Shell Hacks, the FIU’s School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) and Microsoft cosponsored fall hackathon took the University by storm on Friday, September 14, when more than 700 university students from around the world descended on PG-6 Tech Station to begin the event. The students readied themselves for a marathon, 36-hour event/competition, coming together to learn the newest technologies, build innovative projects, and share them with the community. This year’s hackathon theme was, “Diversity” and the event lived up to its name. The 700 students participating in the event came from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds, with students coming from India, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, and across the United States, as well as universities throughout Florida, to celebrate technology and develop solutions to some of our world’s most interesting challenges.
Dean John Volakis, of FIU’s College of Engineering and Computing, kicked off the event, welcoming all the students and challenging them to both enjoy the hackathon and FIU’s campus and facilities while meeting the diverse challenges that lay before them. He also invited them to enjoy the diversity of Miami and South Florida after the event but before they returned to their home universities.
The FIU Chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the International Honor Society for Computing and Information Disciplines, organized the event and revved up the crowd by playing games, passing out T-shirts and welcoming all the students, as they registered for the event. Dr. S.S. Iyengar, Ryder Professor and Director of the School of Computing and Information Sciences, also welcomed the students and sponsors to the event, challenging them to excellence.
“This is truly an inspirational event, empowering students from around the world to take on some of the greatest technological challenges of our times in only 36 hours!” stated Dr. Iyengar. “These students represent some of the top students in our universities. Simply by participating in these events, they demonstrate their determination to learn from one another and challenge themselves to achieve the highest goals, just as inventors and computer science pioneers have always done.” “It is truly great to be associated with these outstanding students,” he concluded.
Dr. Iyengar also thanked the more than 18 sponsors for both their time and financial support for the event. “We simply could not provide this fun, educational challenge for all of the students without our sponsor’s active support.”
Microsoft was a co-sponsor, along with Google, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, and 18 other technology and software companies as well as restaurateurs (Yes! Students love to eat!) from around the world. The cosponsors provided assistance to the students in reviewing resumes, assisting with their technology hacks, and hopefully hiring the best of the best on-site.
During the hackathon students and sponsors provided workshops in a wide variety of areas, while the serious hackers pressed on with the delivery of their technology solutions. There were several categories of competition as well as first, second, and third place finishes for the overall best hacks.
The “Configure of Speech” hack team were winners of @akamai’s prize for best security and privacy thinking in their project. Second place went to “Speak Free” a virtual reality application helping speakers to overcome stage fright. The winner of the Google Diversity Challenge was Cultura—an app that takes a food image and runs it through a visual artificial intelligence (AI) program to identify from what culture the dish was derived. The Team expressed their enjoyment, as well as their disappointment over the 36-hour hack stating, “We had some serious bumps in the road, but we came out on top.” That’s what counts! Photos of the event can be seen at www.instagram.com/fiuscis.
You can view the ShellHacks projects submissions on their DevPost website.