Announcing the Class of 2018 hackNY Fellows!

Meet the Class of 2018: This Fellowship of 19 students comes from 15 universities, spread out all over the US!  They are an impressive, diverse group, with great tech skills and strong ideas about the future of our industry. Thanks to the generosity of a varied community of supporters, the Fellows program includes community-style housing in Union Square as well as a series of pedagogical lectures introducing the hackNY Fellows to founders, investors, journalists, technologists, and all-around leaders from the NYC startup community.

Fellows will also use their skills to assist nonprofits in social good projects, from mental health technology to tech education to interactive art installations. They will work alongside hackNY AlumNY and representatives of social good organizations to build the tools needed to give back to New York City. 

AlumNY from the program return to mentor the Fellows during the summer, helping them navigate their new internships, New York City and life in general. We are so excited the Class of 2018 is joining our community!

Since 2010, hackNY has partnered with over 100 host startups to host over 200 hackNY Fellows. Our Fellows are interning at 13 different New York City startups this summer and learning everything they can about New York’s tech scene. We look forward to continuing the long partnerships hackNY has had with many host startups, and we are also excited to be working with 5 of our host startups for the first time. View all the host startups we’ve worked with and more program details on our Fellows site.

Announcing Demo Night 2018: An evening of demos and celebration will take place Friday, August 3th. This event commemorates the end of the summer and is a chance for the Fellows to show off the summer projects they worked on, both professionally and personally. Demo Night is open to the tech community, and RSVPs and more information will be coming soon.

Amber Rawson 
Rutgers University

Ben  Yang
Rutgers University

Calvin Dong
UC Berkeley

Chuang Tang
Vanderbilt University

Dana Fein-Schaffer
Wellesley College

Emily Koagedal
UC Berkeley

Janice Lee

Kalvin Lam
Brown University

Kellie Dinh
Bryn Mawr College

Kevin Liao
Haverford College

Krish Dholakiya
University of Colorado Boulder

Martha Edwards
Brown University

Michael Yang
New York University

Noah Huber-Feely
Columbia University

Noah Keppers
Michigan State University

Pearl Leff
Hunter College

Raymond Berger
Eckerd College

Tanya Balaraju
Rutgers University

Zach Hay
University of Pennsylvania


Hanne Paine Joins hackNY as Director of Operations

We’re thrilled to announce that Hanne Paine (hackNY Fellows Class of ’14) has rejoined hackNY full-time as our new Director of Operations! Hanne has been working with Eric Wu to carry on his work over the past three years as he moves on to new adventures (stay tuned!). Hanne has been a hackNY Fellow, Mentor, Program Coordinator, and Director of Admissions, and is now excited to be taking the reins at hackNY.

Hanne has previously worked at NASA, Green Map Systems, Google, and Betterpath (as a hackNY Fellow). She has been passionate about tech and education ever since middle school, when she worked at a space simulation camp as a senior volunteer and their first female computer programmer.

Hanne has been devoted to hacking and organizing since college. While a first-year student majoring in computer science, she restarted her department’s inactive Computing Society as President, increasing its membership to hundreds of students and organizing weekly Tech Nights featuring talks with startup leaders, tours of NYC tech companies, and the school’s first Startup Career Fair. She also introduced her classmates to hackathons, organizing bus trips to hackathons around the US and Canada for students from Stony Brook and the NY area. Hanne also directed Unhackathon, a series of events that were designed to prioritize a greater diversity of hackers, projects, learning, and creativity.

In her free time, Hanne is a hard-core nerd. She enjoys thinking about linguistics, especially constructed languages from fiction. You can find her at speculative fiction conventions all over the world, teaching her immersion course in a language from outer space.  She’s always happy to recommend a good book and talk shop about telescopes or high-tech cooking equipment.

Hanne is looking forward to an excellent summer with Class of 2018 hackNY Fellows. She also hopes to work on hackNY’s social good initiatives, promote inclusivity, combat impostor syndrome and stereotype threat, and one day expand hackNY’s reach to include younger students.

Welcome, Hanne!

Spring 2018 Student Hackathon Recap

hackNY returned to NYU on April 7th and 8th for our 17th Student Hackathon! A group of over 200 dedicated students produced some of the best hacks we’ve ever seen. We noticed an extra focus on social good this season, with hacks to protect schools from guns, make online communities safer, bring education to those without resources, and help the world be more accessible to those with disabilities. For a couple of the winning teams, their members came solo and found their new teams and friends at the hackathon. That’s what we love to see!

The Spring 2016 hackers represented over 70 universities, with students coming from as far away as Chicago and Florida to work on projects. Check out all 36 awesome hacks on Devpost!

Hackers learned about APIs and Blockchain technology in workshops taught by hackNY Fellows Sam Agnew of Twilio and Calvin Chan of, and laughed at the improvisational skills of Slideshow Karaoke participants, put on by MLH. Meals and snacks were plentiful throughout the weekend, with hackers enjoying italian, thai, Kings Kolaches, Veselka and Insomnia Cookies, among others.

Our traditional Ladies Storm Hackathons meetup was as fulfilling as always, with women gathering to relax and share their experiences. They discovered many similarities, like the struggle to find mentors, interest in studying abroad, and ideas about integrating interdisciplinary skills into their technology careers. They discussed some of the most difficult issues facing women in the world of technology. At the end, the LSH hackers left with a sense of solidarity, new friends and mentors, and (of course) cupcakes!

After a series of impressive demos, a panel of experts judged the hacks and determined our amazing winners.

First Place: Myo Piano
These hackers used a Myo armband and machine learning to allow users to play a virtual piano. This was their first experience with iOS development, and we were tremendously impressed with their learning in just 24 hours!


Second Place: DigiCane
This team took an important goal for the world – equal accessibility to navigation in Google Maps – and interviewed real users to determine how to help them best. They created an Android app that combines navigation with obstacle detection, alerting users with voice alerts and vibrations.


Third Place: Vizy
Recognizing that the visa interview process can be confusing and stressful, these hackers created a virtual interview system that guides users through practice interviews and gives them useful feedback based on an extensive dataset. Unfortunately, they had to leave early from the ceremony and we couldn’t get their photo.


Best First Hack: TxtEd
After noticing that students at impoverished schools in South Africa had access to phones, but not textbooks, this team made their very first hack about bringing education to everyone. They created a system to provide educational material and quiz students through only text messages, allowing teachers and parents to track students’ progress and adapt material as students learn.


Best Social Good Hack: SafeDetect
This team used Clarifai’s image detection API to identify guns in images, and Twilio’s API to text people in the vicinity, warning them of possible danger. They hope technology like this can save people from shootings in public places. This team was also at their first hackathon!


Best Hack using an NYC API: RatatouAI
This virtual rat uses the Clarifai API to detect the foods users have available and suggest recipes they can make. Next steps for this team include adding features like customizable nutrition content.


Most Fun Hack: Twitch Plays: Horror House
These hackers took the crowdsourced virtual fun of Twitch and brought it into the real world, allowing Twitch users to create experiences in an actual haunted house. They also made an excellent haunted house model to show off their hack!


Most Technical Hack: redditBotAnalysis
Bots posing as real users on social media can artificially influence public perception. To combat this, this team worked with the Reddit API, machine learning, and the Levenshtein distance algorithm to determine the overall likelihood of a thread being overrun with bots.


Best Hardware Hack: FriendAR
Using HoloLens and the Microsoft Face API, this team created an augmented reality system allowing users to identify the people around them by looking at their faces, providing social media information and the opportunity to chat via text.


Best Use of Twilio API: Infinite Loop Thingamajig Supply Inc.

Best Use of GIPHY API: HandyCamDogs & Cats

Best Use of Amazon Web Services: FriendAR

Best Use of MongoDB, Atlas, or Stitch: TxtEd

Best Domain Name Registered With Twitch Plays: Horror House

Many thanks again to our judges, volunteers, and of course our sponsors: Twilio, GIPHY, AirSwap, The New York Times, MongoDB, HistoWiz, Clarifai, David Aronoff, Bloomberg, Foursquare, and Insomnia Cookies.

hackNY is excited to present: the Spring 2018 hackathon judges

Our spring 2018 student hackathon is a week away and we’re excited to announce the judges who will be evaluating this fall’s hacks! Check out our Devpost for more information on the hackathon!

Lauren Ashpole

Software Engineer at Food52


About hackNY:

“One of the great things about hackathons — especially when you’re starting out — is realizing how much you know and how much you can accomplish when you don’t have time to second guess yourself.”


Lauren is a software engineer at Food52, the premier destination for kitchen and home enthusiasts, offering a curated shop, industry-leading content, and an engaged community. Before that, she worked as a front-end developer at Thrillist Media Group (now Group Nine Media). In her spare time, she enjoys designing fonts and (of course) cooking.


Ke Cheng

Founder and CEO at Histowiz


About hackNY:

“I’m very excited to be a judge at the HackNY hackathon!  Looking forward to meeting some talented students passionate about bring the latest technology to biomedial researchers.”


Ke has over 10 years of experience in mouse histopathology and cancer research. She finished her PhD in Cancer Biology from Pier Paolo Pandolfi’s lab at Harvard and led a team of investigators to publish papers in journals such as Nature and Blood. Prior to founding HistoWiz, she worked at a cancer diagnostics company (NASDAQ: CGIX) and did a postdoctoral fellowship with Douglas Hanahan at the Swiss Institute of Experimental Cancer Research. Ke is actively involved in the NYC bioscience community and plays water polo in her free time.


Kamille Johnson

Software Engineer at Elucd



Kamille Johnson is a software engineer and poet. They are interested in finding ways to use tech for positive social impact. They currently work at Elucd, a small data-driven start-up that works to improve the relationship between police departments and the communities they serve. Before joining Elucd, Kamille worked at VSCO as a front-end engineer. They recently graduated from Brown University with a degree in Africana Studies and Technology Studies.


Lisha Li

Principle at Amplify Partners


About hackNY:

“Hackathons are fantastic events to practice iterating fast from idea to product.  I can’t wait to see what the students come up with.”


Lisha is a principal at Amplify Partners. She invests in technical founders solving ambitious problems. From compute substrate to the creative process, medicine to manufacturing, she is excited to be investing at a time when machine intelligence and data-driven methods have such incredible potential for impact. Investments she has been involved with include Embodied Intelligence and Primer. Lisha completed her PhD at UCBerkeley focusing on deep learning and probability. While at Berkeley she also did statistical consulting, advising on methods and analysis for experimentation and interpretation, and interned as a data scientist at Pinterest and Stitch Fix. She was the lecturer of discrete mathematics, as well as the graduate instructor for probability and computer science theory. She is @lishali88 on Twitter and @lapis.lazuli.8 on Medium.


Katie Notopoulos

Senior Reporter at BuzzFeed News


About hackNY:

“As a tech journalist, I’ve both covered, participated, and judged hackathons, and what I absolutely love is how crucial this kind of constraint and collaboration is to creativity. I’m so excited to see what amazing ideas will come out of hackNY.”


Katie Notopoulos is a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News covering digital culture and technology. She covers the way big tech companies are affecting our daily lives, as well as the niche communities that make life online fun and weird. She is the cohost of the podcast BuzzFeed’s Internet Explorer and an organizer of the Brooklyn based speaker series IRL Club.


Claudia Perlich

Senior Data Scientist at Two Sigma


Fun facts about Claudia:
Claudia holds some intramural NYU records in power lifting, owns a grandson of the triple crown winner secretariat, used to compete in vaulting, still trying to learn Busoni’s piano version of Bach’s Chaconne.


Claudia is a Senior Data Scientist at Two Sigma. Prior, she served as Chief Scientist at Dstillery (the former Media6Degrees) designing, developing, analyzing and optimizing the machine learning that drives digital advertising to prospective customers of brands. She started her career in Data Science at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, concentrating on research in data analytics and machine learning for complex real-world domains and applications. She continues to actively publish and has over 50 scientific publications to her as well as a few patents in the area of machine learning. She received a Ph.D. in Information Systems from Stern School of Business, New York University in 2005 and hold a Master of Computer Science from Colorado University.


Sisi Wei

Deputy Editor for News Applications at ProPublica


About hackNY:

“I had a chance to speak to hackNY fellows last year, and I was impressed with how they wanted to use their skills to make a real difference. I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with at this semester’s hackathon.”


Sisi Wei is the Deputy Editor for News Applications at ProPublica, where she manages a team of journalist-developers who build interactive stories that serve the public interest. Her work has ranged from investigating which U.S. colleges saddle students with debt to monitoring how often China blocks international news outlets. Sisi has won numerous Malofiej, SND Digital and ONA awards, the Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism, and the 2016 Data Journalism Award for Best Individual Portfolio. She has served as an adjunct professor at New York University, The New School and CUNY, and she is also the co-founder of Code with me, a high-impact, nonprofit workshop that teaches journalists how to code. Sisi previously worked at the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.


To learn more about our wonderful past judges, read about them in our blog posts!

hackNY is excited to present: the Fall 2017 hackathon judges

Announcing the Spring 2017 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges

hackNY presents: the Fall 2016 Student Hackathon Judges

Meet the Spring 2016 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges

Meet the Fall 2015 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges: Part 1

Meet the Fall 2015 hackNY Student Hackathon Judges, Part 2

2017 recap: hackNY summer of good

This past summer was hackNY’s first in which dedicated social good initiatives were officially part of the summer program. For years, hackNY has been passionate about impacting New York city, and our first organized social good programwas a good starting point for us to continue serving our community in the years to come. The class of 2017 hackNY Fellows, made up of 28 talented computer science fellows and 6 mentors who were ‘alumNY’ in previous years, organized a number of social good projects. Looking back at this summer, I asked a few of the Fellows and mentors about their experiences with the social good initiative.


Shelly Bensal is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University and was a hackNY fellow last year at Jigsaw, a subsidiary of Alphabet that aims to make the world safer. As part of her  social good project, she worked with CSNYC, a national organization that works on bringing computer science curriculum into schools at a K-12 level with a focus on enabling teachers to teach those curriculums. CSNYC has a summit every October with a number of partner organizations, but they wanted some way of tracking commitment that these other organizations had made to CSNYC. Sick of dumping data into Excel spreadsheets, CSNYC worked with a Shelly and other hackNY fellows in building a Django web app to better facilitate how CSNYC organizes their partner’s commitments. Although they started in August, towards the end of the fellowship, after the summer ended, they all went home and started Skyping at night to work on the project remotely with each other. Shelly recalls that “it was a cool way to keep in touch and get to know each other better in slightly different contexts.” Today, the project has been finished and handed off to CSNYC. “This is something they reiterated and needed, so I’m confident this will be useful to them moving forward, whether they use it as a base or as a prototype. No matter where it ends up, though, we all got a lot of value.”
SaraAnn Stanway is a junior at Rutgers University studying computer science and was a hackNY fellow last summer working at Wellthy, a healthcare startup. Her passion for volunteering and social good long pre-dates her summer at hackNY. In the past, she has coordinated hackathons, which kicked off a chain reaction of working to retain women minorities in college. With her computer science club at Rutgers, she has done entire outreach programs with undergrads and middle/high school students. Termed ‘virtual classroom visits’, these events give younger students the opportunity to ask questions of computer science veterans about what it’s like to be a coder. This past summer, when she was on the hackNY outreach and lobbying team, she met up with other fellows to call their local legislators to lobby for computer science education. She says that this experience was “really educational because wow, this 45 second phone call is one of the most successful things I can do no matter where I am. This is something I want to bring back to my own school.” Indeed, this year, SaraAnn is working with members of her CS department and planning this coming spring to have undergrads go and work with local schools, do tours of New York City startups, and “overall bring more hands-on education that more resembles hacker culture.”
Bethany Davis is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, studying computer science. During hackNY, she interned at GIPHY on the search team, using machine learning to make it easier for everyone to find the perfect GIF. As the Head TA for CIS 120, an introductory computer science course at Penn, she has become very passionate about computer science education and education policy. She has volunteered at AFSE in New York (a public/magnet school focused on software engineering in the curriculum) and TechItOut Philly and GEARS Day (Philadelphia-area events for young underrepresented minorities in CS and STEM, hosting and running workshops on web development and sharing my passion for computer science). She worked with SaraAnn in lobbying for computer science education. Every week, they would gather some fellows, call their respective senators and urge them to prioritize and fund CS education in public schools. At the end of the fellowship, she also prepared a presentation to explain different ways to stay involved throughout the year, including a calendar of important dates when local or state-level voting could make a difference.
Dan Gorelick is a software engineer at Two Bulls, a digital product company in New York City, and was a mentor for the hackNY 2017 fellows. Dan, in addition to the other mentors, were all closely involved with the social good initiative. He worked with the New York district attorney office’s trafficking response unit to change the landscape in attacking and preventing human trafficking. He was the project manager of a project built using Twilio. After finishing this project, within a few days, he and his team had investigators in the field already using it. A few weeks later, during the last few weeks of fellowship, five of them went to the district attorney’s office to present to the team, after which point they were invited to continue working with them on other efforts. All in all, there were about 15 of the 28 hackNY fellows working on this project. For Dan, this was his first time getting involved in volunteering and social good efforts. Dan says, “It really makes you understand that volunteer work is not easy, and it definitely is work, but in the end, it’s really great to be able to harness your skills and focus on a problem not just to make profit for a company, or solving technical problems for a product. You’re solving actually meaningful problems.” It’s currently being used by Toronto and Ontario police departments, and combating human trafficking at NYPD.

Although this was hackNY’s first year with a formal social good initiative, I also asked a few of the fellows and mentors about how it compared to other non-profit or volunteering experiences they’ve had in the past. The resounding answer I got was two-fold: What defined hackNY’s social good initiative was the teamwork and passion.

As talented technologists, the hackNY summer fellows (and alumNY-mentors) are hackathon veterans who build side projects in their spare time. They all have software and hardware engineering expertise, whether that be in design, mobile development, web programming, systems infrastructure, or hardware. Applied to social good, these skills have the potential to effect massive change across a community or city, and indeed, we witnessed the fellows’ impact throughout the 10 weeks of the fellowship. The diversity of skills within the fellowship allowed the fellows and mentors to learn from one another and work together, leveraging each other’s skills, to make the most impact possible. Shelly described this community, saying that what made hackNY different from other coding projects or nonprofit opportunities was “the support of the hackNY community. I was living with 30 other people who were interested in social good and wanted to work on a project. I could even ask help from those who weren’t working on my project. There were always people who had experience.” For her, having multiple others working together, forming a support network, was a large learning experience. “It’s not like working on an open source project and being alone. I think hackNY giving me that feeling of teamwork is something that is going to stick with me as I move forward.”

However, these fellows are chosen not only for their technical abilities but also their passion for the New York community and the tech community at large. As it pertains to the social good initiative, the fellows and mentors were proactive and passionate about leading and taking charge of their projects. As Bethany describes, “The hackNY experience was different because we were spearheading the effort, whereas usually I would be reporting to someone else’s vision or agenda. This allowed our group to focus our efforts on our individual passions or directions. On the flip side, there was no one holding us accountable if we weren’t able to deliver on our plans on time. I liked that we had a lot of freedom to pursue whatever social good and whatever impact we wanted, and it was great that the other fellows were equally passionate about pursuing these issues.” Indeed, a common theme that runs throughout hackNY, in both the social good initiative and other projects in general, is that we have a lot of people who actually yearn to help out and start doing things. Shelly says, “We definitely unified as a group who were working on our project. Not only are we helping the community, but we’re becoming a better class of fellows.”

Moving forward, we at hackNY are eager to continue improving our social good initiatives. Although our first year was a success in completing projects and working with organizations throughout New York, we hope to provide our fellows with more structure and opportunities to get involved in meaningful causes, especially at the beginning of the summer as opposed to unorganized and inconsistent times strewn throughout the summer. To this end, we are very excited to begin searching and partnering with causes and organizations throughout the city and formalizing a plan that our fellows can take and run with, not only through the duration of the fellowship, but also beyond. If your organization is a mission-driven org that could benefit from partnering with talented technologists next summer, or if you know a good cause or organization that might be a great hackNY project for summer 2018, please let us know at [email protected] !!