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Want to help tackle the most pressing issue our planet is facing?


Challenge starts September 13, 2021! Click to register.

Did you know that by 2050, the global population will reach 9.8 billion people, exerting further pressure on the earth’s resources? And, by the year 2100, global temperatures could increase 3-5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit).

Climate change has the potential to impact every living organism on the planet. For humans, its impact is already being felt across the continents. It is changing how we live, how we work, and how we interact with the environments we share with our fellow inhabitants of this planet. The situation is critical: Exhaustive scientific research has confirmed changing weather and temperature patterns, rapidly rising sea levels, and an intensifying proliferation of extreme weather events around the world.

Problems like these are why IBM® became a founding partner of Call for Code, a multiyear challenge to developers around the world to use their skills toward solving global issues. Events like the Call for Code Global Challenge — created by David Clark Cause and supported by founding partner IBM and charitable partner United Nations Human Rights — invites developers and problem solvers around the world to build solutions that fight back against the most pressing issues of our time.

In our four years of Call for Code, we’ve found that if you want to create something great, you’ve got to get everyone involved. That’s why we are turning to you, the student community. Students have created some of the most impactful and unique solutions we’ve seen.

Now we are coming together with some of the top research universities: The University of Tokyo, ETH Zurich, EPFL, MIT and Stanford to offer graduate and advanced undergraduate students an amazing opportunity to grow your skills, expand your network, make a difference in the fight against climate change, and possibly win prizes in the Call for Code Research Spot Challenge for Climate Change.

How it works

Graduate students, or advanced undergraduate students with experience or high interest in research, at least 18 years old and studying full- or part-time at the above-mentioned participating universities are eligible to participate. We will be asking you to form teams of 1-5 students. You can create a team among yourselves or join a team through the team-building Slack channel created for this event. Each team will then be asked to build a solution using at least one IBM service, technology or API, along with any other open source technologies, to address the problem of climate change. This could include a solution that aids humanity in one of the following categories:

  • Sustainable water use (starter kit)
  • Resilient agriculture (starter kit)
  • Responsible production (starter kit)
  • Climate risk and impact (quantifying the risk to socioeconomic and natural systems of current and future climate change)

Not used to IBM technology? Don’t worry, we’ll provide the tools and guidance, but it is up to you to build something great. Building a prototype is not required for submission but those that do will score higher in the judging rubrik.

At the end of the Challenge, we will expect from your team a brief 3-minute video detailing what you’ve created, a description for how you put it all together, who your project is intended to help, and a roadmap to show the judges where your project is going.

Why participate?

We adamantly believe that you win just by being a part of this challenge. We are seeking to inspire global citizenship and good stewards of our environment. However, we also would like to recognize those solutions with the highest potential. Therefore, we will be awarding prizes to the top three teams. We may also be adding a few additional awards as we move closer to the start of the challenge on September 13. Winning teams will receive:

  • USD $5000 for 1st place
  • USD $3000 for 2nd place
  • USD $1000 for 3rd place

In addition all winning team members will be eligible for mentoring opportunities with IBM Researchers to help grow your ideas into something deliverable (e.g., conference presentation or paper).

What help will you get?

We will provide resources such as starter kits for you to use as well as workshops to help you learn IBM technologies that can help your solutions come to life. Mentors will be available throughout the event to assist with any questions.

Challenge events dates:

  • September 8, 2021: Team-building event
  • September 13, 2021: Challenge kickoff
  • September 27, 2021: Submissions due, judging begins
  • September 28, 29, 2021: Career panels, scheduled by region
  • October 4, 2021: Closing ceremony

(All sessions will be delivered in English)

What will you be judged on?

This challenge will be focused on outcomes and the potential of your prototype solutions. The judging criteria will be based on:

  • Completeness and transferability: How fully has the idea been implemented? Can it achieve an impact in the field? Can it be transferred elsewhere?
  • Effectiveness and efficiency: Does the solution address a high priority area? Does it achieve its goal effectively and efficiently? Can it scale?
  • Design and usability: How good is the solution’s design, user experience, and ease of use? How quickly can it be put to use?
  • Creativity and innovation: How unique was the approach to solving a long-standing or previously intractable problem?

Next steps

If you’re a graduate or advanced undergraduate student with experience or high interest in research who’s at least 18 years old and studying full- or part-time at the above-mentioned participating universities, register for the Call for Code Research Challenge. Even if you don’t have an idea or a team yet, sign up because spots are limited.

  1. As part of registration, you’ll get access to IBM Cloud.
  2. You will also get access to our Slack workspace, where you can find other participants, join or build teams, brainstorm and collaborate on ideas, and communicate with the challenge Champions and Subject Matter Experts. Please join the #New_Slack_Channel and #New-student-teambuilding channels.
  3. Explore the IBM Academic Initiative. Register on our IBM Academic Initiative website and get access to select IBM resources for classroom (teaching/learning) and non-commercial research at participating accredited academic institutions.
  4. Start building. After the challenge kicks off on September 13, work with your team and mentors in the Slack channel to design and build a climate change solution that can be used today, tomorrow, and in the future. Be creative and build something novel. And remember, we are here to help. Find resources.
  5. Explore starter kits. Some students will know what they want to build for Call for Code, but for those who don’t, there are starter kits. These quick-start guides help you understand the scope of the problem and start building applications tied to easy-to-understand use cases in a matter of minutes.