College Hosts Second Annual Android Hackathon

Christine Fossaceca ’15 CpE and Shannon Rhodes ‘16 CpE work on their team's app “Proximity Lock,” which won Verizon Wireless challenge.
Christine Fossaceca ’15 CpE and Shannon Rhodes ‘16 CpE work on their team's app “Proximity Lock,” which won Verizon Wireless challenge.

by Rebecca Watson ’15 CLAS

In early November, more than 30 students from across the University participated in the College of Engineering’s 24 Hour Android Hackathon. Undergraduates and graduate students from engineering, computer science and business backgrounds competed in teams to develop an award-winning Android application within a 24-hour time period. “The most difficult challenge,” says competitor Will Kolb ’16 EE, “is coming up with an idea that is both interesting and plausible within the time constraints.” At the end of this grueling and exhilarating period, awards for both challenge and non-challenge applications were presented.

Verizon Wireless and Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network sponsored this year’s competition.  Verizon Wireless challenged teams to incorporate the use of proximity beacons in their apps. “Proximity Lock,” created and developed by Christine Fossaceca ’15 CpE, Ibrahim Kargbo ’16 EE, Kirk Reinoso ’16 CpE and Shannon Rhodes ’16 CpE, won the sponsored challenge. Their app uses a microcontroller with an accelerometer along with proximity beacons that would sense when your closet door, desk drawer or even lid of your laptop are opened and notify you when you are not in your dorm room.  Proximity beacons are small wireless devices that broadcast short-range radio signals that are received by your mobile phone.  Using these signals, you can infer the user’s approximate location.

Demonstrating their “GoingOn” app are senior Computer Engineering majors Matt Wiedmeier, Matt Doyle and Ed Condon.
Demonstrating their “GoingOn” app are senior Computer Engineering majors Matt Wiedmeier, Matt Doyle and Ed Condon.

“Digital Manager Deluxe 4000 (DMD4000),” designed and developed by Thomas Clemente ’17 CLAS, Will Kolb and Shawn Vettom ’16 CpE, won the top prize for the best non-challenge application. Created for retail stores and restaurants, DMD4000 uses locational beacons to help customers find assistance by calling up a map with real-time locations of employees and management. Store management also can use the app to monitor their employees while on the job. Other notable concepts included a micro-event location-aware app to tell you what’s happening around you, an app to easily exchange contact information with NFC-enabled business cards, and an app that leverages the sensors in your device to interact with objects in a virtual 3D world when using Oculus Rift.

“The time constraints imposed by the Hackathon competition give students a sense for what real-world development jobs may feel like,” says EJ Dougherty, Hackathon organizer and adjunct professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “They have to quickly figure out how to take an initial idea and develop it to a point that it’s demonstrable. They can’t be afraid to roll up their sleeves and just figure it out.”


In addition to Dougherty, judges and mentors for the event included Ed Dougherty, director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship program and assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Dr. Sarvesh Kulkarni, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Quentin Robinson, Senior Engineer, Technology Planning at Verizon Wireless. Judge Amanda Kelly, program coordinator for the Kern Entrepreneurship program, was impressed by what she saw: “Students put a lot of thought into their apps and worked very hard, some staying up all night.”

Hackathon events like this one allow students to experience what they have talked about and learned in their courses. “It lets us demonstrate our passions outside of the classroom,” says Thomas Clemente. “It was really exciting and something I’ll definitely be doing again.”

A comprehensive list of the apps developed can be found at the Hackathon website: http://www.hackathon.io/nova-android