05/12/2021 | Digital Innovation

KEEN Hackathon: When life is coding

Team SUBES tackles the ABB challenge

The student team “SUBES” (name initials of teammates) participated in the KEEN Hackathon and submitted a solution for the challenge provided by ABB. After joining the Kick-Off Event, they immediately started developing their software prototype and took the opportunity to ask a lot of questions during the mentoring workshops. At the hackathon's social event, the KEEN Hackathon Evening, Weibo Zhao (English name “Bernie”) won the quiz, which included questions about AI. After two months of working together on their cleaning tool “AutoClean”, the team describes what made the experience so special.

DECHEMA: How did you form as a team?

  • __Weibo: Almost all of us registered separately from each other. We got in contact via the platform ipOcean, which is used for the hackathon, and quickly realized that we would form an excellent team. We combine different cultural and professional backgrounds and experiences. The harmony was simply right.
  • __Elham: Very fast, we started meeting every Sunday via Zoom, opened a WhatsApp group to communicate, and shared our code in GitHub. We divided the tasks according to the respective expertise and capabilities. Weibo, Shijia and Sijan are very good in programming, however, Ugne and I have brought in our own strengths during the process. Ugne for example developed a dashboard.
  • __Ugne: We used our regular Sunday meetings to give updates regarding the progress of our tasks and shared useful information that we found during the week. The individual responsibility for tasks and the group progress motivated me a lot. This is how we have managed to solve the tasks and stay motivated about them through the whole project period.

DECHEMA: What motivated you to take part in the KEEN-Hackathon?

  • __Sijan: Currently, I am finishing my master’s thesis in Computer Science at TU Kaiserslautern. The data which was provided for my thesis had already been formatted. I was curious to learn more about data pre-processing which ABB-Challenge is about. The work in a team, moreover, gives the opportunity to discuss your ideas and solutions within the team.
  • __Shijia: Usually a hackathon takes place in one weekend. The long period of two months, however, gave the opportunity to develop a more mature solution instead of a first prototype. We wanted to experience the whole process until the final development of a product. To me, the challenge of data pre-processing is attractive as it is exciting, demanding, and meaningful at once.
  • __Weibo: Initially, my friend Shijia motivated me to participate in the hackathon. I started burning for the challenge when I realized what the challenge was about. I liked our developing strategy which we pursued to tackle the challenge: At first, one starts with a simple version and receives suggestions by the teammates followed by the generalization of the function or algorithm.
  • __Elham: I must confess; life was coding for me the last months. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and keep me active during COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge by ABB was perfect for me to grow and develop. Instead of thinking I must come to a result, I understood that it is the error that I have to solve. Due to the hackathon, I could experience my strengths and weaknesses which allows me to improve and progress.
  • __Ugne: Unlike my teammates, I am studying production engineering and I have work experience in manufacturing. In my area, many new possibilities open up when it comes to data. Current job descriptions in production illustrate how important programming skills are becoming. I wanted to open my mind and get confident in coding. The challenge is like the best thing that could have happened to me at this moment. It is a deep dive into data science methods for me.

DECHEMA: What was the most difficult for you while developing your solution?

  • __Sijan: Speaking for the whole team, developing the algorithms is challenging as well as the overall workload was heavy. Elham, for example, had to learn for her exams in parallel. I liked the common understanding that we did not expect much from each other. Everybody simply fulfilled her/his responsibility. Weibo was the one who gave us many compliments on our work which always motivated us to further improve.

DECHEMA: How does it feel to have submitted now?

  • __Shijia: Whether if we win or not, it was a good learning experience. We have developed a toolset that we could even use in our further professional career. Since I first got in contact with AI during a student project, I promised myself that I had to learn these methods. Programming is like a handcraft: You get better when you do it. Just practice it. I am grateful that we had the opportunity to practice our skills in this hackathon.  
  • __Weibo: We have the confidence to win. Everybody comes from a different field of study and contributed with her/his expertise and knowledge. As a team, we shared a common goal and created a positive environment. I have trust in our capabilities.
  • __Elham: Actually, I am quite curious about getting to know the approach of other teams. All my thoughts were dedicated to the challenge during the last months. At the beginning, I was motivated to gain experience, but now I realized that we might have a chance to win.
  • __Ugne: Weibo once aptly described what distinguishes us as a team: We have a strong solidarity, we have strong foundations, and we never stand still.
  • __Sijan: Due to the experience within the hackathon, all of us were encouraged in our career choices like, e.g., becoming a data scientist or ML engineer. We believe that AI is the future, and there is still a lot to come.

The interview was conducted by Dr. Simone Rogg/DECHEMA e.V.


  • Shijia Wei is a master student in Automation Engineering at RWTH Aachen. He studied his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at RWTH Aachen.
  • Ugne Potthoff received her bachelor’s degrees in Business and Mechanical Engineering from RWTH Aachen. Currently, she is studying a double master’s degree program in production engineering at RWTH Aachen and Tsinghua University, China.
  • Weibo (engl.: Bernie) Zhao studied his double bachelor’s degree in Chemical Process Engineering and English at Taiyuan Technical University, China, and recently graduated his two master’s degrees mechanical engineering and chemical engineering at RWTH Aachen.
  • Elham Khorasani studied industrial engineering and IT management at Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Iran. At TU Clausthal, she is currently doing her second master’s degree in business informatics.
  • Sijan Bhandari studied his bachelor’s in computer engineering at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Currently, he is finishing his master’s degree in computer science at TU Kaiserslautern.

Keywords in this article:

#artificial intelligence, #digitalisation

Find more contributions:

Detailed search in the magazine


Always up to date

With our newsletter you will receive current information on ACHEMA on a regular basis. You are guaranteed not to miss any important dates.

Subscribe now