Fifth Annual Hack.UVA attracts over 600 participants

The event focused on diversity, featured more than $20,000 in prizes


Hack.UVA gave out more than $20,000 in prizes. 

Navya Annapareddy | Cavalier Daily

The Fifth Annual Hack.UVA event this weekend drew more than 620 participants from more than 25 sponsoring or partner groups. Hack.UVA is a hackathon, an event in which a large number of programmers collaboratively work to complete a unique project in a short period of time.  

The event spanned March 24 to March 25 and took place in multiple buildings along Engineer’s Way, including Thornton, Olsson and Rice Halls. There was no entry fee and all meals were provided to participants. 

According to third-year Engineering student Andrew Ton, Hack.UVA received $80,000 in funding from a variety of sponsors — including companies like Google and Facebook — and their main sponsor, SAP, donated $25,000 towards the event.  

On its website, Hack.UVA pitches itself as a collaborative space where teams of up to four aspiring developers, designers and entrepreneurs could work together to create a web or mobile application or platform from scratch. 

This year’s event focused on diversity, with three overarching categories — safety, equality and empowerment. Participants could enter their projects to be judged in one or multiple categories, depending on the function of the project.

The safety track was for applications and platforms that provided “physical and emotional security.” The equality track housed works that strived to “eliminate social and economic inequality.” The remaining empowerment track was for applications and platforms that provided people with the means to succeed, often in relation to business or charitable ventures.

First-year Engineering student Hana Nur praised the diversity of the tracks and the ease of access to educational workshops at the event. 

“If you thought of an idea, you could fit it under one track or even more than one,” Nur said.

First-year Engineering student Thrishna Sonnakul said many students choose to attend hackathons instead of completing individual projects because hackathons provide a way for students to network with peers and employers in the tech sphere.

Over the course of the event, Sonnakul and Nur worked on a mobile application that could detect distress in people with mental disabilities and illnesses by an inputted audio recording.

Grand prizes, as well as second place and beginner prizes, were awarded for the “top hacks” of each of the three tracks of the event. 

The grand prize winner for the safety track was awarded to an all fourth-year team composed of Engineering students Andreas Butler, Divya Patel, Naveen Iyer and Vijay Edupuganti. Their mobile application FallSafe was developed to help elderly people better manage physical falls.

“Essentially, we created a mobile video monitoring, detection and fall notification system for the elderly,” Iyer said.

Butler said that the event went smoothly and was well-organized.

“The Hack.UVA team put together something great and it’s a great accomplishment,” Butler said. “We really enjoyed our time here.” 

Ton said organizing the hackathon was a nearly yearlong process and planning for next year’s event will begin again in just a few months.

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