Entrepreneurs tackle STEM issues


Hackathon organizer Lukas Seklir ’21 relays the details of his Hackathon project to Leader of HW Venture Coco Kaleel ’20. Seklir won first place for his app, Melodica, which generates a song with violin and flute accompaniment after the user hums a melody. Credit: Ethan Lachman/Chronicle

Ethan Lachman

After receiving positive feedback from students, the school hosted its second Hackathon of the year where students applied programming skills to creative projects Feb. 15 to 16 in the Mudd Library, Hackathon Organizing Team member Jacky Zhang ’21 said.

Hackathon Organizing Team arranges a different schedule 

To ensure that participants remained well-rested, the Hackathon Organizing Team split up the traditionally continuous 30-hour period into two separate days, both of which lasted from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Zhang said that although he appreciated the extra rest, without the normal overnight experience, participants lost the ability to enjoy the recreational side of the Hackathon.

“From an organizer’s point of view, I think it was definitely less tiring to be able to go home after the first day and actually get some decent amount of sleep compared to the last time where I think most of us got three or four hours of sleep,” Zhang said. “But I think a lot of the participants would very much have preferred an overnight Hackathon because that’s more fun.”

Students win awards 

Lukas Seklir ’21, Kosi Nwabueze ’21 and Matthew Redford ’21 won the competition for their music engine program, earning both a speaker and a subscription from one of the Hackathon’s sponsors, WolframAlpha.

Coco Kaleel ’20 won second place for her program, “Bibdropper,” and received a power bank and a subscription to WolframAlpha as well. In third place, Tyler Weigand ’21, Eli Friedman ’21 and William Tao ’21 earned scholarships courtesy of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games and Animation.

Kaleel said she was impressed by her peers’ projects, which involved augmented reality, mathematics-based games and eye detection. Additionally, Kaleel said she was proud of the final product of her own project.

“I built a Google Docs add-on that lets you build bibliographies in-document, and then click a button to add footnotes quickly and easily throughout documents,” Kaleel said. “My project this year was my favorite so far. I plan on continuing it and hopefully publishing it to the Google [Play] Store by the end of the school year.”

Kaleel said that, although the commitment can seem daunting, the Hackathon gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the gratifying activity of coding.

“It’s sometimes hard to find time to sit down and code for two days, and when I go to Hackathon, I remember how much I enjoy coding and creating,” Kaleel said.