Accessibility projects stand out at Webfest 2019

The seventh edition of the CERN Summer Student Webfest took place from 26 to 28 July. The Webfest is an annual hackathon at CERN, where bright and creative minds meet over a weekend to work on science and technology projects, making use of open web technologies. They work in small teams, focusing on specific ideas to design exciting web and mobile applications that help people engage with CERN, the LHC, physics, or science in general.

During the course of the Webfest, participants share skills and experience with one another, as well as learning from experienced mentors on hand throughout the weekend. “The Webfest was a fun and enriching experience,” said summer student Steffen Ludwig. “When we started on Friday, we didn’t know anything about web development. Two days later, I presented a functioning prototype of our app.”

At the 2019 Webfest, over 60 participants — mainly CERN summer students — worked on 14 different projects, including web games, geo-applications, translation software, and educational tools. Of course, the Webfest is not only for web developers and computer scientists. Skills in other domains — like physics, engineering, and communication — are indispensable, too. “The Webfest is an excellent vehicle to drive collaboration, creativity and stimulate innovative thinking,” says Rachel Bray, the CERN Alumni community manager, who was one of four judges in this year’s Webfest.

Over the course of the weekend, the participants eagerly designed, coded and tested their applications. “I am amazed at what those guys can do in such short amount of time,” remarked Webfest mentor Caio Costa, a computer scientist at CMS. In just two days, most of the teams developed working prototypes, which they presented on Sunday evening in front of a jury.

Due to the high quality of all the presented projects, selecting the winning projects was not an easy task for the four judges. However, after much deliberation the following projects were highlighted for particular praise…

  • The third-place prize was awarded to CERNlearn, a knowledge-sharing app that helps people meet up face-to-face to share knowledge and skills, from cookery techniques to quantum mechanics and yoga.
  • The second-place prize was shared by 9 Quantum’s Morris and Code in your language!. The former is a web game which allows the player to learn more about quantum computing and the latter is a translation program that helps make coding more accessible to non-English speakers.
  • The CERNAccess project was crowned this year’s overall winner. The team of four students created software for translation of sign language to text. A camera records the sign-language gestures and translates them to text in real-time. The idea is to apply this principle on any kind of sign language, since there is no universal one.

In addition, THE Port sponsored a new ‘Impact Prize’, which was awarded to a project called Kilimanjaro. The app is designed to help people in western African nations to officially register cars with the local authorities in a quick and simple way. Mussa, who had the idea for this project, is a success story of his own: making his way from Africa to CERN without any higher education, he is now developing an app, which could make millions of lives easier.

Finally, the judges also honoured the project Can we predict the unpredictable? with a special mention. This project examined methods proposed in a scientific paper dealing with long-term prediction of complex nonlinear time series and tested them on generated data.


The Webfest team would like to thank all the participants, mentors, judges, supporters and curious visitors who made Webfest 2019 such a great experience. To find out more, please visit the Webfest website.