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UHack 2017

On December 2-3, more than 200 students were spread out across the third-floor grand ballroom in the Donna E. Shalala Student Center. Many of the students (from the University of Miami, Florida International University, across Florida and a few from across the country) were absorbed in their laptops and devoted to their projects.

These students were not cramming for finals. Instead, they were participating in UHack 2017, a 24-hour hackathon hosted by the University of Miami’s chapter of IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery).

The event focused on creating new technology from concept to prototype. Attendees worked on ideas surrounding apps, websites and hardware using code.

UHack was organized by UM students David Grossman (BSCS ’19), Devin Michaels (BSCS ’19), Randy Naar (MCS ’19), Halle Fields (BSCS ’19), Evan Miller (BSCS ’20), Zeshan Aziz (BSIE ’19), Kawan Amelung (BSME ’19), Gururaj Shriram (BSCS ’18), Tumi Lengoasa (BSCS ’20) and Oren Andiroglu Sadık (BSCpE ’20). It aimed to bring coders together for a weekend to “build something awesome and learn about technology at the U!”

“UHack is a place to learn about a new programming language or technology, a place to build that hardware hack that’s been kicking around in the back of your head, or work with friends on the next killer app. It’s great to see what people can build in 24 hours when they work together with plenty of caffeine,” says Grossman.

Participants were able to attend these workshops: Git and Development Environment Setup; Containers and Virtualization with VMWare; Integration of Software in Audio Products; Android Development with Firebase; Intermediate Python; Digital Privacy and Security; Intro to Virtual Reality; and Pitching Your Hack with UM Launchpad. They could also participate in salsa lessons provided by UM SalsaCraze.

In the end, 29 coding projects were completed at UHack. A few of the winners were:

  • Minute Coder, which made a real-time coding competition inspired by a real-time typing challenge;
  • VRTeacher, which made a virtual reality whiteboard for better teaching experiences;
  • Neural Gonna Give You Up, which produced a neural network capable of making songs sound more like Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

The event was free for students. However, students weren’t the only ones who benefited from the event. Many of the corporate sponsors, such as Shure, Citrix, Facebook, the UM College of Arts and Sciences, UM Department of Computer Science, UM College of Engineering, VMware, IBM, The Launchpad, UM Student Government and Coursera, came with the intention to coach and recruit talent.

But regardless of whether hackers achieve their goals, Michaels says, “it’s a sense of building something new that makes losing 24 hours of sleep all worthwhile in the end.”

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