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Shanghai Urban Commuter Challenge Highlights NYU Poly Incubator Company

The Ford Motor Company recently invited digital developers to come to the aid of commuters in major world cities by designing software that could help enhance their quality of life.
One of the submissions came in from a company called Bandwagon. It is based at Urban Future Lab, the innovative clean-tech incubator in Brooklyn, N.Y., a partnership between NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and The City and State of New York. Bandwagon’s submission to the Ford Shanghai Urban Commuter Challenge turned the judge’s heads – the company’s rideshare entry came in second place overall, garnering a $7,000 prize.
Bandwagon.jpg
For its Shanghai rideshare submission, Bandwagon – launched in 2013 – conducted extensive research on the city’s transportation infrastructure, while developing the mobile web version of its software for this context.
The Bandwagon team ultimately developed a mobile web application and “hub-view” that lets commuters at crowded airports and other transportation hubs see passengers and departing rides in the vicinity. This mobile web application, light-weight and relatively easy to deploy, reduces the need for physical hardware. It would enable Shanghai residents to deploy Bandwagon’s sharing networks at their most crowded transportation centers.
And the Shanghai Urban Challenge judges were clearly impressed by its potential to help commuters in the city, population 14.35 million, and home of NYU Shanghai.
Bandwagon is led by CEO David Mahfouda, and its top staff includes Ugur Inanc, Director of Operations. Inanc is a graduate of NYU Polytechnic who completed his master’s degree at New York University’s Management of Technology. The company operates in several U.S. metropolitan hubs, such as Newark International Airport, where it partnered with United Airlines Eco-Skies as the program’s ridesharing provider, and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Internationally, Bandwagon works in the Quebec region, and is in talks with other major transportation hubs in the North Atlantic region.

Former NYU Prague Professor Tomas Halik joins the ranks of Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Mother Theresa as a Templeton Prize Laureate

At a ceremony at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on May 14, Czech theologian and philosopher Tomas Halik received the prestigious Templeton Prize – an annual prize for a living person who has made “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimensions.”
Halik’s life has been dedicated to bringing people together to promote inter-religious understanding. “Tomas Halik represents the contemporary global trend of religions to find mutual cooperation and dialogue,” said NYU Prague professor Petr Mucha. “Dialogue is a key word in Tomas Halik’s life. You could call him a ‘Philosopher of Dialogue.’”
In his acceptance speech at the Templeton ceremony, Halik spoke of the dangers of losing site of the Christian concept of loving thy neighbor. The current idea of tolerance is contributing to the failure of multiculturalism in Europe. “Let everyone live as they like, so long as they don’t disturb or restrict others – this is certainly a more humane situation than constant quarrels or permanent warfare, but can it be a lasting solution? That sort of tolerance is fine for people living alongside each other, but not for people living together.”
Halik founded the religious studies program at NYU Prague in 2000 and continues to maintain close ties with NYU. Along with NYU Prague Director Jiri Pehe, he was also one of the initiators of Forum 2000 – an international conference launched by Vaclav Havel in 1997 that brings together political, spiritual and nongovernmental leaders of the world each year.
Tomas Halik has been dedicated to the idea of dialogue since the early years of Communist rule, when he organized secret underground seminars with intellectuals and dissidents such as Vaclav Havel. Dubbed an enemy of the people for criticizing the government, Halik’s seminars undoubtedly contributed to the ultimate fall of the regime.
After the Velvet Revolution, Halik became famous for his initatives promoting dialogue between athiests and people of spiritual backgrounds. He then began organizing inter-religious dialogues, attempting to build bridges between Christians, Muslims, Buddhists Jews and atheists. “By awarding Tomas Halik this prize, the Templeton Foundation is showing their support for the world global inter-religious dialogue,” says Professor Mucha.
Halik plans to use the $1.83 million prize – one of the world’s largest prizes for an individual – to develop his work promoting dialogue with people of other faiths.
Tomas Halik and Petr Mucha
Templeton Prize Laureate Tomas Halik with NYU Prague Professor Petr Mucha at the ceremony.
Along with NYU Prague Director Jiri Pehe, he was also one of the initiators of Forum 2000 – an international conference launched by Vaclav Havel in 1997 that brings together political, spiritual and nongovernmental leaders of the world each year.
After the Velvet Revolution, Halik became famous for his initiatives promoting dialogue between atheists and people of spiritual backgrounds. He then began organizing inter-religious dialogues, attempting to build bridges between Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and atheists.

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