Popular Hampshire-style hackathon invites art, design, fabrication students to team with tech students in 24-hour marathon product development
When a team of Hampshire students launched their HampHack event last February and invited students of art, design, and fabrication to partner with tech students at a 24-hour hackathon, they were overwhelmed by the response: More than 600 college students applied for 200 spots. Participants at the weekend event represented not only Hampshire and the Five Colleges but also MIT, Harvard, Northeastern, and Trinity — and students who traveled from as far away as California. This spring, HampHack’s student producers are preparing for an even greater response, as registration is set to open this month for the second-annual, 24-hour, cross-discipline hackathon, which will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 14 and 15.
The event's producers, led by HampHack founder Nirman Dave in his second year at the College, are working with a range of name-brand tech-company partners and lining up event sponsors, such as Major League Hacking, MassMutual, and of course Hampshire.
A typical hackathon brings together tech-minded people to develop technology products and solutions, but HampHack prides itself on its Hampshire-style, cross-discipline scope.
“We invite students from different fields to come and do problem solving together,” says Nirman Dave.
Students will meet at the Robert Crown Center on Friday evening, form teams, and work for 24 hours straight to create potentially viable products, tackling problems in environmental sustainability, brain sciences, artificial intelligence, health sciences, life hacks, and other themes determined in part by sponsoring companies.
Last year 38 teams developed projects such as a mind-controlled car, a music-reacting bracelet, an app that detects if an item is recyclable, an interactive app storybook, even a huge Rube Goldberg machine (that is, an overly complex contraption, designed with humor and a narrative, to accomplish a simple task). Since then, four HampHack teams have attracted funding to further develop their products as startup ventures. Their projects:
The inaugural HampHack attracted some national media attention. The Observer reported, “Even with the technical products being created, coding took a back seat, for diversity (of all kinds) was the theme of this competition. They had an organic acceptance of 53 percent female and 46 percent male. Additionally, four out of five mentors and three out of five judges were women.”
HampHack is registered as an official Major League Hacking event (https://mlh.io/) and provides attendees with a multitude of resources — Oculus virtual-reality devices, Pebble smart watches, Leap Motion computer controllers, and Mindwave Neurosky brainwave-reading headsets, for example — to help with their projects.
“We’ll have all the resources and supplies students will need to create with,” Dave says. Although the bulk of the activities will be based in the Crown Center, students will also have access to the Center for Design’s machine shop and design lab. Faculty and staff will serve as mentors.
Other Hampshire students leading this year’s event planning are Tony Santacruz and Sree Harsha.
HampHack’s goals are to:
The event will also incorporate creative workshops, and prizes will be awarded, in several categories, to the teams who excel with their prototypes. “We hope some of the student teams will be able to develop their product further using funding from prizes,” says Dave. “It’s a great way for students to push themselves, learn new ideas, and form bonds with people they might not otherwise have met.”
HampHack’s themes this year are:
For more information, e-mail HampHack@Hampshire.edu.
REFERENCE LINKS: 2016 MEDIA COVERAGE
The Observer http://observer.com/2016/03/you-dont-need-to-know-how-to-code-to-win-thi...
Hampshire news story https://www.hampshire.edu/news/2016/01/08/students-launch-hackathon-to-c...