By Jennifer Hollis, Qualcomm Institute
The fifth annual H.A.R.D. Hack, a hardware-based hackathon hosted by engineering honor society Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) in collaboration with IEEE at UC San Diego, was held January 19–20 in Jacobs Hall where participants developed “hacks” with public utilities in mind and the goal of creating an invention that can benefit society for years to come.
H.A.R.D Hack is an annual event that offers an opportunity for students to come together for 24-hours to build a hardware solution for a specific problem that people face in their everyday lives. Using teamwork, technology, and limited resources, participants come prepared to collaborate and shape their ideas into reality.
About 200 students participated in the January event as part of various sized teams. Each team was provided with a variety of parts to utilize in building their designs. However, there were limited amounts of the hardware pieces available, so part of the challenge was that the teams had to be creative with the resources they had available.
ECE student and member of the planning committee Keshav Rungta said that hackathons really encompass what engineering is all about: true innovation.
“H.A.R.D. Hack is a very exhilarating event,” said Rungta. “It welcomes people from all backgrounds, majors and experience levels. It provides an amazing platform for anyone to come out and learn about a new piece of technology and create something awesome.”
Multiple innovative designs won awards at this year’s hackathon, as several event sponsors, including LAB 41, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and Linaro, picked winners and awarded prizes for the best use of their hardware and tools. For H.A.R.D. Hack, that winning team was Fallenstars. Their invention takes the guesswork out of recycling and trash disposal, potentially lessening the amount of recyclable waste that ends up in landfills. The team's trash disposal hack involves a top mounted camera on a trash can that can identify the object being discarding and then open the corresponding lid to ensure appropriate disposal. The members of team Fallenstars were Christian Chan, Locarno Samaan, Jared Acord, Justin Tahara, and Noel Garcia.
Each winning team received a prize from event sponsors that ranged from gift cards to equipment to a guaranteed interview opportunity for summer internship openings. All participants earned the satisfaction of learning something new while surviving the hackathon stress.
Said Rungta, “This is what engineering is all about. It is simply the ability to think on one’s feet and adapt in high-pressure situations.”
For more information about the H.A.R.D Hacks program, visit: http://hardhacksd.com/index.html