PennHacks 2013: The First Hardware Hackathon at Penn

PennHacks 2013

To quote computer science pioneer Alan Kay, "People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware." To that end, on February 15, 2013, PennHacks, the first hardware hackathon at Penn, was held in Penn Engineering's Detkin Lab. Brainchild of students from the Computer Engineering program known as "the Architechs," the competition had 50 participants who ate/slept/worked from Friday at 4:00 p.m. until Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Unlike a computer-science-based hackathon that focuses solely on software, this competition required students to use devices, tools and equipment to create an array of products and tech toys.

The Architechs team, which included Patrick Wingo, Tanvir Ahmed, Joe Trovato, Jeffrey Shih, Will McDermid, Spencer Lee, and Xiuruo Zhang, also organized a boot camp with tutorial labs to guide students with limited hardware experience. The hackathon provided meals, noting, "we wanted to make sure that food wasn't an issue, so the only thing competitors had to worry about was not burning themselves with the soldering iron."

"The Architechs are a terrific team," noted Sid Deliwala, Detkin Lab manager, who advised the team in organizing PennHacks. "Their enthusiasm in building this  competition will really help build the do-it-yourself technology pipeline across departments and different schools at Penn"

First Prize went to "Virtual Window," a device meant for "people who live cooped up in a lab all day and wish they had a window!" Virtual Window features a remote camera with a view of the outside world placed at a window, which streams video to a monitor (the virtual window) through which people can view the outside world. To make the view more realistic, an ASUS Xtion sense motion of someone in front of the virtual window and moves the camera in accordance to their movements as if they were actually looking out of an actual window.

Interested? Learn more!

PennHacks website
Computer Engineering program

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