural and economic developments.

Honorable Mention

Utility Outage Monitoring System

Edward Turner, Oyelabi Pau, Victor Ezekiel

A geospatial visual dashboard and forecasting model for utility outages.

Hacking as AfroFuturism: Black Traditions of the Bottom-up with Dr. Ron Eglash

Dr. Ron Eglash from the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan speaks on Afrofuturism and decolonial computing through the lens of African culture.

Quantum Engineering the Future with Ryan Robinson

Ryan Robinson, Quantum Engineer and CEO of Conduit speaks on his experience at MIT and how his company is using quantum technology to solve society's biggest problems.

Decolonising Computing (?) with Dr. Syed Mustafa Ali

Dr. Syed Mustafa Ali is a prominent professor at the Open University in Milton Keynes (UK) in the department of Mathematics, Computing, and Technology. As the final keynote speaker for Blackathon 2021, he discusses the challenges of decolonising computing.

The Limits of Global Inclusion in AI Development with Chinasa Okolo

Chinasa Okolo, PhD Candidate at Cornell University discusses the limits of global inclusion in artificial intelligence development.

Dancing with Bytes of Code with Thulani Vereen

Thulani Vereen full-stack software engineer, professional choreographer, and Spelman Alumna speaks on the intersection of art and tech and her journey as a professional dancer and software engineer.

Building Communities Through Tech/STEAM with Marco Jacobs

Entrepreneur and CEO of CodeIntelX, Marco Jacobs speaks on building communities through tech.

Meet the Speakers!

Dr. Ron Eglash is an ethno-mathematician and a professor in the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Broadly, Eglash studies how math and culture intersect, as well as general race and ethnicity issues in science and technology. He aims to challenge the narrative that ethnic minority architecture is "disorganized" or "primitive"; through his research, he has shown that many aspects of African design — in architecture, art, and even hair braiding — are based on perfect fractal patterns. His diverse research interests also include African and Native American Cybernetics and culturally-specific design tools that help children learn math.

Dr. Syed Mustafa Ali teaches at The Open University in Milton Keynes (UK) as a member of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computing, and Technology. Dr. Ali conducts transdisciplinary research investigating the interactions between race, religion, politics, ethics, and computing/ICT. Specifically, he examines and critically analyzes how colonial power harmfully affects our ways of seeing and thinking. Ali contributes to the robust academic-activist enterprise of decoloniality with his original idea of Islamic decoloniality. He has many well-researched papers, monographs, and articles covering his diverse interests, including decolonial computing.

Thulani Vereen is a full-stack software engineer, professional choreographer, and Spelman Alumna. She has merged her passions for Computer Science and Dance through award-winning research implementation projects. She applies algorithmic thought processes from her computer science studies to her choreographic process and dance pedagogy, and she applies her dance creations to her computer science research projects. Thulani Vereen's work aims to provide new ways for engaging with diverse and untraditional performing spaces and learning environments. Thulani hopes to be at the forefront of the technological revolution of the arts by inventing performing arts technologies for dance performance and dance education.

Ryan Robinson is the founder and CEO of Conduit, a provider of hybrid cloud computing models that bring together large amounts of data to solve complex problems. He graduated from MIT with three majors: mechatronics, international humanities, and quantum engineering. While being a student at MIT, Robinson created his company with a dedication to using computers to create products that would solve the world's largest problems. At 22, Ryan was named in Forbes 30 under 30 for Conduit's work in solving real-world problems. He then raised +$1M for Conduit and lectured at MIT about quantum computing and cryptocurrency. Ryan has been featured in MIT News, American Inno, Boston Business Journal, Information Age, CNN, Moguldom, Forbes, and the World News.

Chinasa Okolo is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University. Her research interests include computer vision, global health, explainable AI, and information & communication technologies for development. She develops machine learning models to improve the rapid diagnosis and treatment of infectious and tropical diseases. These models are integrated into mobile health applications that aid community health workers in low-resource regions, fundamentally altering how patients with these issues are managed and treated. She also uses computer vision methods to recognize fine-grained human respiratory motions and works on research projects to analyze the applications, implications, and perceptions of AI-enabled healthcare deployed throughout the Global South and North.

Marco Jacobs is a founder, CEO, startup investor, and mentor in the Washington, DC tech space. He is currently CEO of his company CodeIntelx, a tech company that builds ground breaking software for various Fortune 500 companies and government agencies and that also focuses on raising software engineers to be their best selves to succeed in this space. Marco was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He's a B.S. Computer Science graduate of the HBCU Jackson State University. He's also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Marco is very adamant about positively encouraging others and building community. In one example, through his company CodeIntelx, he established CodeIntelx Labs, which is where he personally mentors and teaches soft skills and technical skills to aspiring software engineers from all walks of life. In another example, he participated in Uplift's Youth AppLab program to teach programming and mobile app development to the youth in the Washington DC area. In yet another example, he taught and encouraged youth on the AF (Alexandria-Fairfax) lego robotics team. Blackathon's mission is to encourage tech throughout the African Diaspora, and Marco has directly contributed to this mission in the communities he's involved in and the communities he's created.