The MHacks IV hackathon - a student report

Note: this hackathon report was written by ArisKnight Winfree.

This past weekend was the University of Michigan’s hackathon, MHacks IV. Over 1100 students from universities and high schools across the United States took over Ann Arbor from September 5th through September 7th to participate in one of the most anticipated hackathons in the country.

A hackathon is an event where students come together to dream up and build amazing things together -- but under a strict time limit. At MHacks, students spent 36 hours straight collaborating with each other and working with mentors (alongside representatives of some of the most competitive companies in the world) to learn new things and solve interesting problems.

Over $15,000 dollars worth of prizes were awarded in MHacks IV.

We had over 21 students representing Michigan State University in Ann Arbor this weekend -- their names are highlighted in bold.

An all Michigan State team that made GoalKeeper ended up winning FOUR prizes: Best URL from Namecheap, Best use of Venmo API, Best use of Ziggeo API, and a prize from IBM for using their hosting platform.

Goalkeeper is a social platform for holding yourself accountable, whether you want to get in shape, establish good study habits, or write the next great American novel. Users establish goals, then post videos showing that they're keeping up, both logging their achievements and encouraging their friends to keep them on track. In addition to peer pressure, users are incentivized to stick with their goals because every failure to check in means the user is expected to donate $5 to charity.


Team Members: Caitlin McDonald, Erin Hoffman

Backseat Driver is a real time manual transmission driving instructor that could be displayed on a Chrysler vehicle's radio/head unit, reading information from the car's OBD II sensors using the OpenXC platform tools from Chrysler. They won awards for most connected car from Chrysler and best use of mobile sensor data from FarmLogs.


Team Members: Katelyn Dunaski, Michael Ray, Colin Szechy, Riyu Banerjee.

DrinkNoDrive is an app that prevents drinking and driving by monitoring a person’s alcohol use. The app keeps track of your consumption, calculate your BAC, and will order an Uber for you when it’s time to go home. They were awarded the Best Use of the Uber API prize.


Team Members: Chris McGrath, Drew Laske, Tommy Truong, Anh Nguyen.

First place winner: Power Glove - Power Glove 2.0 is an affordable and customizable virtual reality system, focused on finger and hand movement interaction with the computer.


Second place winner: Android for iPhone - We built a full Android environment running inside your iPhone. We even used the newest version of Android possible, the L developer preview!


Third Place winner: Smash Connect – while Super Smash Bros. 64 is a lot of fun to play with a controller, our project uses your body as a controller. Two Microsoft Kinect cameras are used to [Camera 1] Capture user specific commands (Kick, Punch, Special Move, Jump) and [Camera 2] is used to watch both players fight each other to play the game.


List of Companies at Mhacks: Quixey. Mashery. Nest. Thiel fellowship. IBM. Apple. Chrysler. Facebook. Thalmiclabs. Union Pacific. Codility. FarmLogs. Twillio. Ziggeo. Capital One. Microsoft. MLH. Yo. Pillar. Meetup. Sales force. Jawbone. State Farm. Namecheap. Castle. Firebase. Sendgrid. MongoDb, Ebay, Paypal. stackoverflow. Bloomberg. Goldman Sachs. Chrysler. Moxtra. Pillar. Andreessen Horowitz. Uber. Techsmith. Indeed.

The students of Michigan State University were so inspired by the amazing energy and innovation at the University of Michigan’s hackathon (and others) that we are planning on hosting our own student-run hackathon. It is tentatively planned for Spring of 2015.

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