January 30, 2014

1,200 developers hit the West Coast’s collegiate hackathon


This blog post originally appeared on the Mashery Developer Blog.

One of the biggest collegiate hackathons in the nation took place in Santa Monica, CA at the L3 Santa Monica Place Mall this past weekend with an astounding 1200 hackathon participants.  This three-day collegiate hackathon known as HackTECH (organized by Caltech and UCLA) attracted students from west coast schools including Caltech, the UC and Cal State SchoolsUSCthe Clairemont Colleges,  Stanford and more.  

Many students travelled to the hackathon by bus, provided for them by HackTECH free of charge.  Out of state students from DukeIowa Statethe University of Wisconson and schools from as far as New York made the journey to HackTECH.

I represented Mashery at this event as a sponsor, helped participants with their apps and awarded the Best Use of a Mashery API prize.  The Mashery prize for this event was the Belkin We Mo Switch & Motion Kit (device allowing users the ability to control almost any appliance on and off with their phone and with a device sensor motion detector).


Grammy Award winning hip-hop music producer Jermaine Dupri attended the ceremony and expressed his support for the developer community.  He also spoke about his latest venture Global 14, a website allowing users to share bits of information about themselves Dupri describes as “social notifying.”


Shortly after, I along with MicrosoftFitbitPebbleSendgrid, and many other sponsors presented to the crowd our company products and guidelines for winning our prizes.  

Then, hacking began.  Students quickly assembled their ideas, began development, and worked through the night.  In the late evening, hackers rested on event couches and beanbags wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags, and some built private sleeping areas with cardboard boxes.

The next day, Saturday morning, projects began to take shape.   A team from Harvey Mudd presented to me their work in progress app, “Coptr,” a set of software and hardware add-on features for remote controlled helicopters in which users can see their real-life copter appear as an animated image in their custom-made video game.  This team created custom controllers including a foot pedal and hand sensor controller using an Arduino board and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect.  

Later that day, students took a break from hacking and ventured to the beach just a block away, planned by event organizers.  It was awesome for me to see those students coming from heavily snowed winter states enjoying the Santa Monica beach warmth, ocean waves, and cool breeze.

Hours later, Paul, Brad, and I gave a tech talk about the Mashery APIs andthe Intel XDK.  I introduced to attendees the Mashery API Explorer and explained the steps in easily and quickly obtaining a World Weather Online API Key.  Then, I introduced the Intel XDK, explained it’s features with Brad and showed users how to take the API key and invoke the service using the Intel XDK World Weather Online sample app.  


Paul then spoke to attendees about Intel’s developer programs, Intel Developer Zone, and upcoming Intel sponsored college hackathons like UC Berkely/Intel Hackathon and MLH (Major League Hacking) events: BoilerMake and PennApps .  Both HackTECH and MHacks are part of MLH.  We handed out Mashery and Intel shirts and hats to all that attended.  It was a fun experience.

The final day was incredible.  I switched from helping developers with their Mashery powered and Intel XDK created apps to helping developers submit their apps to Hacker League.  In the end, an awesome four member team from the University of Wisconsin won the Best Use of a Mashery API with “APIdash.” 


This winning app is a data pipeline editor using visual blocks that provide API data, data transformations, and actions based on that data.  Colorful visual flashes in the blocks indicate the data arrival.  They invoked services from the ESPNCNET, and Rotten Tomatoes APIs to demonstrate this visual pipeline.  ”APIdath" was built with Node.JS and the HTML5 canvas.

An honorary Mashery mention went to a three member team from UC Riverside that created “Wazo,” the smart grocery manager.  This hardware and software solution combines the use of sensory mats placed on refrigerators and food pantries with an accompanying mobile app to track food consumption and alert users to refill and buy foods that are low in quantity.  This team enabled their phones to function as barcode scanners to read food content information provided by the FoodEssentials API, which is then recorded onto their phone for users food inventory or for possible products to purchase.  ”Wazo” uses the Rasberry PiPythonAndroid SDK,Parse cloud API, and load sensors.  


The Best Use of the Intel XDK prize was awarded to “Hauller Me” the hauling and moving services app which utilized the Edmunds API for car features and availability. “Spectacularly Not-Quite-Working Masherly’d Movie Trailer App” was created with the Intel XDK using the Rotten Tomatoes andAppinions API.  ”CrunchSearch” and “MoodPing,” used the CrunchBase andTomTom APIs and “PushPins" and "TutorQueue" were created with the Intel XDK.  The 1st place HackTECH prize was awarded to "CLydE,” an API that allows you to control your room appliances, electronics, and lights through your favorite apps. 


I want to congratulate Siddharth Murching, Shubhi Jain, Justin Brezhnev and all other HackTECH organizers for putting together such an incredible event.  I want to thank all volunteers and participating sponsors for their HackTECH support.  Lastly, I want to extend my congratulations to all the qualified competing HackTECH teams for completing their awesome apps.