Engineering Students Among the Best at 'Doing Good' Hackathon

February 13, 2018

Cal Poly Engineering students were everywhere at Camp PolyHacks — amply represented on the top-three winning teams of designers, developers and entrepreneurs who competed to build a fully functional product in 21 hours. The social-entrepreneurship hackathon took place Jan. 12-13, focused on creating solutions to problems that face the San Luis Obispo community.

“Camp PolyHacks is centered around doing good for the community — not just to differentiate it from other hackathons, but because I wanted to see these brilliant minds do more than just make another recipe app,” said Charmaine Farber, graphic communication professor and creative director for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which presented the event.

More than 100 Cal Poly students and 40 San Luis Obispo community members registered to participate in the competition, which was held at the CIE’s HotHouse in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Participants were asked to select  from a number of local problems presented by leaders from various public service sectors.

The  winning community-service solution, called Neighborly, helps users easily identify objects in their homes for donating to people in their community. The automated inventory system, which uses augmented reality and computer vision, was developed by computer science majors Joe Wijoyo, Karen Kauffman, Shelby Chen and Mian Uddin; software engineering major Devin Nicholson; graphic communication majors Hanna Trejo and Cidney Lee; and business majors Ethan Turer and Tim Elkana.

Two other prize-winning solutions addressed the challenge of finding child care during non-traditional hours. An application called the Babysitter's Club took second place, developed by computer engineering majors Vinh Nguyen and Kenneth Huang; graphic communication majors Jocelyn Tam, Daisy Jimenez, Emily Hoehenrieder, Katherine DeOsuna and Sarah Hughes; and economics majors Donald Moore. The third-place team's app, Swap Sitters, was designed by computer science major Alex Gravenor;  graphic communication majors Erica Taylor, Ian Kaufman and Annika Miller; and community members Mike Murgatroyd, Sarah Mostafa and Jeff Farber.

Camp PolyHacks was planned and organized by computer science students Rutu Samai and Nicole Hill; graphic communication students Dorian Romero, Perry Ting, Jamie Chin, Javier Garcia, Diane Hahn; communication studies student Amy Rush; and architecture student Evan Ricaurté.

“We try to attract people from several different backgrounds, so teams can leverage a variety of different strengths to creatively solve these real-world problems,” Farber said.


Top photo — Campers take advantage of the Hot House’s couches and beanbags to make their workspace comfortable. (Photo by Evan Ricaurté)

Inset photo — Directors Perry Ting and Rutu Samai prep the entrepreneurs for the business challenge, where they are tasked to go out and ask potential customers for feedback on their projects. (Photo by Evan Ricaurté)

Higher-resolution images available upon request.