UGA Hacks 8

In early February HPCC Systems sponsored a challenge at UGAHacks8, the annual hackathon held at the University of Georgia’s Miller Learning Center.

As we arrived Friday afternoon to the campus to start getting setup for the weekend one thing was clear, these students were ready for this hackathon! Their fervor for learning and coding overflowed in abundance as hundreds of students poured into these halls to take part in this event.

Night fell, and the event kicked off with a flood of students filling the auditorium poised to get started. As the room hit capacity the event began, and the challenge was issued. The overall theme for UGA Hacks 8 was to “create your own adventure”, and to complement their theme HPCC Systems challenged students to “Find Your Paradise” where datasets from 4 major sources were used to create a scoring system for optimal happiness and then output the results in a user-friendly interface.

The data sources included:

  • Crime data from the FBI’s website
  • Weather data from NOAA,
  • School data from Homeland Security
  • Mortality rates from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The only requirements for the challenge were to use ECL and HPCC Systems as part of their project. Students were encouraged to even seek out new data sources that they may find relevant to their project.

The students packed the 10pm Introduction to ECL training class and set off on their weekend long dive into their projects. A discord channel was setup so the mentors could assist students with their ECL questions, and they fully utilized it! The channel was buzzing literally through the night with some great questions, that showed just how committed these students were to making something great.

The following morning began with donuts, fruit, and more ECL as the students once again piled in for the 9am training session to go deeper into the capabilities offered with ECL.

Hot Wings

The HPCC Systems team was committed to fully embracing our sponsorship role in this hackathon to the point of participating in the UGAHacks 8 Hot wings challenge. Please enjoy the video below where Bob Foreman, Lead Trainer for HPCC Systems gets interviewed while enduring some of the hottest hot sauces on the planet.

Luckily, they saved the Hot Wings interview till after Bob was done teaching for the day. It’s hard to teach when you can’t feel your tongue!

This 48 hour event gave over 600 in person attendees their first exposure to the capabilities of ECL and HPCC Systems. That lead to 14 teams submitting final projects for our judges to review and out of all the entries, a select few rose to the top. DreamHaven however, demonstrated a complete understanding of the challenge.

Please Note: Below is just a brief abstract about why this team won. The exact details of their project are kept confidential to protect the use of this challenge in future Hackathons.

DreamHaven used the standard data sources provided to them for the challenge as well as incorporated external data sets into their work. The students really set themselves apart by learning how to utilize the Machine Learning bundles on their own via the online lessons.

Hope for the future

It’s not meant to be cliche to say that these students create hope for the future. They devoted an entire weekend to brainstorming ways to make this world better. They ate and laughed with each other. Exchanged project ideas, had time for some competitive gaming and even sang midnight karaoke. By Sunday morning however, all of them had an amazing experience to look back on. An experience which hopefully ignited an interest for using ECL and HPCC Systems to shape the future of how we see and interact with this world.