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Accessibility projects stand out at Webfest 2019

Over 60 participants worked on 14 projects, including web games, geo-applications, translation software and educational tools


CERN Summer Student Webfest 2019
Hacking away (Image: Hans Baechle/CERN)

The seventh CERN Summer Student Webfest took place from 26 to 28 July. The annual hackathon at CERN brings together bright and creative minds over a weekend to work on science and technology projects, using open web technologies. They work in small teams, focusing on specific ideas to design web and mobile applications that help people engage with CERN, the LHC, physics or science in general.

Participants share skills and experience with one another, as well as learning from mentors. “The Webfest was a fun and enriching experience,” said summer student Steffen Ludwig. “When we started on Friday, we didn’t know anything about web development. Two days later, I presented a functioning prototype of our app.”

At the 2019 Webfest, over 60 participants — mainly CERN summer students — worked on 14 different projects, including web games, geo-applications, translation software and educational tools. Of course, the Webfest is not only for web developers and computer scientists. Skills in other domains — like physics, engineering and communication — are indispensable, too. “The Webfest is an excellent vehicle to drive collaboration and creativity, and to stimulate innovative thinking,” said Rachel Bray, the CERN Alumni community manager, who was one of four judges.

In just two days, most of the teams developed working prototypes, which they presented on Sunday evening in front of a jury that picked the winners.

  • Third place: Awarded to CERNlearn, a knowledge-sharing app that helps people meet up face-to-face to share knowledge and skills, from cookery techniques to quantum mechanics and yoga.
  • Second place: Shared by 9 Quantum’s Morris, a web game that allows the player to learn about quantum computing, and Code in your language!, a translation program that helps make coding more accessible to non-English speakers.
  • Winner: The CERNAccess project, created by team of four students, is a software tool for translating sign language to text. A camera records sign-language gestures and translates them to text in real-time.

In addition, THE Port sponsored a new ‘Impact Prize’, which was awarded to Kilimanjaro. This app is designed to help people in western African nations to register cars with the local authorities in a quick and simple way. Mussa, who had the idea for this project and made his way from Africa to CERN without any higher education, is now developing an app that could make millions of lives easier.

The judges also highlighted the project Can we predict the unpredictable? with a special mention. This project examined methods proposed in a scientific paper dealing with the long-term prediction of complex non-linear time series and tested them on generated data.

You can find out more on the Webfest website.