Arts & Life, Events

Third annual hackathon takes over USU ballrooms

Cases of water bottles, energy drinks, caffeine chews and candy piled high outside of the University Student Union Ballrooms over the weekend. But this wasn’t an elaborate stockpile to prepare for an apocalypse — it was to nourish over 100 coders as they programed for a chance to claim the various prizes.

The third annual Beach Hackathon gathered swaths of night owls as 50 to 75 teams grouped together to develop their own video games or programs from scratch — all in 24 hours. The event began at 3 p.m. Saturday and ended 3 p.m. Sunday, demanding a full 24 hours of determination and creativity fueled by the many snacks offered. The participants, largely computer science majors from various schools, competed for cash and tech-savvy prizes donated by sponsors Google, Formula Drone, TeleSign and Full Experiences.

Michael Botsko, computer science alum and founder of the event, worked with the Major League Hacking and Director Victoria Hong to host the marathon, giving students the chance to develop any kind of game, product or software imaginable.

“The only limitation is what you can do in 24 hours and it better be legal,” Botsko said. “What we at Beach Hacks try to do is keep it as open as possible because we don’t want to stifle people by having to swing it toward a specific thing.”

Participants didn’t seem to mind the challenge, as they worked as hard as their sleep-deprived minds would allow them on virtual reality video games, filing systems and website platforms.

While the event emphasized that no experience is necessary, many of the attendees were hackathon and coding veterans, bringing years of practice with them.

Junior computer science major Jimmy Lanh came to the event with over 10 years of coding under his belt. He and his partner, Kelly Hall, prepared for the long night with pillows, sleeping bags, cases of Dr. Pepper and two matching unicorn onesies.

“It symbolizes how we grew up as friends,” Lanh said. “A teacher just makes fun of unicorns in one of our classes that we have together and eventually it just stuck with us and became our slogan.”

The pair developed a file system similar to Torrent, which communicates files and data throughout different computers. The change Lanh and Hall tried to implement was separate from Torrent however, was to use encryptions to create a more full-proof system. Lanh said their main goal less about the prizes and more about gaining experience and learning from their peers.

“Hackathons are usually very fun and casual and for learning but of course you start getting competitive even if you start off thinking let’s go just for fun,” Hall said. “When you start coding and getting something to work you go, ‘Oh let’s go for the prize.’”

Lanh and Hall were one of many groups that decided to stay overnight to work on their projects by either migrating to the designated “quiet area” or unrolling their sleeping bags in between the crammed tables.

Using the free cup of noodles, energy drinks and caffeine-filled candy as fuel, students worked through the night until 3 p.m. Sunday when they were asked to drop their keyboards and mice to wait for the winners to be announced.

Beach Hackathon Winners

  • Our Easy Registry – Best Software Practice
    • Abigail Castro
    • Patrick Woo-Sam
  • Ult-Tic-Tac-Toe – Best Localization or Internationalization
    • Jesse Blacklock
  • Telegit – Most Disruptive Application using Telesign, Best Domain, Best Design
    • Oscar Pan
  • Hermithack – Best use of Amazon Web Services
    • Takafumi Kojima
    • Randy Chea
    • Will Cheng
  • ZapifyPay – Best IoT Hack using Qualcomm Device, Best Startup Idea
    • Abe Malla
    • Lauren Tung
    • Tal Globus
  • Flap – Best Rookie Hack
    • Gisselle Mon
    • Seasonfall
    • Winn
    • Sukrit Mehra
  • The Beach Digital Guide Dog – Best Social Impact
    • Victor Luquin
    • Animeeva
  • Nigel’s Never-ending Excursion – Most Creative Game
    • Tanner Mindrum
    • Dynamic Hunter
    • Sean Curley

This article was updated for corrections on April 23. 

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