THE FIRST “INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES IN NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY” HACKATHON IN SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

The first Hackathon on Information Technologies in Nuclear Science and Technology held in Eastern Europe is now over. After an intensive day of lectures, exchanges with scientists and businesspeople, brainstorming and programming, the five school teams presented their work over 12 hours, prototyping solutions to the problems and opportunities in the field of nuclear science.

The project by team “John Atanasoff” is called “Nuclear Energy and its Safe Application.” The students believe there can be no innovation unless people are convinced that nuclear energy is safe and don’t confuse nuclear bombs with nuclear power plants. This is why the team proposed a wide platform for educating the public and adapted a robotic arm they had previously designed for disarming explosives to be used in high radiation scenarios.

The ELSYS team proposed the “Optimization of Nuclear Reactor Design via a Genetic Algorithm.” The problem this project addresses is that the optimization of a nuclear reactor has many different purposes, many variables, and many local problems, i.e. there is no guarantee that a particular optimization would lead to the best general design. The genetic algorithm the team used is derived from nature and contains the phases of population, selection of the most appropriate elements, pairing and mutation of the elements placed in an appropriate environment. The team generated a simulated model of a nuclear reactor and applied the genetic algorithm to outline the most effective optimization of the design, based on variables such as price, number of reactors, fuel and others.

NHSMNS (physicists and programmers) developed a demo version of a nuclear physics educational website. The site compiles information arranged by topic, resources, video lectures and tests, as well as a discussion forum the team plans to develop in the future. The test section allows users to register and learn on the basis of interactive educational games: correct answers win a badge, while incorrect responses return the user to the information from that section of the test to re-study, and then automatically generates a new test. The site includes a section for news and events.

SHSM team #2 took on the problem of radiation pollution of water resources. The example the team worked on is the Rossen mine and the polluted beach Vromos near Chernomorets. Their proposal is to use zeoliths (minerals that can absorb certain elements with a specific mass) to reduce the radiation pollution and to clean the beach using centrifugal sedimentation.

SHSM team #1 also saw the information gap in the area of nuclear physics, and designed an educational website full of graphs and images intended to help students in this area of physics and to prepare them for physics competitions. The website links up students with theoretical physicists, and students compete amongst themselves in real time and can keep track of their rating and success.

The jury awarded first prize to SHSM team #2, who received 500 leva and an invitation to the European Parliament from MEP Vladimir Uruchev. Second place went to NHSMNS, who received 300 leva, and third place to ELSYS, who won 200 leva. The team from “John Atanasoff” won the special award for the best presentation, and SHSM team #1 won the special award for the best design.

SDA is a project knowledge partner in the NGS project under the Danube Transnational programme, co-founded by the EU funds (ERDF and IPA), http://www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/newgenerationskills.