The Faculty of Engineering’s Annual Hackathon is Almost Here!

The Faculty of Engineering’s Annual Hackathon is Almost Here!

The Faculty of Engineering’s third annual hackathon will be held this June, and for the first time ever, it will be in collaboration with the IDF. “Two of our organizers this year, Daniel Rabinek and myself, served in the military together at the Engineering Corps’ Special Operations Force (Yahalom),” shares Ofek Eldar (28), a third-year electrical engineering student in the nano-electronics and signal processing track. “When we were brainstorming ideas for this year’s hackathon, we thought about doing something with Yahalom; bringing together the operational aspect—the combat soldiers—and the technological aspect, computer, and electrical engineering students. Luckily, the idea was welcomed with quite the enthusiasm. Both Yahalom and the Faculty of Engineering did more than their share to make it happen.”

Yahalom is the Engineering Corps’ commando unit, in charge of the IDF’s complex engineering operations, including containing explosives-related events and tunnels in Israel. The unit operates independently and alongside other units such as Shayetet 13, Sayeret Matkal, Egoz, Maglan, Duvdevan, and others. They also collaborate with civilian forces. Some of its operations are known to the public—for example, operation Northern Shield in 2018, in which countless Hezbollah tunnels were destroyed. Others are best kept under wraps. “There’s some form of Yahalom activity involved in nearly all IDF operations,” reveals Eldar. “In Daniel and mine’s last role, we served as weapons developers for the unit’s method and development troops; I was involved in weapons caches and tunnels weaponry development, and Daniel developed for Yael troop, which focuses on engineering intelligence. We had to take the unit’s challenges and redirect them outside the military and manage projects that would eventually solve real problems faced by the troops, adjusted to their specific needs in terms of time to deploy and the environment in which they operate. We both noticed that the unit is great when it comes to explaining what solution it needs but is not always well-versed in the technology, existing knowledge, and availability of resources. A hackathon is a perfect solution for both sides: for the unit, whose soldiers can present the challenges they face on a daily basis to enthusiastic, creative professionals who possess the latest technology and skill; and for students, who get a chance to experience real-world application of theory and provide solutions to people who truly need them. These solutions will allow the troops to perform at optimal capacity and safety, meaning that every development will eventually end up saving lives.”

Yahalom was understandably enthusiastic about the proposal, and in a joint meeting with Eldar, the challenges with which the students would face were modeled. “All of the challenges were approved by the IDF in terms of information security and secrecy, so the students can freely work on them,” stresses Eldar. The Faculty of Engineering gave its blessing, and the next stage was fundraising for the event. “This was a bit of an issue because not all the companies were thrilled with collaborating with the IDF,” admits Eldar. Eventually, and thanks to Prof. Adam Teman’s mediation skills, Cadence rose to the occasion. The company develops simulation software for electrical engineers. Cadence became our sponsor for the event, hosting it and also acting as part of the judging panel. The judging team will also include members of the Faculty of Engineering and Yahalom representatives.”

The hackathon will be held from June 8th to June 9th. Bachelors and Masters students from the Faculty of Engineering may apply, in groups of 3–5. The teams will gather at the Faculty of Engineering on Thursday at noon, and be transported to the Cadence offices in Petah Tikwa, where they will be briefed and then set out to work. After twenty consecutive hours, the judges will announce the winners and present prizes to the best performers and most creative ideas. Yahalom might also choose to adopt a project. To allow participants to prepare, four prep workshops will be held: the micro-controller programming (ESP) and AI workshops will be held on May 23rd; the app development and working with GIT workshops will be held on May 30th. “These workshops will provide students with the tools they need for the hackathon, but also for the workforce in general,” says Eldar.

An event of this magnitude requires plenty of hands-on board. “I want to thank all the wonderful people who took part in making this event a reality: The management team: Tomer Kalman, Daniel Rabinak, Noam Shamla, Eden Ofri, Ran Levy, Maor Azoulai, Liri Benzino, Omri Iloz; Faculty management: Dina Yemini, Zeev Zalevsky, Adam Temen, Dalit Michaeli; and of course, Cadence, O.N.E., and Yahalom,” says Eldar. “I’m sure their hard work will pay off, and we are in for a groundbreaking, exciting, and meaningful event.”

Last Updated Date : 29/05/2023