Tufts PolyHack hackathon draws almost 300 students

Nearly 300 students participated in the annual PolyHack hackathon at the Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex (CLIC) last Friday night and Saturday morning.

The event, hosted by the Tufts Computer Science Exchange (CSX), provided an opportunity for Tufts students from all disciplines to collaborate with other students and industry professionals on computer science projects of their choosing, according to Vice President of CSX and event organizer senior Arthur Berman.

Berman explained that after roughly 20 hours of coding and working with industry mentors, the teams of students had the opportunity to present their work to professionals and peers, who judged the projects along with PolyHack student organizers.

According to the PolyHack website, the first-place prize of $1,000 went to a project called InTime, which is described as “a new way to create playlists of a specified length,” and the runner-up prize of $500 was awarded to Simterview, a project that helps prepare users for technology interviews.

The TripAdvisor Application Program Interface (API) award went to Trvlr, a project that combines elements of Google Maps and TripAdvisor, and the Bose API award went to Audio Span, an app that maps trends in music both geographically and over time. According to the website, the best newcomers award went to Skeleton Life, which celebrates Halloween by generating a story about where the user’s skeleton travels as they sleep based on nearby location sourced from Google Maps. The people’s choice award, determined by student votes, was given to DisKinect, which allows users to control their speakers with simple body movements.

The hackathon also served as a potential recruiting venue for technology companies, Berman said.

According to Berman, some of the companies that attended were technological giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft. Cymbal, a social media app that was created by members of Tufts’ Class of 2015, was also represented at the event.

CSX was most excited about sponsorship from Paytronix, the hackathon’s title sponsor, according to Alex Lenail, president of CSX.

PolyHack also created a separate inaugural competition for designers this year. The competition began at midnight, after the designers were done working with their hackathon team, according to Berman.

Richard Kim, who helped acquire the sponsorships for the event, said that the competition was created to welcome team members who design logos and user interfaces. The top five designers had their portfolios submitted to Facebook designers, who would be able to provide critiques and, possibly, a follow-up interview, he said.

“[Facebook is] one of the best and most responsive companies I have worked with,” Kim, a junior, said.

The event turned out to be the most successful that CSX has had in the past three years, Berman said. There were 396 people at the event in total, including sponsors, coders and industry members, 280 of whom were participating coders.

“It was triple what we had seen in previous years,” Kim said.

The funds raised from hackathon sponsors out-paced any other year, he added.

The success included an increase in the number of freshman that the event drew, Berman said.

Daniel Dinjian, a first-year coder, said that the event’s environment was very open.

“I loved it,” he said. “I would absolutely do it again…everyone was very friendly, and the environment was nurturing.”

The hackathon was the premier event for the computer science department at Tufts, Berman said.

“[PolyHack is] starting to hit its stride in the department,” he said.

Berman is excited to see what will become of some of the apps, including Audio Span.

Dinjian said that, in the future, other students should attend the hackathon for the experience.

“Just do it,” he said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen, so just go and see what happens.”

Correction: The previous version of this article had a quote that did not accurately represent the views of the Computer Science Exchange. A clarifying quote from President of CSX has been added to reflect the group’s actual views of the event’s sponsors. Additionally, Richard Kim was not in charge of the event’s sponsorship, but did help in the sponsorship process. The article has been changed to reflect that.