Two winning teams from the Fall 2015 hackNY Student Hackathon presented their projects at the November New York Tech Meetup this Tuesday. Team Roam, our First Place winners, and team Lights, Camera, Location, winners of the 8-Breaker creativity prize, demoed as smoothly and impressively as the startups on the program. After their demos, they answered questions from the audience about their technical processes and plans for the future.

Here’s a full video of the NYTM demo lineup. Skip to 47:08 for the hackNY demos! You can also view all the photos from the night on NYTM’s Facebook page here.

Team Roam, winner of First Prize at the Fall 2015 hackNY hackathon, and team Lights, Camera, Location, winner of the 8-Breaker prize, getting ready to present at NYTM.

Team Roam, winner of First Prize at the Fall 2015 hackNY Student Hackathon, and team Lights, Camera, Location, winner of the 8-Breaker prize, getting ready to present at NYTM.

Roam, a team of Stony Brook students Amit Bapat, Bethann Polinsky, Philippe Kimura-Thollander, and Varun Sayal (Bethann wan’t able to attend the meetup), impressed us at the hackathon with their Android app that allows users to get directions, check the weather, and call an Uber all without using phone data or wifi. Their polished app hides the details of interacting with APIs using SMS, and presents data beautifully and naturally.

Roam preparing to present their app.

Lights, Camera, Location’s team, Alina Lalji and Zain Hemani of the University of Western Ontario, flew all the way from Toronto to present their hack. Their app scrapes internet databases all over the Web to provide filming location data for any movie you search – all in under 9 seconds. The NYTM audience especially enjoyed their visualization of NYC filming locations.

Photo credit: Craig Williston of QoolFoto /

Photo credit: Craig Williston of QoolFoto /

After the demos and Q&A, the hackers attended the NYTM afterparty where they talked with attendees about their projects with cake and swag. Many of their visitors had to ask again how long they’d spent on the projects, barely able to believe that they’d completed so much in 24 hours! We are very proud of our hackers, and hope to see them again at future hackNY events.

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Welcome to our AlumNY Profiles blog series! This November, we’ll be profiling some hackNY AlumNY who have continued to do great things at the startup where they spent their hackNY Fellows summer.

In this post we interview Emmett Butler (Class of 2012), who worked at as a hackNY Fellow and has helped it grow into one of NYC’s hottest startups. provides an analytics platform for digital publishers, helping them to act on audience insights with a data-driven approach. Emmett is a great contributor to open source projects, and develops games when he’s not working. He also has great advice for applicants to our incoming hackNY class!

Emmett at his home workstation, where he works remotely as a software engineer at

Emmett at his home workstation, where he works remotely as a software engineer at

Read more…

Last weekend we celebrated our 12th hackNY Student Hackathon! Over 220 students, representing over 50 schools, journeyed to New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences to build projects for 24 hours. At our opening ceremony, we opened applications for our Summer 2016 hackNY Fellowship – apply now!

Hacks ranged from civic hacks using NYC Open Data to hilarious API mashups and adventurous hardware hacks. One team even worked with a Keurig machine hackNY donated to NYU years ago, fixing its mechanical problems and adding their own functionality. Throughout the hacking, 25 technical ambassadors from local startups and companies were there to mentor, debug, and help develop ideas. Volunteers from NYU’s ACM chapter as well as hackNY Fellowship alumNY made sure the event ran smoothly.

When our hackers weren’t coding, they had plenty to do. Our Ladies Storm Hackathons Meetup was a great success, including our traditional cupcake decorating and crazy LSH selfie! MLH organized a cup stacking competition. Several late night runs to NYC classics like Halal Guys were organized among hackers. To keep our energy up, we ate delicious tacos (and 4am nachos) from Five Tacos, sandwiches from Perfect Picnic and The Schnitz, and kolaches cooked on-site by the incredible Kings Kolache. Our midnight surprise was Insomnia Cookies plus mooncakes to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. 中秋節快樂!

Once hacking ended, our team of judges (meet them here and here) used their technical knowledge and startup experience to pick our Top 3 hacks and 7 special awards, 5 of which were completely new! Sponsors and community members also gave awards for API and hardware excellence, the best domain name, Rube-Goldberg-tasticness, and creativity with Unhackathon’s Springboard Projects. Check out our prizes below, and all the hacks on Devpost!

We’ll update this post, and our Flickr account, with more photos this week! Thank you again for a great event – we’ll see you in the spring at our next Student Hackathon!


Our Top 3 hacks get to present at one of the next New York Tech Meetup events!

First Place

Roam, an Android app for getting directions, checking the weather, and calling an Uber – all without using any of your phone’s data. Instead, it cleverly compresses the data used by each API so it can run on nothing but text messages!

First place winners, Roam!

Second Place

Informant, a Chrome extension designed to enhance YouTube videos. It links to more information on celebrities after identifying them with facial recognition, and performs sentiment analysis on the speakers’ tone and content, indicating the overall relationships expressed throughout a conversation.

Our 2nd Place winners, Informant!

Third Place

Project Horus aims to make language learning more natural, letting users learn new words by seeing pictures of them in context. Users can circle an object in a photo they take, and see it identified with the Clarifai API with several different translation options.

Our 3rd Place winners, Project Horus!

NYU Hackathon 2015 Date: 9/26/2015 AND 9/27/2015

The 8-Breaker

This award is given to an extremely creative hack that isn’t one of Tess Rinearson’s 8 Kinds of Projects You Meet at Hackathons.

Lights, Camera, Location displays movie filming locations on an interactive map. Users can view all the locations a movie was filmed at, or see what movies filmed near their current location.

Most Technically Impressive Hack 

This award is given to a hack with serious technical work on hardware or software, even if it isn’t flashy on the outside.  

Vizu is an augmented reality application that inserts 3D images into any scene. It is especially useful for educators, who can insert symbols that correspond to 3D models into any document and have Vizu display them when it recognizes them.

Best Hack Design

This award recognizes great visual design and UX. Judges look at user interface, graphics, and product design.

HackHub is a central hub where hackathon organizers can post information and announcements about their hackathons. Participants can view it without having to create accounts, and receive desktop notifications for important announcements.

Best Hack Using an NYC API 

Supporting the NYC Tech Community is very important to hackNY. This award goes to the best hack using a local startup’s API to do something awesome.

CoWork24 is a mobile app that allows users to create coworking spaces on the go by setting a location and inviting others to work in their shared environment.

Best Civic Tech Hack

This award was created by our judges during this Fall’s event! 

WaterNY uses inexpensive tools compatible with any smartphone to allow NYC residents to analyze their water for microscopic contaminants.

Best Hardware Hack 

Webapps don’t have all the fun. This award goes to the hack that best incorporates hardware.

After their first hack idea failed, the Keurig Machine team took apart an old and broken NYU Keurig coffee maker, fixed it, and created a hack that allows users to brew a cup of coffee with a simple gesture detected by a Myo armband.

Best First Hack 

This award recognizes technical and creative impressiveness of hacks by first-time hackathon participants, and their learning over the 24-hour hack.

NYC Vehicle Collision displays collision information from NYC Open Data in a visually striking and easy to read format. Users can sort by location and date to view information about incidents and their causes.

Community Prizes

These prizes are created by our sponsors and NYC tech community members.

Best Use of MongoDB

Encabulator, a webapp that maps the best place to hail a taxi – without machine learning.

Best PayPal Hack

PhoneWTF connnects two people over the phone without telling them who is calling, and then records the ensuing hilarious conversations in exchange for PayPal donations.

Most Rube-Goldberg-tastic Hack (Sponsored by Datto) 

The Keurig Machine gets a very simple job done with many complicated and technical steps, leading to hacktastic awesomeness.

Best Use of Twilio

Roam uses text messages instead of data to get directions, check the weather, and request Uber.

Most Creative Hack Starting from an Unhackathon Springboard Project

Draw Anything started from a simple Springboard Project designed to teach websocket programming, and developed into a fully-formed and cleanly designed webapp with multiplayer Pictionary-style gameplay and in-game chat.

Best Use of Presto 

Awkscape helps you escape from awkward conversations by calling your phone when you snap your fingers, detected by Presto’s gesture detection API on Android Wear.

Best Use of Pebble

Pebble Vote lets users easily rate places from their Pebble watch.

Best Use of AWS

Project Horus uses Clarifai, Yandex.translate, and AWS to power a photo identification and translation webapp.

Coolest Use of chose Bruhzzfeed‘s as the coolest domain of the day.

hackNY’s Fall 2015 Student Hackathon is less than a week away! We are especially excited about the knowledgeable and influential judges we have lined up for the event. Read more about three of our judges here, and see our our previous blog post to meet the rest of the judging team.

Catt Small
Product Designer at SoundCloud and Independent Game Designer

Catt is an expert UX and product designer at SoundCloud. She develops games at Buttered Toast Studios and Brooklyn Gamery, teaches coding and game development with The Code Liberation Foundation; and speaks about the future of gaming and web design. She says, “Hackathons helped me grow tremendously as both a designer and developer. I hope to see lots of designers collaborating with people who have other skillsets to make amazing things!”
Christina Wallace
Founder of BridgeUp: STEM @ AMNH

Christina Wallace is the founding director of BridgeUp: STEM, a new educational initiative at the American Museum of Natural History with a mission to captivate, inspire, and propel girls and minorities into computer science. Previously Christina was the founding director of Startup Institute New York, the Founder and CEO of venture-backed fashion company Quincy Apparel, a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, and an arts manager at the Metropolitan Opera. She brings expertise in technology, education, and design to our judging panel. She says, “I’m thrilled to join the judging team for the hackNY hackathon — I’ve attended the demos for several years now and am continually impressed with and inspired by the projects that arise. Looking forward to seeing what the students create this year!
Minerva Tantoco
Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York

As NYC’s first-ever CTO, Tantoco directs the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation with responsibility for the development and implementation of a coordinated citywide strategy on technology and innovation and encouraging collaboration across agencies and with the wider New York City technology ecosystem. While still in college, Ms. Tantoco co-founded technology startup, Manageware Inc, which was successfully sold five years later. Since then, Ms. Tantoco has led emerging technology initiatives including artificial intelligence, e-commerce, virtualization, online marketing and mobile applications. She holds four US patents on intelligent workflow and is a speaker and author on mobile, security, big data, and innovation.

Thank you again to all our wonderful judges. We are so looking forward to this weekend!

hackNY’s Fall 2015 Student Hackathon is coming up in less than three weeks, and we’re looking forward to our hackers experiencing the activities we have planned. We are especially excited about the knowledgeable and influential judges we have lined up for the event. Read more about three of our judges here, and meet the rest of our judges in Part 2!

Samantha John
Co-Founder of Hopscotch Technologies

While an engineer at Pivotal Labs, Samantha taught programming classes to beginners. She then co-founded Hopscotch, an iPad app that teaches kids to code by creating and sharing simple games. She spoke about her experience as a startup founder to our hackNY Fellows this summer as part of our Speakers Series. She says, “It’s an incredible honor to be chosen as a judge, I’ve been a big fan of HackNY since its inception. I just got an Amazon echo and I’m interested to see what kind of hacks people could do with their API.”

Whitney Green
Assistant Director and Director of Science Recruitment at Columbia University, and Former General Manager at hackNY

Whitney ran hackNY’s Fellowship and Hackathons for a year, so she brings valuable hackathon experience to the judging team. She is also the former President of Columbia Engineering Young Alumni. As a Campus Recruiter at PWC, she worked with college students from all over the country. Looking forward to her first time attending hackNY as a judge, she says “Yay!”
Yael Elmatad
Yael Elmatad
Data Scientist at Tapad

Yael works on Graph Problems related to building Tapad’s Device Graph. Before coming to Tapad, Yael was an Assistant Professor and researcher at NYU, working with high performance computing to study physical systems. She spoke to this summer’s hackNY Fellows about Tapad’s data science as part of our Speakers Series. She says, “I am very eager to meet more intelligent young computer scientists through hackNY and looking forward to seeing what creative solutions they have come up with.”

In our next post, we’ll introduce more of our judges – Catt Small, Christina Wallace, and more!

On Wednesday, five of our alumNY spoke at one of NYC Generation Tech‘s mentorship nights. After sharing their stories and answering questions, they received a standing ovation from the students! Cheryl Wu, Class of 2012, wrote a guest post for our blog reflecting on the evening. Cheryl is a designer and creative coder, who currently works as a Product Designer at Nasdaq while on leave from NYU Gallatin. She is the Swiss Army Knife of Tech@NYU , where she connects New York City’s student tech leaders as the first community lead. She is passionate about improving lives through design, ecology, and education. Be sure to check out our other recent guest posts, from 2015 Fellows Kim, Keeyon, Chris, Merry, and Shloka!

Cheryl Wu, Class of 2012


Cheryl Wu, Class of 2012

On August 5th, I was one of five hackNY AlumNY honored to speak on a panel and Q&A with the students of NYC Generation Tech. Like hackNY, GenTech nurtures the next generation of technologists and entrepreneurs. GenTech’s free summer program gives curious, motivated public high school students from all five boroughs hands-on experience in building and shipping. GenTech students take a mini-bootcamp in frontend code, imagine an app that helps their communities, learn to pitch and collaborate, and work with mentors from top companies to prototype their mobile apps. As with hackNY’s summer fellowship, the students also get incredible private tours and lectures – tours of Warby Parker and Google, and CEO and VC talks – and make lifelong friendships with peers who want to change the world by building new things.

AlumNY Gerard O’Neill (’12), Valentin Perez (’15), Dan Cadden (’15), Cheryl Wu (’12), and Alan Lin (’13) shared personal stories and insights about the tech industry with students from local high schools

Read more…

Update: Applications for the Class of 2016 are now open!

If this looks like your kind of summer, apply now. 

It’s been a week since hackNY Fellowship ended with a spectacular Demo Night, and we’re already missing our Class of 2015 Fellows. Our 34 Fellows had an action-packed 10 weeks of interning at local startups and attending our Speaker Series talks, workshops, mixers with the alumNY, and activities around the city. Applications for the Class of 2016 will open on September 26th, at the hackNY Fall Hackathon!

The Class of 2015 at Demo Night

Our Startups this year were exciting and diverse, ranging from small, early-stage startups like Betterpath and Ufora to household names like Buzzfeed, Kickstarter, and Foursquare. Every startup came with a project or series of projects for their Fellow to work on – each Fellow shipped real code this summer! – and a mentor to guide them and answer their questions. Our students worked on projects from data visualization to ad fraud detection to tools for their dev teams. Read more…

The Centre for Social Innovation welcomed us for Demo Night.

The Centre for Social Innovation welcomed us for Demo Night.

On Friday night we celebrated the close of the 6th hackNY Fellowship summer with demos, dinner, and 120 of our favorite people. Demo Night has been a tradition since hackNY’s first year, with Fellows demoing their work and personal projects at the end of their 10-week internships. This year, though, we shook things up a little by inviting our alumNY, Fellows’ colleagues, families, and mentors, and luminaries from our Speakers Series. We mingled over snacks at the Centre for Social Innovation, where our 34 graduating Fellows demoed 20 projects to an enthusiastic audience. After demoing, each Fellow received their graduation regalia – our traditional I HACK NY t-shirt, and a track jacket customized for their graduating class and designed by Hanne. After taking a group picture, we headed to Pennsylvania 6 for a celebratory dinner with Fellows and their loved ones. Well past midnight, we ate our last pieces of cake and said goodbye. We look forward to seeing our newly minted alumNY at the upcoming Fall Hackathon!

Read more…

This summer, we are featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. So far, we’ve heard from Kim and Keeyon about their impressions of the Fellowship’s first half, and fallen in love with NYC all over again with Chris. Shloka introduced us to the life of a hackNY Fellow with a unique audio piece you won’t want to miss. Today, we’re featuring Merry, who thoughtfully explores what makes the hackNY environment special.  Stay tuned this week for more posts about working at New York startups!


Merry Mou

Startup: MongoDB
Hometown: Fremont, CA
Special Talent: Humming incessantly


Have you ever tried to have a good conversation with someone on the subway? The closer people are packed, the farther they are from the here and now. Eyes averted, phones out, people are on their way from point A to point B, earphones in – no one here is looking to meet someone new.

There is a time and a place for good interactions. As I’ve grown older, “Wanna get coffee?” has become a more and more familiar phrase. Sure, the coffee meeting is actually quite an effective and enjoyable way to get to understand people, but there’s always something performant and transactional about the affair. Interactions, especially with those I am still getting to know, have become scheduled, orchestrated events. The coffee is something that guarantees to unify us for half an hour, maybe an hour; we share the faces that we wear at 3pm on a weekday, and then we both go back to our own business, our own worlds.

Time and setting. As simple as it may sound, finding enough time with the right people in the right environment is incredibly difficult – and I am glad to say that this is exactly what hackNY successfully creates. Read more…

This summer, we are featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. So far, we’ve heard from Kim and Keeyon about their impressions of the Fellowship’s first half, and fallen in love with NYC all over again with Chris. Here, Shloka brings us into a whole new medium with an audio piece! This week, we’ll also feature Fellow posts about working at two great startups, and one thing that makes hackNY special.

Shloka is a grad student at Columbia doing a dual Master’s in Computer Science and Journalism. She applied the skills she’s learned in school, as well as some of her own unique talents, to create this audio piece introducing you to the life of a hackNY Fellow.

Shloka Kini

Shloka Kini 

Startup: Buzzfeed
Hometown: Schererville, IN
Special Talents: Public Speaking; Performing Arts – Instruments,
Bollywood Dancing, Acting