A medical face shield that monitors doctors digitally for signs of getting sick. A virtual waiting room app to help avoid spreading coronavirus germs among patients. A quick at-home kit with computerized support that could help consumers test and track their immune systems for antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. Bayer colleagues work across divisions, continents in COVID-19 hackathon.
These are just a few of the ideas developed by Bayer employees at a recent coronavirus hackathon put on by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and sponsored in part by Bayer’s crop science division, which had so many interested employees it held a spillover extension hackathon complete with its own judging and awards.
While scientists around the world are working to find ways to fight the coronavirus, dozens of experts from Bayer participated in the hackathon to help develop fast, implementable solutions to help slow the spread of the virus and the disease it causes.
“Bayer is full of passionate experts across divisions looking to volunteer their time and brainpower to help find ways to fight the spread of the virus that is affecting their communities and customers,” said Mark Sparks, Vice President and Global Head of Digital Platforms for Bayer’s crop science division. “Data scientists, programmers, researchers and analysts – we all have something to offer, and this hackathon really showed Bayer employees going above and beyond to find solutions.”
Bayer colleagues from across divisions participated in the hackathon, many taking advantage of Bayer’s expanded U.S. volunteerism policy to support Bayer employees who contribute time and talent to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Participants formed teams on a Friday evening and worked around the clock for 48 hours, ultimately pitching ideas to judging panels who could help connect ideas with resources for bringing them to life.
“It was exhausting physically but really exciting personally,” said Vinod Das, a Bayer programmer who participated in the hackathon from his home in New Jersey.
“I joined Bayer because I wanted to solve problems – in our communities and around the world,” said Tai Seung Jang, a senior data scientist in Bayer’s crop science division who led a team of colleagues in the hackathon. “I told the team you don’t need a data science background to solve problems, just dedication and teamwork.”
In the meantime, family members are encouraging them to do so – with a few more breaks than the hackathon provided.
“When it was over, my five-year-old jumped on my shoulders and laughed,” one participant said. “It was a nice reminder of one of the many reasons we have to come together and contribute whatever we can to this fight.”
Team member Mandy Makowsky said the event was a chance to be part of a larger effort to make a difference.
“In these times of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, there is a feeling of helplessness when the world seems to be in utter chaos. At the very least, the solidarity among a large group of people who want to help is a boost for morale. It feels good to leverage our own unique strengths against a common global problem.”