Birmingham City University partners with NASA for global hackathon event

Birmingham City University is to partner with NASA and a host of international space agencies on global ‘hackathon’ event, which will see data from the US space program used to develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

The Space Apps Challenge, taking place in Birmingham and around the world on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 October, will see teams using NASA’s open data projects and platforms, as well as information from the Australian Space Agency (ASA), Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the European Space Agency (ESA), to address real-world problems faced both on Earth and in space.

Now in its tenth year, having recorded over 150,000 participants in over 150 countries, the challenge will include participants from Birmingham City University’s STEAMHack community.

The Birmingham based STEAMHack programme, led by Associate Professor in Computing and Director of Innovative Pedagogy Rehan Bhana, is designed for a range of skills including coding, science, design, storytelling, critical thinkers, publishers, technologists and more – and serves as a platform to boost inspiration and collaboration in science, technology, arts, medicine, engineering and maths.

Umar Daraz, Director of Innovation and one of three NASA Space Apps Challenge local leads for Birmingham said, “I am thrilled to have been asked to join the NASA global community, off the back of our STEAMHack team including student lead Siddharth Joshi and Rehan Bhana successfully pitching ideas to NASA in March 2021. 

“We believe passionately that Space Apps inspires local communities to come together and think creatively. There will be an opportunity to access NASA open data, interact with participants over hackathon weekend, record video tutorials, and help coordinate local events.”

Participants who produce winning ideas in the global event may be invited to visit a NASA rocket launch in the United States.

Kevin Murphy, NASA’s chief data officer said “Over the last ten years, open data has been the cornerstone of Space Apps. Thanks to open innovation programs like Space Apps, the public around the globe knows that NASA’s vast data archives are freely available to browse online. We are delighted to be working with Birmingham City University on this mission. A key part of our mission is to work with regions all over the world and populations that are underrepresented in the STEM fields such as women and girls.”

The hackathon is virtual, free and open to all, regardless of tech experience or knowledge. To register for NASA’s International Space AppsChallenge, visit