At noon on Sunday, as many on Tufts campus were just waking up, a group of hackers made their way into the same room. Sleep-deprived and over-caffeinated, developers and designers alike helped themselves to some food before taking their seats, waiting to present what they’d been working on all night. After some while, everyone had arrived and the projector screen turned on. And so began the concluding ceremony of Tufts’ annual Hackathon: 24-hours of straight coding, where students conceptualize and execute their own projects.
The event, which is now in its second year, drew mainly Tufts students, although others did participate, including two high school seniors. The event has grown considerably since last year, with 145 people registering to participate.
“This year we had twice as many attendees,” said Marshall Moutenot, a computer science engineering student and one of the organizers of the event.
Moutenot, along with co-organizer Alden Keefe Sampson, started the Hackathon last year after noticing that many of their fellow students didn’t have enough time outside of class to pursue personal projects.
“We thought that students had great ideas but did not spend time working on them,” Moutenot said.
The Hackathon is meant to be the time when students get to stretch their legs creatively and put their schooling to use.
“The Hackathon is a time for us hackers to do what we love outside of our schoolwork,” said Sam Dushay, a Tufts junior studying computer science. “The fun part about our major isn’t just the tools we learn from our professors, but also the freedom of creation that our skills grant us outside of class.”
Although organized by the students and supported by the Tufts Computer Science Department, the Hackathon is completely funded by its sponsors, which this year included Evernote, Microsoft, Crashlytics, The Echo Nest, Twilio, Pivotal Labs, SendGrid and GitHub. Many of the sponsors sent judges and gave away prizes to those who best incorporated their technology. Projects were also assessed on their design, utility and technical development.
The Hackathon started off at around noon on Saturday, when the hackers organized themselves into teams and either began working or attended hour-long workshops led by sponsors. Twenty-four hours later, they reassembled to pitch their products, or hacks, and see what other teams had created.
This year, the Evernote Grand Prize— four Android Nexus 7s and Evernote Moleskine notebooks—went to the team that developed Collabio, an online virtual whiteboard and collaborative note-taking program. Other interesting hacks included EchoRun, an app that adjusts the tempo of your music to how fast you are running, and MooDj, which generates playlists based on the user’s mood.
Moutenot and Sampson, both seniors, hope to see the Hackathon continue after they’ve left Tufts.
“There was a great response within the computer science department and we will make sure the event continues well into the future,” Moutenot said. “We hope that students leave the hackathon with the beginnings of a new project they will continue to work on, a wealth of new technical knowledge, and new friends to hack with.”