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ECE’s Panambur on a First-place Team at MIT COVID-19 Challenge

Tejas Panambur

Tejas Panambur

Tejas Panambur, an M.S. candidate in the UMass Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, was part of a multi-institutional team of students who took one of four first-place prizes during the COVID-19 IDEAthon Beat the Pandemic event as part of the continuing MIT COVID-19 challenge. Some 260 teams from across the globe participated remotely in the event on April 3 to 5, including 70 teams in the “Hospital-assets coordination, distribution, and management track” won by Panambur’s team. As he explained, his team’s winning entry was “a central hub for hospital inventories via a mobile/web application.”

As MIT described its COVID-19 Challenge, “MIT is hosting a series of challenges to empower YOU to take action on the COVID-19 crisis.”

According to Panambur, “I was the only one from UMass on the team, and the team was formed online on the day of the event. Our HoPE (Hospital Protective Equipment Inventory Manager) team consisted of six members including me.”

Panambur said that the app proposed by the HoPE team will perform several crucial functions, including synthesizing expected donations and shipments into a checklist that materials managers can interact with during quality checking of newly received supplies.

In addition, the HoPE app will keep track of all available equipment and personal protective equipment in the inventory in a set of central databases, which will be updated as soon as new equipment is checked by materials management, and it will give providers a way to anonymously log donations received to give hospitals a more accurate visualization of their supplies.

In addition, the HoPE app will collect data over a continuous time period that can be visualized in numerical or graphical form and can be analyzed with statistical or machine learning models to draw more accurate estimations.

As Panambur said about his function on the HoPE team, “I worked on the backend part of our solution, where I build simple analytical tools, extract useful donation email, and perform natural-language-processing-based feature extraction and text summarization.”

Panambur also said that “I would thank ECE Professor Michael Zink, who motivated me to participate in this event.” Panambur also thanked UMass itself, since most of the skills he has developed are because of UMass programs and courses.

Panambur’s overall reaction to the challenge was that “It was an amazing experience!”

Since the COVID-19 Challenge in early April, as Panambur said about the HoPE team, “We are in contact with Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital. We are in the testing stage with them and soon we are going to deploy our solution to these hospitals. (June 2020)