Jerusalem College of Technology students Daniel Vofchuk, David Zimberknopf and Daniel Grunberger of Brazil won the 3,000-shekel first prize for their lifesaving solution to a challenge presented by Magen David Adom (MDA) at the college’s third annual Great Minds hackathon.

Their idea is designed to eliminate human error when checking crucial inventory on ambulances before they are sent out. Currently, MDA personnel must do this daily inventory using a paper checklist of well over 100 items.

The winning idea is to install sensors in the ambulance that can identify exactly what is missing and send a list of those items to the driver’s on-board tablet.

“In addition to a student at JCT, I am also an EMT volunteer for Magen David Adom, so this challenge really spoke to me personally and I knew the problem first-hand,” said Vofchuk. “At this hackathon, I was able to put my high-level studies of engineering at JCT into practice, together with my knowledge as an EMT, hopefully to save lives and help more people.”

Second and third prizes were won by teams that came up with machine learning solutions to identify online anti-Semitism and take action.

Other challenges presented at the hackathon by companies such as Intel, IBM and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems led to a solution involving video analytics and machine learning to identify road accidents in real-time and alert emergency services, an at-home training device for MDA medics, and a therapeutic solution for soldiers with PTSD.

Jerusalem College of Technology students at work during the 2019 Great Minds hackathon. Photo by Michael Erenburg

More than 80 of the college’s all-male student population — from Israel and 23 other countries – participated in the hackathon from the evening of May 15 through the morning of May 17.

“We started doing hackathons on campus in order to enable our students to take what they learn in their engineering, business, and nursing courses and then create,” said Orlee Gutman, director of strategic partnerships at JCT.

“What we find each year is that what appeals to our students are challenges that save lives and are critical to the wellbeing of the community. We also provide them a platform to take the prototypes they create and develop them into products ready for market, so they can see their ideas truly make an impact.”