Jóvenes Adelante Student Learns “Anything is Possible!”
By Kate Greenaway
I had the chance last week to meet another rising star in the Jóvenes Adelante family, Jonathan Ulises Aboytes a second-year student studying information systems at Universidad Tecnológica del Norte de Guanajuato in Dolores Hidalgo.
Aboytes was eager to tell me about his recent “big win” at an important competition. The event gathered 350 students from México and Central America for a marathon 72-hour competition, the first of its kind ever to be held in Dolores Hidalgo, call Hackaton Hack DHI.
The event was sponsored partly by the Manhattan nonprofit organization Major League Hacking, which operates a competitive league for student hackathons in the US and numerous other countries, and also by the state of Guanajuato, the local Dolores Hidalgo government, and various technology-oriented businesses.
“Hacking” in this case does not mean breaking into secure computer systems and causing havoc, but using computing and engineering to innovate and invent, discover new tech solutions, inspire young innovators, and provide creative teambuilding experiences.
At 2pm on a Friday afternoon, the auditorium doors closed on the 35 teams, and the three competition themes were announced: Tourism, Public Security, and Ceramics. The teams were charged with choosing their theme, agreeing on an idea, and creating a fully-fledged strategy for its design, development, testing, implementation, and marketing. A multidisciplinary panel of 20 experts had been assembled from all over the country to provide inspiration, advice, mentorship and—in the end—adjudication.
After an intense brainstorming session, Aboytes’s team settled on the security theme, with a strategy to develop a cell phone application that would allow police officers to dictate their reports from the scene of a crime, using voice-to-text technology that would allow officers to provide detailed, formatted information that could be easily uploaded into the system at the station. This would save time in the typing, filing, and distribution of reports as well as, presumably, lend to an improved police report completion rate and an improved level of detail in those reports.
The competition was intense. By late Saturday afternoon, the first 10 teams were selected and allowed to continue. Aboytes’s team was among those selected. They continued to hone their idea, preparing themselves for a final three-minute science-fair-like presentation and an intense Q&A session afterward.
“I learned to appreciate having a multidisciplinary team,” Aboytes says. “Each member of our team had different skills and perspectives, which turned out to be really important.”
When the results were announced, they were absolutely delighted to have achieved second-place honors.
Aboytes laughs as he recalls how he had originally declined participating in this competition, imagining that it would be boring and claustrophobic.
“I only did it because my professor said it was important for my CV,” he admitted sheepishly. “Sometimes you only know what you know … Being in a room with so many people who were so smart opened my eyes to so many new possibilities.”
The time went by very fast, he added.
“I couldn’t believe it when we won second place. It made me feel like anything is possible!” Perhaps the best lesson he took away from the weekend.
Jóvenes Adelante aims to unlock a radically expansive future for San Miguel de Allende youth by easing financial barriers to higher education and by intentionally nurturing their life skills and leadership abilities. Please visit our website firstname.lastname@example.org, call 415 150 0030 or email email@example.com