Student programmers test their skills at Hackathon – The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle


HackHW held the annual Hackathon at Mudd Library from October 14-15.

For two days, participants formed teams of five to design their own technology projects. The different projects consisted of apps, websites and games. The students attended a web design workshop led by Hackathon organizer Eric Yoon ’23, as well as two other workshops hosted by HW Venture on pitching and marketing their projects. In addition, all teams had the opportunity to hear software engineer Max Mednik ’02 talk about his experience in start-up incubators.

The event culminated in all teams presenting their final projects to a panel of former judges. Sam Pulaski ’24 and Andrew Wesel ’24 won first place for their game, which presents pre-generated images to its user, who then has to guess what text the image was based on. To create their game, Pulaski and Wesel used DALL-E 2, an artificial intelligence system capable of generating an image from any text.

Hackathon organizer Luke Collins ’24 said he was happy to see the variation between the different projects.

“I’m very surprised and encouraged by the variety of projects that made it into the top five,” Collins said. “To me, it shows how many different applications and ways there are to effect change using IT.”

For the past few years, the Hackathon has been held on Zoom to accommodate the school’s COVID-19 safety measures. Collins said he enjoyed the Hackathon’s in-person format more than the online adaptation of the event.

“I participated the year we had the Hackathon online and it was a completely different experience,” Collins said. “There is a certain atmosphere that develops when so many people are cramped in a building for 36 hours. The social and collaborative benefits of having the event in person are indescribable. The fact that we’re in person creates an environment that didn’t exist in the online hackathon, where it feels like everyone is distant and separate.

Wesel said the program he and Pulaski created will soon be available online.

“I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had won,” Wesel said. “I was proud of our project, but many other teams have also created some great, great apps. It was definitely a vote of confidence for our site, and I think we’re both excited to release an online version. online in the coming weeks.

Hackathon escort and math teacher Andy Stout said he saw many students energized by the hackathon environment.

“When I first arrived there was loud music in one of the rooms and then there was a student holding another student on his shoulders,” Stout said. “It was a wild party vibe. The fun of the Hackathon is that you stay with a whole bunch of other students in the library for a 48 hour period. You see the other students working for much of that time, so you are energized by seeing other students working on other projects. »


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