Spring 2016 hackNY Student Hackathon Recap

Last weekend we celebrated the 13th hackNY Student Hackathon with a record number of student hackers from all over the East Coast. Over 260 students hacked on projects over 24 hours, building webapps, games, and hardware hacks. They represented 50 different universities, and many joined with students from several other schools to form their teams.  We were extremely impressed by the quality of the hacks built – nearly half our hackers were attending their first hackathon!

Employees from NYC startups came to present their APIs to the students and mentor them throughout the weekend, including Buzzfeed, MongoDB, Foursquare, Clarifai and Giphy. Hacks included both useful and funny webapps, simulations and educational material using civic data, a hilarious but politically relevant game, and innovative hardware hacks using drones, Oculus Rifts and Arduinos. When they needed a break from hacking, hackers attended a workshop on APIs for new hackers, coding competitions with MLH, and our traditional Ladies Storm Hackathons meetup. At the LSH meetup, 30 women hackers enjoyed sharing their experiences and finding common interests while decorating cupcakes. We also introduced hackers to some of the best of New York’s food, like Halal Guys chicken and rice, Otto’s Tacos, Schnitz Sandwiches, Insomnia Cookies and Joe’s Pizza. The Kings Kolache team spent breakfast with us, heating up their famous kolaches on the spot so everyone had something hot and delicious to fuel their last hours of hacking.

We had over 50 teams demo their hacks to our team of judges, which included developers, entrepreneurs, and the CTO of the City of New York! You can learn more about our 5 inspiring judges in last week’s blog post. Thank you to our judges, local Technical Ambassadors who mentored our hackers, and volunteers who truly made our event possible. Thank you also to our sponsors: Quotidian Ventures, MongoDB, eBay, Datto, Capital One, Andreessen Horowitz, and Twilio!

In the media: NYC Tech Wizards Convene for hackNY’s Spring 2016 Event

View photos from the Spring 2016 hackNY Student Hackathon on Flickr.

Here are the winners of our 9 prizes. Check out Devpost for all the submissions, video stream of the event, winners of sponsor prizes and more. Later this week, we’ll update this post with photos from the hackathon.

HackNY
1st Place:
Interface
Optimizing the language learning experience through foreign language comprehension and accessible vocabulary.

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2nd Place: Toast Printer
An image of any size is scaled to fit on bread and is toasted onto it.

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3rd Place: Peer Wifi

This application provide a platform for the users to sell mobile data, and allows other users to buy.

Our top 3 hacks will go on to present at the New York Tech Meetup

Best First Hack: BunnyBot
A stuffed bunny that uses an Arduino Uno, two touch sensors, one buzzer, and one LCD backlight to sing, purr, and display messages.

The 8-Breaker: Drone Regulator
Fly your drone with a PS4 controller while never breaking drone laws.

Most Technically Impressive Hack: Adaptive Wireless Mesh-Networking
Mesh-Networks allow for advanced adaptive reconfiguration. Possible uses include Smart Cities, Transportation and more.

Best Hack Design: YUGE!
Donald Trump is building a wall, and it’s up to you to stop him! Win as many points as possible before it’s built!

Best Hardware Hack: Tin Cam
A minty, cheap, discreet, cloud-connceted camera that aims to end police brutality and the dangers of walking alone.

Best Hack Using an NYC Startup’s API: Pictorious
Like a race through wikipedia pages in search of some “thing”, but with gifs instead.

Best NYC Inspiration: PillowBrawl

Best use of MongoDB (Sponsored by MongoDB): Hyperios

Best Use of Capital One’s API (Sponsored by Capital One): Make or Break

Best PHP Hack (Sponsored by Datto): CraveSpot

Best use of Twilio (Sponsored by Twilio): RemindMe, DialVG, Pranker

Best Use of Amazon Web Services (Sponsored by AWS): Urban H20

Best Domain Name (Sponsored by Domain.com): Just Bike

Best Developer Tool (Sponsored by Github): Station Location

More than 30 women hackers attended the traditional Ladies Storm Hackathons meetup to share stories and interests, and decorate cupcakes. Photo: Hanne Paine
Hackers worked through the night to build sophisticated webapps, games, utilities, and hardware projects. Photo: MLH
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The Toast Printer slowly comes together from parts. Photo: MLH

View more photos from the Spring 2016 hackNY Student Hackathon on Flickr!

Meet the Spring 2016 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges

hackNY’s Spring 2016 Student Hackathon is just over a week away! We’ve lined up a team of judges with expertise in programming, design, and entrepreneurship to pick the best hacks. Check out the list of prizes we will be awarding on Devpost.

Minerva Tantoco
Chief Technology Officer, 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.
Stacey Mulcahy
Senior Technical Evangelist, Microsoft
Stacey Mulcahy is a technical evangelist with Microsoft. Prior, she was the Lead Developer working with a variety of technologies at Big Spaceship, a digital agency based out of Brooklyn, NY. She has worked at Teknision and Fuel Industries in Ottawa, Canada, and IQ Interactive in Atlanta in a variety of technical roles. A technical editor and instructor, Stacey enjoys sharing her love for her work in interactive development. She considers her lack of verbal filter and extreme candor just a small part of her charm. She runs Young Game Makers – a program to inspire kids to love code through game making. She says, “hackNY hackathons always have some of the most polished and curious projects, judging is always so much fun.”
Yael Elmatad
Senior Data Scientist, 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 last 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.”
Renee DiResta
VP Business Development, Haven
Renee DiResta is the Vice President of Business Development at Haven, a startup in San Francisco that is creating an automated platform for freight procurement. She is an angel investor and adviser to hardware startups and was previous a VC at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and a trader at Jane Street Capital. Her book, The Hardware Startup, was recently published by O’Reilly Media. She says,  “Participating in hackathons has been one of my favorite ways to meet and learn from new people. I can’t wait to see the exciting projects created by the hackNY participants.”
Courteney Ervin
Developer, New York Public Library
Courteney Ervin works in the space where open source meets social good. She’s a developer at the New York Public Library, where she supports accessible literacy in the city and beyond. “I love seeing what people create when they care passionately about the problems they’re solving.”
Allie Diracles
Co-Founder and CEO, Vidcode

Alexandra Diracles started her career as a photographer and business owner. She studied computer programming in graduate school and fell in love with the creative potential of code. Since then she has made it her mission at Vidcode to create tools that help teen girls find their path and passion to code. “The power to build your own products, tools and businesses with code is huge. I can’t wait to see what the hackNY hackers have created.”

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

hackNY Celebrates 2016 AlumNY Reunion

On Friday, March 4th, we celebrated 6 years of the hackNY Fellows Program with our annual reunion. Our AlumNY got to hang out at Tumblr‘s beautiful NYC headquarters and reconnect with their friends over dinner and music. We listened to talks by two great technologists and artists, Tega Brain and David Scheinkopf, who told us about their recent work and inspired us to see tech, art, and education in new ways.

Here are some photos from the event!

AlumNY sit with their friends after dinner, listening to talks by local technologists and artists.

Continue reading “hackNY Celebrates 2016 AlumNY Reunion”

AlumNY Spotlight: Evan Casey (’14)

Welcome to our AlumNY Spotlight blog series! This winter, we’re be profiling some hackNY AlumNY who have continued to do great things at the startup where they spent their hackNY Fellowship summer. In our last post, Lisa Luo (hackNY ’14) told us all about her experience building an Android team at Kickstarter – check it out.

In this post we interview Evan Casey (Class of 2014), who interned at Tapad on the Data Team.  In Evan’s words, “Tapad is a marketing technology company that uses algorithms to analyze internet and device data and predict whether two or more devices are owned by the same person.” You may have heard about Tapad recently – the innovative startup is being acquired by Telenor, a multinational telecom company. Evan learned a lot as a hackNY Fellow and helped contribute a major feature to his team’s product. After his hackNY summer ended, Evan was offered a full time job on the Platform team. Eun Woo Song, Director of Engineering at Tapad, says, “Not only does Evan have a great personality and work ethic but his educational background, big data skill set and deep understanding of computer science principles make him a great addition to the team.”

Evan (right) with Tapad engineers Eun Woo Song and Jesse Zhang at a company happy hour

What are you up to at Tapad these days?

I am currently a software engineer on the Platform team, working on data infrastructure. Usually this involves writing batch ETL jobs in MapReduce to import and export data out of various databases we use (Aerospike, Elasticsearch, Vertica), working on our Kafka based data ingest stack, and building new infrastructure to power data applications for our vertical teams.

Recently, I’ve been hacking a lot on Spark and Impala as part of a project to prototype our next-gen analytics stack. It’s been a ton of fun working with Spark in particular, since it’s right at the tipping point of mass adoption and the project is progressing insanely fast. In the past, I built our forecasting delivery prediction engine on top of ElasticSearch which our sales and account teams use to forecast ad campaign delivery.

What did you work on when you were a hackNY Fellow there?

As an intern, I joined the Data team at Tapad and helped ship the first version of Audience Amplify, a new file format for our cross device data that is centered around audiences instead of clusters of device/cookie ids. Audience Amplify turned out to be a huge success, and it was really fun to be a part of a product that grew from idea to generating millions in yearly revenue. I learned a ton about Scala, building data pipelines, and working on an Agile team.

What was your favorite part of being a hackNY Fellow?

It’s hard to pick one specific thing, but the community is by far the best part of HackNY. I met some of my best friends in NYC through HackNY. During the fellowship, if I had an idea of something I wanted to hack on, I could find someone to work with on it pretty much whenever. I loved that. The collective knowledge of 30+ HackNY fellows in one dorm is truly immense. I learned a ton of things outside my specific areas of focus just by talking to other fellows.

The speaker series was also awesome. In specific, I loved hearing the talks from the Branch founders (Hursh and Cemre), Samantha John of Hopscotch, and the Codeacademy founders (Ryan and Zach). I left the fellowship basically just super inspired from hearing their stories.

Evan and Oleksii Iepishkin, another Tapad engineer, at Spark Summit

How has your company grown or changed since your hackNY summer?

Tapad has doubled in headcount since I joined, so there’s been a lot of change organizationally. With that amount of growth, more structure and internal processes have been added to keep everything running smoothly. In February of 2016 we were acquired by Telenor. It’s an exciting feeling to be acquired and I think the entire team feels really proud of what we built.

What did you learn as a hackNY Fellow, and what have you learned since then?

Tapad’s backend systems are written entirely in Scala, so I had to ramp up pretty quickly on Scala and functional programming as an intern. We use the Twitter libraries (Scalding, Algebird) extensively for writing MapReduce jobs which use a bunch of concepts from category theory and abstract algebra. The relationship between monoids and monads and large scale data analytics is really interesting and it’s a cool example of bringing highly theoretical ideas into core production systems. After HackNY, I started working on some of the larger, low latency, high QPS systems at Tapad. By necessity, I picked up some dev ops skills and learned a lot about verifying correctness through testing and monitoring.

Evan skating at a spot in Williamsburg

What do you enjoy doing away from the keyboard?

Skateboarding, music, film photography, travel.

Despite the harsh winter weather in NYC, I’ve been getting a few sessions here and there at the new Nike skatepark in Williamsburg. In the summer I usually skate LES a lot. I recently got an old school Canon AE-1 camera so I’ve been having fun shooting around the city and when I’m traveling. Music-wise I’ve been listening to a lot of psych/indie rock and electronic lately. Older stuff like Radiohead and newer stuff like Jamie xx.

Do you have any advice for the hackers who want to apply to be hackNY Fellows?

Make lots of side projects and submit a portfolio! Work on stuff outside of class and find other people to hack on stuff with. More than anything, HackNY is looking for people who love to build.

AlumNY Spotlight: Lisa Luo (’14)

Welcome to our AlumNY Spotlight blog series! This winter, we’ll be profiling some hackNY AlumNY who have continued to do great things at the startup where they spent their hackNY Fellowship summer. In our last post, JS Tan (hackNY ’14) told us about starting a creative agency with his friends and going viral with speculative marketing – check it out.

In this post we interview Lisa Luo (Class of 2014), who interned at Kickstarter and has since impacted several important teams there. Lisa’s mentor, Dan, is impressed with her work as a Fellow and as a leader on the Android team. “Lisa‘s quickly become an important part of the Kickstarter family. During her summer here, Lisa helped build our site’s internal permission system which has evolved into a fundamental part of our application. After her exemplary work, she was invited back over her winter break, and was offered a job starting this past June, after her graduation. She’s now a core member of the team working on the Kickstarter Android app. In addition to cranking out Java, Lisa can be found hanging tote bags on lamps to ‘create the right mood’ at her desk, and creating Slack icons for all of her team members.”

Lisa at her desk at Kickstarter.

What are you up to at Kickstarter these days?

I am currently a junior android engineer on the native team (2 iOS and 2 android engineers including myself), working on our first android release. Since we’re currently building the app from ground-up, I work on building and fixing whatever we need to build and fix!

What did you work on when you were a hackNY Fellow there?

When I was an intern, I was a back end ruby/rails developer. I spent the beginning of my summer actually learning more in-depth rails and how to develop with a professional team. By the end of the summer, I shipped a simple admin roles and permissions internal tool that assigned roles which filtered admin permissions on the admin side of our website. After that I tinkered around with some android prototyping, inspired by some scratch work I did during a company hack day.

Lisa presenting a demo at Music Hack Day in 2014.

What was your favorite part of being a hackNY Fellow?

My favorite part was waking up every morning and not always knowing what I would be doing for the day: after work I often Google-mapped my way to a cool office somewhere in NYC for our HackNY Speakers Series event, where I listened to and chatted with some of the most influential New York tech figures. I also loved living with and getting to know my brilliant HackNY companions, many of whom I consider great friends today. Having the opportunity to spend time with influential people who shared my interests in technology, whether they be CEOs or dorm mates, really motivated and inspired me to explore my potential as a coder and creator.

How has your company grown or changed since your hackNY summer?

Kickstarter has changed quite a bit in the past year. The engineering team itself has nearly doubled in size, the company as a whole growing by about a third. This calls for a little more company structure, i.e. specifiying teams, rearranging the office, etc, but the supportive, open, and brilliant culture remains the same. I find it exciting to work with and know a variety of people with colorful backgrounds.

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What did you learn as a hackNY Fellow, and what have you learned since then?

As a hackNY Fellow I learned quite a bit of rails on the job and how to git like a pro. Since then, besides all of the philosophical self-learning through life and growing up, I’ve picked up a little bit of Swift through SpriteKit game development and have started to learn reactive programming paradigms through RxJava. In my last year of undergrad I learned a fair bit about computational fabrication (e.g. 3D printing), which was cool, and how to make cameraless films.

What do you enjoy doing away from the keyboard?

In a list, I like making films, traveling, collecting things, running, drawing, writing, wandering around New York, and surprisingly, cooking.

I’ve been into making weird little films and animations since I was a kid and have been in the process of putting together a short film based on my family and travels in China in 2013. I’m a music enthusiast who plays guitar, bass, and Chinese hammered dulcimer, have been to at least 20 concerts so far this year, and have a budding record collection ranging from Motown to Mac Demarco. I think I’m also a compulsive collector; I’m currently in a phase of collecting business cards because I love the quirks in their designs. Staying fit keeps me sane, running long distances clears my mind, as much so as writing, which I regrettably have much less time to do these days. Finally, I am surprised by my enjoyment in cooking because I believe that is my first step of accepting adult life.

TL;DR I love the keyboard, but I enjoy doing many things away from the keyboard.

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Applications for the Class of 2016 hackNY Fellows are now open. Do you have any advice for the hackers who are applying?

When I applied to hackNY for the Class of 2014, I thought there was no way I would get accepted. But I did, and quickly learned that I was silly to have so much self-doubt at that point. I say, believe in yourself and be confident, but most importantly, be thoughtful in writing your essays and expressing yourself — your written words are pretty much the one window we have as reviewers to get to know who you are, behind your Github stats and LinkedIn skills and tweets and whatnot. If you’re worried about your code, experience, or projects, just be genuine about sharing something you care about!