CMU-SV's First HTML5 Hackathon Attracts Student and Industry Participants, Awards Prizes for Best Apps-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, April 15, 2013

CMU-SV's First HTML5 Hackathon Attracts Student and Industry Participants, Awards Prizes for Best Apps

Simon Tunbridge, guest judge from Yahoo!, consults with teams just an hour before submission at the HTML5 hackathon.
Simon Tunbridge, guest judge from Yahoo!, consults with teams just an hour before submission at the HTML5 hackathon.

Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley’s (CMU-SV) first HTML5 hackathon attracted both undergraduate and graduate students and participants from industry. The event, sponsored by Yahoo!, Meteor, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft, focused on creating single-page HTML5 applications with Javascript for the logic.

The hackathon took place over the course of two days, with some teams honoring the hackathon tradition of eschewing sleep to work on code. As with most other hackathons, CMU-SV’s HTML5 event did not require developers to come with teams already formed. Therefore, the first evening comprised of idea pitches, which then allowed participants to form teams organically based upon common interests. Teams spent the second day building their app with input from both Meteor and Yahoo!, who provided APIs to help the developers create a working page in just eight hours.

“Given the short time available, I was really impressed overall with the app submissions,” said Assistant Research Professor Dr. Collin Jackson, one of the hackathon’s chief organizers.

With $1200 in cash prizes from Yahoo! on the line, the competition for best app was fierce. Team CoCoDoJo emerged ahead of the pack winning not only first place but also the Microsoft-sponsored Audience Favorite prize. The team took home $500 from Yahoo!, $200 from Microsoft and an array of other sponsored gifts. Four CMU-SV students enrolled in the Masters in Software Engineering graduate program – Sky Hu, Lydian Lee, Clyde Li and Sean Xiao – partnered with Dan Fortner, who is pursuing a MS Software Management degree, to form Team CoCoDoJo. Their product, a “Collaborative Coding Dojo,” allowed several users to simultaneously program together and also featured a virtual whiteboard for brainstorming. Seamless communication through a chat box, shared coding screen with support for familiar styles such as TextEdit and Sumblime, and a whiteboard with features commonly used in UML diagrams could prove especially useful for remote participants in both university and workplace settings.

“As a developer, I think I would legitimately have a use for it,” said guest judge Alex Nobert, Director of Technical Operations at Minted. “The feature set seemed like the team really thought through how this would work as a commercial application.” Representatives from Meteor and UC Berkeley also served as judges for the event.

CMU-SV Director Dr. Martin Griss echoed Nobert’s praise for Team CocoDoJo’s submission: “I was particularly impressed with the web-based tool for distributed pair programming created by the winning team of Silicon Valley students. I think this points to the strength of the teaching methodology and preparation delivered in our CMU Silicon Valley programs.”

The second place team of Michael Cai, Jonathan Wu, and Arthur Leung took home $400 for their submission of “Vision Board,” which allowed users to manipulate photos and text collaboratively. Team Vision Board commented on the hackathon’s social opportunities to foster new friendships and collaborations: “I didn’t know any of my winning team members when I walked into CMU-SV just twelve hours earlier,” said Vision Board team designer Arthur Leung.

Placing third with a prize of $300 was the sibling team of Yuri de Souza, a MS Software Management degree student and his brother, Boris de Souza. The veteran duo has is no stranger to hackathon success, previously amassing a whopping seventeen wins with Yuri serving as the programmer and Boris as the designer.

A CMU-SV-organized hackathon open to both students and guests has long been a priority for both faculty and students, eager to collaborate and apply their education outside of the classroom. The HTML5 hackathon’s success in attracting students from CMU-SV’s neighboring institutions such as UC Berkeley and Stanford, along with industry participants and sponsors bodes well for the planning of future hacking events.

"This HTML5 hackathon fit perfectly into our learn-by-doing and entrepreneurial culture,” said Griss. “I look forward to the hackathon becoming a regular event in our future."

Pictured above: The winning team of CocoDojo (from left: Sean Xiao, Clyde Li, Sky Hu, Lydian Lee, Daniel Fortner)

Photography and reporting contributed by MS Software Management ’13 student Daniel Fortner.