Hacking to help Red Cross relief efforts

Six months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, students in a Northwestern Engineering class developed solutions to help the American Red Cross optimize relief efforts.

During a 48-hour hackathon, interdisciplinary student teams in McCormick’s IEMS 365: Analytics for Social Good course developed hands-on solutions using data analytics to aid humanitarian efforts in a natural disaster.

“We worked hard, but this was not about getting a good grade,” said Julie Malewicz, a junior physics major. “It was about inventing in something that had value.”

The class, taught by Professor Karen Smilowitz, exposes students to the challenges and opportunities of applying data analytics to achieve social good. In addition, the students, working in teams of five from different academic backgrounds, learn to respect and play off of each other’s strengths.

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