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Impact x2 Qais

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How can we work together to promote better cultural understanding worldwide?

Qais Akbar Omar (GRS’16), a graduate student in the Creative Writing Program, has published a much-praised memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers: An Afghan Family Story. He recalls how the violence and tumult of civil war jolted his family, who, despite losing relatives, their home, and possessions, continued to nurture his wish to attend a university.

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Hacking to Help the Environment

April 16th, 2013

After scoring in the top ten at the MIT Hackathon and winning the Tufts Hackathon, the BU computer science student “hacking” team of Gowtam Lal, Hiroki Osame, and Roman Zabenko has won Second Place Overall at the Clean Web Hackathon hosted by the City of Boston this weekend. The BU team also won the Audience Favorite Award. Their software helps mobile device users learn environmental information about their present location.

According to the Hacker League website (, the Clean Web Hackathon “brings together developers, designers and business professionals dedicated to optimizing resource use and accelerating cleantech development. Participants are tasked with building applications that tackle energy, waste, water, and other sustainability issues by leveraging web and mobile technologies.” There were many professional programmers competing at the hackathon, including companies who formed teams for the weekend and a few other college teams (MIT, Tufts, and Dartmouth).

The BU team came up with and implemented their idea of a “Green Captcha” that promotes environmental friendliness and raises awareness of environmental problems. The team used government open data to include environmental facts embedded in what they called a “Green Captcha” that is tailored to the user’s location; their method retrieved data about the user’s region from and the EPA.

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