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5th Annual UCSC Hackathon Continues to Drive Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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By Sarah Ali
CruzHacks
Special to Santa Cruz Tech Beat

January 25, 2018 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo above: Students gather at Porter/Kresge Dining Hall at UCSC for a weekend of hacking and innovation at CruzHacks 2018. Credit: Stephen Louis Marino.)

At the end of the weekend, attendees left exhausted but proud of their achievements.

In its 5th year, CruzHacks continued an ongoing tradition of success as one of the largest hackathons in California. Since rebranding from Hack UCSC, CruzHacks has distinguished itself as an entirely student-run, 501(c)(3) non-profit, and collegiate hackathon, one that reaffirms its commitment to diversity and innovation year after year. This year, hacking took place at Porter College January 19-21, 2018, and the weekend-long event drew over 500 attendees.

At opening ceremony, the room was abuzz with chatter and energy, and attendees sat with rapt attention as the opening speakers Toby Corey and Jeremy Britton inspired them with tips to foster a lifetime of entrepreneurship and prioritizing innovation in their projects. Representatives from Major League Hacking, the official student hacking league, then took the stage to motivate attendees not only to code products of social value, but to enjoy the process as they did. At midnight, hacking officially began; students could be seen rushing to tables and couches throughout the building to start bringing their ideas to life. Some participants came with teams formed in advance, but countless others found teammates at the event.

Mentors moved from table to table and provided students with helpful advice as they needed it, from the beginning of hacking Friday night to the code freeze Sunday afternoon. Sunday evening, to conclude CruzHacks 2018, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal and Guy Kawasaki took to the stage and congratulated attendees on their hard work. Teams then took to the stage to present their projects to the judges in the hopes of being selected for prizes in a wide range of categories.

CruzHacks 2018 successfully widened its scope, with 15% of participants identifying as non-engineering majors and 53% identifying as first-time hackers. Women continue to participate in CruzHacks at a consistent rate, and efforts to diversify resulted in the representation of over 47 majors and 32 racial and ethnic backgrounds. At the end of the weekend, attendees left exhausted but proud of their achievements. Participants from local high schools, UCs, and a number of universities across the country contributed to an inclusive community of hackers and innovators, all working toward a future of innovative solutions to real-world problems, both at the local and global level.

Congratulations to the winning projects in each category:

Innovation

  1. Zen Bag
  2. Deep Shirt
  3. Protein Viewer
  4. MAX
  5. Flu Season

Tech Cares

  1. Food Friends
  2. Cruz Fire
  3. Navigation for Blind
  4. SassMaster
  5. Storybook

Big Data Fed

  1. Epsilon

Choose Santa Cruz

  1. Deep Shirt

Graduate Division Prize

  1. CruzFire
  2. March With Us

Genomics Institute

  1. SNPS & Protein Viewer

Microsoft Speech

  1. Speech 2 Slug
  2. Pitch Perfect & Storybook

Google

  1. Flu Season
  2. March With Us
  3. Zenbag

UCSC Arts Division

  1. Def Jamz
  2. Zenbag

TokBox

  1. Zenbag

Hack Alumni

  1. Tip of the Day
  2. Def Jamz

Honorable Mentions: Veost, CaptionIt!, MNU

Project YX

  1. MAX
  2. Icon & Deep Shirt

MLH

  • AWS
    1. Lango Link
  • IoT:
    1. Slug Space

SUA Diversity & Inclusion

  1. Def Jamz

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