Space Apps Dhaka is clearly set up with the long view in mind. Tables were pre-assigned to teams who walked in, knew where they belonged, and got to work.
Teams chose challenges and submitted ideas in advance, and spent the first several hours of the hackathon ideating on those ideas and wireframing their projects. When they were ready to build, it was clear what they needed to do and how they needed to get it done. Mentors were assigned to groups of teams and had made their second set of rounds before lunch.
The leadership team is clearly focused on projects that can create actual impact and build real capacities. It’s exciting to see their view of Space Apps as a multi-year commitment instead of just a weekend hack. The team is committed to cultivating a long term ecosystem of innovation and incentivizing the development of inspired IT professionals who will support the growing technology needs of a nation soon to launch its first satellites.
As the event began, a number of young women in brightly colored dresses enthusiastically poured into the room. They were highly engaged and clearly very committed to what was happening in the room. I went over to meet them all and was thrilled to hear that they were all first year computer science students. This year we are here to serve and to learn, they noted, but next year we will be ready to compete! Each young woman had a number of questions about science, engineering and technology. What stood out to me the most was the community that they had among them – how even the shyer ones got involved (and shone) when she came forward together with the group. I shared with them how inspired I was by Wasfia Nazreen and her work with Bangladesh on Seven Summits on how humans belong to the Earth, the Earth does not belong to humans. This is part of why we have to steward our planet more faithfully (the theme of many of the projects here!)
Professor Muhammad Yunus, one of the most beloved figures in Bangladesh, recently noted that “human beings are full of capacity, full of capability, a wonderful creation. But many people never get a chance to explore that, and never know that she nor he has that.” Space Apps Dhaka is a powerful opportunity for these amazing young people to explore their own capacity and find their true capabilities, knowing that their contributions are vital for the sustainable future of our planet.