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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Students take a byte out of 24-hour hackathon

The+Best+Overall+Hack+Award+was+given+to+a+team+that+made+a+website+centered+on+mental+health.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Anjeliqe+Martinez+24%29
The Best Overall Hack Award was given to a team that made a website centered on mental health. (Photo courtesy of Anjeliqe Martinez ’24)

Most people would balk at the task of creating a functional piece of software or hardware in only 24 hours — but during last weekend’s hackathon, six teams of students accomplished just that.

The hackathon, hosted by Lafayette’s Association for Computer Machinery (ACM), took place last Saturday through Sunday. Despite its name, a hackathon does not require literal hacking. Instead, students had 24 hours to create a project and present it to a panel of judges.

The projects themselves primarily use coding. However, they could also have circuitry or 3D printing components. Many students used skills that they learned on their own outside of the classroom.

“I think the best way to describe it is more of a life hack if anything because the overarching goal of a hackathon is to create something that is going to better serve a purpose and solve a problem,” ACM board member Katie Lansing ’24 said.

Over the course of 24 hours, six projects were completed and submitted for judging. Computer science professors Jia Tao, Jeffrey Pfaffmann, Frank Xia and Jonathan Dahl watched the presentations on Sunday morning and presented awards to the winning projects.

The team of Anjelique Martinez ’24, Emma Raupp ’24, Claribella Perez ’26 and Vanika Sok ’26 won the Best Overall Hack award for their creation of a mental health website that includes a chat box, games and videos to help destress.

“It was super impressive that they created a whole website with all of these different pages and resources in just twenty-four hours, especially since two of their members were freshmen,” ACM president Claire Liu ’23 said. 

The winning website can be accessed at growth.anjeliqemartine.repl.co.

Other projects from the hackathon include flowers that reflect the observer’s mood through light, a Minecraft server and plug-ins and a website that reports the weather based on location using application programming interfaces.

In addition to the projects, the hackathon also provided the opportunity for students to form a community. Not only did students focus on their team’s project, but they also participated in group activities such as a duck hunt and chair racing. 

“I think hackathons are a really great way to bring communities together, especially CS communities,” Liu said. “And we haven’t had a hackathon at this school since Covid, so I thought it would be a nice way to celebrate our return and also for people to just have fun and work on a project that they are really passionate about outside of course work.”

People of all skill and experience levels were able to participate in the event, according to ACM vice president Josh Garcia ’24.

“We were able to encourage those who weren’t completely confident in their CS abilities to still participate in the hackathon because then they were able to gain this experience as well as make connections,” Garcia said. 

The event also brought computer science students from all years together to collaborate and learn from one another.

“Having a little bit of mentorship from an upperclassman to a freshman is a really great dynamic, and this is one of the few places that that can really be accomplished,” board member Cameron Schmidt ’25 said.

Although the event is officially over, the ACM board has plenty of ideas for future hackathons.

“This is a great starting point for hackathons at Lafayette. We are hoping to have more hackathons in the future on a grander scale, so hopefully next year we’ll get corporate sponsors and open it up to more people on campus and have more advertising,” Liu said.

Liu also hopes that, in a few years, the hackathon can invite members from other schools and be affiliated with Major League Hacking, an official collegiate hackathon league.

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Paige Mathieu, Staff Culture Writer

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