Colby students win trophies at hackathon

Two Colby teams attended the 3rd annual CBB hackathon, and two teams came back to Waterville with trophies.

The hackathon, which took place over a sleepless 36-hour-weekend in February, was hosted by Bowdoin College and sponsored by several companies including L.L. Bean, Adaptive Designs INC, and Raizlabs. The competition welcomes both “first-time” hackers and experienced programmers.

Students can build anything for the hackathon and present it to a panel of VCs, founders, and CEOs.

One team, which took first place, was comprised of CP Majgaard ’18, Austin Nantkes ’19, Mike Remondi ’17. They created an Android app called Hyk which allows users to create temporary group chats with geolocation capabilities to keep track of where people are in the group. The app also allows users to send a distress alert to other members of the group in case of an emergency. Nantkes commented in an interview with the Echo that the app is “useful for going out with friends and making sure you know where everyone is,” he continued by explaining another unique privacy feature: “at the end of the night the group is able to disconnect [so that group members are no longer able to see where they are].”

Nantkes went on to explain that Hyk was a mix of “Snapchat, GroupMe and [Apple’s] Find My Friends.” Like Snapchat, the sharing locations on Hyk are temporary and only last as long as you allow them to. Like Groupme, Hyk contains extended group messaging capability, and Hyk is similar to Find My Friends because the app contains a map portion that shows the location of everyone in the group.

The other team, which took third place at the competition, was comprised of Kimberly Ha ’19 and Nile Dixon ’20. Ha and Dixon created a text-message bot which allows students to quickly access the Colby shuttle schedule.

“Instead of downloading a PDF, waiting for it to load, and tediously finding the arrival time depending on current day and time, we thought it would be a lot easier for Colby students to text a number to receive information about the shuttle bus schedule,” Ha told the Echo.

Users can text the number, where they will be prompted to enter another number which corresponds to a place they want to receive the schedule for, and they will immediately receive a response back with the next available pickup and dropoff times of the shuttle.

Both groups were impressed by the support offered by Colby professors and credited the Colby hackers club with fostering an atmosphere of tech innovation. “The programming and ‘soft’ skills I’ve gained from my science, math, and liberal arts courses are a powerful combination, but I believe the ability to speak up, lead, and have confidence in my skills, especially as a female programmer is essential.” Ha also cited groups like DisruptColby and Colby Hackers along with events like the Grace Hopper Conference and Startup Experience.

Ha also referenced the benefit of female role models in both the computer science and math departments at Colby: “I believe the presence of strong female role models in the form of faculty and computer science and math students have been pivotal to my success at Colby thus far.”