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Join the challenge and build your own solution.


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

Our planet is wrestling with the rapid and dramatic effects of our changing climate crisis, which is intensifying over time. Climate change has the potential to impact every human, every industry, and every living organism on the planet. It sounds extreme because it is. Global discussions surrounding climate change have focused on both prevention and immediate and necessary adaptation. Exhaustive research has confirmed changing weather patterns, rapidly rising sea levels, and extreme weather events proliferating worldwide.

Did you know that by 2050, the global population will reach 9.8B 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). 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.

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.

Now in our third year 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. Students have created some of the most impactful and unique solutions we’ve seen. We’re coming together with the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics to offer amazing prizes to the winner of this Call for Code Spot Challenge: Students versus climate change.

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CGI U, the higher education program of the Clinton Foundation, activates student entrepreneurs through year-round programming that includes access to topic experts and change agents, mentorship networks, financial resources, a social impact curriculum, and virtual networking events.

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The School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh is a world-leading center of research and teaching in computation, information, and cognition. It hosts a cohort of over 1,600 students from over 75 countries worldwide. It employs over 220 academics and 100 professional services staff. The School of Informatics is the largest grouping of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers in the United Kingdom.

How it works

We will be asking you to form teams of 3-5 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 or API, along with any other open source technology, to address the problem of climate change. This could include a solution that aids humanity in one of the following categories:

Not used to IBM technology? Don’t worry, we’ll provide the tools, guidance, and workshops, but it is up to you to build something great. At the end of the hackathon, 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 November 9.

Winning teams will receive:

  • USD $1500 for 1st place
  • USD $1000 for 2nd place
  • USD $500 for 3rd place

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 to help your solutions come to life. Mentors will be available throughout the event to help with any questions.

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?

So, if you’re a student who’s at least 18 years old and studying full- or part-time at an accredited academic institution in Europe, Middle East, or Africa, head over to Eventbrite and register for the challenge.

Next steps

  1. Register for the Call for Code Spot Challenge: Students versus climate change through Eventbrite. Even if you don’t have an idea or a team yet, sign up because spots are limited.

  2. Sign up for free access to IBM Cloud. Register now for no-charge access to IBM Cloud.

  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. Join Slack. In the Slack workspace, 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 #EMEA-student-challenge and #EMEA-student-teambuilding channels.

  5. Join pre-event workshops. Starting on October 30, log on at 4:30 PM UK GMT Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to hear how to get started on IBM Cloud, learn how to use Watson APIs to create chatbots and use visual recognition, explore data science tools, and hear how IBM experts design solutions using the IBM Design Thinking methodology. You will receive more details for these workshops after you have registered for the hackathon through Eventbrite.

  6. Start building. After the challenge kicks off on November 9 at 4:30 PM UK GMT, 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.

  7. 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.

Other useful resources

Get ahead. Do some reading and take some courses to help you during the event.

For a full list of everything you’ll need for this hackathon, from how to register for IBM Cloud and join the Slack workspace to starter kits and code tutorials, see the StudentsVsClimateChange GitHub repo.

CGI U’s Commitment to Action Toolkit aims to provide a framework for developing a project from idea to action.