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AT&T Innovation Challenge Research & Innovation

Morgan Students Take Second Place in AT&T HBCU Innovation Challenge, Earning $15,000

by Morgan State U
April 13, 2022

Team ‘MetaBears’ Develops EduLab Smart App to Address Educational Inequality


The results are in for AT&T’s second annual HBCU Innovation Challenge, and Morgan State University’s student team — the MetaBears — was selected among the top prize winners for creating a smart app to address educational inequality. The EduLab app, which leverages virtual reality software to simulate physical lab experiences, impressed the competition judges, earning the team a $15,000 prize. 

For this year’s challenge, 13 teams from eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nationwide competed in creating a smart city solution utilizing 5G capabilities, and for the second consecutive year, a team from Morgan earned second place honors. Teams from Howard University took both first and third place in the competition.

The MetaBears team consisted of senior Makhya Wilridge (computer science) and juniors Abigail Dina (computer science/business), Dimitri Watat (finance) and Martin Adu-Boahene (information systems). Adu-Boahene is the only team member to have participated in both of Morgan’s winning teams, in back-to-back years. Edward Dillion, Ph.D., of the School of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Science’s Department of Computer Science served as Morgan’s faculty advisor for the challenge, while AT&T’s E.J. Jackson, LaVette Gordon and Tanya Blackshear coached the Morgan team. 

AT&T Innovation Challenge

Consisting of three to five members each, the competing teams were challenged to develop a “Smart City” solution that focused on cities of the future while promoting economic development, improving infrastructure and digitally optimizing public assets. The core components of a Smart City are smart governance, smart economy, smart community, smart living, smart mobility and smart people. With the EduLab app, the MetaBears concentrated their efforts on the elevation of ‘smart people,’ by attempting to redress the unequal distribution of academic resources, including school funding, and enhance access to experienced teachers, textbooks and technology.  

EduLab LogoTheir solution, EduLab, pairs AT&T’s 5G latency with virtual reality (VR) to create virtual lab learning environments. The effort seeks to eliminate the cost of equipment, opening the educational process to becoming more inclusive of disenfranchised students. EduLab enables students and/or schools without readily available physical resources such as lab animals, scrap automobiles or other materials, to gain easy access to VR versions of those items using headsets and haptic gloves in simulated lab spaces. It would also enable students with dissimilar languages to communicate with their instructors and classmates with real-time language translations.

According to AT&T, helping HBCU students develop innovative solutions to real-world problems is an important part of its commitment to creating new opportunities in Black communities. In addition, it is a part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility team’s efforts to use broadband for good to address issues facing society today.

Congratulations to Abigail, Dimitri, Martin and Makhya for successfully demonstrating Morgan’s core value of Innovation and representing the university with distinction in the competition.