Hackathon: Innovate the Future of Travel Tech - From House to Gate

A design sprint to improve the way people interact with the pre-flight travel experience from home to the gate.

Hackathon: Innovate the Future of Travel Tech - From House to Gate


The GW Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship in partnership with CirrusLabs (2021 Inc. 5000 list), George Hacks, and the SEAS Innovation Center, invites all GW students to our newest hackathon and design sprint.


A hackathon is a design sprint-like event, in which programmers, graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, domain experts, and others collaborate intensively on software projects. Our hackathon is for all GW students regardless of background or major to work on finding a solution to the challenge. All are welcome and encouraged to participate.

This virtual and in-person experiential and interactive hackathon exposes students to a real-life challenge from a CirrusLabs client perspective. Teams of students (who will be formed during the first day) will design and prototype a solution to the challenge.

Participants will walk away with the tools, tactics, and frameworks used by innovators, entrepreneurs, and designers to create new products and services. Using design-thinking basics, we'll explore how to improve the way people interact with traveling to the airport creating new ideas, solutions, products, and services.

DATE AND TIMES (Must Attend Both Sessions)

Session One (virtual): Friday, November 12, 1-4 pm ET

Session Two (in-person): Friday, November 19, 9:30am-5:45pm ET (Reception from 5:45-7pm, not-mandatory)


This two-session hackathon/design sprint is looking for solutions to improve air travelers’ assurance that they have enough time to make their flights when starting from home, office, or anywhere. There are lots of travel time factors to consider when traveling to the airport, including walking, ground transportation (bus, metro, walk, parking (garage and walking), check-in (baggage), security clearance, transit time to the gate. These unknowns create anxiety for passengers.


Winners of the hackathon judged by the representatives of CirrusLabs and others will receive $1,000 cash to distribute equally to the team members.

An additional $500 prize will also be distributed to the "Best ML/AI approach." For this prize, teams should identify the best machine learning methods and/or algorithms to estimate times of arrival at the airport gate. Accurate ETAs are important for positive user experience. But ETAs are most difficult to get right since it involves many factors like traffic, time of the day, weather, potential parking, TSA security line, etc. Ideally, you will use the Azure suite of ML tools, but not required.

Plus all team members of the winning team will receive an interview for any open position at CirrusLabs. Open job positions are found here.


Automatic entry in for all GW students attending both days of the hackathon and who apply to the GW New Venture Competition (NVC) with an innovative approach to solve this challenge by the deadline of February 2, 2022, at 1 pm ET will receive:

Automatic entry into round 2 of the competition (Top 100)*

Automatic eligibility for the CirrusLabs Best Tech Venture Prize $7,500*

*Must participate in both sessions to be eligible for the benefits.


This new week-long hackathon has two sessions spaced one week apart.

SESSION ONE (VIRTUAL): Friday, November 12, 1-4 pm ET

Introduce the problem/challenge by experts from CirrusLabs, allow the formation of student teams, then collaborate and ideate to come up with new ideas.

Session One (Virtual):

  • Opening (15 min)
  • Challenge overview w/experts and clients (30-40min)
  • User discovery session (15 min)
  • Team formation (15 min)
  • Facilitated Workshop (30 min)
  • Team ideation (45 min)
  • Next steps (15 min)


Individuals and teams are encouraged to work and develop their new ideas formed in session one in anticipation of pitching their ideas in Session Two. Coaches, mentors, and topic experts are available during appointments and office hours for help. Teams are also welcome to use the SEAS Innovation Center / Tomkins M06 as a collaboration area. There will also be a session on App design from GW Create Digital Media Studio.

SESSION TWO (IN-PERSON): Friday, November 19, 9:30 am-7 pm ET

Agenda: This session focuses on working and developing the solution, creating a pitch deck, pitching ideas in front of judges, and the celebration reception.

Location: George Washington University Science and Engineering Hall, 800 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20052, (Basement Level)

Session 2: In-person (GW Campus)

  • Morning greeting (9:30-9:45am)
  • In-person worksessions in teams (9:45 am-11 am)
  • Lunch 12-1pm (lunch provided)
  • In-person team worksessions (1pm-3:00pm)
  • Team Presentations (3:30 - 5pm) (5 min pitch per team, Q&A 5 min)
  • Judges deliberation (5-5:30 pm)
  • Winners and team announcements (5:30-5:45pm)
  • Post event reception and celebration (5:45-7pm)

Hackathon Partner: CirrusLabs

CirrusLabs is a world-class provider of Atlassian, Azure, and Agile practices. We enable rapid project delivery using agile and software delivery practices. With offices in Northern Virginia, Atlanta, Canada, and India they were included as a Inc. 5000 Honoree for the 4th year in a row, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.

Naeem Hussain (SEAS ‘99) is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of CirrusLabs where he oversees all delivery and growth activities across the firm to ensure the company executes against its strategic vision. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Bangalore University, a Master’s degree in Telecommunication & Computers from George Washington University, a Certificate in AI Strategy from MIT, and has an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


George Hacks

George Hacks is a student-led nonprofit that catalyzes innovation in healthcare by empowering the next generation of change makers. We provide a platform for problem-based, interdisciplinary healthcare innovation for social impact. Our ecosystem focuses on the intersection between the medical field and entrepreneurship.

SEAS Innovation Center

Located in Tompkins M06, the Innovation Center is open to members of our community M-F from 2-6pm and by appointment. We offer a studio-based learning environment for community-driven innovation and creative problem-solving. Visit us @gwinnovationcenter on Instagram to learn more.

Speakers and Experts from CirrusLabs

Niharika Chaubey

Niharika is currently a product owner at CirrusLabs, working on a large-scale migration project. She moved from India to Indiana in order to pursue her degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering, with a minor in Global Engineering. She capitalized on her analytical skills and kick started her career at VMware as a deployment engineer, where she had to learn and understand a completely new discipline. Niharika embraces change – she combines her previous experience with a drive for something new! With Niharika’s wide range of expertise, she cultivates an excellent growth focused environment for her team to succeed.

Kjell Hegstad

Kjell is the head of innovation where he oversees all efforts around innovation, human centered design, digital factories and transformation. He conceptualized the digital transformation framework we use to educate clients about both the opportunities and challenges the transformation journey offer. He was a co-founder of ING Direct USA and an executive at Capital One as head of mobile and emerging tech focused on shifting the culture from analog to digital while building a new mobile platform for 45million customers. He has won awards from Apple, Wall Street Journal, Webby Award. He is a frequent keynote speaker around the Globe, a TED presenter and he has lived and worked on most continents. Kjell is a certified Digital Disruptor from Harvard, certified in AI Strategy from MIT and certified in human centered design from Stanford with an MBA from Thunderbird. For fun Kjell loves to work on his custom chopper, cook and shoot sporting clays!

Urooj Hussain

Urooj Hussain is currently a Product Owner at Becton Dickinson. She has 15+ years of experience technology delivery in healthcare, financial services, education and pharmaceutical industries. Urooj has a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology from Bangalore University and is certified from MIT Sloan School of Management in Innovation & Design Thinking.

Priyanka Narula

As a first generation American Indian, Priyanka continues to push the fold every day! She started off as an intern in 2019 and has worked her way up at CirrusLabs by building strong client relationships. Priyanka graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Science in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies. Though her background is not the norm, Priyanka brings a fresh and unique perspective to any project or assignment that comes her way – she brings an understanding of how users digest information, and a killer attitude to get the job done.