DerbyHacks 3 Inspires Creativity

February 27, 2018

During a 24-hour window from noon on February 10th to noon on February 11th, the Louisville chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery hosted their third annual DerbyHacks event. This year’s event saw 118 students from 26 different schools representing over 20 different majors, and included a visit from Mayor Greg Fischer. A hackathon, the event is designed to challenge participants to solve an engineering puzzle, with the final product judged as part of the competition

For Speed ACM president Tyler Ault, DerbyHacks is a unique opportunity for students to be exposed to new ideas and concepts they may not otherwise encounter. It’s his hope that through this exposure, that students can make new connections.

He believes that it ties, “in nicely with Speed ACM’s purpose of exposing students to all the different niches of the broad field Computer Engineering Computer Science.” He adds, “Personally I am excited to see DerbyHacks grow, and am proud to be a part of the program.”

The faculty mentor for the program, Dr. Adrian Lauf was there at the beginning and end of the event, presiding over the results as a judge in the competition. A new parent, Lauf brought his daughter to the event, her first hackathon. Through the night, participants narrowed down their ideas to a final concept, which Lauf evaluated that Sunday morning. 

While they could only choose one winner, there were a variety of projects that Lauf and his panel of judges found interesting. A musician, Lauf noted of one favorite that, “There was one thing that I really liked that was sort of a virtual music playback environment where you can set up blocks to configure your beat pattern and strum this laser harp. He wrote it in Unity and demoed in VR.”

Ultimately impressed by what he saw, as a judge, he narrowed down the winner by virtue of their technical complexity, completion, and a creativity component, or rather how cool it is.

“There was a team that developed an in-home integration with Amazon Echo, it was used to help keep tabs on rehab and elderly patients. It’s to help rehab patients sort of manage throughout the day while reducing the time with a call center. They also received the health hack prize from Kindred,” says Lauf.