UT students winners in Coronavirus Hackathon

| Rense Kuipers

With their platform Mentor.me, a team of three UT students was one of the 37 winners of the Pan-European Hackathon EUvsVirus, organised by the European Commission. They will use their prize money of €4000 to further develop their prototype, aiming to connect students with voluntary mentors.

UT students Gleb Podorozhnyy, Morteza Kiani Anbouee and David Chiriboga Gaibor, who are also part of the DesignLab dreamteam, participated in the hackathon last weekend. Yesterday, the organisation announced the 37 winners with the best solutions to support Europe in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. With their platform Mentor.me, they won the students’ challenge in the category Remote Working & Education.

Responsive platform

‘Mentor.me is not just an app, we made a prototype for a responsive platform. So it’s supposed to work on your phone, laptop, even as a Google Chrome plugin,’ CreaTe student Gleb Podorozhnyy explains. ‘With home education during this crisis situation, students in primary school, middle school or even at a university have to wait a long time for their teachers to respond to questions they may have. Our idea to help students is to give them the opportunity to ask their questions to an expert, a voluntary mentor anywhere in the world in this case, right away.’

Human connection

Podorozhnyy states the platform isn’t supposed to replace ‘classic education’ or the multitude of already available online courses. ‘We want to make this an addition to that. Online or in books, it’s not easy to find answers right away, you have to browse through all the information first. It’s much easier and better to have a human connection. My belief is that you best learn from other people. That human connection is an integral part of education.’

With their €4000 prize money, they want to further develop their prototype. And they’re also invited to participate in a ‘Matchathon’ later this month, organised by the European Innovation Council. ‘It’s quite an honour to be one of the winners and the money really helps us to move forward. Building an online platform isn’t cheap,’ says Podorozhnyy. ‘This weekend, we’ll focus on how we want to develop our product further. We’ll make sure to spend the money in a wise way.’