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MIT builds community for the Africa Takes On Covid-19 challenge

By | 2020-05-17T22:05:26+00:00 May 17th, 2020|Innovators & Inventions, News, Students|

MIT News –
It all started, like so many things recently, with a Zoom call.

David Capodilupo, assistant dean for MIT Sloan Global Programs (GP); Bill Carter, award-winning filmmaker, author, teacher, and MIT consultant; and Stu Krusell, senior director at GP, were discussing what they could do to support the fight against Covid-19 in Africa. The need was immense. They talked about leveraging the vast network and resources of MIT to help those on the ground in Africa fighting the virus. The question was: How do you bring lots of people together to address this problem? The answer they decided on: a virtual hackathon.

The next step was finding partners. The logical starting point was the organizers of the Africa Innovate Conference (AIC) that had to be canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions. MBA student Benjamin Boutboul, AIC co-chair, who had recently participated in the MIT Covid19 Challenge Beat the Pandemic, a large virtual hackathon held just a few weeks earlier, and junior Bryan Fondufe, AIC sponsorship lead, jumped at the opportunity to channel the conference team and energy into the MIT-Africa Takes On Covid-19 hackathon.

This small team connected with the leaders of the MIT Covid19 Challenge: Freddy Nguyen, MIT postdoc and resident at Mount Sinai Hospital; senior Alfonso Martinez; Paul Cheek of the MIT Trust Center; and Ari Jacobovits, All Africa managing director with the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). This was the key that made it possible to commit to hosting the hackathon two weeks out.

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