Students develop projects at third annual Hackathon

Ruoshan Dong

Students coded for 36 hours to develop their own programs as part of the third annual Hackathon hosted Feb.16 to 17.

The event, led by Rehaan Furniturewala ’19 and Sarah Wilen ’19, featured workshops in cybersecurity, web development and entrepreneurship. Students also formed teams of up to four members to create innovative solutions for school and societal problems using technology.

Projects were judged by a panel of alumni including Sameer Gupta ’99, Kelly Hanker ’99, Todd Jackson ‘99, Josh Glazer ’96 and Caro Krissman ’94. Criteria included technical difficulty, creativity, functionality and usefulness.

“I liked being able to pitch our project to the judges,” Jacky Zhang ’21 said. “I really enjoyed the whole process behind creating our own programs.”

Lukas Seklir ’21, Yvette Copeland ’21, Will Liu ’20 and Will Farhat ’21 won first place in the competition and received AirPods as a reward. Their program, Freehand VR, implemented artificial intelligence and virtual reality techniques to create immersive 3D games.

Amaan Furniturewala ’21, Katarina Cheng ’21 and Aariz Furniturewala ’23 won second place for their project, SchedHW. SchedHW allows students to schedule meetings with peers based on shared free periods.

Cheng said her group was inspired to create SchedHW when they noticed how difficult it was for students to determine their common frees.

“When you want to work with someone on a project or homework, it’s often really hard to plan that because everyone’s schedules are so different,” Cheng said. “We wanted to solve this problem by creating a really user friendly program that could do all of that planning for you.”

Eli Friedman ’21, Kosi Nwabueze ’21, Chase Thumann ’21 and Matthew Redford ’21 won third place for their program ByteLab, an educational Javascript-based toolkit for retro style game development.

Though students enrolled in computer science classes at school were familiar with Java, no prior experience was necessary to attend the event. When working on projects, participants also coded in HMTL, Swift and Python.

Ariana Pineda ’21 said her group faced challenges with learning different languages.

“We really wanted our program [connecTEEN] to be a website, but I was the only one familiar with HTML,” Pineda said. “The really difficult part came when we had to embed Javascript into our program to direct users from page to page. None of us knew any Javascript, so it was pretty much a trial and error process.”

Zhang said participating in Hackathon helped inspire his passion for entrepreneurship.

“I now realize that I’m really interested in business after attending the workshops,” Zhang said. “I will definitely be coming back next year.”