For the uninitiated, a hackathon is an exercise in collaboration. People get creative through the power and potential of technology – and teams consider a problem or an idea and then develop websites, apps, and other high-tech solutions to address it. Think of it as a high-tech invention marathon.
It is no surprise that for the past five years Georgia Tech has hosted one of the largest collegiate hackathons in the U.S., or that dozens of companies have lined up to sponsor the event, including Facebook, Lyft, GM, Disney, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and NCR, among others.
This year, more than 1,000 participants from 80 different colleges and institutions gathered on the Tech campus for HackGT 5: Dare to Venture.
Twenty-nine corporate sponsors supported HackGT 5: Dare to Venture. (Instagram photo courtesy of @tonyrburdett)
From Oct. 19 to 21, as student teams worked nonstop on formulating their ideas and developing their projects, HackGT provided workshops and fireside chats with event sponsors, as well as mentors from business and industry to share their guidance and expertise.
New to the world of hackathons? No problem. Georgia Tech’s student organizers say they wanted to create an environment in which everyone felt welcome. Forty-four percent of the attendees at this year’s hackathon were newcomers.
Winning projects were selected at the end of three days — and they were unfailingly impressive, especially given the time constraints.
First place went to a team that included Georgia Tech computer science majors Ahan Shah and Harish Kamath (dual major with mathematics) that developed a tool they call Vocapture. The team noted that 2 billion people will be learning English by 2020. Their tool uses computer vision technology via a smartphone camera to identify objects to help English learners expand their vocabulary.
Computer science majors were also part of the second-place team. Logan Bussell and Jorge Bentancourt and their teammates created MenuMod, which is an Android-based app that analyzes images of restaurant menus and highlights food choices based on dietary needs.
A student from Auburn University won third place creating a bot to write a freestyle rap on any given topic. WikiBeat uses natural language processing to scan for information from the internet and matches phrases up into couplets, then lays down a beat to match the generated lyrics.
By the numbers
- Number of different schools in attendance: 80
- Number of projects: 189
- Percentage of first-time hackathon goers: 44%
- Number of participants: 1000
- Number of sponsors: 29
- Number of keynote speakers: 3
- Number of workshops: 26
- Number of fireside chats: 12
- Number of mini-events: 10
- Number of meals: 10
- Number of food servings: 5923
More information about HackGT is available on the group's website.